The Blues - 1 Precursors of Jazz: Ragtime and the Blues...

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Precursors of Jazz: Ragtime and the Blues February 5, 2008 Originally an aural roots traditions Emerged as a vocal music in the Mississippi Delta Delta spans more than 200 miles from Vicksburg (MS) to Memphis Mississippi Delta: home to one of the largest slave populations of America o Most former slaves stayed in the region after emancipation; eventually migrated North for economic reasons Endemic poverty: tenant farmer or sharecroppers Blues: reflection of African American experience Blues traced to several predecessors o Work song o Jump-up o Ballad o Holler (Field Holler) All of these forms contributed to the blues Blues assimilated specific features from predecessors o Ballad: non-linear narrative o Jump up: repetitious words and music o Work song: persistent rhythmic beat o Holler: call & response; embellished melodies Original form of blues o Folk o Rural o Country o Classic William Christopher Handy ( 1873-1958) o “Father of the blues” o Grandson of freed slaves o Son of conservative minister- raised in A.M.E. traditional music environment- forbade him to play the “devil’s music” o Expert on the cornet (bugle) and organ o Trained as an educator: Professor at A.A.M. college o Varied career: band leader, minstrel show, orchestra conductor, blues band o Handy decided to transcribe “native” music o First written out version of country blues Handy never consistently used the term “blues”- instead used the term, “native music”. The term blue is a marketing tool o Memphis, 1909: composed Mr. Crump - song for a political rally
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The Blues - 1 Precursors of Jazz: Ragtime and the Blues...

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