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African American Culture

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Essay title: African American Culture

African American Culture

Music

Spirituals

This is a religious song sung by the black people in the southern part of the US and are often influenced by African melodies. The spirituals are typical working songs and often content stories and persons from the Bible. Many of the slaves, in fact, thought of themselves as modern children of Israel who were looking for freedom. The songs first become well-known outside the southern states when the slaves were set free from slavery.

Blues

The blues is extremely various type of music, and it has many different musical expressions. The musicians often created an individual style of blues when they performed. It has also given a lot to the development to jazz and it’s not rare that jazz musicians bring an element of blues into their music. In addition to this, some of the classical, and many rock, folk and country music compositions also show traces of blues.

The blues lyrics are well-known for their reflection on loneliness and sorrow, but humorous reactions to life’s trouble is also common.

Blues probably developed after the Civil War from short solo calls which were called field hollers. These field hollers were used as communication among the black workers on the plantations in the South. Later, a “down-home” blues developed from this into the blues we know today.

When the blues became more popular in the early 1900’s, W.C. Handy began to perform blues songs in public. Bessie Smith, of the 1920’s, is counted one of the most talented blues singers, and she and other famous singers, helped the blues reach a larger audience.

Jazz

The history of jazz began on the late 19th century and it was influenced by black American music, African rhythms and European harmonies.

One of the most important factors in jazz is improvisation, to create a song impulsively. This is a skill held high of the characteristic jazz musician. The musician isn’t just a performer, he is a composer too, and this is what makes every performance of jazz different.

Syncopation is another key word in jazz, the musicians break up the regular patterns; they make them uneven and mix the parts of the song in unexpected ways.

In the beginning the jazz was preformed by black Americans who had little experience in playing western music. Later, as the popularity grew, the sound was influenced by musicians with other backgrounds, like classical or formal. The development of new instruments and different techniques has also done a great deal for the sound of jazz.

Rock and roll

Rock is one of the most popular music types, and it comes in many different shapes.

From its origin, in the 1950’s, rock and roll was party music that appealed to the youth. It celebrated the young, and described all the ups and downs, joys and problem of this period.

Many parents dismissed rock as something inappropriate and a threat to society at this time. But by the 60’s, rock and roll had earned much more respect, also from the parent generation. By the end of this decade the music had moved away from its root in the blues and country and the next decade rock music became more popular than every and it influenced every bit of popular culture from films to fashion. But as the rock became more accepted it lost much of its rebelliousness which had originally given it its power with the youth.

The roots of the rock music can be found in the blues’ lyric and guitars and in the spirit of traditional country music, also some parts of jazz and pop music can be heard in the rock sound.

Chuck Berry was the first great rock and roll artist. His feelings and youth problems are expressed in his lyrics and he has become a major influence on later rock performers, f.ex. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Little Richard is another great influence in Rock and roll, especially his performance styles. His energetic and colourful stage performance was a model for performers who followed.

In rock and roll the racial differences in the US was erased. If featured black artists, as Chuck Berry, who were influenced by white musicians, and vice versa with Presley and Buddy Holly, who adopted

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