1. Why is it important to Elijah Wald’s thesis to argue that "blues" in the 1920s meant a style of popular music to audiences, rather than a style of folk or art music.
2. The Blues Queens of the 1920s represent a significant evolution of black performance style beyond black-face minstrelsy. However, they also still present a racially stereotyped or confining set of performance practices. Discuss this dichotomy.
3. The 1920s saw the emergence of two broad styles of blues music - one that reflected the experience of rural blacks in the south, and the other reflecting a growing population of urban, middle-class blacks in the industrial north. Using one specific example from each, and referring to the Wald and Palmer readings, discuss the difference in musical style represented by these two genres (southern rural vs. northern urban).
4. The musical conventions of the blues are typically thought of as useful for expressing the harsh realities of poverty and racial oppression in the early 20th century. However, those same conventions have also been used to express the power of religious faith in black gospel music. Discuss how blues musical style functions in early gospel music.
These solutions may offer step-by-step problem-solving explanations or good writing examples that include modern styles of formatting and construction of bibliographies out of text citations and references. Students may use these solutions for personal skill-building and practice. Unethical use is strictly forbidden.1. Attempting to pin what the “blues”, i.e. what the term means and refers to, to a particular style of folk or art music is to lose sight of the fact that the terms meant different things to different people and in different places – this is, I think, Wald’s overarching point. That is, to attempt to think of the blues as being either “the rural fold tradition [or] the urban pop craze” (p. 5) is to make a largely pedantic mistake. And the mistake is revealed in a number of ways: For one, Wald argues that the notion of there being two distinct strains of the blues is a fiction, due to the ways in which the rural and urban ‘versions’ were in fact, essentially, the results of cross-pollination by the other, “overlapping and reinforcing each other” (p. 5). Even the development of urban blues as a result of and response to Depression-caused migration from the rural south to the urban north—discussed below—was hardly the whole truth: Wald points out that “legendary rural players like Son House” (p. 5) saw their own art not as a product...
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