1 nov. 2012

History Of Music Chapter # 1

 By Pioneer Gigant



It's not our intention to make an exhaustive study on any particular music style, as there are loads through the internet,  but rather to show a list of the main styles which were important for the development of modern music grown in and from the USA and to show how they've influenced one another.
From African music to Blues and Jazz, from Cuban Habaneras to Funk and Soul to Rap and New Jack Swing, from Mento to Ska to Reggae and Dancehall, from Boogaloo to Salsa, from Electro to all the Electronic music we have nowadays, we'll explore how these patterns marked the evolution of modern music into the 21st century.
I would name a few musicians that led changes in this evolution in music but wont extend much in that sense, giving only a general idea of who or how certain styles evolved in the next ones in the chain of music history.

CHAPTER ONE. From Blues to Jazz.

In Africa music is in everyday life. Used to celebrate any event worth of mention, it's used for worshipping nature and to celebrate life.
Their vision of life is quite different from that of western societies.
They don't make distinction between good and bad, as is only relative to determined situations and every single atom belongs to everything else, so we can much say that 'unity' is the word that can best define their way of life, we are one.
With the upcoming of slavery from Africa to the US of A, the British took them to work for them in the North American continent with no rights whatsoever, mainly in the cotton fields, one of the few places where they carried on singing the way they did in their continent, only this time in pain and sorrow for the new situation they had, mainly in the southern states that shared the Mississippi river banks.
Of course this music reflected what they wanted to do and they couldn't and they didn't understand at the time why was it even happening, and, while singing in short lines using 'call and response', the way they do as a whole in their land, the Blues was born.
It started through singing, as they had to work all day long, but they've brought soon they will find some instruments brought from Europe by their owner, mainly used for March bands.
One of the first documented Blues to be written is W.C. Handy's 'Memphis Blues'.

The Blues would from then on mark a pattern which would have a tremendous effect on any other styles in the US, including rural american styles such as country music (even Hank Williams learnt how to play music through an afroamerican bluesman), folk, and much later in time, rock and roll.
Eventually bluesmen would migrate to the northern states, especially Chicago and get expanded in the cities, creating a stronger and more powerful 'city blues' with figures as impressive as Muddy Waters or  John Lee Hooker.

It's funny enough to see who the first beat is especially remarked, as it happens in a type of music which is to evolve years later, the funk.
The Blues got comercialized and it wasn't just a slaver's thing anymore, as more and more people turned into it, including many white listeners who went to see them live anytime they could, probably the first time white and black people tried to break the rules that keep them separate through music, the best way to break barriers.

From the 1950's onwards, most Bluesmen who started their careers being persecuted by the white authorities in the Southern States were impressed to see young artists from the UK such as the Rolling Stones getting into the States looking expressely for them to go gigging with them and putting them back into mainstream in the 50's and 60's.

The Blues is simple in structure, it uses the first, the fourth, and the fifth chord progression, made it more beautiful through the use of minor seventh chords, which is also widely used by its counterpart, Jazz music, which was born, partly as a result of it, but which evolution took music to a new dimension.

The terms 'cool' and 'hip' and 'cat' were created by jazz musicians, enough to say,
'New Orleans had a great tradition of celebration. Opera, military marching bands, folk music, the blues, different types of church music, ragtime, echoes of traditional African drumming, and all of the dance style that went with this music could be heard and seen throughout the city. When all of these kinds of music blended into one, jazz was born.'--Wynton Marsalis.

New Orleans was, as any other southern state, a slaver's trade market, although the French traders in this state, allowed the afroamericans to get together once a week, usually on Sundays, and play their music, which made New Orleans one of the most important places along the US in spreading not only the music brought to American land by the African slaves, but also a great deal of their culture, eventually mixed with the ones they've found there.

