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Who started the Delta blues myth?

GUEST,KarenH 14 Aug 18 - 07:05 AM
GUEST,KarenH 14 Aug 18 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,KarenH 14 Aug 18 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 13 Aug 18 - 09:32 PM
GUEST,KarenH 13 Aug 18 - 09:16 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 13 Aug 18 - 08:08 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 13 Aug 18 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 13 Aug 18 - 07:25 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 13 Aug 18 - 07:20 PM
KarenH 13 Aug 18 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,KarenH 13 Aug 18 - 08:34 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 13 Aug 18 - 04:37 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 13 Aug 18 - 04:13 AM
Thompson 13 Aug 18 - 02:04 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 12 Aug 18 - 09:52 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 12 Aug 18 - 08:31 PM
GUEST,Guest KH 12 Aug 18 - 07:08 PM
GUEST 12 Aug 18 - 06:20 PM
GUEST,J. Scott drinking instant coffee from red So 12 Aug 18 - 06:18 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Aug 18 - 05:17 PM
GUEST,Guest 12 Aug 18 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 10 Aug 18 - 11:00 PM
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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,KarenH
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 07:05 AM

Sorry, typo in post above, should be AJF not AJG.

For example, the chapter in question discusses the work and attitudes of John Lomax in some detail, pointing out flaws in his research methods and discussing his relationship with Leadbelly.

It seems plain enough that Odum and Lomax had different approaches to the music of African Americans of the deep south, and probably to those people themselves, and that is what the chapter explicates. However, for Miller, each of the two different approaches has its downside. Amen to that.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,KarenH
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 06:58 AM

Hi Joseph

I have now located the quotation which so exercised you, in the middle of Chapter Eight. Miller points out that there was a change in attitudes. As you may know, and as the quotations I have given from the first ever edition of the American Journal of Folklore demonstrate, early workers, including the famous Child (and one of his disciples was involved at the start of the AJG) saw 'folk' as a degenerate version of something much older and better. Part of Miller's argument is that later on, this degenerate view was replaced by a view that 'folk' was something communally created, a bottom-up view rather than a top-down one.

The quotation comes in the middle of this interesting, well-researched and thoughtful chapter, and, as I re-read it, I feel even more certain that in taking it out of context you are unfair to Miller and misrepresent his argument.

In a sense, perhaps Miller's argument might be, albeit grossly simplified, that one sort of 'racicialised' thinking replaced another at the time of the shift in approach which he describes.

The best thing for people to do is to read the book. It is well worth the effort.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,KarenH
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 06:40 AM

Hi Joseph

Interesting discussion.

I thought we were discussing the quotation to the effect that "Academic collectors were particularly slow to associate the blues with folklore"

Odum did not discuss 'blues' in 1911. Therefore, he was not discussing it as if it was 'folk music'.


As Miller points out, and as his work demonstrates, Odum was working within a social-anthropological paradigm in which the music of 'the negro' was seen as providing information about the nature of the 'race'.

What Miller does is demonstrate how this early paradigm was later replaced by a 'folkloric paradigm' which took a different view of the music.

As I have said before, it is a travesty of Miller's book to point to bits and pieces in which people you call 'folklorists' show awareness of a song which you categorise as 'blues' and then claim that this shows Miller to be ignorant or mistaken. It is especially odd to do this when Miller himself discusses most of the examples you appear to think he has omitted.

Interesting discussion, thank you.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 09:32 PM

Whether Odum had heard of quote "blues songs" or "blues music" as of 1911 (likely not) is a different issue from whether it's "an example of a folklorist discussing blues as folk music," which it is.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,KarenH
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 09:16 PM

The point I was making is that one cannot use Odum's work of 1911 as an example of a folklorist discussing blues as folk music, as I understood you to have done, because Odum himself never mentions blues as a type of music in his pieces of that date, though he does discuss what he calls the 'self pity' of 'the negro' several times. I apologise for not making that clear.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 08:08 PM

The songs with quote "blues" in their lyrics from 1905-1908 that Odum included in the 1911 article are "Look’d Down De Road" and "Knife-Song." He also included e.g. "Thought I Heard That K.C. Whistle Blow."

From "Knife-Song":
"'Fo' long, honey, 'fo' long, honey
'Fo' long, honey, 'fo' long, honey
Law-d, l-a-w-d, l-a-w-d!
...
I got de blues an' can't be satisfied,
Brown-skin woman cause of it all.
Law-d, l-a-w-d, l-a-w-d!"

From "Early In De Mornin'":
"Well I woke up this mornin' -- couldn't keep from cryin'
Well I woke up this mornin' -- couldn't keep from cryin'
Well I woke up this mornin' -- couldn't keep from cryin'
For thinkin' about -- that babe o' mine"

From "Joe Turner":
"Come like he ain't never come befo'
Come like he ain't never come befo'
Come like he ain't never come befo'"

From "Thought I Heard That K.C. Whistle Blow":
"Blow lak' she never blow befo',
Blow lak' she never blow befo',
Lawd, she blow lak' she never blow befo'"

Etc.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 07:38 PM

An easy way to look at some of the early stuff is just to look at the "Joe Turner" and "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" families, look at what people like Handy, Gus Cannon, Emmet Kennedy, and Roy Carew said about songs like those, and then ask yourself if e.g. Abbott and Seroff have ever come up with any stage performances of blues that early. No they haven't, by years (even though their _Original Blues..._ is misleading on that topic anyway -- their _Ragged But Right_ isn't misleading on that topic, happily). Johnnie Woods in 1910 and Tom Young in 1910 and Kidd Love in 1910 is really interesting (seriously), as is, say, Anthony Maggio in 1908, but the idea that 1910 or 1908 can trump e.g. 1905 is chronologically impossible.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 07:25 PM

"first [blues] was a black pop style..." is what I tried to type.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 07:20 PM

Hi Karen,

I don't think any of the quoting of Hagstrom Miller I did in the amazon review took what he was claiming "out of context." He made outrageous claims, which some readers thought sounded very interesting, because they would be very interesting if they were true. That you learned about Peabody's article because of Hagstrom Miller is cool and has no bearing on whether e.g. "Academic collectors were particularly slow to associate the blues with folklore" is true (which it isn't at all, it's ridiculous).

"I wondered what dates you were thinking of for 'earliest blues music' and also what your definition might be." The earliest decade we have good evidence for what I call blues music, which is very similar to what most blues fans call blues music, is the 1890s. For my rough definition of blues music see my post of 28 May 15 - 12:54 PM.

"What there is not in these early pieces is any explicit mention of 'the blues'." "The blues" are mentioned in two of the songs (from 1905-1908) that Odum gave in 1911.

"othering" You seem to be interested in the fact that whites born in about 1885 tended to say lots of stuff that was stereotypical and the like. They sure did. The black street guitarists Odum met were different from him in some ways and similar to him in others, and I think we can all agree that his perception of that situation would have been partly right and partly wrong. The relevance of all that to his ability to transcribe a lyric is none at all.

"commercial music did influence what African Americans were singing at work in the Delta at that period of time." Who disputes that blacks in the Delta and the like knew commercial numbers in e.g. 1901 and 1891? Not me. I (and basically everyone before Calt, who unfortunately Elijah read) dispute that pro musicians helped invent blues music in particular, because there happens to be zero credible evidence of _that_, and Handy and his peers were continually saying that they were inspired in their written blues by earlier folk blues music culture, which was mostly contrary to their selfish interest, but they were being honest, and (to make one comparison that there are plenty of parallel examples to) the 1905 that Elbert Bowman heard a "K.C. Moan" variant by from black folk singers is five years before Johnnie Woods was singing blues on stage in Florida.

"such as Robert Johnson" Elijah is _great_ on Robert Johnson in his 1930s context. Studying the 1930s isn't a way to research e.g. what black folk and stage musicians were doing in 1905-1910, as Elijah's ignorance about the latter topic shows. Elijah's website currently still says (even though I've been giving him heads up for over a decade) "first 'blues' was a black pop style... it retroactively became a folk style...." As with those Hagstrom Miller quotes, that has the virtue of sounding really interesting, and the drawback of being complete baloney.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: KarenH
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 11:01 AM

Hi Joseph

I now move onto the Odum articles of 1911.

We can see how these are slap bang in the middle of a sub-culture that saw negro song as a guide to the race and its psychology/mental habits. Again, the emphases are mine:

"My study of negro folk-songs included originally the religious and secular songs of the Southern negroes; analysis of their content; a discussion of the *mental imagery, style and habit,* reflected in them; and the word-vocabulary of the collection of songs."

Though he says he has to leave out most of the analysis of the mental style and habit of "the negro" in these pieces, some remains. Examples:

"In addition to the words of the wandering man, this song gives also an insight into the reckless traits of *the negro woman*, which are clearly pictured in many of the negro love-songs."

" Murder, conviction, courts, and fines are thus seen to be common themes along with the general results that would be expected to follow the use of whiskey and weapons; and just as *the knife, razor, and " special " are common companions with the negro, and indicate much of his criminal nature, so his songs boast of crimes which he thinks of and sometimes commits*"

There is frequent use of the generalising 'the negro', what today we might call 'othering'.

What there is not in these early pieces is any explicit mention of 'the blues'. I have read that it was not until later that Odum started using this term, despite all the time he had spent gathering tunes. That in itself is interesting.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,KarenH
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 08:34 AM

Hi Joseph

I think you misrepresent Hagstrom Miller's book. You seem to have done this by pulling a quotation out of context, and, it would seem, by completely misrepresenting what the book does and the quality of its content.

It doesn't seem reasonable to accuse Miller of getting the early story of folklorists wrong when it was as a result of reading that book that I read not only the 1903 Peabody article but also the first ever edition of "The American Journal of Folklore". Miller discusses Peabody in some detail.

What Miller does in fact is go back to the start of 'folklore' studies and situate them in the context of Jim Crow legislation and a segregated society. A society in which views about the different development of different 'races' were used to justify discrimination and segregation on the basis of 'race'. Folklore studies were part of this. This point is worth making and Miller does it well.


Here are some extracts from the first ever edition of the Journal of American Folklore, with my emphasis on certain words:

"Many of the best Scotch and Irish ballad.singers, who have preserved, in their respective dialects, songs which were once the property of the English-speaking *race*, have emigrated to this coun try; and it is possible that something of value may be obtained from one or other of these sources."

"It is also to be wished that thorough studies were made of negro music and songs. Such inquiries are becoming difficult, and in a few years will be impossible. Again, the great mass of beliefs and superstitions which exist among this people need attention, and present interesting and important psychological problems, connected with the history of a *race* who, for good or ill, are henceforth an indissoluble part of the body politic of the United States."

" There is, no doubt, another side. The habits and ideas of *prim itive races* include much that seems to us cruel and immoral, much that it might be thought well to leave unrecorded. But this would be a superficial view. What is needed is not an anthology of customs and beliefs, but a complete representation of the *savage mind* in its rudeness as well as its intelligence, its licentiousness as well as its fidelity. "

To spell it out, the early folklorists saw the music of African Americans as providing an insight into the minds of people of a different race. Miller discusses this sort of stuff in some detail. I hope that sets the record straight on his work.

Peabody is indeed worth reading as it explains how, in 1903, workers sang the commercial songs "Goo Goo Eyes" and "The Bully Song" for hours. Peabody actually moans about this, as he doesn't want to hear about it; it's not what he is interested in.

Luckily for us, he did record the information, so we can see how, as Wald has suggested, commercial music did influence what African Americans were singing at work in the Delta at that period of time. Where Wald is helpful, I believe, is in pointing out that people who came to be seen later as in some sense 'folk musicians', such as Robert Johnson and the Chatmon family, were, or aspired to be commercial stage musicians.

You wrote about Wald:

"He likes that modern-day myth that stage musicians helped invent the earliest blues music,"

I wondered what dates you were thinking of for 'earliest blues music' and also what your definition might be. Interested also in some specific examples of where Wald incorrectly states that a piece of early blues was influenced by 'stage musicians'.

Interesting discussion.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 04:37 AM

Carl Sandburg had an important interest in blues, and he and the Lomaxes were friendly (e.g. Sandburg and J. Lomax were together when they heard Martinez sing his blues in Austin, included in the Songbag), and Alan may have been influenced by Sandburg on this stuff, because Sandburg had a "Mississippi Blues" he liked to perform himself and talk about as early. But of course Sandburg didn't promote the Mississippi myth the massively influential way Alan did, we know that.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 04:13 AM

"an attempt to" No one in the thread has written anything suggesting that.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: Thompson
Date: 13 Aug 18 - 02:04 AM

Is this thread an attempt to wrest the cultural credit for blues (and probably jazz, the greatest American contribution to world culture) from black people? Good luck with that, if so.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 12 Aug 18 - 09:52 PM

I agree with Muir that the most obvious connection of the blues music of about 1908 to something else earlier is a connection to the bad man ballads. Regarding IV-IV-IV-I vs. IV-IV-I-I in particular (something he and I happen to have been very interested in for years), I think he underestimates -- roughly speaking -- over how long a period both of those chord progressions were found in both non-blues and blues, but if we just accept that
-- IV-IV-I-I and IV-IV-IV-I were both found in bad man ballads and
-- IV-IV-I-I and IV-IV-IV-I were both found in blues (along with e.g. IV-IV-IV-IV in bad man ballads and blues also),
I agree with him that the 12-bar bad man ballads seem to be the closest earlier non-blues link to the blues songs of about 1908.

Something Muir doesn't address IIRC but I think we should is that there seems to have been a transition from a fad (among black folk musicians) for third-person bad man ballads to a fad (among ditto) for first-person bad man ballads, the songs similar to "Hop Joint," to a fad for first-person blues (among ditto). If you research when the songs most similar to "Hop Joint" are from, it's about 1904 era or something like that.

And then imo it's a good idea, looking at all those songs, to look at bragging lyrics vs. vulnerable lyrics, because the bragging lyrics of the first-person bad man songs (in which the first person _was the bad man_) had to give way to more vulnerable lyrics to be typical blues lyrics, and we can find examples of both in the same song that seem to involve that gradual transition. Admitting you have the blues but qualifying that with the claim that you are too mean to cry, e.g., sits on the fence of that bragging-lyrics trend and that vulnerable-lyrics trend.

S. Calt didn't write much worth reading imo but I do like his point that a typical purpose of vulnerable lyrics about e.g. having no mother or sister would be to get money into the hat on the street. (The expression "I got the blues" was extremely well-known in the U.S., e.g. to white people.) I believe there were songs like that continuously during the 1890s to 1910, but also believe that the fads described above ran in that basic order.

I don't understand Hobson's reasoning about plantation vs. train station and supposed credibility.

The Handy piece that was most closely related to the "Yellow Dog" song he heard a guitarist do was his "Yellow Dog Rag" aka "Yellow Dog Blues," a blues; "Memphis Blues" was inspired by the Cleveland, MS band, per Handy's sideman of the time Stack Mangham. (That Handy would do one thing in 1920 and another in 1916 and another in 1914 and another in 1912, in all of those cases drawing on memories of before 1912, the year he turned 39, means little in of itself imo. It's possible that the only part of the "Memphis Blues" tune that Handy heard in Cleveland was the non-blues "mama don't allow"-type part. Also, there's smoke, but not fire that I recall seeing, that Paul Wyer was annoyed that he cowrote "Memphis Blues" and didn't get credit for it. We know Handy used people, because e.g. when Douglas Williams brought "Hooking Cow Blues," lyrics and music, to Handy, it "needed" Handy to add some musical sound effects and become a cowriting credit for Handy, and there's a parallel case to the Williams that Handy did to another black blues songwriter around the same time, I forget who. Jelly Roll Morton claimed that Handy learned "Jogo Blues," which evolved into "St. Louis Blues," from one of Handy's guitarists -- albeit Morton's stories were very often true and very often not true.)

(Hobson) "he claimed in his autobiography that he first heard... in 1903" _Father Of The Blues_ does NOT say he heard the Tutwiler guitarist in 1903.

"Joe Turner" Handy did claim to Scarborough in about 1922 (IIRC a modern-day writer accidentally reassigned the Handy/S. interview from about 1922 to about 1916 and that caught on among some writers) that he'd heard "Joe Turner" thirty years earlier or more, but 1891-1892 is when he was 18-19, and 1891-1892 fits with when Turney had already been doing that job for years (he did it from about 1882 to 1900, contrary to old it-must-have-been-whenever-his-brother-was-governor b.s.ing), and we know three-line stanzas were around in black and white music before Turney got that job.

Handy acknowledged that the British-derived 19th-century folk song "Careless Love" itself wasn't a blues song -- as opposed to the way he rewrote it to incorporate blues material. "Long Gone" isn't a blues either. Most black folk music, "John Henry," "Long Gone," all that kind of stuff, most black folk music out there _wasn't_ blues as of about 1905.

Handy described "Joe Turner" as perhaps the earliest blues song best he could tell, so I think sometimes supposed inconsistencies by Handy are being imagined while not reading him carefully enough. _Father Of The Blues_ makes clear, if you read the whole book, that the Tutwiler song was not the first blues he heard, by years. It uses the Tutwiler song for an epiphany story about realizing black folk music could make good money on stage for the guy who had arrived in Clarksdale hoping to become the black Sousa (and again, really he had used folk music for his band before Clarksdale, as he listed to Melicent Quinn).

Elijah is great on some things, and describing the historical early interrelation of folk blues and stage blues, he certainly was _not_ great at that last time we talked. He likes that modern-day myth that stage musicians helped invent the earliest blues music, the modern-day myth that no one, including him every time I ask him to, can provide ANY credible evidence for.

The Peabody article is worth reading, as is what the Thomas brothers heard by then in Texas, as is the 1903 book by Anne Hobson of Alabama. The reason Hobson and the Thomas brothers have been forgotten relative to mentioning Peabody (even among writers who haven't read his article) is the cherrypicking thing: Peabody was in Mississippi and Hobson and the Thomases weren't.

How bad blues scholarship has generally been can be illustrated with Son House (a great artist): he took up guitar in about 1925, as Son said but people like to not mention, and learned slide from Rube Lacey -- who wasn't from the Delta -- as Son said and people like to not mention, and Son was about 1 year old when Gus Cannon learned "Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home," and about 3 years old when Elbert Bowman heard black construction workers sing a "K.C. Moan" variant, and about 5 years old when Wade Ward first heard "Chilly Winds," and about 6 years old when A. Maggio's band was performing "I Got The Blues" in Louisiana, and 7 when E. Tosso's band in Louisiana was too, and 8 when Johnnie Woods was using a blues on stage in Florida, and people go to Son House's recollections because they want to know how blues music started.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 12 Aug 18 - 08:31 PM

Hagstrom Miller's book is _the_ book I would recommend least about blues. I reviewed it for amazon as follows:

Karl Hagstrom Miller's _Segregating Sound_ contains some remarkable misinformation.

"Academic collectors were particularly slow to associate the blues with folklore." Sounds interesting, but it happens to be flatly false. John Lomax included the song "The Blues" in a list of "genuine Negro folk-songs" in print in 1912. Howard Odum published blues, such as "Frisco Rag-Time," in the _Journal Of American Folk-Lore_ in 1911. E.C. Perrow published blues lyrics in the same journal a few years later. Associating the blues with folklore is exactly what these people were doing.

"Prior to the mid-twenties, practically every commentator, with some minor exceptions, understood the blues as a commercial style." Sounds interesting, but it happens to be flatly false. _Reader's Guide To Literature, Volume V, 1919-1921_, 1922: "Blues (songs). See Folk songs, American." Famous, Southern-born black songwriter W.C. Handy wrote in 1919 about blues: "[I]t is from the levee camps, the mines, the plantations and other places where the laborer works that these snatches of melody originate." (Handy's interview with the periodical _Along Broadway_ in 1919 was consistent; the periodical wrote of the songs of the black cotton-picker and plowman and explained, "The story of Handy's success in putting these weird songs to music reads like a fairy tale.") Another famous, Southern-born black songwriter, Perry Bradford said in 1921: "[B]lues originated from old... folk lore songs...." Famous, Southern-born black songwriter James Weldon Johnson agreed in 1922. As noted above, John Lemax understood "The Blues" as a folk song as of 1912. Howard Odum understood blues material he'd collected as folk material well before the mid-'20s. (So did his wife. Seriously, she published independently of him, different blues material, and did.) Carl Van Vechten characterized a blues as a folk song in 1917. _Current Opinion_ wrote about "... widespread discussion of the origin of the 'blues,' a type of folksong..." in 1919. Etc.

"The blues were a successful, almost viral, product of the music industry and professional songwriters." Sounds interesting, but it happens to be flatly false. There is no credible evidence, zero, of any pro writers creating blues songs as early as, e.g., the folk blues song Elbert Bowman recalled he heard black workers singing by 1905, a variant of "K.C. Moan." (Bowman recalled well that the period was 1903-1905, because 1903-1905 was when blacks came through his small, heavily white town building a railroad line. His recollection fits great with those of others, such as the recollection of Emmet Kennedy regarding a variant of "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home." Not all blues music was 12-bar, and not all 12-bar music was blues music; e.g., "Stack-a-Lee," which existed by 1897, isn't a blues song.)

"Perhaps the most dramatic reinterpretation of the blues as folk songs came from the sociologists Howard Odum and Guy Johnson. They collaborated in 1925 to publish The Negro and His Songs, a large collection of African American religious and secular selections, many of which were culled from Odum’s previous academic journal articles. They equated reimagining pop tunes as folk songs 'blues' with 'popular hits' and emphatically insisted that they were 'not folk songs.'" Nope, that's an inaccurate description of what Odum and Johnson wrote in that book. And Odum thought in 1911 (and in 1908) that the folk blues he had collected in 1905-1908 were folk songs, which would be why he published them in 1911 in a journal called _The Journal Of American Folk-Lore_.

"In newspaper articles written between 1916 and 1919... [n]either Handy nor writers profiling the composer identified the blues as folk music." Nope, see e.g. the two 1919 Handy-related articles I mentioned above.

"W.C. Handy was more responsible than anyone for establishing the blues as folk music." The only people who ever "established" blues music as folk music were the black folk musicians who invented blues music in the first place.

Amazing."


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Guest KH
Date: 12 Aug 18 - 07:08 PM

Hi J Scott

I've seen Muir's book. His argument that the 12-bar developed out of songs with the Frankie and Johnny shape is interesting, but it took me several serious attempts to get the hang of it!

Regarding Handy's self-contradictions, Hobson says this:

"In the New York Age December 7, 1916; in the piece called “How I Came to Write ‘Memphis Blues’” Handy tells the story of hearing the song that would inspire “The Memphis Blues” for the first time. The difference is that the location is changed from Tutwiler to “a plantation in Mississippi.” This earlier account of how Handy encountered the blues is, in the light of the possibility that the “Yellow Dog” may refer to the whole of the Yazoo Delta, far more credible."

and this:

"Handy claimed that it was the singer guitarist in Tutwiler (or on the plantation) that inspired his composition “The Memphis Blues” (1912), but one could question why Handy didn’t publish “Yellow Dog Blues” until 1914, some five years after writing “Mr Crump” in 1909. If these events of 1903 were indeed the inspiration for Handy to begin composing the blues, why did he not make reference to the “Yellow Dog” in his earlier compositions?"

This is pages 23/24 of the thesis.

