History of Development of Blues Seminar Paper

Excerpt from Seminar Paper :

Out of about 40 million slaves that were transported from African to the United States, only 15 million of them could survive, however they ended up in pure hell. It was expected of the African-Americans to meet the demands of two ideas, both of which met the needs of the rich white Americans. Thus, where slaves had a disguise to serve their masters and please them, they were just not being honest to themselves in the least bit, and they were living according to the wishes of their masters to escape the beating or to avoid being scrutinized any further. Having said that, just because they had no choice but to live up to the two ideals, it did not mean that there were not any rightfully revengeful and rebellious slaves that went against the books and refused to accept being a cookie cutter cut-out. It is assumed that the slaves that did live up to the expected obedient, as well as comic-relief providing slave had a relatively easier ride of the hell they were going through (Oakley).

However, nowadays the Black culture is popularly characterized by the influence it had on the popular music and dance. It is important to note here that all this started, to develop a shape and form to leave an impression on everyone for centuries to come, in the 1890s. jazz, Blues and Ragtime were all genres of music that were creations of the African-Americans. It is interesting to note that after these genres were developed, they did not just remain confined to the black people, but soon got integrated into the entire world of music and entertainment. The aforementioned statement is suggestive of the fact that jazz, blues and everything else that African-American musicians had developed, had great potential to influence the musical preferences of those around them, and that too in the best possible way. Something that started off as a gruesome story of the lives of the poor slaves soon became famous as a magnificent musical and cultural victory. Not just that, the development of Blues provided a way out for the slaves that were treated harshly and cruelly by the rich white people. The fact that the suffering that these people went through did not have to go in vain, is satisfactory to some an extent. The African-Americans have made a permanent part of history by serving their ruthless masters, and by developing Blues, which is considered to be one of the most popular musical genres. The books that have stated the history of the African-Americans are particularly interesting to read because it has been described how the black men and women were so powerless at one point in time, and then became so powerful with the help of the music that they developed without letting their past full of oppression and pain slow them down. It will not be wrong to say that the Blues was the sweet escape for the slaves from all sorts of pain and it was a channel for these people to take control of their new lives full of freedom (Oakley).

Social and Economic Aspects behind the Development of Blues

The social and economic reasons behind the development of blues are not fully known to the analysts and researchers. Blues has transformed from an unaided vocal music of the poor black slaves and laborers into a genre with a wide variety of subgenres and styles, with variations depending upon the different areas of the United States. The first emergence of the blues is not fully defined and is assumed to be dated between 1870 and 1900, which was the period that accords with the emancipation of the African-American slaves and their transformation from slavery to farming and agricultural production on the small-scale, particularly in the southern parts of the United States.

Numerous scholars are of the view that early 1900s should be characterized with respect to the development of blues music. They are also of the view that the development of blues was a move made by the African-Americans from group performances to the ones that were more individualized. These scholars put forth the argument that the development of blues has an association with the recently acquired freedom of the African-American slaves. According to one of the scholars who studied the culture of African-Americans in great depth, Lawrence Levine, there was a direct association between the emphasis placed on the individuals both nationally and ideologically, the popularity of teachings of Booker T. Washington, and the emergence of blues. Levine has also stated that socially, psychologically, and economically, the African-Americans were trained to become acculturated in such a way that would not have been possible during slavery, and it hardly comes as a surprise that their secular music was reflection of this as much as their religious music.

The use of music therapy

Music Therapy was initiated in the late 18th century but it is only recently that researchers and doctors are beginning to look into it. Going back to the historical times, studies show that music was used as a form of healing in the ancient times as well. Many of the historical aspects discussing the use of music therapy in healing are retrieved from civilizations such India, China, Greece, Rome and Egypt. This basically shows that music therapy is basically the modification of art used in ancient times. These days, this form of therapy is basically used to attain goals such as improving mental health and feeling of well being (Lee)

When this notion was becoming popular, many doctors and nurses attempted to make use of music and ultimately blues to heal the veterans of war. It was seen that music went on to make changes in the cognitive, psychological, emotional and psychological state of the veterans. From then on, universities have been working to see how music ultimately makes a difference in the lives of these people. Music therapy is defined as the utilization of music and further interventions to assure that certain individualized goals have been attained. Music therapy intervention is utilized to express feelings, emotions and to improve communication and alleviate pain as well. It has been proved an important tool that functions well to reduce depression and other poor mental health conditions (Bensimon and Amir et.al)

Music has been seen to calm the mind and the nerves of a person. It does make changes in the behavior and the cognition of the person. Whenever a person goes through a harsh experience such as a trauma or racism, they have harsh memories of that incident. They have the tendency to continue thinking about the trauma that they went through. Music therefore has the ability to numb out thoughts and prevent the person from thinking. In these scenarios of poor mental health, persons are motivated to listen to music so that they do not have negative thoughts. This music also aims to alter their perceptions and their thinking. Seeing how it requires little intervention and is an easy form of therapy, it is becoming increasingly popular today.


As a music genre, Blues go on to express feelings and sentiments that would have been able to be expressed otherwise. Therefore, for a patient to sing a blues song, they feel that they are being acknowledged and that they are being listening to it. Due to this reason, this emotional expression from a blues singer is a sort of catharsis for the singer and the listener (Moreno 8) People who are suffering from mental illness or depression often has a hard time wording their problems. These people feel low and upset from life but they cannot really figure out what is wrong with them. A blues singer therefore goes on to convince himself that he is singing out his problems. This sort of analogy was seen common between a blues singer and the members of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA was mostly successful because of the support they got from other alcohols. The other people listened to them and could ultimately relate to each other. This works because the people see and realize that other people are also in their state and are going through what they went through.

As stated above, the genre of blues was created after the time of slavery and racism. People were oppressed and were made feel inferior by the dominant races. They had suppressed pain because of discrimination and their horrible living conditions. Due to this reason, there was pain and suffering in their songs. When a person ultimately listens to a blues singing about his or her problems, the person realizes that there are other people in the world who are also going through pain.

The singing of blues is a very emotional experience because it brings out the person's feelings and sentiments (Springer) This is because it is very common for the singer to identify with the problems that the singer is singing about. Therefore, when they start listening, they begin to relate to…

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