Being ruled by the Spaniards, and the French, New Orleans always had a unique multicultural touch that allowed afroamericans developed the music that was about to end up being jazz through carnivals, the mardi grass and Congo Square, music pillar of the State.
The etimology of the word 'jazz' has led to many misleadings through the years, people associate it with sex, with the jazzmin fragance prostitutes used etc. In any case, jazz in the most extended used one can make out of it, means anything one wants it to.

In the musical sense, means is the last mix of styles as Winton Marsalis quoted. But also means freedom in a total sense, is the first kind of music that allowes total improvisation, being the main feature in it.
It was the first place to make use of the European music instruments mostly used for military marching bands and classical music, which influence can be seen in many of the earliest songs, for example, in Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band 'that's a plenty' using Lizst passages through it, you can notice the freedom in playing it and in using whichever music you want it to be included in it.
Jazz in this sense can, no doubt, be the freedom way of expression the Blues was looking for but couldn't get in its own time, the redemtion from slavery into.

We mustn't forget that it wasn't only African music New Orleans widespread mainly through Carnival days, through different 'krewes', but also the influence of the West Indians, which union lead to the so-called Black Indians (In the Mardi Grass, Carnival day, most groups are named by their Red Indian tribes mixed with all the Spanish and French touch in a highly more mixed environment, impressive colours and spread of masks and outfits)

Early jazz was played by marching bands walking in the street with their instruments, mostly horn sections (tuba, trumpet, trombone, sax, etc) and drummers, and you can still see nowadays many funeral services with these marching bands playing jazz for any event that is important. 

One of the most influential figures was trumpetist and singer Louis Armstrong 'Satchmo' who began playing the cornet at the age of 13. He developed the idea of musicians playing during breaks that expanded into musicians playing individual solos.

Jelly Roll Morton was the first jazz musician to take Jazz into written music.

The basic rhythm of Jazz is Swing, swinging meaning being in sync with other people and loving it. It first appeared during the Great Depression, and by the mid 1930's, swing dancing become America's national dance through orchestra leaders such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Paul Whiteman or Benny Goodman.  The vocalists accent the second and four beats to create the rhythm, and it gives a sense of motion and make you want to dance.

1940' brought a new style of jazz, bebop, with fast tempos, intricate melodies and complex harmonies, it was considered to be jazz for intellectuals, this style lead to modern jazz, the most important figures been Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, 'bird'. Miles Davis is a perfect example of where it led.

In the 1950's, the combination of African, Spanish, and native cultures in Latin America created a unique body of music and dance. Musicians from Cuba began to play with jazz musicians in New York. By combining the musical traditions of North, South, and Central America, Latin Jazz take place, and eventually will lead to Boogaloo, another important pillar in the development of Northamerican music that led into salsa music.

Ragtime is another style worth mentioned here, for without it boogie boogie wouldn't have been possible, the best example is Scott Joplin.

Another particular figure historically important in jazz is Eubie Blake.
Born in 1887 he went through all of the phases from the early stages of development, and explained that boogie woogie (which lead to rock and roll, but also highly influenced Jamaicans into the development of Ska music), wasn't originally called boogie woogie, but 'the 16' as it plays sixteen notes with the left hand. Eubie's 'Charleston Rag' (a reversed broken-octave walking bass line) is the first of the sort, or so he claims, as Eubie said he composed it in 1899 he called the style the "walking bass", although it was reversed,  but didn't have a way to write it at the time as he didn' t know how to write music. George Thomas' New Orleans Hop Scop Blues' was published in 1916.


Notice the different dates in which sudden variations within the music appear, as such variations will lead us to new styles that are in the chain of evolution of modern music from then on, as is the case of Boogaloo, in the 50's as a result of mixing Cuban music and latin american music with Jazz in New York City.

Different combinations of Jazz will lead to the style which we'll discuss in the next chapter, the boogie woogie and the eternal influence on each other through listening to each other's radio stations on the triangle New Orleans/Cuba/Jamaica, and its subsequent influence on Jamaican Ska by taking only the counterpoint in the rhythm.

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario