Black & Blue Beatings: How Blues Conveys the Struggle of the African American Community

Mississippi Delta Blues: The Background

The Mississippi Delta Blues was also known as he Delta Blues, a regional style of early 20th century American folk music around the Delta region of northwestern Mississippi. There were scattered accounts of the music and style of blues from travelers who visited the region until the turn of the 20th century. No commercial recording were made until after the 1920s. This style of blues due to dominant male component. 

Elements of the Mississippi Delta Blues

Singers emphasized solo performances by accompanying themselves on the guitar to respond to the voice, and using various techniques such as the sliding of a bottleneck or a metal object (like a knife) along the fingerboard to bend notes. 

They also use melodic phrases on the guitar to evoke an improvised call and response pattern through the voice. 

The reliance on vamps, repeated progression that come before the entrance of the voice, is very necessary. 

The melodic and rhythmic figures that deviate from the usual chord progressions and formal 12 bar (measure) structure found in most blues performances.

The Black Man Sings His Blues

Blues music was one of the emerging genres from Negro Spirituals, that were related to both African -American work songs at the end of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Negro spirituals were not just songs of hope, but also songs of protests that often continued hidden messages of Underground Railroad instructions and revolts. Stemming from this type of genre, it was inevitable for the lyrics not to be a sign of the times. During this era, blacks were still not free from the system economically, socially, or mentally. Often times they still faced restraints based on the color of their skin in their communities, in their schools, and outside of their neighborhoods. Areas where predominantly blacks lived were not afforded the same level of care form the government as their white counterparts in their predominantly white neighborhoods. Therefore, in the deep down south of the Mississippi Delta the voice of the black man, the second most oppressed man in society was loud. 

Though blues songs mostly expressed personal emotions and problems, such as lost love longing for another place in time, they also expressed social injustice. 

If you click on the image, a link taking you to the recording of the song “We Don’t Have No Payday Here” appears. This was sung by a group of convicts at Raiford Penitentiary in Florida. “Take This Hammer,” was the first person character of the song not only complains about the work but boldy says he will flee . The blues element is especially prevalent in this song but it still keeps the qualities of a work song. Later a hit record by Huddie “Leddie” Ledbetter was made after he learned the song in prison.  

Conclusion and Social Implications on Society

In conclusion, black people were constantly  taking  beating every which way you can imagine, and voiced their concerns through music. Hence the tittle Black & Blue Beatings: How Blues Conveys the Struggle of the African American Community.

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