On page 35 he quotes a Handy interview with Dorothy Scarborough and says:

"What are we to make of the apparent inconsistency of Handy’s accounts of having heard the blues? On the one hand he claimed in his autobiography that he first heard the song that would inspire him to compose “The Memphis Blues” in 1903 in Mississippi, whereas in a 1916 interview with Dorothy Scarborough he says that he heard blues songs such a “Joe Turner,” “ Careless Love,” and “Long Gone” as a child."

Not saying Hobson is right or wrong, just putting his ideas into the pot. And not at all intending to say blues did not come from what people were doing in communities, but tending to follow Hobson and others in saying we just don't know where it came from. Definitional problems don't help as has been stated. I'm with Elijah Wald on definitions I think.

The bit about Phil Evans leading a minstrelsy band is on page 37 of Hobson:

"When W. C. Handy recorded a version of “Got No More Home Than a Dog,” in 1938, he accompanied this one verse song with conventional I-IV-V harmony on guitar.131 If this is an accurate reflection of what he heard in 1893 then one has to ask what was the significance of hearing the guitarist at Tutwiler (or on a Mississippi plantation) ten years later. And are we to interpret this as a folk-song or as a minstrel song, given that Phil Jones led a minstrel band in Evansville?"

Another book that challenges some of the ways people have thought about blues is one by Karl Hagstrom Miller. Have you seen it?

It seems clear that people in the Delta were influenced by commercial music very early on. Like 1903 because a person called Peabody wrote about African American workers on his site at that date singing 'Goo Goo Eyes' and 'The Bully Song'. Apparently Bessie Smith was a big favourite with Son House!


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Aug 18 - 06:20 PM

lo cup. (Well, off-brand cup that looks like it, you know.)


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,J. Scott drinking instant coffee from red So
Date: 12 Aug 18 - 06:18 PM

(Hobson) "The Father of the Blues does not argue convincingly for a belief that the Mississippi Delta is the birthplace of the blues" Nor, more to the point, does it argue that at all. He talks in that book about hearing 12-bar "blues" in Indiana years before he settled in Mississippi, talks about all over the South, etc.

Handy loved epiphany stories; he had one for the day in the 1890s that he realized people liked ragtime better than classical, for example. Two of his epiphany stories involved the trio in Cleveland, MS led by Prince McCoy (born Louisiana) and the Tutwiler guitarist. (His story about waking up on a plantation to a blues guitarist may refer to a third incident.) His writings don't suggest that he thought either of those times was the first time he heard blues music. And when he talked about McCoy's band being the one that turned him on to _the commercial possibilities of folk music in live performance_ (which may have been largely how he felt that month in 1904 or whenever it was, and sounds good enough for an autobiography), that conflicted with his letter to Melicent Quinn that listed folk tunes his band used before he settled in Clarksdale.

"later generations of blues writers have chosen to privilege Handy’s Mississippi recollections over his other statements" Exactly. Cherrypicking whenever _Mississippi_ was what Handy mentioned, following A. Lomax's particular interest in Mississippi that Lomax had during the late '40s on, for decades (and fit with Alan having hit Mississippi in the early '40s, as part of a larger government study, rather than somewhere else, as _Alan_ having been doing something particularly _"important"_ relative to other regions and collectors).

"give the impression" Handy's own blues did have heavy folk origins. The notion that Handy was trying to trick us somehow when he associated folk music and blues with each other is a recent-years fiction among a few writers (influencing each other) that has zero behind it, zero, except it sounds interesting.

"suggests that both accounts cannot be true" Without looking at Hobson again, of course Handy could have heard both "Got No..." and later heard the different (and quite similar in some ways) Tutwiler song.

"I Got The Blues" by Maggio was published in 1908. He said he based the first strain in it, which is 12-bar blues, on an "I Got The Blues" he heard a black guitarist do in Louisiana on a levee in 1907. There were earlier published pieces that incorporated (what we came to call, after people began talking about "blues" music in about 1908*) 12-bar blues patterns but did not have "Blues" in their titles. Dr. Peter Muir found a particularly important one, “I Natur'ly Loves That Yaller Man” by John Wilson and Larry Deas, 1898, which doesn't use blues lyrics but uses a "Joe Turner"-family tune in its music. Interesting parallels to it in some ways are e.g. "You Needn't Come Home" written by Hugh Cannon, 1901 (12-bar throughout _and_ has first-person lyrics about romantic strife) and "Honky Tonky Monkey Rag" by Chris Smith, 1911 (12-bar-blues verse, 12-bar-blues chorus, like Deas and Wilson didn't bother to use blues lyrics, not the same number as Smith's "Down In Honky Tonky Town" aka "Down In Honky Tonk Town" aka "Honky Tonky").

Deas knew Perry Bradford and Handy, Wilson knew Willie The Lion Smith, etc. Deas volunteered to sing for the troops in Europe in World War I and was turned down specifically because he was black, so the great Elsie Janis sang blues there instead, and Deas signed up with the Jewish Welfare League and sang for the troops in the U.S.

Handy wasn't big on repetitive lyrics. Even though the black folk and semi-pro blues guitarists of e.g. about 1911-1913 liked BOTH AAAB (and similar) 16-bar and AAB (and similar) 12-bar as complately authentic blues (as the likes of Newman White and Howard Odum knew), Handy didn't keep interest in AAAB and similar alive as he published in the 1910s and instead followed the 12-bar tradition, and was hugely influential on other writers of blues. (Some pros such as Euday Bowman did like to go with the 16-bar-blues form, but their influence was a drop in the bucket compared to Handy's.)

Where is it said that Phil Jones (specifically) led a minstrelsy band? It wouldn't surprise me if Eliott Hurwitt could confirm that from unpublished stuff he's seen, but I don't recall seeing it.

Since you brought up Abbott and Seroff, their _Ragged But Right_ is terrific on the relationship between the earliest folk blues and the earliest stage blues, and their _The Original Blues..._ isn't terrific at all on that topic (which makes me think one of them had the last pass on one book and the other on the other).

