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Blues and Folk: The Musical Impact

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Certified Rice

on 8 April 2016

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Transcript of Blues and Folk: The Musical Impact

Blues and Folk: The Musical Impact
Folk Music
It all started when...
Africans worked as slaves in 1619
The Congress put the slave trade to a halt on January 1st, 1808
Renowned Minstrel Shows were used as entertainments for white Americans
Civil War began on April 12, 1861
President Abraham Lincoln distributed the

Proclamation on January 1, 1863 (End of Civil War)
African-American slaves hit the road and formulated their own community

Jim Crow
derogatory term for a black man
state and local laws that enforced racial segragation in the Southern U.S.
b/w the end of Reconstruction in 1877 to 1950s' civil rights movement
name of a minstrel routine
(Jump Jim Crow)
performed in 1828 by Thomas Dartmouth "Daddy" Rice and later acted by Joseph Jefferson
The act of freeing someone from control or slavery
Blues Origins
Originated from traditional work songs of African slaves around the 1850s
shaped from the African five-note scale to the Western seven-note scale
Adapted from
African music
, as well as,

The blues started in the Southern plantations (Mississippi Delta, Memphis, Tennessee, Chicago, Helena, Arkansas, etc.)
African Music
Blues chord progression: I, IV, and V
also known as the "
12 bar blues"
traditional instruments: banjo, harmonica, washboard, drums made out of tin cans, cajon, Dobro/resinator guitar, slide guitar, etc.
Recognizable features:
call and response form
12 bar blues
; 4/4 time signature
use of three-four bar phrases
African slaves, prisoners and descents told stories of their past and present through poetry and music that they called the Blues.
It was a way for them to express what they feel, define their souls in which they search for their own identity and attempts to deliver it to the people to see who they really are
Identified as the "Devil's music"
The Blues is considered to be a psychological development that transcends them to a better position
In the United States, the music was broken up, the people were broken up, but they were not parts of the same tribe. So, there was nothing to express it, except the blues!
" - Taj Mahal (Blues America, Part One: Woke Up This Morning)
A repetitive pattern that is comprised of 48 beats per measure in 4/4 time signature
I = tonic, IV = subdominant, V = dominant
12 Bar Blues
Lyrical Structure
Known for the AAB pattern
Describes the structure of an individual verse
Always used as a compound form
used in both lyrics and melody (question-question-answer format) made up of three 4 bar phrases in AAB song form.
Blues Aesthetic:
The Blues is definitely more than just a sadness, it's a happy music -- it truly is...some of the subject matter of the Blues sometimes had that sad feeling but truly, it is NOT a sad music
Miche Braden (Blues America, Part One: Woke Up This Morning)
In a music scale, 12 bar-blues divide into three 4-bar sections
other Examples!
Possible Variations
"White folks hear the blues come out, but they don't know how it got there"
— Ma Rainey
European musical roots, origins, traditions, etc.
Traditionally sung and played within communities
oral histories
more tradition than entertainment
Considered as root music or "world music"
The music of the working class
Based on war, anti-war, civil rights, work, economic hardship,
protest songs
, and love songs
American folk music draws on the lived experience of men and women that were limited by cultural constructions of race, class, and gender
American folk music is also a means of celebrating, giving dignity to identity

