Essay about A Short History Of The Blues

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The late 19th century marked a great deal of change in the United States as well as the rest of the world. World war one had begun and reeked great havoc on the entire world. Nikola Tesla and the fathers of communications had made major scientific breakthroughs in the communications field and modern radio programming was right around the corner. Slavery had been abolished for over thirty years but segregation was still an enormous factor amongst the African-American people in the U.S. One of the most segregated states in the entire country, Mississippi, was on the brink of one of the most influential forms of modern music that the world had ever seen or heard: the blues. What the blues did for music is reflective in almost every piece …show more content…
A man sitting across from him is playing the guitar in a way that Handy has never seen. As Robert Santelli explains in his article A Century of the Blues, “He doesn’t finger the strings normally, instead, he presses a pocketknife against them, sliding it up and down to create a slinky sound…” (12). This technique, called slide guitar, would later become a staple of the most beautiful sounds of the pioneers of blues music. But not only is Handy amazed with the triumphant sound of the guitar, he is also mesmerized by the heart pounding words and eerie sound of the vocals coming from this dreadful looking specimen. This is the earliest known observation of the blues in the history of the world but not quite the birth of it. Santelli clarifies, “What Handy did on that railroad platform in Mississippi a century ago was witness the blues, not give birth to it” (13). Sadly enough, the birthplace of the blues is fairly uncertain. As Santelli makes clear, “ethnomusicologists didn’t become interested in the blues until later. Thus missing prime opportunities to document the origins of the music and to record its pioneers” (14). Even still there is enough evidence to assume that the birthplace of the blues was somewhere in midst of the Mississippi Delta.
Music is always a work in progress. When the slave ships arrived in the new world in the early seventeenth century they brought with them a culture of people who used music as a…