Re Blues Roots
- --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "Patrice Champarou" <patrice.champarou@...> wrote:
>Country Blues or any other way the 1920's Blues music is defined is not necessarily the exact form of which pre Jazz blues existed. So discussing the Country Blues period is different than discussing Blues.
> I am not sure everyone means the same thing by "swing". Musically speaking,
> although I agree that binary ragtime syncopation can provide as much of a
> groovy feeilng as ternary, "low-down" shuffles or slow rhythms, all
> specialists I've ever read seem to agree that ragtime does not "swing" in
> spite of its tricky syncopations.
> Fred Van Eps or Vess J. Ossman followed the same rhythmic patterns as
> classic ragtime writers like Joplin, and that way of "ragging" music was
> still vivid among country blues guitarists thirty years later, like
> Mississippi John Hurt's style as opposed to the thoroughly urban Freddie
> Spruell, a Mississippi-born singer who had been a Chicago resident since the
> early 20's or earlier. A type of ternary rhythm which first appeared in
> early jazz bands and piano works, definitely not in Southern country music
> until the blues "queens" had made it popular.
> I know it's an old disagreement between Tommer and myself - or should I say,
> between every "hard blues" freak in the world and myself? - but I think it
> is just crazy to imagine that there was anything like blues before the
> ragtime era, I mean blues as we've know them from country musicians
> discovered in the 60's! Wouldn't it be simpler, and less ideological, to
> admit that there never was such a strict separation between country and city
> music, between professionals and amateurs, between popular and so-called
> "folk" music (to please the XIXth century Romantics), and no hidden country
> world secretely practising a purely imaginary music of slavery times? Only
> notice that the emergence of the blues pattern was a gradual evolution
> towards what everyone now calls swing, rather than the victory of "roots"
> music over the clear, acknowledeged, and duly recorded binary syncopations
> which prevailed at the turn of the XXth century?
> To sum it up, is is really serious to imagine a significant number of
> unlearnt musicians playing in John Lee Hooker's style (with a banjo, LOL!)
> at the turn of the century, and influencing New Orleans brass band in less
> than a decade?
Lets consider that as Howard said Country Blues came from Classic Blues, it still points out that Blues existed. However, the definition of both Blues and Country Blues can be different from one to the other. I accept what Paul Oliver written in his books, and the descriptions made by Ernest Borneman on his first article Anthropologists look at Jazz, Oliver described the field hollers and the connection to Blues, and Borneman described some of the characteristics that are the core of the music played by African Americans ever since.
The Minstrelsy wasn't really something musical in the lines that Borneman nor Oliver are talking about. I see it as a reflection. The Minstrelsy is the White commentary on African-American music. The "Coon Songs era" which is sometimes titled (a mistake by many) as "Songsters era" was another reflection, the commentary of African Americans on the minstrels. Non of these idioms had the freedom of African-Americans doing really what they would play for their people out of their own choice.
W.C. Handy as mentioned saw Blues as early as 1902. It was developed enough that even he, with his Classical background saw it. Handy saw the opportunity to become like mayby what Brahms with the Hungarian folklore did. So he spent 5 years in the Delta to learn that culture.
And what he saw there were some sort of Country Blues, which could be as different from the 1920's Country Blues as the difference between Patton and Robert Johnson. The music always changes with times, so that music could well be different, but it existed. So Blues was existing already with the Field Hollers, and Country Blues or some form of it existed in the 19th century, as Handy came in 1902 already to find it in the Delta and spent 5 years of his life.
It wasn't "songsters" music that he found there, because Handy was already aware of the popular "Coon Songs", it wouldn't be such attraction to spend 5 years in the south and trying to become a new Brahms with a form like Coon Songs that everybody already know about?
It wasn't also Spirituals, Handy was well aware of those, he also wrote in his book about the differences between Hymns and Spirituals, which show that he recognized the differences in deep terms and wouldn't confuse it.
Also, any Bluesman always had roots, people he learned from them, and it was always locals, the Classic Blues singers could be inspiration but the folklore existed locally.
Obviously it was a Blues, Country Blues, developed enough so a Classical composer like Handy could see its potential.
So I believe that the 1920's Country Blues came from that stuff Handy saw and not from the Classic Blues singers og the 1920's. And anyway, the Blues form, the Blues scale, and all that stuff existed already with field hollers.