1890 – 1920, Blues The origin of the term of was most likely derived

1890 – 1920, Blues
The origin of the term of was most likely derived from mysticism involving
blue indigo, which was used by many West African cultures in death and
mourning ceremonies where all the mourner's garments would have been
dyed blue to indicate suffering. This mystical association towards the indigo
plant, grown in many southern US slave plantations, combined with the West
African slaves who sang of their suffering as they worked on the cotton that
the indigo dyed eventually resulted in these expressed songs being known as
"the Blues."[32]
The first publication of blues sheet music was Hart Wand's "Dallas Blues" in
1912; W. C. Handy's "The Memphis Blues" followed in the same year. The
first recording by an African American singer was Mamie Smith's 1920
rendition of Perry Bradford's "Crazy Blues". But the origins of the blues date
back to some decades earlier, probably around 1890.[33] They are very
poorly documented, due in part to racial discrimination within American
society, including academic circles,[34] and to the low literacy rate of the
rural African American community at the time.[35]
Bisaillon, Cindy, "The Power of Colour", Ideas: with Paul Kennedy (CBC Radio 1) (3)
David Evans, in Nothing but the blues, pg. 33
a b Kunzler, pg. 130
Bruce Bastin, in Nothing but the blues, pg. 206
After Emancipation, led to creation of Juke Joints with the transition from
slavery to sharecropping (reflected in music from blues to ragtime/early jazz)
1897-1918, Ragtime
Missouri, located in the center of America, was the heartland of ragtime. As
noted by popular music historians David Jasen and Gene Jones, "There were
more rags--and more good rags--from Missouri than anywhere else." (That
American Rag, 1) Perhaps it was the robust pioneer spirit that thrived in
Missouri that created the environment for music like ragtime to flourish.
"...Missouri was destined by its location to be an area of commercial, social,
and cultural change. Since the early nineteenth century, St. Louis has served
as midpoint and stopover for north-south traffic on our largest river, and
when going west was a national imperative, the city was the 'Gateway to the
West.'" (TAR, 1)
During the 1880s, black entrepreneurs prospered in the sporting district of
St. Louis, known as Chestnut Valley. John L. Turpin, a black businessman
from Savannah, Georgia, made St. Louis his home in 1887 and opened a
saloon called the Silver Dollar. Turpin's teenage son, Tom, followed closely in
his father's footsteps and by 1897 had opened his first saloon. That same
year, young Turpin, also a self-taught pianist had his composition "Harlem
Rag" published by a local lawyer. "Harlem Rag" was a defining piece of piano
ragtime and a model for its composers.
By 1900 Tom Turpin had acquired sufficient capital to open a new saloon, the
Rosebud. His two young protégés, Joe Jordan and Louis Chauvin, frequented
the establishment. With the constant rollicking, buoyant sound of ragtime,
Turpin, Jordan, Chauvin, and many other enthusiastic proponents of the new
music, made the Rosebud and St. Louis the capital of ragtime.
The regular flow of traffic through St. Louis and the rest of the state created
a demand for accommodations and amenities for travelers. "As Missouri
gentrified it became a state where a piano player could make a good living."
(TAR, 2) As their salaries usually were nominal, the nomadic pianists made
their best money from tips provided by the patrons of the many saloons that
employed them.
Ragtime popularity grew with compositions of Scott Joplin (The Entertainer,
Maple Leaf Rag) and Jelly Roll Morton. Ragtime and Jazz began to overlap,
with jazz surpassing ragtime in mainstream popularity in the early 1920’s.
1920’s, Jazz Age
Jazz facilitated the mesh of African American traditions and ideals with the
white middle class society. The jazz age came about when prohibition in the
United States banned the sale of alcoholic drinks resulting in illicit, but lively,
Speakeasies, where jazz flourished. Speakeasy illegally sells alcohol.
Often referred to the as the Roaring 20’s – prosperity was widespread –
everything seemed feasible through modern technology. New technologies,
especially automobiles, moving pictures and radio proliferated ‘modernity’ to
a large part of the population. Formal decorative frills were shed in favor of
practicality in both daily life and architecture. At the same time, jazz and
dancing rose in popularity, in opposition to the mood of the specter of World
War I.
Women’s suffrage at it peak and the entrance of the flapper women began to
make a statement within society and the jazz age was not immune to these
new ideas. With women now taking part in the work force after the end of
the First World War there were many more possibilities for women in terms
of social life and entertainment. Emergence of famous women musicians
including Bessie Smith, not only a great singer but also an African American
Youth used the influence of jazz to rebel against the traditional culture of
previous generations. This went hand in hand with fads like bold fashion
statement (flappers) and new radio concerts, dance like the Charleston
developed by African Americans suddenly became popular among younger
1930’s, Big Band
The big band is a type of musical ensemble associated with jazz, a style of
music, which became popular during the Swing Era from the early 1930’s
until the late 1940’s. The Big Band was slow to take off because of The
Great Depression, which closed nightclubs. This type of ensemble finally
took off through radio with Benny Goodman and the emergence of the swing
style with bandleaders like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman,
Artie Shaw and Woody Herman.
Many bands toured the country in grueling one night stands to reach out to
their fans. Traveling conditions and lodging were often difficult, in part due
to segregation in most parts of the United States. At the end of 1930’s, big
band played a major role in lifting morale during World War II. Many band
members served in the military and toured with USA troupes at the front
with bandleader Glenn Miller.
1940’s, Swing Era, rise of the vocalist, Bebop
During the 1940’s, war production pulled us out of the Great Depression.
Women often replaced men who had gone off to war. This was often the first
time that these women had moved from working in the home to the
workplace. Even after the men had returned and the women had to give up
their jobs the returning men, they still felt a sense of independence that
reflected in their lifestyles and taste in music. The men also returned with
different as ideals, after having seen the rest of the world they were no
longer satisfied with the family farm as the ideal. Also, blacks were more
determined to attain equal status.
At the beginning of the decade, the swing style of Big Bands dominated
popular music. Eventually, many of the singers with the Big Bands struck out
on their own, with the prominence given to the smooth voices of Bing
Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore and Perry Como. Be-Bop and Rhythm
and Blues grew out of the big band era toward the end of the decade.
Although these were distinctly black sounds, epitomized by Charlie Parker,
Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Billy Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. Bebop
was a new style that came out of swing music, but strived to counter the
popularization of swing with non-danceable music that demanded a more
sophisticated listener.