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Folklore: White influence on Black Music

GUEST,Matthew Brian 09 Nov 07 - 12:29 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Nov 07 - 02:26 PM
Goose Gander 09 Nov 07 - 02:59 PM
Goose Gander 09 Nov 07 - 03:22 PM
PoppaGator 09 Nov 07 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Chanteyranger 09 Nov 07 - 04:55 PM
Stewie 09 Nov 07 - 08:41 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Nov 07 - 08:45 PM
GUEST,Great idea-but university use of English sad 09 Nov 07 - 10:14 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Nov 07 - 11:10 PM
Bonzo3legs 10 Nov 07 - 08:10 AM
Marc Bernier 10 Nov 07 - 08:48 AM
GUEST,Bert on Kelly's machine. 10 Nov 07 - 12:45 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Nov 07 - 01:43 PM
greg stephens 10 Nov 07 - 01:59 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Nov 07 - 03:04 PM
Stewie 10 Nov 07 - 05:14 PM
Stewie 10 Nov 07 - 05:41 PM
pattyClink 10 Nov 07 - 10:25 PM
Goose Gander 10 Nov 07 - 11:12 PM
Azizi 11 Nov 07 - 12:11 AM
Azizi 11 Nov 07 - 12:26 AM
GUEST,chris M 19 Nov 07 - 03:01 PM
Bobert 19 Nov 07 - 03:22 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 19 Nov 07 - 03:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Nov 07 - 04:13 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 19 Nov 07 - 05:47 PM
GUEST,balagan 19 Nov 07 - 06:55 PM
Ruth Archer 20 Nov 07 - 03:05 AM
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Subject: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: GUEST,Matthew Brian
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 12:29 PM

I am currenlty involved in a research project for Boston University that seeks to analyze the transculturation process which took place between the two early rural music genres- "race" and "hillbilly." What differenciates this project from most others is that it will not be concerned with the approriation of african american music by whites, which has already been written about at length, but rather the extent to which african american's approriated and learned from white musicians as well, which country music scholar and the venerable former MTSU professor Charles K Wolfe briefly describes in his liner notes to White Country Blues 1926-1938 (CD). Does anybody have any ideas of places to begin researching? journal articles, books, specific recordings? thanks alot.

matthew b


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 02:26 PM

The works of Perrow and Odum from the beginning of the 20th c. offer examples. See JAFL.
The songs of the minstrels and music hall were freely borrowed. Several discussions and examples here in Mudcat.
Of course hymns and gospel, especially from the great camp meetings of 1800 and later, appeared in changed form in Black music. A brief summary of the religious background is in Dena J. Epstein, 1977, "Sinful Tunes and Spirituals," Chap. 11, The Religious Background of Sacred Black Folk Music, 1801-67. This is complex and controversial; comparison of early gospel, shape note and Black spirituals and gospel will be necessary. In a thread here, it is shown that the often heard "When the Saints Go Marching In" is by a white gospel writer.

As Dena Epstein says, "The assumption that the blacks learned all their songs from the whites has not been proved, nor has documentation been found to prove the opposite. What seems most likely is that many blacks found in the camp meeting not only their first extensive experience with Christianity, but also that a religious atmosphere better suited their needs than anything else available. The call-and-response style of singing so familiar to them was ideally suited to the participatory service of the camp meeting, where vast numbers of people required musical responses that they could learn on the spot. The blacks were there, and their contribution is still to be evaluated fully." "Sinful Tunes and Spirituals," p. 199.

Your study should prove to be both interesting and valuable.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 02:59 PM

You'll want to look at the work of George Pullen Jackson dealing with what he called 'White Spirituals' and the influence of white religious music upon African-American Spirituals.

BOOKS:
Jackson, George Pullen. 1933b. White Spirituals in the Southern Uplands: The Story of the Fasola Folk, Their Songs, Singings, and "Buckwheat Notes". Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Reprint. N.Y.: Dover Books, 1965

Jackson, George Pullen. 1943c. White and Negro Spirituals, Their Life Span and Kinship, Tracing 200 Years of Untrammeled Song Making and Singing Among Our Country Folk, with 116 Songs as Sung by Both Races. New York: Augustin.

