Blues and Jazz Influence Paper

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  • Topic: Blues, Jazz, Duke Ellington
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  • Published : July 29, 2012
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The Influence of 1920 Blues and Jazz on Modern Music
Mark Carter

The Influence of 1920 Blues and Jazz on Modern Music
This paper is will try to show how the music that started with singing of old songs by the slaves to influences the music that the world listens to today. Shaping the music of Rock and Roll, Country and Western, and Easy Listening that influences every aspect of society’s everyday life are Blues and Jazz. In an interview many years ago on television, heard by this student, John Lennon said that the biggest influence in his musical life was the Blues. John Lennon started listening to the Blues before listening to any other type of music; the result of this influence on him can easily be seen. Because of the influence of the Blues, John Lennon was one of the biggest influences in music history with the Beatles and then on his own.

Director Martin Scorsese had this to say about the impact of the Blues to America: When listen to Lead Belly, or Son House, or Robert Johnson, or John Lee Hooker, or Charley Patton, or Muddy Waters, you're moved, your heart is shaken, you're carried and inspired by its visceral energy, and its rock solid emotional truth You go right to the heart of what it is to be human, the condition of human. That's the Blues (Scorsese, nd).

This student will start this paper with a short history of Blues because it was from Blues that Jazz was born. Blues was born in the southern states in the Mississippi delta area out of a need: a need for the slaves to express themselves in a way that their masters would not punish them for practicing. These songs used their field hollers (used for communicating across the distances of the fields), their work songs, their plantation dances, ballads, and church music to express the pain and anguish they were living combined with the rhythms and beats brought with them from Africa. This evolved into the music that would soon become the soul and heart of America. Blues lyrics are often about broken homes or lost love. However, when performing blues live, this music is for dancing, hollering, and enjoying a good time. After laboring all week, many Blacks relaxed at juke joints on the weekend. Acoustic Blues music, food, and drinks were plentiful (Ruskey, 2005).

The blues became a predominantly Black form of music. Both male and female Blues’ artists wrote and sang about subjects that the White population was not willing to discuss in public. The topics of these songs were sad, self-mocking, self-indulgent and assertive; these songs were also dealing with sexual disappointments, the failures of love, spousal abuse, and alcohol abuse. Singing the Blues included any problems experienced in the life. White people wanted a more uplifting and faster paced music.

Blues started to change form; the two basic types, City Blues and Country Blues, evolved into a newer and faster form of this music around the end of the forties. Many of Memphis' best Blues artists left the city at the time when Mayor "Boss" Crump shut down Beale Street to stop the prostitution, gambling, and cocaine trades. As these businesses closed their doors, this action was effective in also eliminating the musicians, and entertainers' jobs. The Blues migrated to Detroit and Chicago where it became electrified (History of Rock, nd).

This move started the merging of Blues and Jazz influencing the rest of the music world and introducing the wide use of other instruments. The addition of the upright bass, drums, piano and occasionally harmonica moved the Blues music into a totally different arena; more people began listening and more hit songs were born. The Blues was starting to gain a wider audience. Artists such as B.B. King and T-bone Walker began using the guitar in a way that made a new style of music. This new use of the guitar was the first move to creating Rock and Roll. These two...
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