American Roots Music Essay

1083 words - 4 pages

Evolution is often thought of as a process in which man has evolved from a single cell life form to the complex being we are now. The music we listen to today has also evolved from its simplistic beginnings to the modern, sophisticated, commercial, and digital era that has become the listening buffet we seat ourselves to everyday. This evolution that music realizes is a trend that continues in its growth today and will always be a changing, metamorphic entity that enriches and guides our cultural and social identities.The music that began in its simplest form here in America over 100 years ago was brought here by immigrants from their homeland. If America is known as the melting pot, then its music would surely be the broth that gives the soup its distinct flavor. This music that manifests itself in these early American times is as complex as the individuals that enjoyed it. This complexity and ability to adapt and change gives music it roots system. This roots system gives music its canvas to paint on, and as music has endured, so have the patrons that utilize this form of expression. This is where we find our American roots music.For many hundreds of years, man has enjoyed and played music for various reasons: meditation, dancing, rituals, entertainment, to express feelings, to reflect on past events and to display what is happening in his world. In the coming of age in this country, music has been used for all of these, but none have been so important in making this country what it is today as the music that has reflected on past events and that shows what is happening in the country at the time that it was written.American roots music has one of its contributors in the African spirituals. Combining the heritage of African culture and the experiences encountered while in slavery, early African American music would become a unifying and driving force among America's slaves. Spirituals, as many of these songs came to be called, expressed faith in God, helped make work more bearable, and also revealed plans to revolt. The songs' lyrics offer a glimpse of the true horror slaves endured as well as a hope and faith that one day they would be free. The voice for generations of African Americans, these songs laid the groundwork for the development of other forms of music in America. The Fisk University Jubilee Singers were the first group to publicly perform the songs of slaves and they shared them with the world. The sound became a hit with audiences around the country and as time progresses you have the first blending of African and European music, during this time Gospels also begin a time of popularity.The 1920's brought along portable recording devices, and John Lomax pioneered their use. Lomax traveled the United States in search of various "artists". What he collected over the years was a treasure trove that was a glimpse of America's past and will be used by generations to come. The Carter family and Lead Belly were a few of the artists that...

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