Theatricality Of Blues Analysis

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Blues artists have historically represented a politically aware approach to artistic expression as it is rooted in slave songs. Rap music serves as a contemporary version of this as it too stems from African traditions such as black vernacular. Both of these genres of music use african retentions to maintain the spirit of their culture prior to their enslavement, recalling a time when they were free. The elements they incorporate from their past are a reminder to their communities that they are a strong group of people and will continue to be. Their works in turn take on the form of a political resistance to continual social oppression. That being said, there is a commodification of these forms of artistic expression that can dilute the very …show more content…
The genre is relevant to its roots in slave songs because it utilizes african retentions not just to exhibit how talented their people are, but to express the importance of maintaining ritual; keeping African traditions alive and understanding the history behind their usages. In Jacques D. Lacava’s journal, The Theatricality of Blues, he delves into how “The word “ritual” seems more important than “performance” when the audience is committed not appreciative… blues singing is more of a belief role than a creative role, more priestly than artistic (Lacava 129). Considering that blues highlights the significance of ritual, focusing on the audience is a major factor. Blues artists do so through rhythm and movement. The genre is commonly defined as “a style of jazz evolved from southern American Negro secular songs and usually distinguished by floated thirds and sevenths and slow tempo” (Lacava 127). Thirds and sevenths is the consistent tempo in Blues. It is a rhythm that is out of ordinary, having a unique jazzy, swaying movement to it. This points to the significance of rhythm as Blues artists are exhibiting their culture’s ability to keep up with complex rhythms and tempos. The emotional intensity is translated through the remarkably rhythmic capabilities of blues musicians; reminiscent of when enslaved African American’s practiced tradition through song. With this in mind, it is clear - the performance of Blues is an integral part of the artistic expression. “To perform outside in the street is an affirmation of belonging, and at the same time, an attempt to effect change for the inhabitants of these oppressive neighborhoods” (Lacava 129). Lacava continues to point out how although the lyrics are central to the Blues, it is the delivery of the song, and the Blues persona adopted by the singer, that allows the genre to have such a strong social impact (Lacava 129). Black Blues

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