Cover image for Africa and the blues
Title:
Africa and the blues
Author:
Kubik, Gerhard, 1934-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
xviii, 240 pages : illustrations, maps, music ; 23 cm
Language:
English
Reading Level:
1410 Lexile.
ISBN:
9781578061457

9781578061464
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library ML3521 .K83 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

A narrative that explores the African genealogy of American blues


Summary

In 1969 Gerhard Kubik chanced to encounter a Mozambican labor migrant, a miner in Transvaal, South Africa, tapping a cipendani , a mouth-resonated musical bow. A comparable instrument was seen in the hands of a white Appalachian musician who claimed it as part of his own cultural heritage. Through connections like these Kubik realized that the link between these two far-flung musicians is African-American music, the sound that became the blues.

Such discoveries reveal a narrative of music evolution for Kubik, a cultural anthropologist and ethnomusicologist. Traveling in Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, and the United States, he spent forty years in the field gathering the material for Africa and the Blues . In this book, Kubik relentlessly traces the remote genealogies of African cultural music through eighteen African nations, especially in the Western and Central Sudanic Belt.

Included is a comprehensive map of this cradle of the blues, along with 31 photographs gathered in his fieldwork. The author also adds clear musical notations and descriptions of both African and African American traditions and practices and calls into question the many assumptions about which elements of the blues were "European" in origin and about which came from Africa. Unique to this book is Kubik's insight into the ways present-day African musicians have adopted and enlivened the blues with their own traditions.

With scholarly care but with an ease for the general reader, Kubik proposes an entirely new theory on blue notes and their origins. Tracing what musical traits came from Africa and what mutations and mergers occurred in the Americas, he shows that the African American tradition we call the blues is truly a musical phenomenon belonging to the African cultural world.

Gerhard Kubik is a professor in the department of ethnology and African studies at the University of Mainz, Germany. Since 1983 he has been affiliated with the Center for Social Research of Malawi, Zomba. He is a permanent member of the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, London.


Author Notes

For those who really need to know, Terry Pratchett was born in Buckinghamshire, England, in 1948. He has managed to avoid all the really interesting jobs authors take in order to look good in this kind of biography. In his search for a quiet life he got a job as a Press Officer with the Central Electricity Generating Board after Three Mile Island, which shows his unerring sense of timing. Now a full-time writer, he lives in Somerset with his wife and daughter. He likes people to buy him banana daiquiris (he knows people don't read author biographies, but feels this might be worth a try).


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Although Paul Oliver seemed to put to rest the quest for the origin of blues in Savannah Syncopators: African Retentions in the Blues (1970), Kubik (Univ. of Mainz, Germany) revisits the question and argues in support of Oliver's assertion that the origin of the blues is rooted in the West Central Sudanic belt region of Africa. Unlike Oliver, Kubik builds his case on the conceptual organization of musical elements (rhythm, harmony, melodic structure, and musical instrument) to conclude that "blues is an African-American tradition that developed under certain social conditions on US American soil, in the Deep South. It did not develop as such in Africa. And yet it is a phenomenon belonging essentially to the African culture world." Kubik divides his discussion into two parts: part 1, "Out of Africa" comprises ten chapters devoted to the exploration of various aspects of music--concrete and conceptual--brought out of Africa through collective memories of enslaved Africans; part 2, "Return to Africa" (two chapters) points out the return of modified/reinterpreted African musical elements to the continent. Kubik's well-written book provides scholars with yet another possible perspective from which to scrutinize African connections of the blues. Strongly recommended to ethnomusicologists and US folklorists. Upper-division undergraduates through practitioners. Kazadi wa Mukuna; Kent State University


Choice Review

Although Paul Oliver seemed to put to rest the quest for the origin of blues in Savannah Syncopators: African Retentions in the Blues (1970), Kubik (Univ. of Mainz, Germany) revisits the question and argues in support of Oliver's assertion that the origin of the blues is rooted in the West Central Sudanic belt region of Africa. Unlike Oliver, Kubik builds his case on the conceptual organization of musical elements (rhythm, harmony, melodic structure, and musical instrument) to conclude that "blues is an African-American tradition that developed under certain social conditions on US American soil, in the Deep South. It did not develop as such in Africa. And yet it is a phenomenon belonging essentially to the African culture world." Kubik divides his discussion into two parts: part 1, "Out of Africa" comprises ten chapters devoted to the exploration of various aspects of music--concrete and conceptual--brought out of Africa through collective memories of enslaved Africans; part 2, "Return to Africa" (two chapters) points out the return of modified/reinterpreted African musical elements to the continent. Kubik's well-written book provides scholars with yet another possible perspective from which to scrutinize African connections of the blues. Strongly recommended to ethnomusicologists and US folklorists. Upper-division undergraduates through practitioners. Kazadi wa Mukuna; Kent State University


Table of Contents

List of Figuresp. ix
List of Photographsp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
Part 1 Out of Africap. 1
Introductionp. 3
1 Sources, Adaptation, and Innovationp. 5
2 The Rise of a Sung Literary Genrep. 21
3 A Strange Absencep. 51
4 The West Central Sudanic Beltp. 63
5 Blues Recordings Compared with Material from the West Central Sudanp. 71
6 Some Characteristics of the Bluesp. 82
7 Why Did a West Central Sudanic Style Cluster Prevail in the Blues?p. 96
8 Heterophonic Versus Homophonic Multipart Schemesp. 105
9 The Blues Tonal Systemp. 118
10 The "Flatted Fifth"p. 146
Introductionp. 155
11 The 12-Bar Blues Form in South African Kwela and Its Reinterpretationp. 161
12 Return to the Western Sudanp. 186
Summary and Conclusionsp. 197
Bibliographyp. 205
Indexp. 225
List of Figuresp. ix
List of Photographsp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
Part 1 Out of Africap. 1
Introductionp. 3
1 Sources, Adaptation, and Innovationp. 5
2 The Rise of a Sung Literary Genrep. 21
3 A Strange Absencep. 51
4 The West Central Sudanic Beltp. 63
5 Blues Recordings Compared with Material from the West Central Sudanp. 71
6 Some Characteristics of the Bluesp. 82
7 Why Did a West Central Sudanic Style Cluster Prevail in the Blues?p. 96
8 Heterophonic Versus Homophonic Multipart Schemesp. 105
9 The Blues Tonal Systemp. 118
10 The "Flatted Fifth"p. 146
Introductionp. 155
11 The 12-Bar Blues Form in South African Kwela and Its Reinterpretationp. 161
12 Return to the Western Sudanp. 186
Summary and Conclusionsp. 197
Bibliographyp. 205
Indexp. 225

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