*As it happens, black folk songs that we generally think of as blues songs and didn't have the word "blues" in their lyrics, along the lines of "Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home," can be traced back further, by years, than we can trace back the rise of interest among black folk musicians in the use of the word "blues" in them. Handy and a number of his contemporaries (such as Iowen Lawson, black, born about 1881 in KY) talked about that evolution in black folk music over the years. An example of Handy talking about it was when he called "Got No More..." a quote "blues" and then clarified that people weren't calling it a "blues" song then. Handy said people began talking about "blues" songs shortly before 1910, as all other evidence says -- and that doesn't somehow conflict with people like Gus Cannon and Elbert Bowman saying they heard what we think of as blues songs (such as the "Poor Boy, Long..." Cannon learned from Alec Lee) before about 1906, because a "Poor Boy, Long..." or "K.C. Moan" or "Chilly Winds" doesn't have to have the word "blues" in its lyrics for us to think of it as a blues song, or to have been a song that influenced the blues songs of e.g. 1908-1910 that did have the word "blues" in their lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Aug 18 - 05:17 PM

Do not get the Blues

Trip lightly over trouble:
        Trip lightly over wrong:
We only make grief double
        By dweliling on it long.
Why clasp woe's hand so tightly?
        Why sigh o'er blossom's dead?
Why cling to forms unsightly?
        Why not seek joy instead?

Trip lightly over sorrow:
        Though all the day be dark,
The sun may shine tomrrow,
        And gaily sing the lark:
Fair hope have not departed,
        Though roses may have fled:
Then never be down-hearted,
        But look for joy instead.

Trip lightly over sadness;
        Stand not to rail at doom:
We're pearls to string of gladness,
        On this side of the tomb:
While stars are nightly shining,
        And heaven is overhead,
Encourage not repining,
        But look for joy instead.


[Marsan, Henry DE, New Comic and Sentimental Singer's Journal, No.92, Vol.I, (New York: H. DE Marsan, 1868, p.701)]

No music yet though.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 12 Aug 18 - 07:53 AM

Re The original question. W C Handy seems to have had a lot to do with it.

There is an interesting thesis by Vic Hobson on line. https://core.ac.uk/display/2780531
I believe there is also a book by Hobson, and I would recommend his work.

Hobson goes over ground covered in some posts here eg Odum, Scarborough etc.

Hobson says: “W. C. Handy’s autobiography The Father of the Blues does not argue convincingly for a belief that the Mississippi Delta is the birthplace of the blues; there are far too many internal contradictions for that.”

and

“It is not that Handy convincingly argues for the Delta being where he first heard the blues; it is rather that later generations of blues writers have chosen to privilege Handy’s Mississippi recollections over his other statements.”

Hobson points out that Handy gave contradictory accounts of where he first heard the blues. What these accounts seem to have in common is a desire on the part of Handy to give the impression that his own ‘blues’ had what we might call a ‘folk’ origin.

Hobson also argues that Handy’s own use of the 12-bar was significant in that form coming to be seen as ‘the blues’.

At one time Handy claims to have been influenced by a three-line stanza piece ‘Got no more home than a dog, Lawd’, that he heard in 1893, and at another time by the famous Tutwiler incident which was years later.   The 1893 song was sung by a minstrelsy band, led by Phil Jones in Evansville. Hobson suggests that both accounts cannot be true.

It would take too long to sum up Hobson’s arguments. But if you are interested, it is a fascinating read. He isn't the only person to have looked into Handy's assertions and question how far the fit known facts and indeed eachother, but I can't lay my hands on these just now.

The Delta was cleared and drained surprisingly late. Something I read suggested that the blues was appearing before people moved into the Delta. So I think I agree that it is a myth, though it is a nice one.

Some posts have discussed the origins of phrase ‘the blues’ to describe a melancholy state of mind, this was current in England and examples from the 18th and 19th century are given in the dictionary.
A song about ‘having the blues’ was published in the USA mid-19th century. It was by Blesser and Graham.

The first piece to call itself a blues was published in 1909 and was called ‘The Alabama Blues’.

The first published piece to have a 12-bar section in was written by an Sicilian-American anarchist called de Maggio and came out in 1908.
Obviously the relationship between published blues, which would have been played via vaudeville and so on, and what people did in their homes and communities is another question. But I don’t think you can overlook the evidence of what was printed, as the ideas had to come from somewhere.

Some African American journalists were complaining about blues music on the vaudeville circuits as early as 1912.

A few snippets. Hope these are of interest. Abbot and Seroff have written a lot of interesting pieces about early blues and vaudeville.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 10 Aug 18 - 11:00 PM

"Ironically, Alan Lomax's own copy of _Father Of The Blues_ reportedly has 'Got No More Home Than A Dog' (AAA blues from Indiana, before the AAA blues from Tutwiler) marked in pencil as of particular interest to him!"

Considering how John and Alan actually defined the "holler" when Alan was young (inconsistently with what we know of, correct me if I'm wrong, ALL the close relatives of the Tutwiler song), and considering when guitars became popular among blacks in the South (about the "Railroad Bill" era), and when blues music arose in the South (Handy and others talked way back about e.g. "Joe Turner," and when Joe Turney did that line of work, e.g. 1888, was always in the old newspapers), and considering when e.g. Gus Cannon said he heard Alec Lee, and considering that Handy heard "Got No..." roughly EIGHT YEARS before Tutwiler, according to that book _Father Of The Blues_ that Alan owned, and considering that people who listened to guitarists who weren't W.C. Handy existed, how much of a self-indulgent he-was-in-Mississippi-on-the-government's-dime-in-1941-not-somewhere-else, Mississippi-promotin'-Louisiana-e.g.-not-promotin'-nearly-as-much goofball did Alan have to be to write of Tutwiler in a later "important" book, "the first time anyone had heard a blues holler set to guitar"?

(I stand by all the defenses I've made of AL on mudcat on other topics.)


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 02 Sep 16 - 05:45 PM

"a man blaming his woman for all his troubles is hardly original" Who said anything about "original"?

"And the lines about waking up crying and being away from home are very common." What do you have in mind?


