Academic Master


the music of African American slaves

In what ways did the music of African American slaves provide more than just entertainment?

Table of Contents

Americans and slaves proved to be a source of entertainment, more than their music. Music held value in the hearts of the slaves by comforting the burden of their laborious days. It proved a comfort in the form of relieving them of their pain and making it easier for them to pass the time. “Field hollers” were also employed by slaves for the use of transferring messages regarding their meetings at night in the woods. From the perspective of the slaves, music became a beacon of hope, conveying emotions in their deep, rich vocals.

Many slaves were forbidden to make or play drums. Why?

African American slaves were prohibited from making or playing drums because they signified a threat. Drums were used in wars to boost morale throughout history.

Where is the Mississippi Delta region located? Musically speaking, what makes this region so significant?

The Mississippi Delta region is represented as a flat piece of land covering the Northwestern portion of the Mississippi state. It shares a border towards the North with Tennessee and Memphis and comes in between the Yazoo Rivers and Mississippi. The term “raw, hard-driving” label of the Mississippi Delta blues is due to the conditions of the region and the prevailing conditions of African American slaves at that time.

In what ways did the slavery system remain intact long after slavery itself had been abolished?

The concept of slavery continued even after the structure and system of slavery because of the laws of Jim Crow. These manipulations stated the concept of equality but segregation, presenting a clear concept of illicit schemes that resided in the practices of sharecropping. Sharecropping was a popular practice that was implemented on plantations that were owned by whites. Furthermore, the law saw to the system of preventing any progress for poor, uneducated black laborers, enforcing the practice of brutal labor conditions for the prisoners on the Southern side.

How and why did religion become so important in the African American community?

Christianity started to arise among the African American slaves as more and more slaves became acquainted with the knowledge of it. Religion also held another important concept for the slaves. It allowed them to meet and hold meetings without any supervision. The concept of worshipping as a group inspired their idea of community.

Why was much of the Southern black religious community frowned upon blues music?

This was due to blues music being considered “Devil’s music.”

What made the cities of Memphis, Tennessee, and Chicago, Illinois, vital to the growth and development of blues music? For example, how did the sound of Chicago blues differ from that of rural Mississippi blues?

The cities of Chicago, Tennessee, Illinois, and Memphis became the main inspiration for the development and progress of Blues music. A huge number of Delta Black migrants were witnessed around the time when new opportunities started to arise due to the migration in Chicago and Memphis. This move was inclusive of Delta Blues musicians because the cities of Chicago and Memphis presented chances for innovation and improvement and lots of other opportunities.

Based on the information given in this chapter, define boogie-woogie.

Boogie-woogie is expressed as a style based on blues, utilizing primarily instruments such as the piano. It was occasionally referred to as “Barrel House.” The concept of Boogie-Woogie is based on the principle of being simple and pure, which is the ideal kind of party music. The beat is composed of a 12-bar rhythmic pattern. It focuses on the musician using the left hand to play it, whereas the right hand is used to employ the use of improvisational melodies.

Name three Chess blues artists.

Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, and Muddy Waters are among the three well-known Chess blues artists.

How did the Great Migration impact the direction of blues?

The blues migrated from the South towards the North and changed from the Delta blues to Chicago blues.

Chapter Two Review

Name the three so-called “fathers” mentioned in this chapter:

    • The “father of country music” – Jimmie Rodgers
    • “father of bluegrass” – Bill Monroe
    • “father of contemporary music” – Hank Williams

What was the ethnic background of most Appalachian settlers in the eighteenth century? What kinds of music did they bring with them from the old country?

The Appalachian settlers were originally Americans who settled in the Appalachian region, which is located in the Eastern United States and extends from the Southern Tier of New York all the way up to Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. They brought with them hymns, fiddle music, and African American blues.

What music industry terms eventually replaced “race” and “hillbilly”?

The term “race” was replaced by “Rhythm and Blues,” whereas the term “Hillbilly” was replaced by “country western.”

What did the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers have in common? How did they differ from one another?

Ralph Peer was the one who discovered Jimmie Rodgers and Carter’s Family. Jimmie Rodgers wrote and sang songs based on outlaws, thieves, and gamblers, whereas the Carter Family was more into singing traditional old folk songs that were mostly focused on presenting familial values.

How did radio help commercialize early country music?

Radio assisted in providing the Hillbilly music, free to its listeners.

What are bluegrass’s musical roots? How does bluegrass differ from the music in which it is rooted?

The musical roots of bluegrass music link to jazz, blues, and hillbilly folk music. The bluegrass music genre embodies jazz and blues performance essence, focusing more on instruments. The bluegrass music performances demand the singer to exhibit excessive virtuosity and dexterity and play music at incredible tempos.

Who best embodied the image of the “singing cowboy”?

The heroic image of the “singing cowboy” is best embodied by Bob Wills and the troop of Texas Playboys.

How did honky-tonk differ from earlier strains of country music?

Honky-tonk presented a harder tone in comparison to country music. It is composed of electric guitars and acoustic guitars, inherited most from blues, and noticeably louder.

Name three honky-tonk musicians.

Left Frizzle, Hank Williams, and Ernest Tubb

Draw a line from the recording artist on the left to the song associated with that artist on the right.

  • Bill Monroe – “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
  • Hank Williams – “Cold Cold Heart”
  • Merle Travis – “Dark as a Dungeon”
  • Jimmie Rodgers – “Blue Yodel”
  • Ernest Tubb – “Walking the Floor Over You”

Chapter Three Review

What various styles blended together to form “jump blues”?

The various styles of music that blended together to form “jump blues” include gospel music, Chicago blues, and Boogie-woogie.

Although R&B, or rhythm blues, was a term used to describe black popular music in general, by the early 1950s the term was often used interchangeably with “jump blues.” Why?

This is because the style of jump blues was gaining popularity among the urban youth in the black community. This style progressed faster in the black community and became famous around the time “rhythm and blues” was able to replace “race.”

What city gave birth to jazz?

The city of New Orleans.

What decade in American history is known as The Jazz Age? Why?

The Jazz Age began in the 1920s and grew rapidly due to its widespread acceptance, musical sophistication, and popularity. Around this time, most Americans started distancing themselves from traditional values and conservative social norms.

What decade defines the Swing Era?

The years between 1935 and 1946 are best known and defined as the Swing Era.

How are swing and jump blues related?

The genre of Jump Blues is described as an up-tempo blues style. It is preferably performed by small groups, presenting the instruments of saxophone and brass.

How are black gospel music and jump blues related?

Jump blues is an up-tempo style of music played by small groups. Black Gospel music represents the spiritual bond and emotional attachment to music that reflects upon the days of slavery. Later, Black Gospel presented itself as an influencing factor for the jump blues style.

Who was the architect of the jump-blue style?

Louis Jordon is known as the architect of the jump blues style.

Draw a line from the recording artist on the left to the musical style associated with that artist on the right.

  • Louis Jordan —– Jump Blues
  • Duke Ellington —— Jazz
  • Mahalia Jackson —– Gospel

What instrument did Louis Jordon play?

Jordan started out with Clarinet when he started learning music and a bit of piano professional afterward. However, the Alto Saxophone became his main instrument.

Chapter Four Review

How did the independent record industry aid in the growth of rhythm & blues during the postwar years? In what ways do independent labels differ from major labels?

The independent record industry is aided by presenting the services of recording, marketing, and distribution. The major record industry had been ignored for a while, so the independent record industry took on the job of assisting the widespread of rhythm & blues during the postwar years. The evident difference compared to major labels was that the indie genre and its business were conducted by musicians and singers carrying out their music careers in basements, garages, and tiny apartments. These musicians drove around the countryside to advertise and sell their records, forming deals with record stores on their own, presenting them with various offers, and bribing the radio station jockey to promote and play their tracks.

How did the rhythm and blues on Atlantic Record differ from the sound of other rhythm and blues from the late 1940s and early 1950s era?

The rhythm and blues from Atlantic Records proved to be smarter and more clever as a big band sound in comparison to the sounds of other late 1940s and around the start of the 1950s era of rhythm and blues.

What was distinctive about Ray Charles’s records for Atlantic Records in the 1950s?

The Records created by Ray Charles for Atlantic Records around the 1950s exhibited a direct and clear link to the Gospel music genre.

Why did New Orleans rhythm & blues have such a distinct regional sound?