Shuffle Blues
Quick - to - four (Quick Change) Pattern
Dominant 7th chord
Think of it this way...
When dealing with the 12 bar blues, it is set up like a joke
Repeat the line twice and you got the punch line in the end
i.e. "
I got a man that treats me like a rat, I got a man that treats me like a rat. He gets me so worried, I don't know where I'm at.
Turn of events:
The 12 bar blues is the start of it all. Transitioning songs from sadness to stoicism and fortune into humour.
Resonator guitar
Slide guitar
West-African music began in the 1600s
West-African villages had musicians, singers, and dancers (usually with a king or chief)
Music was made for ceremonies in agriculture, the crowning of a new king/chief, and recalling significant events of the past all performed by men
Women = performed with children, young girls, and performed in funerals
i.e. "Annual Customs of Dahomey"
West African Dances
Dances surrounding fertility, death, worship, adulthood, etc.
On-lookers clap their hands, tap their feet, shout words or words of disapproval
Call and response was formed
Acappella singing
Ostinato = melodies are short and is repetitive
one syllable per note
Homophonic (block chords)
African singing = glissandos (portamento)
slurs, whistles, yodels, swoops, and types of buzz and raspy quality
call and response
Cyclic structure
Singing in harmonies
Ewe Drum Set
Bolon Bato
Single Bow
Agogo Bells
Banana Bell
Slit Gong
Bell Beads
Thumb Piano / Mbira
Comprised of scales of 4, 5, 6 or 7th notes
Small melodic intervals (mostly 2nds and 3rds)
Use recurring patterns and descending phrases
Intertwining melodies
Blues Turnaround
Crossroad Blues (1936)
I = 4
IV = 2
I = 2
V = 2
I = 2
Woodie Guthrie
Folk Artists
Witnessed his sister's death
A musically inclined family

Had parents who taught him how to play songs and instruments
A Series of Woodie Guthrie's Unfortunate Events
His life shattered and lost to a fire...
His father worked in Texas to repay his debts...
Married at the age of 19, the Great Depression struck...
He had a happy childhood...
July 14, 1912 - October 3, 1967
This Machine Kills Fascists
His father (Woodrow Wilson) just got nominated as a candidate for
His father going into
financial crisis
His mother suffering from Huntington's disease.
...leaving Guthrie and his siblings on their own...
Tradegy and personal loss visited the budding musician early...
And throughout his childhood, providing a bleak context for his future songs...
And supplying him with a wry perspective of life...
Let`s Begin
...while Guthrie busted on the streets for food and money...
African music is often used to transmit messages and ideas; and to record and recount historical events. Consequently, the meaning of the texts and their relation to the music especially important.
Lead Belly
January 20, 1888 - December 6, 1949
Blues Scale
A pentatonic scale, usually with an extra note added in a scale (diminished 5th), and is comprised of six notes. The "blue" notes are the flattened 5th in a minor pentatonic or a flattened 3rd in a major pentatonic.
Blue Note:
It is a slightly lower pitch note of a major scale.
1918: Imprisoned for murder
1925: Won his release by singing a song to a Texan governor
1930: In jail for attempted murder
Leadbelly was a folk-blues artist whose ability to perform vast repertoire of songs and notoriously violent life made him a legend
Folk Art
She dedicated her life in painting landscapes, family, communities, etc.
As a child, she made pictures out of yarn; used housepaint at the age of 20
At the age 0f 12, she was a hired girl and worked hard for her family; Her schooling was limited.
...And this is where her paintings became well-known in American folk art...
: Civil engineer and art collector, Louis Cador, saw Anna's paintings and influenced her to market her work
Anna Mary Robertson Moses // Grandma Moses
Hoosick Valley (From the Window) 1946
Sugaring Off (1943)
Christmas at Home
Edward Hicks
He was born in a luxurious family.
Raised by a Quaker family, Twining, when his mother died.
Pleasant Kingdom
Soon endured financial loss during the Revolution.
Soon became an artisan, painter and religious figure.
Noah's Ark
The Residence of David Twining
William Edmonson
Son of freed slaves, and worked on plantations and railroads at the age of 16.
South Carolina: black and white
textile workers can't work in the same room
North Carolina: schools = black and white students use separate textbook according to their skin colour


Georgia: black
and white parks
Oklahoma: black and white phone booths
Florida: books can't be stored together
Atlanta: Bibles for the black and white
Evolved from several different American entertainment traditions: travelling circus, medicine shows, Irish dance and music with African syncopated rhythms, music halls, and travelling theatre
Thomas Dartmouth "Daddy" Rice

Sang in tattered clothes and covered his face in black
His character based on "Jim Crow" (typical black slave)
he composed and adapted
"Jump Jim Crow"
Virginia Minstrels
Daniel Decatur Emmett developed a program for American entertainment
Virginia Minstrel's first appearance in NYC theatre
Come listen all you galls and boys
I's just from Tucky'hoe,
I'm goin to sing a little song,
My name is Jim Crow