ARTICLES:
Jackson, George Pullen. 1932b. The Genesis of the Negro Spiritual. The American Mercury 26(June):243-255

See also:
Guy Johnson, Folk Culture on St. Helena Island, South Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1930.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 03:22 PM

You may also want to address Willie Ruff's Gospel/Gaelic thesis, beaten to death here in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 03:26 PM

Good luck with this project, which will undoubedly yield interesting results.

I think it's obvious that all of us, always, are "influenced" by everything we hear, and that the synthesis of European and African musical expression that resulted in American music has always been a two-way street. However, "proving" this contention in a scholarly manner can be problematic. The actual hearing and playing and feeling of music does not necessarily ever get written down and preserved as a "source" that one can footnote.

There is certainly a lot of documentation concerning the early Creole jazz players in New Orleans, specifically about their European-style formal musical education. The first jazz ensenmbles were Creole orchestras already adept and reading sheet music, playing operatic and "light-classical" music as well as popular material.

There are plenty of books on this topic, including works by Jason Berry, Jeff Hannusch, Al Rose, Ben Sandmel, and plenty of others. I can't promise, but maybe I'll be back with a few specific references.

Also ~ this is probably too recent a musical development to include, when I first saw the title "White Influence on Black Music," the first thing I thought of was Ray Charles landmark recording "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: GUEST,Chanteyranger
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 04:55 PM

Stan Hugill, in Shanties From The Seven Seas, cites shanties from the 1840's that were a combination Black and Irish origin. Both groups, situated in the gulf states of the U.S. borrowed from each other. Hugill has some background information to go with each song. Originally published in the UK by Kegan Paul ltd., it can be found in paperback in the U.S., re-published by the Mystic Seaport Museum. Well worth reading. Good luck on your very interesting project. Please keep us informed on how it's going, eh?

Chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Stewie
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 08:41 PM

Charles Wolfe has a chapter in the excellent 'Nothing But the Blues' Lawrence Cohn (Ed) Abbeville Press 1993. The chapter is titled 'A Lighter Shade of Blue: White Country Blues'.

Tony Russell's seminal 'Blacks, Whites and Blues', first published by Studio Vista in 1970, has been reissued in 'Yonder Come the Blues' Cambridge University Press 2001.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 08:45 PM

Your interest, from your request, I would guess is centered on music appearing on 'race' recordings and on the 'hillbilly' recordings of the same period. These songs, as near as we can gather from late 19th c. references, seem to have originated as recognizable genres about that time. Both have strong ties to camp meeting-gospel and to the gin mill of the working man, opposing but complimentary sources. Additions from prison and work camp (logging and turpentine, railroad, agriculture, etc.) and from old ballads remembered are found in both.
Not a simple topic!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: GUEST,Great idea-but university use of English sad
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 10:14 PM

I am not really a nitpicker and am impressed with the subject matter and responses to this point. I was saddened when I taught college classes a decade ago at the state of the language. This is also an example-a well respected institution of higher learning and 1)differenciate (yes you can find it on the web but not in M-W or OED the definitive word on our language) and 2. not possessive american's but plural americans. Yes-thankfully our language is evolving but we must accept some basics-unless it is for satirical or abstract purposes. I realize the point of the forum is a free exchange of great information for all, but I am sure when this scholarly paper is written, that the spellcheck will not catch their errors


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Nov 07 - 11:10 PM

Don't hardly make no nevermind, do it? Thet's whut editors er fer.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 10 Nov 07 - 08:10 AM

Listen to the guitar playing of Eric Clapton during 1965-68 and see how it influenced the black blues players on whom he based his style!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 10 Nov 07 - 08:48 AM

Although not US of American proper, one might look at Roger Abrahams book Deep the Water Shallow the Shore. Or contact Dan Lanier at barrwhalers.org about the Barrouallie Whalers of the Grenadines and St. Vincent. This is a group of black people who still do limited subsistance whaling in the Islands and sing Whaling songs. With one listen it is obvious these guys are singing songs they heard from New England whalers 150 years ago or so. But I'v never heard a white guy sing like this. I'm not sure that fits in with what your looking for, however it's an idea.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: GUEST,Bert on Kelly's machine.
Date: 10 Nov 07 - 12:45 PM

Did Billy Cotton's "Down in the jungle" skits influence Rap or was Rap born in isolation? Come to think about it, where did Billy Cotton get it from?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Nov 07 - 01:43 PM

