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The Sound Of Black America?

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The sound of black America?

The Motown Sound (the Motownesque sound) where did it come from?

Well the easy answer is Motown but the influx of black Americans was an economic migration from the Deep South to the big city lured by money from factory work, parallels to the north of England is of note here but for another discussion.

The sound of Black America and they sound we all love is attributed to a fusion of slave songs, gospel and a fresh up beat mix founded, arguably, in Detroit.

Theres not many who don't know this and very few who would argue it but strip back the sound we love back to the Deep south and back to its accepted origins of black slaves bringing polyrhythm music to the shores of America. Now it is accepted that a fusion of European waltzes and influences from polka, waltzes and other European music melted together to give what we now know and accept as the sound of black America.

I think we have a gap and a leap of faith here because the two musical influences are far from an easy mix, if we look at the sound of Africa and the cultural music of indigenous peoples they do sound a far cry from Motown, of course they sound different I hear you gasp, but it is a difference that fall far from most palettes, when was the last time you bought a African Music LP?

I believe we have lost an important "missing link" of black American music; the loss in my opinion would have been caused by the lack of technology and the reluctance to write a record of this music.

I intend to build a time machine this weekend and go back and bring back what I believe will be some sound recordings that will blow us all away!

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The sound of black America?

The Motown Sound (the Motownesque sound) where did it come from?

Well the easy answer is Motown but the influx of black Americans was an economic migration from the Deep South to the big city lured by money from factory work, parallels to the north of England is of note here but for another discussion.

The sound of Black America and they sound we all love is attributed to a fusion of slave songs, gospel and a fresh up beat mix founded, arguably, in Detroit.

Theres not many who don't know this and very few who would argue it but strip back the sound we love back to the Deep south and back to its accepted origins of black slaves bringing polyrhythm music to the shores of America. Now it is accepted that a fusion of European waltzes and influences from polka, waltzes and other European music melted together to give what we now know and accept as the sound of black America.

I think we have a gap and a leap of faith here because the two musical influences are far from an easy mix, if we look at the sound of Africa and the cultural music of indigenous peoples they do sound a far cry from Motown, of course they sound different I hear you gasp, but it is a difference that fall far from most palettes, when was the last time you bought a African Music LP?

I believe we have lost an important "missing link" of black American music; the loss in my opinion would have been caused by the lack of technology and the reluctance to write a record of this music.

I intend to build a time machine this weekend and go back and bring back what I believe will be some sound recordings that will blow us all away!

You cannot catch me out that easy Simon , it was in 2007 .

20th Century Masters : The Best Of Manu Dibango .

Malc

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You cannot catch me out that easy Simon , it was in 2007 .

20th Century Masters : The Best Of Manu Dibango .

Malc

Malc you have passed the first test. lol

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The sound of black America?

The Motown Sound (the Motownesque sound) where did it come from?

Well the easy answer is Motown but the influx of black Americans was an economic migration from the Deep South to the big city lured by money from factory work, parallels to the north of England is of note here but for another discussion.

The sound of Black America and they sound we all love is attributed to a fusion of slave songs, gospel and a fresh up beat mix founded, arguably, in Detroit.

Theres not many who don't know this and very few who would argue it but strip back the sound we love back to the Deep south and back to its accepted origins of black slaves bringing polyrhythm music to the shores of America. Now it is accepted that a fusion of European waltzes and influences from polka, waltzes and other European music melted together to give what we now know and accept as the sound of black America.

I think we have a gap and a leap of faith here because the two musical influences are far from an easy mix, if we look at the sound of Africa and the cultural music of indigenous peoples they do sound a far cry from Motown, of course they sound different I hear you gasp, but it is a difference that fall far from most palettes, when was the last time you bought a African Music LP?

I believe we have lost an important "missing link" of black American music; the loss in my opinion would have been caused by the lack of technology and the reluctance to write a record of this music.

I intend to build a time machine this weekend and go back and bring back what I believe will be some sound recordings that will blow us all away!

Motown was "the sound of young America" and does not have a great deal to do with the sth or Africa or race even more to do with money,my opinion anyway.

Got this recently

med_gallery_1986_2576_50138.jpg

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Spot on Ken not many would argue that.

