Oh yeah, baby! Shake, shake, shake, shake your booty, shake your booty! It is time to move your body and throw shapes and ‘bows. You are about to experience a hot, rhythmically, enriching travel back in time. Have you ever heard of Negro Spirituals? Where does Blues come from? What had come out before Jazz was created? Right after this introduction you finna read an excerpt that might sound a little confusing, but do not give up! You know, after the rain there is a rainbow, like there is always a good thing after pain. The following excerpt has been selected so that you can see where it all began.
Extra Information: “finna” means “going to”. It is a variation and reduction from “fixin’ to” and “fittin to”. So whenever you want to say “I am going to work right now”, you can say “I finna work right now”.
Without further ado, let us talk about Black Music and its history.
Beginning in the seventeenth century, a burgeoning slave trade saw Africans captured and brought to America in bondage, separated from their relations and sold, leaving individuals with no point of familiarity: forced into slavery, on a new continent, without kin or social contacts. Out of this desolation came the unfortunate liberty for Africans to develop a new culture from their abrupt change of situation and the remnants of their old lives carried in their minds and bodies with them to the New World.
Subsequent generations of Africans gradually became African-Americans as a rich culture infused with music developed under the harsh conditions of slavery. White Americans considered African-Americans separate and unequal for centuries, going to extraordinary lengths to keep Negroes oppressed and apart. Yet behind the strict, segregating curtain hung between “Black” and “White,” African-Americans created a distinctive music that sank its roots deeply into their American experience and drew from it an amazing evolution of sound that has penetrated that racist fabric and pervaded the entirety of American culture.
Music became a way to remain connected to their African heritage while protesting the bleak conditions African-Americans faced throughout history. Musical protest took on assorted forms and functions as Blacks strove to advance their social station while simultaneously retaining their cultural heritage.
Excerpt from African-American Music as Rebellion: From Slavesong to Hip-Hop by Megan Sullivan
It all started out with the drums and the idea of drumming to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Later on, they began using whatever means of rhythm-making were at hand: European instruments, household items such as spoons, jugs, and washboards, or even their own bodies used as percussive surfaces in a style that came to be known as “patting juba” or “slapping juba” that evolved to what we call “stepping” nowadays. What really catches my attention is that music was like a feeling that they could express by using natural and artificial paraphernalia. I would recommend the movie Stomp the Yard starring Chris Brown.
Read more about Juba on About Juba
You can see how people perform the “stepping” on the video below by the Havic Squared. Enjoy it and try it. It’s really cool!
Also, you should watch this video by this group from New York called Stomp. They use household utensils to make absolutely amazing music. If you want to watch their live show, you can get more information on Stomp Line Official Website
Together with the drums and drumming, the Negro Spirituals were born out of the plantations and it sounded religious, whether it was Christian or not, was that of striving towards freedom, escape from slavery. My favorite tune is Wade in The Water. It can be seen in this video below:
Wow, this is a long line of beautiful and meaningful music! After all, Black Music has embraced a number of genres and swaggers. Which is your favorite? Which have you bumped to lately?
Inside this group that we have labeled Black Music, you can find:
Folk Spirituals, Negro Spirituals, Arranged Spirituals, Syncopated Brass Bands, Ragtime Music, Folk Gospel, Rural Blues, New Orleans Style Jazz, Gospel Hymn, Blues, Boogie Woogie, Jubilee Quartet, Stride Piano, Big Band, Traditional Gospel, Gospel Quartet, Swing Bands, Gospel Group, Urban Blues (R.I.P BB King), Rhythm & Blues, R&B, Bebop, Gospel Choir, Freedom Songs, Rock n’ Roll, Hard Bop, Cool Music (Listen to Miles Davis), Rock, Soul, SoulJazz, Avany-Gard Jazz/Free Jazz, Modern Gospel, Disco, Funk, Rap, Jazz Fusion, Gogo Music, House Music, Electro Funk, Holy Hip Hop, Techno, Neo Soul, New Jazz Swing, Bounce Music, Trap, Reggae and Line Dances.
WANT TO SEE THESE TYPES ABOVE BEING PLAYED? Watch this video below and enjoy it!
Pick your favorite and share with us on the comments below. Who do you consider to be the kings and queens of Black Music?
This material has been selected, analyzed and put together by Rodrigo P. Honorato