Jan 18 AC337 The Blues Form Emerges

Jan 18 AC337 The Blues Form Emerges - The Blues Form...

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The Blues Form Emerges American Blues Music
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The Birth of The Blues Did the blues really begin in the Delta region of Mississippi? The “evidence” includes such prehistorical ideas as: The blues developing from field hollers The blues deriving from work songs The blues deriving from “diddley bow” music W.C. Handy’s “discovery” of the blues.
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The “Delta” Gave birth to more of the important singers than any other area Bentonia SKIP JAMES Jun 9, 1902 Crystal Springs TOMMY JOHNSON 1896 West Point Howlin’ Wolf Jun 10, 1910 Richland ELMORE JAMES Jan 27, 1918 Bolton BO CARTER Mar 21, 1893 Glendora SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON Dec 5, 1899 Scott BIG BILL BROONZY Jun 26, 1893
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Work and Song 1) Created a sense of community among the workers 2) Helped coordinate the rhythmic timing of the work 3) Made the time go faster and work less harsh 4) Served as commentary on the work or life in general 5) Served as a means of communication between workers
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These early songs did not fit the “normal” blues form as we will come to know it. It didn’t conform to the i, iv, v 12 bar AAB format It usually consisted of sets of traditional lyrics that would be recombined with newer ad hoc lyrics It was frequently played by small ensembles It utilized a variety of instruments Non-Work Songs The people who played this music were not called bluesmen, or blues singers, but rather “musicianers” or “music physicianers” Developed in a very primitive manner, such as on the diddley bow and on home-made guitars
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One of the earliest known exponents of this proto-blues was Henry “Ragtime Texas” Thomas Henry Thomas was born in Big Sandy, Texas in 1874 When he was still a young man he began a career in minstrel shows. He accompanied himself on guitar and quills (an African-American form of pan-pipe. His guitar playing was very banjo-like. Although he played pieces that were identifiable as the blues, he was playing before that genre emerged as such, and his earliest pieces are clearly indicative of what came before the fixed form of the blues. If the first “blues” by an African-American was recorded in 1920, Thomas would have already been 46 and performing perhaps for 35 years.
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His nickname “Ragtime Texas” was probably a reference to a hobo-style life, rather than to the musical form. Folklorists Howard Odum (white) and Guy Johnson (Black), in their 1925 collaboration “The Negro and His Songs” described the life of the Negro hobo as: “…seldom work(ing) a stroke since he left home, yet he always has plenty to eat and a place to stay… the singer loves idleness and shuns work… The assumption that the life of a hobo is an enviable one appears frequently. He boasts of his ability to live from the work of the community or some hard-working woman…
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This note was uploaded on 11/15/2011 for the course AMCULT 337 taught by Professor Bruceconforth during the Winter '11 term at University of Michigan.

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Jan 18 AC337 The Blues Form Emerges - The Blues Form...

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