It was due to New Orleans rhythm and blues artists employing similar backing musicians for each of their records.

Describe how radio changed beginning in the late 1940s.

Around the late end of the 1940s, most radio stations switched from simply being multimedia stations serving American homes to becoming front promoters of records.

How did radio disc jockeys stay competitive in the late 1940s and 1950s?

Radio disc jockeys presented a competitive edge by displaying their imagery, a unique persona when on-air, and employing different presentation styles.

Why did rhythm & blues gain a reputation for promoting juvenile delinquency?

Rhythm & Blues gained a reputation for promoting juvenile delinquency because of obvious prejudice based on racial basis.

Aside from rhythm & blues’ reputation for promoting juvenile delinquency, what are some reasons white pop radio stations did not promote the music in its original form?

White pop radio stations were hesitant to present and promote the music in its true form because a few of the rhythm and blues songs contained material directly linking to sexual themes. The radio stations wanted to exploit the commercial potential but were careful not to cause controversy for their listeners.

Describe how rock and roll, in its first incarnation, was really just another name for rhythm & blues.

Based on the judge’s ruling, Alan Freed needed to change the title of his rhythm and blues-themed radio show, Moondog. It was later renamed “Alan Freed’s Rock and Roll Party.” After some time, the tracks that he played on-air were addressed as “rock and roll.” This brought about a name change for rhythm and blues to be known as rock and roll.

In what city did Alan Freed first make a name for himself on the radio?

Alan Freed made a name for himself on the radio while in New York City.

Chapter Five Review

Briefly give three specific examples of social conservatism in 1950s America.

After the end of World War II in 1950, the U.S. economy progressed rather steadily, allowing for growth in the suburban development programs and creating opportunities for the suburban lifestyle to evolve. However, within this suburban progress, there was a general unsettling fear called the “red scare,” directly linked to the fear of losing the American way of life at the hands of the communists. This caused upheaval in American thinking. Anything related to a change aimed toward the status quo was suspected of being part of a larger scheme linked with Communism. 1950s America permeated sexual conservatism, allowing for the rise of a new subculture to emerge in the youth at that time. This new change was referred to as American Teenager, granting the youth to bring about their unique presentation of music, fashion, and slang.

Name two reasons why certain establishment members perceived rock and roll as threatening during the 1950s.

The two major reasons behind the threat that rock and roll exhibited around the 1950s was linked with the genre presenting musical taste to be “vulgar”, and “animalistic” in nature and presenting the sense of hurting the white man, and bringing his children to a level of being Negro.

Name three important recording artists who were discovered by Sam Phillips.

Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, and Elvis Presley.

What 1951 song, recorded in Sam Phillips’ Memphis studio, has been called the “first rock and roll record?” Why?

Rocket 88 was labeled as the first among the rock and roll records. It was simply because of the uniquely different, extremely amplified, and disoriented tone played on the guitar.

Which of the 1950s rock and roll stars discussed in this chapter might be called rock’s first great lyricist? What musical instrument is he associated with?

Jerry Lee Lewis is rock’s first greatest lyricist. He is best known for his association with the piano.

During Elvis Presley’s Sun years, Sam Phillips had little choice but to market the singer as a country-western artist. Why?

It was because Elvis displayed a different attitude toward singing, and his vocals were utterly different from those of the countryside singing criteria. Another dominating reason is Elvis being a Southerner white male as well.

Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard were two 1950s rock and roll stars known for, among other things, their outrageousness on stage. What instrument did they both play?

Both of them played the piano.

Draw a line from the recording artist on the left to the song associated with that artist on the right.

  • Little Richard – “Tutti Frutti”
  • Chuck Berry – “Maybelline”
  • Jerry Lee Lewis – “Great Balls of Fire”
  • Carl Perkins – “Blue Suede Shoes”
  • Ike Turner – “Rocket 88”

What was distinctive about Bo Diddley’s guitar technique?

He approached and played the guitar in a fashion similar to that of playing drums. Playing out hypnotizing rhythmic beats with his right hand and kept on one chord for most of the song.

What country-rooted style of music might be considered rock and roll’s first sub-genre?

Rockabilly can be related to and considered rock and roll’s first sub-genre, a country-rooted style of music.



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