Closer to home than the Nevis songs from BWI are the black Creole songs and dances that developed in Louisiana from the late 18th through the 19th c. George W. Cable wrote about the creolized music in the 1880s (The Dance in Place Congo, Century Mag., vol. 31, issue 4, Feb 1886, pp. 517-532; "Old Creole Days," 1879, 215pp., Scribners; and others). The French language, the influence of the Catholic church, and French musical forms were imposed on basic African rhythms and new forms evolved.
At the same time, Lafcadio Hearne was describing Creole life in Martinique; although far afield from your suggested thesis, New Orleans traders were active in the French West Indies. Hearn and H. E. Krehbiel transcribed some of the songs.

The influence of this Black Creole music and dance on early New Orleans jazz has yet to be studied in any detail. Counjaille, Calinda and other lyrics were sung and danced, mostly to percussion instruments, but at the same time there were black Creoles, free and slave, who were proficient on stringed and band instruments.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: greg stephens
Date: 10 Nov 07 - 01:59 PM

New Orleans provides a very good source of the interactions being discussed. The various English and other roots of St James Infomary have been well documented(both lyrically and melodically). The old English song family of the various versions of the Derby Ram seriously affected the 12 bar structure of early blues (eg Frankie and Johnny, White House Blues etc); the song also turned (in a quite different direction) into the famous New Orleans funeral piece Didn't he Ramble. Jelly Roll Mortton made a recording|(for Alan Lomax) demonstrating how European quadrille structures in dance music were processed by black string bands into the early jazz/ragtime classic Tiger Rag. Reg Hall recorded the N O violin player Louis James playing a quadrille, as a more modern example of this genre.
There's a bit to be going on with!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Nov 07 - 03:04 PM

Much in these posts is digression, far departed from your proposed topic of 'race' and 'hillbilly.' For your topic, one way would be to examine the music recorded on the race and hillbilly records of the 20s-30s and try to trace antecedents.

"Didn't He Ramble" had its origin in the minstrel or music hall song, "The Travelin' Coon." Also in folk in NC, see Brown. I don't know if a form got into hillbilly and race records.

The quadrille was quite well known in New Orleans Creole society, introduced in France about 1760 (quadrille de contedanses and similar forms). There are echoes of all the popular European dance forms in Af-Am music.

Ragtime also descended from the Black bands that played in major American cities; jigs and marches as well as other forms were incorporated. Of course the cakewalk, also Af-Am and minstrel in origin, added to the various forms grouped as 'ragtime.'
Tiger Rag in the form now played is fairly late (1917), but may have had antecedents in an earlier rag.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Stewie
Date: 10 Nov 07 - 05:14 PM

Worth seeking out for your project is Various Artists 'Virginia Traditions: Non-Blues Secular Black Music' Global Village CD 1001. Most of the pieces are shared by black and white traditions: 'Cotton-eyed Joe', 'Bile them cabbage', 'John Henry', 'Cripple Creek' etc. The CD includes excellent notes by Kip Lornell, albeit you need a magnifying glass to read them.

Also useful could be selections from the vast Document catalogue - for example, 'Black Fiddlers' DOCD-5631, 'String Bands 1926-1929' DOCD-5167 and the work of songsters such as Evans and McClain 'The Two Poor Boys' DOCD-5044.

Also of interest: Various Artists 'Black Banjo Songsters' Smithsonian Folkways SF CD 40079.

Tony Russell 'Songsters and Saints: Vocal Traditions on Race Records' Cambridge Uni Press 1984 has material of relevance.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Stewie
Date: 10 Nov 07 - 05:41 PM

Another important recording that just sprung to mind is: 'Altamont: Black Stringband Music from the Library of Congress' Rounder CD 0238. This CD has invaluable recordings of Nathan Frazier and Frank Patterson by John Work in Tennessee in 1942. It also has recordings of the John Lusk Band. The insert includes an extensive essay by the late Charles Wolfe.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: pattyClink
Date: 10 Nov 07 - 10:25 PM

Guest nitpicker: ya might want to look up how to spell "differentiate" before you hurl the next stone.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 10 Nov 07 - 11:12 PM

Q's advice is sound - you will probably want to pick specific songs common to black and white artists from the 1920s and 1930s and attempt to tease out the elements that flowed from white tradition to black musicians. No easy task, but a worthy topic.