I still wonder at the juncture when the music morphed from the clumsy tribal polyrhythm to the sound we know and love now because the sound of Africa aint too much like American black music, the vocalization and the melody seems to have come from somewhere and I can't see/hear it in any European base?

The slaves would have heard choir music, don't forget this would have been well before the gospel rhythm and the only other music would have been sea shanties and English folk music that in its self sounds far away from melodic rythmatic pieces?

The only other music would have been the classics that would have no doubt been heard.

Old African Slave Song I believe would have been sang whilst toiling in the fields and like then as Christianity and the black church formed we would have had a meld of cultures. These may have been replicated in the fields and for the amusement of the slaves, Tin Pan Alley and brass music was a very English thing and the fusion of brass and blues sang out of desperation given to strings of banjos and piano sees jazz and RnB.

European influences are possibly more important than given credit for?

Mr Gordy and the like take credit for cleaning up a sound and packaging it for whitey but I still can't hear the folk music or sound and taste of the Europe of the slave trade?

I'm trawling through period music now on you tube trying to find the connective tissue and the change from a rudimentary drum to a melody, 2010 and still searching for the young soul rebel.

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The sound of black America?

The Motown Sound (the Motownesque sound) where did it come from?

Well the easy answer is Motown but the influx of black Americans was an economic migration from the Deep South to the big city lured by money from factory work, parallels to the north of England is of note here but for another discussion.

The sound of Black America and they sound we all love is attributed to a fusion of slave songs, gospel and a fresh up beat mix founded, arguably, in Detroit.

Theres not many who dont know this and very few who would argue it but strip back the sound we love back to the Deep south and back to its accepted origins of black slaves bringing polyrhythm music to the shores of America. Now it is accepted that a fusion of European waltzes and influences from polka, waltzes and other European music melted together to give what we now know and accept as the sound of black America.

I think we have a gap and a leap of faith here because the two musical influences are far from an easy mix, if we look at the sound of Africa and the cultural music of indigenous peoples they do sound a far cry from Motown, of course they sound different I hear you gasp, but it is a difference that fall far from most palettes, when was the last time you bought a African Music LP?

I believe we have lost an important missing link of black American music; the loss in my opinion would have been caused by the lack of technology and the reluctance to write a record of this music.

I intend to build a time machine this weekend and go back and bring back what I believe will be some sound recordings that will blow us all away!

I didn't understand a word of that

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I didn't understand a word of that

For Pete.............

At what point did a drum and a scrappy tribal beat become an accepted and loved melodic sound, how when and why?

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Simon

This has been researched and cross-references to Africa are made in various publications not least Peter Guralnicks book Sweet Soul Music & the Southern Dream of Freedom, however, I think that as far as the music itself is concerned it's far too complex to attempt to 'pin-point' a specific "missing" link between African tribal rhythms and the Sound of 'Young' America.

Personally I think that the music is an aside; I think the main link is the Afro-American him/herself who's DNA can always be traced a few generations directly back to Africa.

Mick

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I do agree that it is a very complex and intricate subject but I do believe that the historians often place things in neat boxes and the less accepted and un sexier things are often left out.

I think black America is given far too much of the lion's share of credit for rythmatic dance, I read all about slaves hollering to each other and how this changed into the blues, I hear how church music influenced by slave chants became gospel.

The African drum was not the first beat 9well it was if you go back and I mean wayyyyyyyy back) there was another drum that never gets a mention and a drum that was present at the start of the black journey and that was the military drum.

The navy used toe tappers and drum based music to encourage the sailors to dance on board ship and many military marches are toe tapping well, who can keep still to the Grenadier?

Now I am not reinventing the origins of Motown nor am I claiming that soul started in Yorkshire but the British influence never gets a mention.

Ken thanks for sending me that link, fascinating stuff mate a good read. The History Of: Blues Music

Like most articles it starts at the convenient establishing music well ready for the onslaught of recording and public outings but we are still left with a gap.

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In the propper early days,blues was as popular with white country singers and later on as black people got more freedon and money set up black club and the fusions started there,and maybe religion...............i'm sure its more complicated than that ? just trying some sort of answer.probley talking rubbish as per.

