Blues Music As A Vivid Reflection of The Black American Life And Culture Blues can be justly called the Black-American music. It reflects the history and culture of the blacks in America from the times when they were slaves till the present days. Translating the emotion into music, blues performers cry, hum, moan, plead, rasp, shout, and howl lyrics and wordless sounds while creating instrumental echoes of their emotions. This music is a rebellion against the white culture and religion against any authority. American blacks, even today, remember their traumas of slavery and the blues has helped many generations to let out this sorrow and misery. Even though the blues derives from the expression of traumatic experience, the purpose of the Blues as music is to provide solace, comfort, and entertainment, if not joy to its listeners.
This genre embraces a variety of styles: downhome or country blues, classic blues, Chicago (urban) blues, and modern blues. Blues, in its earliest forms of work songs, originated at the times, when blacks were brought from Africa to the New World to be slaves. Their lives were difficult and planned for them, so work songs became a way to express the individuality and separateness from their masters. After the Civil War, when the slavery was abolished and black people were free, a new era has started in their history. Primitive work songs could no longer express growing experience of more complicated social situations. Blacks now had to deal with social and cultural problems that they never had to deal with as slaves.
... -American culture.The music, dance, folklore, religion, language, and other expressive forms associated with the culture of slaves were transmitted orally to subsequent generations of American blacks ... ragtime, the blues and jazz not only on American music but American culture. Caponi (1999), acknowledges a singular contribution of Jones' viewing all Black music as culturally ...
As a result, music began to reflect the social and cultural complexities and change. Another reason the Blues developed from work songs and the shout was because of the slaves growing knowledge of the English language. The early chants and field hollars only consisted of a few English words and the rest were composed of Africanized English words or some patois-like language that seemed more a separate language than an attempt at mastering English(Jones, 63).
The early Blues had already moved toward pure American lyrics (with the intent that the song be understood by other Americans) (63).
As the slaves mastered the English language, the Blues became more of a distinct music than the shouts and hollars and the slaves utilized the language in their music: Blues was a kind of singing that utilized a language that was almost strictly American. It was not until the ex-slaves had mastered this language in whatever appropriation of it they made that Blues began to be more evident than shouts and hollers (63).
Another change from the work hollar and field call was the slaves determination to be free and independent. This changed much of the lyrical content of the songs in Blues. The slaves were no longer as occupied with the hope to return to Africa, back to their motherland, as they were with being here in America (Mitchell, 23).
One of the major differences between the Blues and that of its antecedent songs and chants from Africa was the concept of individualism. Many African songs dealt with the exploits of the social unit, usually the tribe (Jones 66); however, did not ever acknowledge the person as an individual or the individual experiences and hardships that one might endure. The whole concept of the solo, of a man singing or playing by himself, was relatively unknown in West African music (Jones 66).
The Blues is quite the opposite; the Blues deals with the individual black mans struggle to survive in American society. the insistence of Blues verse on the life of the individual and his individual trials and successes on the earth is a manifestation of the whole Western concept of mans life, and it is a development that could only be found in an American black mans music (66).
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Since the Blues is such an individualistic music, the lyrics often pertain to what the songwriter was going through at the time. The music is a complete manifestation of the hardships, work, love, and trials and tribulations of life at the time. Jameson says, Early Blues, as it came to differ from the shout and the Afro-Christian religious music, was also perhaps the most impressive expression of the black persons individuality within the complicated structure of American society. Even though its birth and growth seems connected finally to the general movement of the mass of black Americans into the central culture of the country, Blues still went back for its impetus and emotional meaning to the individual, to his completely personal life and death. Because of this, Blues could remain for a long time a very fresh and singular form of expression (Jameson 67).
The use of instruments in African-American music also did not begin to evolve until after the emancipation proclamation and the end of the Civil war. Before this when slaves were working in the fields, there was no way they could have conceivably taken the time out to sit down and play an instrument. In the fields, the only instruments were the voices of the slaves. After working in the fields the only instruments that the slaves had were drums, rattles, tambourines, scrapers (the jawbone of a horse over which a piece of wood was scraped), and the like: even such an African instrument as the banjo was very scarce (Jones, 69).
The guitar and harmonica (which are now the most commonly used instruments in Blues music) were not used until after the civil war. The harmonica grew in popularity among a great many blacks simply because it took up almost no space and was so easy to carry around (69).
Later the guitar became the instrument of choice by the Blues musicians, (possibly because of its similarities to the African instrument, the banjo) and one reason for the instruments popularity was that it still allowed the performer to sing. The instrument was well suited to the music and was rapidly adopted, allowing for the development of what we now call rural or country Blues. When African-Americans began to use more instruments and the use of European instruments became common, jazz, and classical Blues evolved. The country Blues however, were mainly focused on the singers vocal ability (70).
