How It All Began

The blues as a genre is undoubtedly influenced by many traditions and cultures.  In early America, the environment in which Africans had to live and work is solely responsible for shaping this style of music.  Peoples from all over Africa were bought and sold and forced to work in America.  The perception at the time was that these people were all the same, a singular unit that shared many views and cultural practices.  However, nothing could be farther from the truth.  These people were as diverse as the Europeans that held these presumptions.  Their customs, language and means of expression were all different.  As DjeDje states: “the type of music blacks created in the Americas, particularly before 1900, depended upon the extent of interaction and ethnic distribution among Africans, the demography and geographical location of black and white populations, the demands of the white masters, and the characteristics of the economy.”[1]  The assumption that all of these people shared the same customs is no more logical than the thought that a Western European and an Asian immigrant shared the same customs and traditions.  The people of Africa were diverse, which accounted for the development of such a unique genre of music.

 

[1] Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje. “African Music to 1900” In The Cambridge History of American Music, by Nicholls, David (Editor). pp. 103-134. Cambridge University Press (UK),1998.