You will need some background on the topic. The hillbilly and race recordings of the early twentieth century reflect over 200 years of hybridization and cross-fertization between blacks and whites in North America (and the Caribbean, as well). Bill Malone in the introductory chapter of Southern Music, American Music discusses the difficulty in determing the 'racial' origin of many American folk songs. Secular and religious music demonstrate this interaction, as do folk and popular forms. A single song may weave its way back and forth across the color line, from the stage to the work-camp and back, and may parody a hymn or recast a secular theme in religious terms.

Lyrics and melodies common to both black and white tradition found their way onto race and hillbilly records. You will need to look for demonstrably 'white' material that has been translated into the African-American idiom (as clumsy as that sounds, I don't know how else to say it). "St. James Infirmary" (mentioned previously) is a good example of this. "Cotton-Eyed Joe" is an example of a song that, while likely of African-American origin, is melodically related to British-Irish music.

You may want to get a hold of the article "The Blues Ballad and the Genesis of Style in Traditional Narrative Song," by D.K. Wilgus and Eleanor Long (Narrative Folksong: New Directions. Boulder Colorado: Westview Press, 1985). Wilgus and Long sketch the outlines of the American Blues Ballad, which "does not so much narrates the events of a story as it celebrates them." Assuming a degree of familiarity on the part of the listener with the basic events of a story, the blues ballad uses allusion and poetic affect, and plays loose with chronology. Noting that the blues ballad is found both in white and black tradition and that its form coalesced in the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century, the authors argue that songs with these characteristics are found in Irish tradition, and that these forms can be traced to the early Middle Ages. While they don't quite make a direct connection between Irish forms and the American blues ballad, they suggest the possibility of a connection (without discounting possible African antecedents).

Also, for reference, you will want to obtain a copy of G. Malcolm Laws' Native American Balladry (way overdue for a reprint).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Azizi
Date: 11 Nov 07 - 12:11 AM

It seems to me that the any quality study of the White influence on the Blues should be grounded in a good understanding of the characteristics of Black American music and the African roots of Black American music, specifically the Blues.

With regard to the African roots of the Blues, one book I suggest the researcher read is Samuel Charter's "The Roots of The Blues: An African Search" {Boston; London; Marion Boyars, 1981}. Though this book has 14 chapters, I would particularly call the researcher's attention to Chapter 11 "The African Blues Roots". Here's an excerpt from that chapter:

"...It was clear, as I had first realized listening to the griot songs,that they didn't sound much like the blues. The two songs came from different musical idioms. But I could also hear certain traits-like the way of singing and the rhythmic texturing-that were common to each of them. At some point they had perhaps sounded much more alike, but both the griot's music and the music in the southern United States had changed, each of them going in their own direction. The voices themselves had a a great deal of similarity in tone and texture...There was the same kind of tone production, the same forcing of higher notes. If a griot like Jali Nyama Suso had sung in English the sound of his voice would have been difficult to distinguish from an Afro-American singer's. In the gruffness of the lower range and the strong expressiveness of the middle voice I could hear stylistic similarities to singing I had heard in many parts of the South.

The differences came in the structure of the melodies and the accompaniments the griot played...

So I had found some things that related the two musical forms-the style of singing, the occasional use of rhythmic figures, the kind of texturing of the voice and accompanying rhythm. Also the role of the singers in their small communities were similar, and in the rural areas of the South, the blues man performed a much wider range of songs than recordings would suggest. They were their farm's dance band, children's entertainer, gospel singer, and blues man, all rolled into one. The usual name for them was 'songster', and perhaps this comes closer to the Mandingo description of a 'jali' than the term blues man does...

At the same time, though, I found so much that was different. When I listened to [certain griot singers] I was surprised to hear how much Arabic influence there was in the music. The elaborate instrumental flourishes were all more Arabic than African...When the blues first came to the notice of European intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s ther had been some comments about similarities between the blues and flamenco music but I hadn't taken them seriously because I coudn't see any link between the two styles. It was clear now that the West African musicians had already been influenced by Arabic music just as the gypsy singers and instrumentalists had been along the Mediterranean. The influence hadn't come from the Gypsies to the Mississippi blues men. There had been an earlier Arabic music that had influenced them both. This would also help explain the Portuguese fado-which is often dscribled as a kind of blues..."
[pps 118, 123, 125]

-snip-

There's much more. Quoting sparse excerpts does not do this book justice.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Azizi
Date: 11 Nov 07 - 12:26 AM

For the same two reasons I stated in my previous post to this thread, another book I would suggest a researcher on this topic read is Maud Cuney Hare's "Negro Musicians And Their Music {New York; Da Capo Press reprint originally published in 1936 by Associated Publishers, Washington D.C}

I would particularly direct this researcher's attention to portions of Chapter III "African Influences in America".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: GUEST,chris M
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 03:01 PM

You might find Peter Van Der Merwe's book "The origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth Century Music Popular Music" (Oxford U Press, 1999)to be helpful. It was a revelation to me, and still is.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Bobert
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 03:22 PM

There is a must read book entitled "Escaping the Delta, Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues" by Elijah Wald... Wald gets into alot of the music of the period that you, Mathew, have zeroed in on...

And what is truly fascinating about what Wald says is that balck performers of the day, including just about every well known bluesman from those day, played everything that was popular... It wasn't until they went into the recording studios, which BTW were mostly found in furniture building shops, that blacks were told to *just* record the "race" records...

Get this book, Mathew... Wald has done alot of the work for you...

Good luck...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 03:28 PM

Proofreading time:

I am not really a nitpicker and am impressed with the subject matter and responses to this point. I was saddened when I taught college classes a decade ago at the state of the language. This is also an example-a [missing space and use of a hyphen when a dash is required] well respected [shouldn't that be 'well-respected'?] institution of higher learning and 1)differenciate [missing another space] (yes you can find it on the web but not in M-W or OED [missing em-dash or, at the least, a comma] the definitive word on our language) [I don't know what the writer is getting at with the spelling] and 2. [inconsistent notation -- the first number used a close-parenthesis, but this uses a period] not possessive american's but plural americans [the proper correction would be to use Americans' -- pointing out that 'american's' is wrong helps no one]. Yes-thankfully [missing space, misuse of hyphen, and it should have been a comma] our language is evolving [missing comma] but we must accept some basics-unless [again with the missing spaces and hyphen where dash is needed] it is for satirical or abstract purposes. I realize the point of the forum is a free exchange of great information for all, but I am sure when this scholarly paper is written, that the spellcheck will not catch their errors [do we know that the authors will be plural?]

Nice try, pedant. I realize that you were in a hurry to point out one error (misuse of the apostrophe) but the failure to capitalize African and American wasn't even mentioned. Be sure that hurried writing is often fraught with error. Be also sure that, in an informal online forum such as this one, sticklers will likely be stucklers. Consider yourself stuck.


Bob


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 04:13 PM

I don't know why people have to bring spelling and grammar into this. Perhaps the initiator of this thread lives in a hispanic area of town, where diferenciar (differentiate) and absence of caps (africano, americano) prevail. At the rate of hispanic increase in America, perhaps one should get used to the language evolving to encompass hispanic practice.

On the subject, Bobert makes a good point. Did black performers or white worry about where a song came from?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 05:47 PM

No scholar on this subject I, but it is fairly easy to recognize the process in listening to traditional jazz and blues. First, listen to the early recordings of New Orleans jazz bands, the "Tailgate" funeral bands, especially. Then, travel up the Mississippi to St. Louis and Chicago and hear some of the same songs recorded by people such as Jack Teagarden, Benny Goodman and others, many of whom had more formal musical training. The raw, passionate and sometimes slightly disjointed New Orleans sound has an allure all its own. The St. Louis and Chicago sound was a little "tighter" in arrangements and more fluid in performance. Some will argue this this somehow takes away from the improvisational and very personal essence of the music, but I think both are valid. The latter could not exist without the former. I get great enjoyment from both.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: GUEST,balagan
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 06:55 PM

A very fundamental influence (and perhaps one taken for granted) is the INSTRUMENTS. Guitar, fiddle, mandolin, piano, organ, concertina, trumpets and drum sets.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White influence on Black Music
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 03:05 AM

Dunno if this is relevant or helpful, but the Carolina Chocolate drops are a young, contemporary black string band playing old timey music. Might be interesting to talk to them about their influences and why they feel it's relevant to be doing what they do now.


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