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Apart from Guralnick's tome, check out Nick Tosches two excellent books: 'Country' and 'Where Dead Voices Gather', the former takes an in-depth look at the origins of Country Music via Old Time, Gospel, Jugbands and Rockabilly through to the slick Nashville Sound of the 50s & 60s. The latter charts the rise and fall of Minstrelsy and how that influenced both black and white artists. Blacks were definitely influenced by Scottish and Irish rythmns, playing tent show reviews with white artists like Frank Hutchinson, Jimmie Rodgers etc. A lot of the Old Time and String Bands specialised in fiddle and drum driven stomping dance music. Uncle Dave Macon, whose voice was very black, is a good example of the genre. This couldn't have happened without some sort musical bed-hopping taking place.

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I think "The sound of black America" is a bit of a fib?

I'm not too convinced that the black Americans had much to do with "the sound', big call to make and one that can easily be cuffed away but why hasn't the continent of Africa dominating world music?

I don't even think that black American music is as unique to anything other than say Berry Gordy's marketing machine and American Bandstand?

To say that Afro Americans had the upper hand on entertainment and marvelous singing voices is to deny a whole lot of music and when I look for black American before Detroit there aint much too separate white artists of that time?

New Orleans didn't have any more black singers than they did white and the likes of Billie Holiday had their fair share of white competition in the singing stakes.

I kinda think the likes of Berry Gordy marketed this so called "Sound of Black America" for the white record buying audience?

Is it all just bubble gum pop or is there such a thing as black American music?

Have we been sold a lie?

If the Motown sound is the pinnacle of Black America then how come there aint any African states producing the same stuff?

Maybe I have far too much time on my hands today.

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I think "The sound of black America" is a bit of a fib?

I'm not too convinced that the black Americans had much to do with "the sound', big call to make and one that can easily be cuffed away but why hasn't the continent of Africa dominating world music?

I don't even think that black American music is as unique to anything other than say Berry Gordy's marketing machine and American Bandstand?

To say that Afro Americans had the upper hand on entertainment and marvelous singing voices is to deny a whole lot of music and when I look for black American before Detroit there aint much too separate white artists of that time?

New Orleans didn't have any more black singers than they did white and the likes of Billie Holiday had their fair share of white competition in the singing stakes.

I kinda think the likes of Berry Gordy marketed this so called "Sound of Black America" for the white record buying audience?

Is it all just bubble gum pop or is there such a thing as black American music?

Have we been sold a lie?

If the Motown sound is the pinnacle of Black America then how come there aint any African states producing the same stuff?

Maybe I have far too much time on my hands today.

Did he ever call it that? I thought it was called The Sound of YOUNG America not BLACK America

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Did he ever call it that? I thought it was called The Sound of YOUNG America not BLACK America

I don't think he ever called it that but his work is a large slice of what is referred to as black American music.

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You never heard of "Race Records"?

The comparison between the development of white music alongside black music as far as pre-WW2 is concerned is like comparing apples with oranges surely?

Just to take a few points from the early 60s even...

At the same time JFK and Martin Luther King were still trying to enforce the Emancipation Act of a 100 years before, the playing field in terms of black music and it's delivery to the masses was finally becoming somewhat level. This wasn't due to some iconic law being passed but simply that white people woke up to black music and realised that a lot of what they were hearing was originated in the black community. Some then leant an ear to the real thing. With the advent of the teenager, TV and the boom economy the music business was awash with ideas, talent, budding entreprenuers etc. The conditions were set for black music to cross over to mainstream outlets.

The amount of Gospel infused vocals within the black community in early part of the 20th Century played a large part in the 'development' of black American music. It was the black community that migrated from the cotton fields of Georgia etc, many of them first generation free men. It was the black community who found solace in the choirs of the churches in order to gain strength from still being indentured despite their government's decree that they were free.

I'll never forget Carl Fisher's words when I interviewed him at length. He finished with this..." Dave, music was fantastic to me but it should never define me as a man. I was born one generation from slavery, and I am the proud father of a doctor and a lawyer (His daughters). That is my greatest achievement. They are what defines me, as a man".

