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Blues Ch 1


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This is an outline to Chapter 1 in "Looking Up At Down," by William Barlow.

Published in: Education, News & Politics
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Blues Ch 1

  1. 1. Chapter 1“I Been “Buked and I Been Scorned”The Folk Roots of the Blues<br />
  2. 2. Blues Origins and Influences<br />The blues evolved from sacred and secular folk music<br />African and European influences<br />Coalesced by 1890s<br />Cultural response to white oppression<br />
  3. 3. Griots<br />West African tradition<br />Musicians/folklorists<br />Carried the people’s culture<br />
  4. 4. Blues Basics<br />Songs of personal experience<br />Usual accompaniment was guitar<br />Established beat, chords, and response to voice<br />12 – bar form<br />
  5. 5. Blues Form<br />12-bar<br />AAB<br />I – IV – V chord progression<br />Also 8 – bar (AB), 12 – bar (AAA), and 16 – bar (AABB)<br />Suggests earliest blues were irregular<br />
  6. 6. Origin of the term “Blues”<br />1500s – English expression, “to look blue”<br />“Blue Devils” by the 1600s<br />Use of the term “blues” in US – early 1800s<br />
  7. 7. Term “Blues” Applied to Music<br />Near the end of Reconstruction<br />New form of folk music<br />Solo compositions<br />Borrowed freely from Oral Tradition<br />Improvised<br />Filtered through individual experiences<br />Resulted in both return to and break from the past<br />
  8. 8. Spirituals<br />Significant component of AfricanAmerican oral history<br />Demonstrated that faith led to triumph over slavery<br />Based on Biblical characters/stories<br />Call for deliverance from oppression<br />As a race<br />From individual suffering<br />
  9. 9. Similarity to other slave folksongs<br />Communally composed<br />Fit current social context<br />Thematic unity<br />Regional individuality<br />
  10. 10. Seculars<br />Folksongs of satire, complaint, caution, derision, or praise<br />Articulated social tensions of plantation life<br />Used to express what could not be said to a person<br />“puttin’ ‘uh o duh banjo”<br />Traced to the oral tradition of Africa<br />
  11. 11. Worksongs<br />Retained African character while adapting to America<br />Singing to the rhythms of work<br />Used to coordinate collective labor<br />Weaving, boating, planting, harvesting, cooking, chores<br />Fieldhands, stevedores, firemen, tobacco workers<br />Encouraged by slaveowners = Increased productivity<br />
  12. 12. Worksongs Linked to Resignation/Resistance to Forced Labor<br />Opposing views of worksongs<br />Slaves – work as punishment not self-fulfillment<br />Whites – evidence of contentment <br />
  13. 13. Composition of Worksongs<br />Spontaneous and collectively<br />Referred to recent event in lives of the slaves<br />Melodies remain consistent but lyrics change<br />
  14. 14. Arhoolies<br />Whoops, hollers, calls, and cries<br />Traditional among tribes of Angola and Congo<br />Prevalent among vendors and fieldworkers<br />Began as short signature pieces<br />Evolved into impressions of life<br />
  15. 15. African-American Ballads<br />Patterned after AngloAmerican ballads<br />Told a story of epic proportions<br />Long series of stanzas<br />Momentous event, tragic love affair, ill-fated hero<br />Postbellum<br />Use of refrains – less repetitious<br />More breaks<br />More rhythmic input<br />More audience participation<br />
  16. 16. African-American Folk Heroes<br />Postbellum African American power and status at lowest point since slavery<br />Folk heroes negate feelings of powerlessness and victimization<br />
  17. 17. John Henry<br />Archetypal postbellum black hero<br />Herculean exploits against untenable labor situation<br />Symbol of this plight and of resurgent racial dignity<br />
  18. 18. Black Desperados<br />Unlike the Folk Heroes, they operated against the law<br />Symbolized resistance to harsh political oppression and segregation<br />
  19. 19. African-American Tricksters<br />Central characters were animals with human personalities<br />Weak animals triumph over stronger adversary<br />Brer Rabbit and Signifying Monkey<br />Overcame adversary with guile and bravado<br />
  20. 20. Major characteristic – indestructibility<br />Boll Weevil and Gray Goose<br />Epitomized the African American’s belief that he could endure any hardship<br />