Weel about and turn about and do jis so
Eb'ry time I weel about
I jump Jim Crow
Music found him!
Alan Lomax
A folklorist who worked with his father, John Avery Lomax, in 1932
A year later, the two gathered field recordings (American Ballad, Folk Songs, Negro folk songs)
"The main point of my activity was... to put sound technology at the disposal of The Folk, to bring channels of communication to all sorts of artists and areas"
Can't get out of the house

Other Genres
Protest Songs
Gospel Songs
Songs associated with movement for social change
HUGELY effective in creating a sense of community by helping groups organize to affect change
Looking back at the American history: tragic events and significant ones that accompanied major and many minor period of progress in America
Focused on idealism, social reform, equal rights, moral improvement, community activism and patriotism
In the late 1800s, the Gospel music has its roots back to the African American church (
, hymn, sacred song)
It took him even deeper
into the musical and cultural world
of the African American-South
Huddie William Ledbetter
Blues Artists
Bessie Smith
Early blueswoman in the late 20s
was influenced by Ma Rainey into doing performances in a variety of theatres.
Most influential classical blues
1929, she was featured in a short film entitled "Symphony Blues"
...he then left his family to look for work...
Guthrie hitched hike, rode freight trains and sang songs.
Developing into a musical spokesman for labour, honing his skills as a musician while developing the keen social conscience that would later make him legendary.
He eventually collaborated with great musicians Alan Lomax, Leadbelly, Pete
Seeger and Will Geer.
Woody took up social causes and helped established folk music as a new genre, in which he gained popularity and fame.
This Land Is Your Land
So long It's Been Good to Know You
John and Alan Lomax (funded the Library of Congress) were introduced to Leadbelly and recorded a song with him.
Golden Gate Quartet 1934
Blues Documentary
Spiritual songs are songs about God's word.
Ethos (emotion and expression)
Semiotic (meaningful communication; sign)
Sentic (touch)
Mnemonic (memory)
Spiritual songs have representational attributes that conveys a Scripture as a way to express God's words.
Smith was discovered by the Columbia Record's representative and made her first recording
(Downhearted Blues) that sold about 800,000 copies, making her popular and successful as an artist.
She also represented the Jazz era and Swing.
Robert Johnson
One of the early bluesmen
He wrote 29 songs and recorded in Dallas and San Antonio (1936-1937)
His legend claimed that he sold his soul to The Devil in exchange for extraordinary guitar skills

I Believe I'll Dust My Broom
Sweet Home Chicago
Film: Symphony Blues
"I felt that a magical moment was opening up in time...For me, the black discs spinnng in the Mississippi night, spitting the chip centripetally toward the center of the table...heralded a new age of writing human history."
Early in the Mornin'
A fascinating look at traditional
country blues in its native
Jumpin' Judy
His interests are making sculptures by using limestones of varying colours, and gathered demolished buildings and curbstones, as he spent many hours arranging sculptures for his display
He became the first black American to be accorded a one-man show at the Museum Modern of Art
Gospel music is made from a mixture of the religious culture and history of African Americans. Its characteristics are of power vocals mainly utilizes strong harmony, referring to Christian lyrics as a religious ceremony
Other forms of genres:
Contemporary gospel
Urban contemporary gospel (black gospel)
Southern gospel (quartet music)
Bluegrass gospel
Blues gospel
Country gospel
Gospel Artists
Rev. James Cleveland
Renowned for writing gospel hits in the 1950s
Formed the Gospel Music Workshop of America - a convention made for gospel artists dedicated for gospel musicians and singers
Won numerous awards (especially 5 Grammy Awards)
Thomas Dorsey
Godfather of Gospel music
His childhood Christian teachings conflicted with his striving in secular world where he made a living for himself playing at rent parties and composing blues songs
Performed for Ma Rainey at the age of 21
Played and composed music in the style of jazz and blues
Famous gospel song: "Precious Lord, Take My Hand"
Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday
Can't Turn Me 'Round - The Roots
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