Powerful words from someone who lived it. How could that outlook on life NOT influence the music in the genes of the next generation. The upheaval of the 50s and sixties, the opportunities it created for black people as well the trials and tribulations they faced, the second generation of miners, car workers, assembly line workers, the families who had fed the industrial age as the labour force began to spread their wings and did this to the backdrop of Robert Johnson, Billie Holiday, Otis Blackwell, Mahlia Jackson, Jackie Wilson, Harvey Fuqua, John Lee Hooker and yes, Berry Gordy. To dismiss the "Sound Of Young America" as less significant than Beethoven, Glen Miller, Elvis or Lennon and McCartney etc is to fail to acknowledge the contribution that a whole swathe of black 'artists', combined with the talents of a lesser, but just as important, swathe of white 'artists' made to not just the development of American music but the culture of a generation of it's citizens.

Finally, if anyone thinks the Polka had as much influence on Jackie Beaver's - Bring Me All Of Your Heartaches - Grandland, as Sam Cooke's - A Change Is Gonna Come has, then go get yer lugs waxed by a professional. :hatsoff2:

I would put forward the theory that black music influenced white music much more than the other way round. :(

Regards,

Dave

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I kinda think the likes of Berry Gordy marketed this so called "Sound of Black America" for the white record buying audience?

Of course he did......................it's a well known fact.................and on a personal level is why I much prefer Chess and Stax/Atlantic stuff to Motown.

One thing you seem to have overlooked in your analysis is of course............................segregation!!!

Edited by jobbo

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I think "The sound of black America" is a bit of a fib?

I'm not too convinced that the black Americans had much to do with "the sound', big call to make and one that can easily be cuffed away but why hasn't the continent of Africa dominating world music?

I don't even think that black American music is as unique to anything other than say Berry Gordy's marketing machine and American Bandstand?

To say that Afro Americans had the upper hand on entertainment and marvelous singing voices is to deny a whole lot of music and when I look for black American before Detroit there aint much too separate white artists of that time?

New Orleans didn't have any more black singers than they did white and the likes of Billie Holiday had their fair share of white competition in the singing stakes.

I kinda think the likes of Berry Gordy marketed this so called "Sound of Black America" for the white record buying audience?

Is it all just bubble gum pop or is there such a thing as black American music?

Have we been sold a lie?

If the Motown sound is the pinnacle of Black America then how come there aint any African states producing the same stuff?

Maybe I have far too much time on my hands today.

And if I had read this from some American I would have thought it was revisionist racist sh*t, who as usual want to play down the influence of African Americans in history, and no I am not saying you are racist, just saying you really should do a little more studying before you raise such a topic and spout stupid assumptions when there are lots of academic research on this.

Read the following

Leroi Jones - Blues People

Ben Sidran - Black Talk Roots Of Jazz

Charles Keil - Urban Blues

Michael Harambalos - Soul Music Robert Harden - People Get Ready!: A New History of Gospel Music -

none about Motown, not even really much about soul but essential if you are going to start dissecting social policy and cultural impacts, and history of African American music which is what you are, do it without knowledge and you really do run a danger of selling yourself very short.Its a fascinating subject if you are interested in wider than your own scene, although I suspect you focusing on Motown means you are looking at it from a Northern viewpoint which is always going to lead to misunderstandings.

To deny Motowns place in the history of Black music is foolish, but so equally is trying to explain the sound of Black America by purely looking at Motown.

No doubt I am coming over as a sanctimonious twat but its just to easy for people to put stuff up on here as if it is fact when its all pure conjecture.

Edited by jocko

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I'll add a few observations if I may.

Hugh Gregory put out an interesting (in terms of facts and musical development) if not particularly well written (it's a bit dry and listy in places) book called The Real Rhythm and Blues, tracing the line of R&B from the blues shouters and swing bands of the 20s and 30s through the real rock and roll period of the 40s and 50s through to the embryonic soul of the late 50s into the 60s. It's a work to skim as it's got some interesting stuff in it, but it's not a book to read like Peter Guralnik or Nelson George, it's more of a reference.