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: leeneia
Date: 02 Sep 16 - 12:09 PM

Sorry, Joseph, but a man blaming his woman for all his troubles is hardly original. And the lines about waking up crying and being away from home are very common.

It's just so much safer to blame your woman or to hurt your woman than to go after your employer, the government, the taxman or the Klan.

One exception: "She laid in jail, back to the wall." Why was she in jail? We'll never know for sure, but experience suggests one of these:

for shoplifting
for attacking the man who had been beating her
for prostitution

In modern times, you can add writing bad checks to this list of common female offenses.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 02 Sep 16 - 02:19 AM

">I think the idea that blues is ...

Couldn't agree more with this whole paragraph."

The grievances in the early blues songs were personal. Typical were these stanzas Howard Odum collected by 1908:

"That woman will be the death of me
Some girl will be the death of me
Lord, Lord, Lord"

"So she laid in jail back to the wall
So she laid in jail back to the wall
So she laid in jail back to the wall
This brown-skin man cause of it all"

"I'm poor boy, long way from home
I'm poor boy, long way from home
Oh, I'm poor boy, long way from home"

"Well I woke up this morning, couldn't keep from crying
Well I woke up this morning, couldn't keep from crying
Well I woke up this morning, couldn't keep from crying
For thinking about that babe of mine"


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 01 Sep 16 - 10:09 PM

who put the bom in the bom! bom! bom!.....
i usually blame Ewan thingy....


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: leeneia
Date: 01 Sep 16 - 08:41 AM

This is how the blues really began

They heard the breeze in the trees
Singin' weird melodies
And they made that, the start of the blues
And from a jail came the wail of a down-hearted frail
And they played that as a part of the blues

From a whippoorwill way upon a hill
They took a new note
Pushed it through a horn
Until it was worn into a blue note

And then they nursed it
They rehearsed it
And then sent out that news
that the Southland gave birth to the blues.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Sep 16 - 08:28 AM

>I think the idea that blues is ...

Couldn't agree more with this whole paragraph.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 31 Aug 16 - 10:17 PM

Ironically, Alan Lomax's own copy of _Father Of The Blues_ reportedly has "Got No More Home Than A Dog" (AAA blues from Indiana, before the AAA blues from Tutwiler) marked in pencil as of particular interest to him!


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 26 Jun 15 - 01:39 PM

"the blues scale"

"The Negro... expressed his musical scale 1-2-3-5-6." -- John Work Jr. (born about 1872), _Folk Song Of The American Negro_, 1915.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 01:15 PM

"The best thing about music is playing it." Not the way I play it.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 06:03 PM

The best thing about music is playing it.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 12:32 PM

And if you listen to e.g. Henry Thomas's quills playing, using similar to 1b345b7 as a scale rather than similar to 12356 as a scale wasn't considered essential to blues music by the earliest-born blues musicians anyway.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 12:29 PM

Singing a flatted third over an accompanying major I, for instance, was common among black and white folk musicians in the South, and I've heard examples of it from Europe and Africa. Suppose you think similar to 1b345b7 is a "normal" scale, among a lot of people you know, and a lot of those people are learning major chords as they learn to play instruments, and are combining a scale similar to that with accompaniment with major chords. Then that sounds normal to you.

Handy was proud that some people thought it was interesting when he threw flatted thirds into his scores in places an Abbe Niles wouldn't expect. But that was because Niles lived in Connecticut. When Richard M. Jones (born near Baton Rouge, LA) wrote about a tune with the same chord progression as "Bucket's Got A Hole In It" as "the oldest blues in the world," he was speaking from personal experience that Abbe Niles didn't have.

Blues notes only sounded like wrong notes to _some_ people.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 06:14 PM

Another contributing factor to "blue" notes may have been the discordant sound of some traditional open banjo chords. While not strictly speaking "blue notes," that kind of "lonesome" banjo frailing would undoubtedly have accustomed people - white and black - to discords as a normal component of music.

Of course, maybe they developed the tunings because they already liked discords.

I've been looking for pre-1920s references to the sound of melancholy tunes (like "Texas Rangers") which, played on the fiddle, may have encouraged glissandos and blue notes, but such descriptions have eluded me. The practice is possibly post-1900 as well.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 06:04 PM

I may have been wrong about "nobody" mentioning field hollers in the 19th century. There is at least one mention of something like them, in Northerner Frederick Law Olmsted's "A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States" (1856). Several blues historians quote it:

"At midnight I was awakened by loud laughter, and, looking out [of my railroad car], saw that the loading gang of negroes had made a fire, and were enjoying a right merry repast. Suddenly, one raised such a sound as I never heard before; a long, loud, musical shout, rising, and falling, and breaking into falsetto, his voice ringing through the woods in the clear, frosty night air, like a bugle-call. As he finished, the melody was caught up by another, and then, another, and then, by several in chorus."

Olmsted describes the practice as "Negro jodling." He mentions hearing it in South Carolina in 1853. If he heard it anywhere else, he says nothing about it.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 05:55 PM

"You're assuming that Marion uses the word 'blues' to mean what you mean by it." Nope.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 05:53 PM

Getting back to "Who started the Delta blues myth," from this

https://ia801007.us.archive.org/31/items/78QuarterlyNo3/78%20Quarterly%20No%203_djvu.txt

it looks like as of roughly 1952 James McKune was into a variety of blues singers, such as Jimmy Witherspoon, but also agreeing with a friend that they both valued "rough" singing (and also lyrics that seemed original, and lyrics that told a narrative, and singers who sounded unlike other singers, all which runs kind of contrary to the idea that they thought they were about knowing what "folk" blues was).

Of course Alan Lomax beats 1952 anyway, but others helped.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 05:42 PM

Joseph: You're assuming that Marion uses the word "blues" to mean what you mean by it. But the context shows that he doesn't mean that and isn't thinking of a type of sad music called blues. Seagrove and the bar-flies he quotes are confused about that, and trying to sound like they aren't, but Marion, being a musician, was familiar with term "blue note" (other references cited above confirm that it was common slang among musicians) and he knew that the not-at-all-sad music that excited them was full of such notes.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 05:32 PM

quote: I don't think a song lyric from 1879 has all that much to do with how black people talked to white people about black people in conversation in the North in 1915.

