What are the five cultures present in New Orleans
North Storyville Christens Brass Band, Southern Park 1890 These work songs and shouts evolve into the Blues. It is important to remember that these people were enslaved. They weren’t working for themselves anymore. Their labors were not improving THEIR quality of life. They were captive and in forced labor. For many everything they knew was taken from them. Others were born into it, but they still grew up immersed in the culture, the stories and the misery. As a result, the song subjects and the way they sang them started to reflect the pain and trouble of their situation. These are qualities that the b lues and blues musicians brought to the party: The wailing style The improvised storyline and melody The not quite “in tune”, in -between, “blue notes” The “bending” of notes The use of repetitive lyrics The use of vey few chords The general misery and pain The blues today usually implies a specific chord progression and a limited way of constructing the lyrics but originally, blues were sung without any accompaniment. Just a man singing his story…a field holler . Later, more structure appears. The form starts to resemble a work song, with repeated stanzas and a more specific form. As accompaniment chords are added through time they begin rather unstructured and random and evolve into a very specific pattern using only three chords in a specific order. Blues singers and, later, players would employ a very free and improvised approach to the melodies (tunes) that they were singing (playing). The would also bend notes, growl, add notes that most would consider “wron g” and generally used a lot of freedom in interpreting their music. The tunes themselves would usually employ very simple pentatonic scales. Brass Bands Imagine being in New Orleans at the turn of the century. There is no TV, no radio, no records, no movies, and no electricity for most. If you wanted to read it would be by candlelight. There wasn’t a lot to do. What you could do is go to the town square, which would be lit with gas lanterns. You might enjoy a flavored ice, visit with your neighbors and listen or dance to the local town band.
Virtually every town had a local brass band. A town without a band was a very boring place to be! Local service clubs, churches, firefighters, etc. would sponsor bands for the town. The bands would be present at virtually every public event the town had. During the Civil War each regiment would have their own band too. When the war ended many of these instruments were simply abandoned as the troops hurrie d home. These bands provided a sound that residents became comfortable and familiar with (their music culture). Their repertoire of marches and popular tunes used Western European style harmonies and approaches to music. These bands also provided a ready supply of instruments to be acquired and played by the next generation of musicians. Brass Band Contributions Popular acceptance and desire for live music Popular tunes and marches using traditional European sounds (harmonies) An abundant, cheap supply of instruments Evolved into the “front line” of a traditional New Orleans “Dixieland band” Ragtime By the late 1800s “Ragtime” had become a very popular style of music in the New Orleans area.
The word “rag” refers to a kind of music that was put to gether like a military march but borrowed rhythms from African American banjo music. The main feature of the music that made it so popular with people was its use of syncopation . Syncopation is the practice of putting strong accents in unexpected places. T o “rag” a tune would be to “jazz it up” using accents in unexpected places between the regular beats. Technically, “ragtime” refers specifically to a completely written out (no improvisation) piano music. The premier composer of ragtime music is Scott Jopl in. Listen to Scott Joplin’s “ Maple Leaf Rag ” (1899). Notice the syncopation. The tune has a forward propelling, jumpy, kind of feel to it. This is the syncopation. Also notice that the performance does not “swing”. Although there is syncopation to the music, the beat, and subdivision of the beat, is very even. Ragtime Contributions Syncopation Freedom to “rag” tunes