In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Summary and Conclusions It is possible to delineate the panorama of the blues in its various strands in view of their foundations in the cultures of the western and central geographical Sudan, as well as other parts of Africa, emphasizing stylistic continuity and remote links with specific African genres and performance entities. However, it is not possible to adopt as an objective to "derive" blues directly from any single African tradition, because the blues' cultural genealogy stretches right across west central Sudanic and other African regional traditions, including minstrel music, chantefables, work songs, and children's music of the eighteenth century, and across a time dimension embracing several generations up to the late nineteenth -century rise of the blues in the Deep South of the United States. Earlier developments in proto-forms of the blues were probably as manifold as the abundant variety of individual expression and stylistic change the blues has shown in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present. Blues is an African-American tradition that developed under certain social conditions on U.S. American soil, in the Deep South. It did not develop as such in Africa. And yet it is a phenomenon belonging essentially to the African culture world. This latter fact is somewhat masked by blues' use of the English language (though considerably processed by African-American singers), European musical instruments, harmonic sequences, and strophic form, but all modified and reinterpreted to various degrees in particular cases, drawing upon African patterns, scalar templates, styles, and techniques. The use of rhyme and rough iambic pentameter verse suggests some background in the British four-line ballad form (cf. Evans 1982: 24-26 on this issue) and formal poetry probably learned in 197 school, besides possible African strophic antecedents (cf. "Baba ol'odo," etc.) discussed earlier. European elements, where they can be traced in the rise of the proto-blues forms, were first adopted, then considerably processed. This conforms with what we know generally about the psychology of culture contact, namely that in a stratified society, members of the lower classes first tend to identify with "upper class" values and traditions, trying to emulate them (cf. Kubik 1994^). Later, nourished by disappointment and feelings of rejection, unconscious memories of a totally different cultural heritage gradually gain the upper hand, infiltrate , and eventually overturn the accepted upper-class forms and modes of behavior. The result is a "proletarian" creative breakthrough, out of which something totally new emerges. This was so in the history of highlife in Ghana, for example. Not by chance was this new west African dance music called "highlife," because the initial model was the "high" life the local bourgeoisie displayed at their garden and dance parties, observable by the poor street children through peepholes in closed doors and walls. It was so in the kwela music of South Africa too, although in this case the "upper class" music to be emulated was not that of the Boers (Afrikaans-speaking descendants of the Dutch). Racial segregation and alienation was already too entrenched to have made that possible. The "high" music to be emulated was encounteredin the dream world of Hollywood cinemaproductions and commercial records, and it was predominantlyAfrican -American. These sociopsychological mechanisms tend to be invariables, like Werner Heisenberg's constant. Examples can be cited from other continents and cultures , and other times (see for example: Erdheim 1982; Alhadeff 1977; and generally on culture shock and ascribed identities, cf. Bock 1979,1980; Michaels 1997). It can be argued in hindsight, therefore, that some African Americans in the nineteenth century would have started their artistic endeavors first by imitating the established musical and poetic forms of the day. In Africa too such imitations persisted until recently. In 1960 in Yaounde, Cameroon, I recorded an old man reciting poetry in the German language (Cameroon was German-occupied until 1914), and I heard a guitarist in one of the townships who sang Frenchlanguage ballads. He attracted large localaudiences. The important thing to understand here is that these processes are mere stages in a larger sociopsychological scheme. They do not stay put. In relatively short Summary and Conclusions 198 order, someone begins to modify the adopted forms by the power of his or her imagination and divergent cultural background, eventually finding acceptance with audiences who share the latter. Ragtime washeavily based on contemporaneous European forms inherited from marches, quadrilles, polkas, and so on. Their integration into New Orleans jazz first generated some modifications (cf. Jelly Roll Morton...


Additional Information

Print ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.