It shows that race was discussed in that era both casually and frankly and not necessarily in what we would consider polite terms. That song was still popular in 1915, and it shows that "darkie" was one of the more kindly words used, and it uses the term with respect and even affection. If you need more precisely concurrent examples, not necessarily as kindly, there are the "coon songs" or "coon shouts" that were still popular till 1920 and sung by both black and white performers (such as the Dinwiddie Colored Quartet's coon shout "Down on the Old Camp Ground"), and the pickaninny songs that were popular at least from Joplin's 1901 "Pickaninny Days" till Noble Sissle's 1921 "Pickaninny Shoes."

Do you have some evidence that a black person would not have described other black people as "darkies" in a conversation with a white person in 1915? I wouldn't be surprised if a black person today were to tell me that jazz was played originally by blacks in New Orleans, though 50 years from now "black" will probably have become a racist and insulting term. And in fact, about 25 years ago in Kansas City a black man I had just met told me the reason he doesn't like blues is because it's "nigger hillbilly music."


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 05:29 PM

"To someone who was asking about the blues, 'Jazz' Marion mentioned both the 'blue note' and the 'blues,' and talked about the 'blues' not being on the sheet music ('never written into music') [... if] the mellow-about-words Seagrove quoted him correctly" is not a misreading of

"At the next place a young woman was keeping 'Der Wacht Am Rhein' and 'Tipperary Mary' apart when the interrogator entered.
   'What are the blues?' he asked gently. 'Jazz!' The young woman's voice rose high to drown the piano.
   A tall young man with nimble fingers rose from the piano and came over. 'That's me,' he said. And then he unraveled the mystery of 'the blues.'
   'A blue note is a sour note,' he explained. 'It's a discord – a harmonic discord. The blues are never written into music, but are interpolated by the piano player or other players. They aren't new. They are just reborn into popularity. They started in the south half a century ago and are the interpolations of darkies originally. The trade name for them is 'jazz.'"

Whereas "... blue notes on sheet music, which is what Jazz Marion was talking about..." is a misreading of it.

We don't know what "Jazz" Marion was thinking, or even if he was quoted correctly. Seagrove acted in the piece as if being precise could be not as fun as being less precise.

"It would make no sense to say that 12-bar blues" Nothing was said about 12-bar strains in the article. As of 1915, 16-bar blues strains were considered blues strains, e.g. by the white composer Euday Bowman whose "Kansas City Blues" was published in 1915.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 04:28 PM

Joseph: You're misreading the article. Jazz Marion isn't talking about a genre of music called blues. It would make no sense to say that 12-bar blues isn't written and is just interpolated by the performer. He's saying that about blue notes, which are not only sour and discordant but also often involve bent strings so that the note can't be represented in a conventional score.

The columnist may be talking about a type of music called "the blues," though that isn't clear. He definitely thinks there is a type of music called "blue music," and "jazz blues," but what he means by "blues" isn't clear. However, when he asks Marion about the blues, the latter replies in accordance with what the term means to him. Marion doesn't call the style of music blues; he calls it jazz.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 04:27 PM

Found it.

One pianist was simply "dark-haired," the other "tall with nimble fingers." No one in 1915 would have assumed they were black, any more than they would the woman who was playing German and Irish songs.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 04:19 PM

> drawing identified the ethnicity

But if IIRC, not the pianist's. The link is down.

The sax players I took to be generic. But the pianist he was the one who did the explaining. Wasn't he working for a music publisher?


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 03:44 PM

"blue notes on sheet music, which is what Jazz Marion was talking about" To someone who was asking about the blues, "Jazz" Marion mentioned both the "blue note" and the "blues," and talked about the "blues" not being on the sheet music ("never written into music"). If the mellow-about-words Seagrove quoted him correctly.

Abbe Niles encountered the sheet music of Handy's "Memphis Blues" in 1913.

I don't think a song lyric from 1879 has all that much to do with how black people talked to white people about black people in conversation in the North in 1915.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Etymologophile
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 01:53 PM

quote: If we take "Jazz" Marion, for instance, him pointing out that blue notes were used by "darkies originally" suggests that he wasn't black.
Then do the lyrics of "In the Evening by the Moonlight" suggest that James A. Bland wasn't black? Does the frequent use of the "N-word" by many singers and comedians today suggest that they aren't black?

quote: Abbe Niles lived in Connecticut and he first encountered blues on sheet music in 1913.
Do you mean that Abbe Niles encountered blue notes on sheet music, which is what Jazz Marion was talking about, or do you mean that he encountered compositions in the blues genre?

Lighter: The accompanying drawing identified the ethnicity of the musicians, if that was really necessary in a night club report by Seagrove as opposed to a news story.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 01:34 PM

In those days, moreover, the journalist would certainly have said if they were black. The practice was to identify the ethnicity of anyone who wasn't a WASP, which was the default category.

One reason was to make the story more interesting. There was also the mainstream WASP assumption that anybody not a WASP was intrinsically either amusing or threatening, and readers expected to be told who was who.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 01:24 PM

P.S. "Jazz" Marion claiming that "the blues are never written into music" (if he did and Seagrove wasn't just playing fast and loose) shows how much Marion had been keeping up with sheet music during 1912-1915. Abbe Niles lived in Connecticut and he first encountered blues on sheet music in 1913.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 01:20 PM

"Phil, how do you know that?" If we take "Jazz" Marion, for instance, him pointing out that blue notes were used by "darkies originally" suggests that he wasn't black.


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Subject: RE: Who started the Delta blues myth?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 01:05 PM

quote: Note: Seagrove and everybody referenced in the Trib article were white.

Phil, how do you know that? One of the drawings published with the article showed a black saxophonist. I was assuming that the two pianists quoted in the article were very likely to have been black.


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Mudcat time: 26 May 5:24 PM EDT

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