Secondly, many if not most writers acknowledge that Soul grew up in the industrial cities as the blacks migrated North and West, particularly in the post war years. However the roots of it are likely to be multiracial/multicultural in so far as southern states were original largely French and Spanish and whilst since the 1800s the influence of British and Celtic folk music would have been added in greater amounts to the mix, the folk music of the region with it's Cajun and Hispanic flavours developed amongst the poor whites in the same way that call and response singing had continued to develop and evolve amongst blacks.

Include in this if you will the Christianisation of the black community and the musical arrangements of the church and you start to develop a clearer picture. Add to that that the "African" element was in most cases forbidden; people were brutally discouraged from continuing their own customs and traditions and forced to take on those of their masters. This resulted in the adaptation of black forms of self expression into structures that that whites found acceptable - this of course is not something that is unique in black America, cultural repression has been a tool the world over since man has walked the earth.

But I digress. All the while the cross pollination of the music was creating new sounds. If you listen to some of the early country/Americana and then blues from the thirties, in the music, if not the vocal, there are significant similarities and most probably because the music was developing in proximity to a neighbouring culture (for both blacks and whites). I think sometimes we forget that that not all whites had slaves and there was a definite underclass of "poor rural folk", particularly between the wars when the means of production was allowing music to become more commercially accessible, who may not have had to suffer the oppression of a man in a white suit, a big hat and a handlebar moustache, but who were oppressed nonetheless.

Ray Charles revisits this meeting of white and black music in his country recordings and claiming to BE country whilst the STAX/Volt/Satellite output is very much a sound made of white and black musicians playing side by side, as is the output of the Fame studios.

I too would recommend Sidran and Jones' books; it's been about a decade since I read either of them, but they made a big impression when I did. I'll have to add those other two to my "to look for list" if they're as good as S&J.

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Ok. In your opening post, you draw a brief history of black american music, saying it has African roots. Then you seem to be saying we do not give enough importance to African music, and that we are missing a link to fully understand black music by not having a lot of recorded music from Africa or the slave era.

Then, on post #5 you go on and say the European root is probably taken for granted.

Then, your question changes:

At what point did a drum and a scrappy tribal beat become an accepted and loved melodic sound, how when and why?

Then you mention the military root, implying it should be taken into consideration when writing about Black American music.

Finally, you imply that there might not be such thing as Black American music, because Africa isn't dominating the music world, and because there isn't any African country producing Motownesque records.

So there's several questions / issues here, so I'll try to answer briefly.

First: yes, the African music can be often taken for granted, although there's a big market for afrofunk afrobeat, rock, etc. Specially in the States. On the other hand, lots of topics and archetypes in blues, soul and funk music have a clear African origin.

Second, I don't think the European side is taken for granted. When you hum any song, you hum the lead singer's part, that is, the melody, you don't beat box the drum pattern. Even more so, when you pay attention to a bass line, you pay attention to it's melodic and harmonic properties, not the rhythmic pattern.

About the scrappy beat becoming melody: I suppose you're saying this metaphorically and you're trying to mark a point on the calendar that marks the change between tribal African music and black american music? If that's what you're aiming at, it's absolutely impossible, let alone useless. Of course it's necessary to find out about when it happened, but marking a precise moment does not help us to understand the causes, reasons, conditions, etc. of the change. Leroi Jones gives an interest explanation about when an African slave becomes an American slave, so that might help you out.

Finally, that thing about not being such thing as Black American music because the African continent isn't, in your words, "dominating the music world" is exactly the same as saying the US is not the most powerful country in the world because the UK isn't. Or saying that there is no such thing as Latin American art because it's not being made in Spain. Taking your argument to it's most extreme example, Mozart and Bach made African music because the human race originated in Africa.

Leroi Jones book's subtitle is "The negro experience in white america and the music that developed from it". It's the music made by a very unique, and relatively new subject in the history of the States: the negro / black / african-american citizen, the sons of slaves brought from Africa, turned into free men (freed from slavery, that is), trying to find their place in society, and singing about that.

Edited by Dante

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What a fascinating thread ..

A simpler approach would have been to call it the sound of America as all influences stated in previous posts are valid.

One i feel that is missing though is the Jewish contribution, I believe Chess amongst others used Jewish classical

musicians to sweeten their sound making it more attractive to a larger market.

