A. Difference between European styles and African styles.
1. European music – melody was the focus. Rhythm was incidental.
2. African music – Rhythm was the focus and it was “dressed up” with a melody.
B. Three kinds of songs from the slave community
1. The Spiritual – the first original form of music created by slaves in the United States.
a. Created through the adaptation of Christian rituals to African rituals and the adaptation of European religious music to the musical system of West Africa.
3. Jubilee songs – songs for the plantation parties.
III. The end of slavery.
A. South – similar jobs, similar discrimination and segregation. African heritage is mostly preserved.
B. North – lack of community and connections, poor job opportunities, but African Americans are more integrated into “white” society.
C. Traditional meeting points, church and plantation, are dissolved.
IV. The birth of the blues.
A. Music continues to be the primary vehicle for the discussion of the frustration of the people.
B. Less focus on the plight of the group, freedom to express the trials, troubles, and desires of the individual.
C. Instruments of early blues.
1. Banjo, of African heritage.
2. Guitar, adopted from European heritage.
3. Harmonica, European heritage.
1. White folk music creates epic storylines out of ordinary events.
2. Black folk music has brutally realistic depictions of everyday life.
E. Blues as a state of mind
1. “I’ve got the blues.”
2. Expectation of an unavoidable reality.
1. Economic boom cause great demographic shift.
a. African American musicians end up in predominantly white cities.
2. The blues is heard outside of the African-American community.
a. Sex is a common theme and lyrics are descriptive.
b. White audiences are shocked by explicit lyrics.
c. The blues becomes more self-aware. Becomes more metaphorical and allegorical to appeal to a white audience.
-Boll Weavil Blues
G. The Medicine Show
1. Gullible doctors traveled to find gullible customers to buy their various medicines and elixirs.
2. African American performers were hired for cheap entertainment. Essentially the first professional African American performers.
V. Three important centers for the blues.
A. New Orleans
1. Most diverse city of the south.
2. More tolerant than most cities in the south.
3. Prominent night life provided
B. Kansas City
1. Received first wave of African-American immigrants in 1877 after the highly contested Presidential election.
2. Little enforcement of prohibition laws (1920-1933). Clubs provide performance venues for African-American performers.
1. Important Mississippi River port and important railway node. Made rich through cotton industry.
2. Often the first stop for people migrating to the north.
3. Beale Street.
4. Cotton is used less in favor of synthetic fibers causing the city to decay. Many migrate to Chicago, the next stop on the railroad.
VI. Blues established as a legitimate genre.
A. Several blues stars find work in permanent vaudeville theatres in New York
B. Their songs are written for a broader audience by professional songwriters.
1. Most notable was W.C. Handy
a. Memphis Blues (1909)
b. Memphis Blues Band - Recorded with instrumentation that leads to jazz.
2. Standardization of 12 bar pattern.
C. First blues songs published in 1912.
1. Baby Seal Blues (Artie Matthews)
2. Dallas Blues (Hart Wand)
D. Blind Lemon Jefferson
1. First real bluesmen (country bluesman)to be recorded by a major record company
b. Starts a trend of record companies going to the Delta to find talent.
c. Bad Luck Blues (1926)
E. Leads to discovery of country blues style.
1. No jazz combo, just guitar and harmonica accompaniment.
2. Robert Johnson
a. Perfected the styles of Charley Patton and Son House.
b. Cross Road Blues
VII. Chicago and the urban blues
A. Mass emigration to the north in 1916
1. Musical traditions are transplanted.
B. Honky Tonks
1. Clubs illegally serving alcohol.
C. Increasing reliance the band format.
1. Guitar, harmonica, piano, drums and bass
VIII. Blues and the African American audience.
A. Audiences were largely white until the late 1930s.
1. White only clubs.
2. Blues not perceived as entertainment.
B. By the end of the 1930s, playing the blues had become an honorable career.