Retro Music Monday – African-American Music

"The Banjo Lesson," by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1893. Oil on canvas, 49″ × 35½″. Hampton University Museum
“The Banjo Lesson,” by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1893. Oil on canvas, 49″ × 35½″. Hampton University Museum

 

From Wikipedia

The influence of African Americans on mainstream American music began in the 19th century, with the advent of blackface minstrelsy. The banjo, of African origin, became a popular instrument, and its African-derived rhythms were incorporated into popular songs by Stephen Foster and other songwriters. In the 1830s, the Second Great Awakening led to a rise in Christian revivals and pietism, especially among African Americans. Drawing on traditional work songs, enslaved African Americans originated and began performing a wide variety of Spirituals and other Christian music. Some of these songs were coded messages of subversion against slaveholders, or that signaled escape.

 

Field Holler is one type of African American music.

The field holler is a type of formless, and sometimes wordless vocal expression used by slaves in the cotton fields of the “Deep South“, especially in the Mississippi Delta, to communicate or to vent feelings, hence the name “field holler”. It is closely related to the call and response of work songs, prison chain gangs, railway gangs, and arhoolies, to Afro-American spirituals and ultimately to African American music in general such as the blues and the rhythm and blues.[1]

Alan Lomax, Convicts singing in woodyard, Reed Camp, South Carolina, 1934
Alan Lomax, Convicts singing in woodyard, Reed Camp, South Carolina, 1934

Field hollers, cries and hollers of the slaves working in cotton fields, turpentine camps is seen as the precursor to the call and response of African American spirituals and gospel music, to jug bands, minstrel shows, stride piano, and ultimately to the blues, to the rhythm and blues, to jazz and to African American music in general.[1]

 

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2 thoughts on “Retro Music Monday – African-American Music

    1. Yes, I find this history very interesting. It’s amazing to see how one thing impacts one on another. Definitely understandable it’s the precursor to the blues.

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