Ironically the only contribution missing maybe the rhythms of the native Americans ......

Away with the puns:yes:

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What a fascinating thread ..

A simpler approach would have been to call it the sound of America as all influences stated in previous posts are valid.

One i feel that is missing though is the Jewish contribution, I believe Chess amongst others used Jewish classical

musicians to sweeten their sound making it more attractive to a larger market.

Ironically the only contribution missing maybe the rhythms of the native Americans ......

Away with the puns:yes:

edwin starr - my weakness is you -

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I have not set out to upset any one and I promise that I am not some crazy racist with an agenda.

I don't think that there are many black struggle records from Detroit (I feel that I may me the architect of my own doom here?)

Black American music from Detroit, the motown and Northernsoul records we love so much are mainly about boy meets girl, I love you, you don't love me and the like?

There is little to know reference of the black struggle?

That is not to say that American blacks did not struggle but that culture does not surface in the majority of sixties dancers we love so much, educate me as and when please.

This leaves me with a theory that the influences where not totally or dare I even suggest at all from the struggle?

Africa has had its fair whack of modern-day slavery and some say more now than at ever before yet we do not hear any melodic soulful music or song coming from that continent yet all of the so called ingredients are there?

I'd love to know more about the roots of black American music, or should I say as Pete pointed out "The sound of young America", you would expect a polished, rounded off sound to be present from Detroit, after all the migration of black Americans from the deep south to Detroit to work in the new industrial revolution is well documented but instead of hearing a black slave type holler or a Africanesque or even Blues base we hear a very much poppy clipity clop (I just know I will get death threats from that) sound.

We do hear angst but do we really? What we do hear are some ultra-fantastic singers, that's not a black thing and to say it is would be the real racist suggestion and a suggestion that no other race can sing.

I'm not interested in any racial profiling, I'm still trying to see the leap from the African drum, slavery songs, blues and gospel to becoming the best loved black music of all time ... soul.

If it was Reggae that we were discussing then I can hear Africa, I can from Detroit.

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Here one from a American Indian

post-1986-090451100 1286906670_thumb.jpg

r dean taylor - let's go somewhere -

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Simon

I think that you've kind of changed your thread a bit because now you are talking about the 'struggle' in which case the following consider the following article that I wrote for Soul Up North a couple of years ago - food for thought mate.....

Mick

July and August 1964, August 1965, July 1967 and July 1968………….

These dates won't mean much to most people but just as May 1959 and April 1981 are synonymous with the social history of black Britons; the former dates are burned deeply in the collective consciousness of Afro-America.

Perhaps a further clue to their significance will be apparent if the following place names are added; Harlem and Rochester, Philadelphia, Detroit and Watts.

The urban 'riots' that occurred in some of the most deprived areas of USA's major cities in the 1960's were, together with other events, a catalyst for sweeping changes to the very fabric of black and white society and of course this was reflected in popular music, which up to that point had mainly zeroed in on one particular subject – love (it is perhaps ironic that love may have been the one thing that could have prevented the death and destruction that occurred during those times!).

If one looks at the Billboard top100 for the years leading up to and including 1967, the year of the last major disturbances, apart from the odd tune which was often either an instrumental or something comedic (A Walk In The Black Forest and I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am, numbers 46 and 47 respectively in the chart of 1965 are a case in point), love and the association with love was the predominant theme particularly in soul music as the following selections show:

1965 I Can't Help Myself by The Four Tops (No 2), My Girl by The Temptations (No 10), The Birds & The Bees by Jewel Akens (No 13), Stop In The Name Of Love by The Supremes (No 20) and Shotgun by Jr Walker & The All-Stars (No 25).

1966 Reach Out by The Four Tops (No 4), You Can't Hurry Love by The Supremes (No 8), When A Man Loves A Woman by Percy Sledge (No 20), What Becomes of the Broken Hearted by David Ruffin (No 22) and You Keep Me Hangin' On by The Supremes (No 30).

1967 I Was Made To Love Her by Stevie Wonder (No 14), Expressway To Your Heart by The Soul Survivors (No 18), Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie by Jay & The Techniques (No 21), Love Is Here and Now You're Gone by The Supremes (No 28) and Your Precious Love by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (No 32).

