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1414Re: [RedHotJazz] Re: Martha Copeland

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  • Howard Rye
    Sep 16, 2005
      on 16/9/05 8:26, tommersl at tommersl@... wrote:

      > These
      > examples shows in my opinion that it's impossible to know how music
      > was sound in the 1860's and 1870's or even the 1880's and 1890's, and
      > that it's not a surprise that old musicians could sit in easily with
      > the commercial music of the 1920's.

      There is documentary evidence that the jug band sound in Louisville was
      fully formed when B.D. Tite returned to the city in 1900. If this is true
      the jug bands were by modern standards very old-fashioned by the time they
      recorded. But we cannot truly know what music the accounts and recollections
      are describing, since even descriptions by survivors may be influenced by
      tricks of memory (and self-aggrandizement).

      The only hard evidence we have of what African-American female vaudeville
      singers sounded like in 1900-1910 is the records made in Europe by Belle
      Davis and Laura Bowman. We can guess on a number of internal grounds that
      various white singers who recorded in this era are imitating black
      performance styles, but this judgement can essentially only be based on our
      knowledge of later black performance styles and of the general contemporary
      sound by contrast. Even when they claim to be imitating black performance
      styles, as many singers who recorded in Europe did, we can't be sure they
      were telling the truth rather than trading on a public demand for novelty.
      Those singers who claimed to be doing so certainly sound different from
      those who didn't.

      Which in terms of the present discussion is merely to say that we really
      don't know how likely or otherwise it is that Martha Copeland might have
      been that old. We certainly have no evidence to suggest that she couldn't
      have been.

      Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
      Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
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