... the next generation. African music has a variety of different instruments that they use throughout their songs. Music in African culture also has very ... witnessed the birth of an African version of the Cuban rumba played by small American-style orchestras. Some artists that ... are African are Afro-National, Khaled Agag, Eric ...
Black women have significantly contributed to the development and popularization of the Blues (Mamie Smith, Lucille Hegamin, Ethel Waters).
One of the reasons that this could have been was the restriction of womens mobility. Men were often constantly searching for employment and did not generally stay in one place for a long time.
Since it was almost impossible for a woman to move about as freely in those times, (unless it was with her family) she was able to dedicate her time to churchgoing. The church was a big part of the African-Americans life and music and song were a big part of going to church. The emergence of black entertainment also provided the catalyst to allow African-American women into the public eye: Minstrelsy and vaudeville not only provided employment for a great many women Blues singers but helped to develop the concept of the professional black female entertainer (Oliver, 93).
Womans suffrage and white women in entertainment also paved the way for many African-American Blues singers. The entertainment field in Blues gave women many more possibilities than they would have otherwise had: the entertainment field [was] a glamorous one for black women, providing an independence and importance not available in other areas open to them – the church, domestic work, or prostitution (Oliver, 93).
It is noted that there are many Blues songs written about the Ford Company and Ford Products.
Right around the time of mass flights of African-Americans from the South, Henry Ford, the great American founder of the Ford car company, was paying at least five dollars a day to all of the employees who worked for him. It is said blacks came hundreds of miles to line up outside his employment offices (Microsoft Encarta).
... Hudges was the heart of narrow circle of progressive Black American cultural leaders. He was a progressive man and an ... things.He describes the essence of life and turned it into the real African American ode in blues tones.Bibliography:Barksdale, Richard. ( ... most famous black American poets. Hughes's promotion of black icons in the 1940s foreshadowed the black aesthetic and the black arts movement ...
The reason that many African-Americans chose the Ford company was that Ford was one of the first companies to hire many blacks, and the name Ford became synonymous with Northern opportunity, and the Ford Model-T was one of the first automobiles blacks could purchase the poor mans car (Microsoft Encarta).
It is, most probably, it was not a coincidence that 1914 was both the year that Ford began to employ African-Americans and the mass migration to the North was at its peak. The Blues changed as the life of the African-American changed and adapted to the society in which he lived. When more African-Americans had settled in the Northern states such as New York and Chicago, the lyrical content of the songs was more about city life and working in the factories and shipyards than about working in the field or the other themes of the Southern Blues.
Essentially the major themes of the Blues stayed the same, the performers, however, were still singing about their position in American society socially, economically, and psychologically. The Blues and Blues-oriented jazz of the new city dwellers was harder, crueler, and perhaps even more stoical and hopeless than the earlier forms. It took its life from the rawness and poverty of the grim adventure of big city livin (Jones, 105).
Many African Americans forgot about the Blues because of their preoccupation with the greater society. They drifted away from the Blues because they felt that it was no longer a reflection of their lives. Many middle class blacks even tried to eliminate the music from their lives all together, because it was a reminder that they had at one time been condemned to slavery: For the developing black middle class, it was simply the mark of Cain, and just another facet of black-ness which they wished to be rid of (Jones, 141).
Many middle class blacks felt that if they acknowledged any part of their blackness, then it would hold them back from progressing into society. Blues music has become a remarkable reflection of everyday life, history and culture of African Americans. Is has been developing as the everyday life of black Americans was changing. Even though the music originated as a heart-breaking, sad vocal expression, it has always been filled with optimism and hope for the better future. Blues is a black-American music even because it precisely imitates the nature of a black person: sad and complaining at times, but strong and optimistic ever. Blues has contributed to the development of such other music styles as jazz and rock-n-roll in the same way as black people have contributed to the development of the glorious America we have today. Works Cited: Blow My Blues Away, George Mitchell, Louisiana St. Univ.
... Luther King, who knows what and how Black Americans would be treated nowadays, this is why ... black population in America to acquire civil rights and equality.On the 1st of December 1955, Rosa Parks who was an African-American ... over the country while trying to dominate the lives of Jewish people within the country. Instead ... Due to all of the nightmares in his life, Malcolm had a desire for revenge and ...
Press, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1994 Buried Treasures of The South, W.C. Jameson, August House, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1992 Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, Microsoft Corporation, 2002 The Meaning of the Blues, Paul Oliver, Collier Books, New York, 1989 The Music of Black Americans, Bruce Jones, W.W. Norton, New York, 1983.