Although the subject matter of love still dominated the American hits of 1968, there was quite a marked change with topics of a social nature slowly starting to creep in. People Got To Be Free by the Rascals, The Beatles' Revolution, Love Child by The Supremes and James Browns Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud are just a few examples.

There is no doubt that protest songs, that is music influenced by social events, had been around for a long time. Woody Guthrie's 'dustbowl' folk songs of the 30's and Pete Seegers' output from the 40's onwards is testament to this but it was really only in the 60's that the voice of disapproval for 'the man' began to be heard on a national scale and only then towards the end of the decade simply because the major white performers of the era insisted upon it. Remember that perhaps other than James Brown, major black artists like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder were forced to wait until the early 70's until they were able to take full artistic control and it is also worth bearing in mind that much of the lyrical content of 'Soul' was penned by white 'tin-pan alley' songwriters who perhaps rarely empathised with what was happening on the streets of black America.

Of course, it wasn't only the conflict in local black communities in US cities that influenced a sea change; the 1960's were tumultuous times generally. The assassinations of both John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King five years apart (1963 & 1968 respectively), the Paris student riots, the US University sit-in's, the Viet Nam war and the subsequent rise of militant groups not least the Black Power movement all had a collective impact and shaped the future of music.

But let us just consider the years 1964 to 1967 again for a moment. In the context of rare soul or music of black origin that did not get national exposure (i.e. not Billboard 100 hits); whilst songs with a ‘message’ were fairly thin on the ground (apart from many influenced by the Viet Nam war which affected just about everyone in the US), there were in fact a few very fine examples of the genre. Welfare Cheese by Emanuel Laskey and Black Power by James Coit to name just two.

The point is that the urban disturbances and the other aforementioned events did not all occur at the same time and this is the very reason why soul music did not change overnight on the 31st December 1969. Slowly, throughout the 60's the establishment in all its guises was having less and less influence on what the black public could say and more importantly on what they were able to see and hear. To quote a certain Robert Zimmerman, the times [were indeed] a changing!

Although twenty years on, consider Stevie Wonders' Hotter Than July album released in 1980 and the single Happy Birthday. This huge worldwide hit was in fact a vehicle for Stevies' campaign for Martin Luther Kings Birthday to be recognised as a national holiday which became a reality in 1986.

Who said that music never changed anything?

Edited by Mick Howard

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Guest unklbrian

First , can i say that this is only my 2nd post on this forum - please be gentle !!!!

just a couple if thoughts on this thread - very interesting one too BTW ,

There is 'soulfull singing' in african music - mostly not in English though !

and a thought on how difficult it is to pinpoint anything in the world of music - this is lifted from the African Music Forum , regarding Congolese Rumba - the 2nd paragraph is of most interest imo

Many people think of rumba as quintessentially Cuban—and the drum-driven dance music played by groups like Los Muñequitos de Matanzas certainly is that—but rumba neither began in Cuba nor ended there. Debate about its origin persists in some quarters, but Africans assert that rumba came first from Africa and most Cubans agree. One theory posits that the word rumba derives from nkumba, which means "waist" in KiKongo, a Central African language, and refers also to a social dance that joins couples at the waist. According to this account, slaves from Central Africa carried the word, dance and its accompanying rhythms and songs to the Americas. The majority of Africans brought to Cuba during the four-century-long Atlantic slave trade did in fact come from the Congo. Rumba and other Cuban styles evince such strong Congolese characteristics that only obstinacy prevents some listeners from hearing the connections.

But what Congolese call rumba is different from nkumba and from what Cubans call rumba. Rumba Congo is indeed rooted in traditional Congolese music but it is distinctly modern, and while the Cuban influence is crucial it is far from absolute. Cuban music returned to the Congo via phonograph records, which became available in the region's cities in the 1930s. In the sounds emanating from those shellac grooves—the rhythms, the way singers called and choruses responded—Congolese listeners recognized their own music made new. Local musicians had already begun adapting imported instruments to indigenous forms, but records by Trio Matamoros, Sexteto Habanero, Septeto Nacional and other Cuban groups taught them how to combine the elements to make music that was at once modern, cosmopolitan and deeply familiar.

