The Gospel of the Blues
By: Nikita Gabrielle Taggart
Have you ever gone out on a Saturday night to hear someone sing the blues? In the same respect, gone to a church the next morning and heard a gospel soloist? If not, one might think that these two musical expressions have nothing in common with one another. However, by listening to the motivic development, form, and studying their histories, one will come to learn how similar they actually are. If American music is truly exceptional, it is solely due to root of blues and gospel music. These two forms of music materialized in the late 19th and early 20th century. Blues and gospel music are inspired riveting sounds of African music. Without the core of African music there wouldn’t be any advances of this time: jazz, rock, soul, and hip-hop. These genres are recognized in every circumferences of the world. It is hard to fathom life without them because it is what diversifies the world. This is the glue that allows each culture, nationality, and race become united. The account of the lasting social obstacles of American history is projected through the story of black music. The sacred and secular tunes of ordinary black people, embody the characteristics of sorrow, despair, hope, love, restoration, and dreams. Decades later, this music is still commonly known. The essence and musical form of these styles have paved a way for American music thereafter. The blues and gospel of that time was known as country blues. It allowed blues music to be drawn from many sources. Country blues was a smorgasbord of music containing negro-spirituals, work songs, field hollers, and blues notes. Blues and gospel music usually narrates or depicts a story that is connected to trial or event that they have or will occur Nikita Taggart
in life. These characteristics are one’s in which we see in the work songs. Unlike jazz, blues tend to have a rhymed simple ballad-like themes with a specific chord progression. Blues music uses featured notes that fall in the middle of different intervals. This music obtained powerful tensions and resolutions are prominent dynamics of the flattening of the microtones. Characteristically, blues music is different from the Western diatonic scale. For instance, the twelve-bar blues is the most common. This type of blues is one in which has a unique form in phrase, chord structure, and length. This form is depicted in Bessie Smith’s Back Water: “I woke up this mornin', can't even get out of my door
I woke up this mornin', can't even get out of my door
There's been enough trouble to make a poor girl wonder where she want to go”
Each stanza has three lines; the second stanza reaffirms the first, and the third typically finalizes the complete thought. The text is orchestrated over about four measures of music on top of a harmonic pattern. The simplest harmonic progression of I, IV, and V is most commonly done within different keys.
In the same prospect the twelve- bar AAB form of blues became the outline for the first rock songs, from “Good Rockin’ Tonight” to “Hound Dog”. New innovations sprung with musicians such as the Beetles and the Rolling Stones to take blues music to the next peak. Blues and gospel music came from the experiences of everyday life. Legends and icons such as Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, BB King, and gospel musicians such as Mahaila Jackson, Sam Cooke, and Clara Ward all set the bar high on the expectations and abilities of these genres. Their music showed real, raw, and straightforward characteristics of everyday life. They created a realm of existent emotions and resilience as they connected with their audiences.
Great Mississippi Delta bluesman Muddy Water once said, “The blues was born behind a mule”. These music genres were initiated before the emancipation of the South. This was the period in time when African...
Bibliography: "Early History of Rickenbacker." Early History of Rickenbacker. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2014.
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