Congolese musicians started playing Cuban songs, mimicking the Spanish lyrics or replacing them with verses in their own languages and composing original songs in Cuban styles. Records produced in Léopoldville (the Belgian Congo) and Brazzaville (the French Congo) in the 40s and 50s confirm, however, that the early stars of rumba Congo never merely imitated Cuban music. Paul Kamba, Antoine Wendo, Henri Bowane, Kallé Kabasele and other artists of their generation created a new sound. They called it rumba but used a variety of rhythms and song structures, some recognizably Latin, some not. Their melodies followed the tones and accents of Lingala and other local languages instead of Spanish. They favored clarinets or saxophones over flutes and trumpets, and above all they featured guitars. In Congolese rumba, guitars—usually in pairs or threes—covered all the parts that the guitar, the trés, the violins and the piano played in Cuban music. And when innovative guitarists such as Franco, Dr. Nico and Papa Noel took up electric guitars in the mid-'50s, Congolese rumba further distinguished itself from its Cuban antecedent.

hope thats readable !!!

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I have not set out to upset any one and I promise that I am not some crazy racist with an agenda.

I don't think that there are many black struggle records from Detroit (I feel that I may me the architect of my own doom here?)

Black American music from Detroit, the motown and Northernsoul records we love so much are mainly about boy meets girl, I love you, you don't love me and the like?

There is little to know reference of the black struggle?

That is not to say that American blacks did not struggle but that culture does not surface in the majority of sixties dancers we love so much, educate me as and when please.

This leaves me with a theory that the influences where not totally or dare I even suggest at all from the struggle?

Africa has had its fair whack of modern-day slavery and some say more now than at ever before yet we do not hear any melodic soulful music or song coming from that continent yet all of the so called ingredients are there?

I'd love to know more about the roots of black American music, or should I say as Pete pointed out "The sound of young America", you would expect a polished, rounded off sound to be present from Detroit, after all the migration of black Americans from the deep south to Detroit to work in the new industrial revolution is well documented but instead of hearing a black slave type holler or a Africanesque or even Blues base we hear a very much poppy clipity clop (I just know I will get death threats from that) sound.

We do hear angst but do we really? What we do hear are some ultra-fantastic singers, that's not a black thing and to say it is would be the real racist suggestion and a suggestion that no other race can sing.

I'm not interested in any racial profiling, I'm still trying to see the leap from the African drum, slavery songs, blues and gospel to becoming the best loved black music of all time ... soul.

If it was Reggae that we were discussing then I can hear Africa, I can from Detroit.

I have no idea what this post means. I have read some inpenetrable literature down the years, but I'm sorry old chap, I haven't got a clue what you really want to ask.

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The sound of Black America came from Scotland.

Professor Willie Ruff insists that the performance style of psalms precented in Gaelic in Scotland's Protestant Hebrides is the root influence on African-American 'gospel' and by extension all other forms of African-American music. Unfortunately his research has been twisted arounfd by the National Socialist movements in the USA to remove any suggestion that black people ever invented anything.

Gospel Truth

story101.jpg

Willie Ruff and composer Mitch Leigh

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When Berry Gordy set up Motown, the idea was not to make black music but music to appeal to everyone. However, by 1967/68 there was a lot of racial tension (Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, race riots, etc), and Motown decided not to ignore what was going on their own doorsteps and produce records such as Ball of Confusion which provided some social comment. Mick Howard's article above explains it all.

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I think the comparitive dearth of 'black consciousness' material lies in the fact that most musicians, first and foremost, simply needed to earn a living, and more commercially accessible material is more likely to sell. I can't imagine James Coit made enough to buy a BK Whopper, never mind pay his rent. If he was happy with that I'll be the first to salute him - and Gino Washington for the Rat Race vocal, which is as umbiguously strident a lyric as any folk protest song the 60's ever threw up.

However, I wouldn't be surprised if even the most militant performers of the day nursed a yearning for the paycheck and fame being signed to Motown or Stax or Atlantic may have brought.

Edited by Alan Walls

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