The New Blue Music

The New Blue Music: Changes in Rhythm & Blues, 1950-1999

RICHARD J. RIPANI
Copyright Date: 2006
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2tv9wn
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  • Book Info
    The New Blue Music
    Book Description:

    Rhythm & blues emerged from the African American community in the late 1940s to become the driving force in American popular music over the next half-century. Although sometimes called "doo-wop," "soul," "funk," "urban contemporary," or "hip-hop," R&B is actually an umbrella category that includes all of these styles and genres. It is in fact a modern-day incarnation of a musical tradition that stretches back to nineteenth-century America, and even further to African beginnings.

    The New Blue Music: Changes in Rhythm & Blues, 1950-1999traces the development of R&B from 1950 to 1999 by closely analyzing the top twenty-five songs of each decade. The music of artists as wide-ranging as Louis Jordan; John Lee Hooker; Ray Charles; James Brown; Earth, Wind & Fire; Michael Jackson; Public Enemy; Mariah Carey; and Usher takes center stage as the author illustrates how R&B has not only retained its traditional core style, but has also experienced a "re-Africanization" over time.

    By investigating musical elements of form, style, and content in R&B--and offering numerous musical examples--the book shows the connection between R&B and other forms of American popular and religious music, such as spirituals, ragtime, blues, jazz, country, gospel, and rock 'n' roll. With this evidence in hand, the author hypothesizes the existence of an even larger musical "super-genre" which he labels "The New Blue Music."

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-730-1
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF EXAMPLES
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-2)
  7. CHAPTER ONE THE NEW BLUE MUSIC AND RHYTHM & BLUES
    (pp. 3-15)

    In this work I suggest that a new musical system, thenew blue music, became the dominant force in the creation of American music in the twentieth century. This organizational scheme is similar to many other more or less revolutionary changes of musical style throughout history in that it incorporates both traditional and newly created elements of musical form and substance. European musical innovations such as thears novaof the early fourteenth century and thestile modernoof the early seventeenth were somewhat comparable departures from the musical status quo.¹

    I believe that future historians will mark the late...

  8. CHAPTER TWO THE BLUES SYSTEM
    (pp. 16-61)

    The blues system is a definable body of musical elements or traits, inherited from both African and European traditions, that forms the foundational language of much twentieth-century American musical style. It emerged from the nineteenth-century African-American musical tradition to become a driving force in American music, both secular and religious. In order to explain how the blues system is used in practice, I present in this chapter a detailed look at its characteristic elements. In the process, I demonstrate connections between several related American musical genres that help to establish the nature of the system.

    The musical traits of the...

  9. CHAPTER THREE BLUES WITH A BEAT: 1950–1959
    (pp. 62-80)

    After World War II African Americans made great gains in their struggle to become part of mainstream American society and to achieve equal treatment under the law. The G.I. Bill of Rights (1944) provided for education, home loans, and a promise of economic prosperity for American veterans, including the unprecedented number of blacks who had fought for their country during the war. In 1948, in the face of some opposition, President Truman signed an executive order that integrated the U.S. armed services. Representative of the great gains made toward inclusion in society during the late 1940s and 1950s are legal...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR THE SOUL ERA: 1960–1969
    (pp. 81-101)

    The 1960s saw great acceptance of rhythm & blues by the American public in general. Although R&B in the 1950s had made substantial inroads into the mass market, it was its offspring rock ’n’ roll that enjoyed much of the financial reward. However, in the 1960s rhythm & blues, often appearing under the name “soul” music, took the popular market by storm. The music had such mass appeal that in late 1963Billboarddiscontinued its rhythm & blues chart for over one year, apparently because it was similar enough to the more general Hot 100 music chart as to be redundant (very likely...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE FUNK AND DISCO REIGN: 1970–1979
    (pp. 102-124)

    The major stylistic shifts in rhythm & blues that began to occur in the second half of the 1960s continued in the 1970s. Not only did the decade see several important genres come to the forefront—funk, disco, and rap—but there was also a shift in the business of R&B, as major labels, such as CBS, Warner Brothers, RCA, and ABC, began to gain a greater foothold in the market. But Atlantic and Motown, independent labels that emerged as major players in R&B in the 1950s and 1960s respectively, continued to be the most successful and influential producers of rhythm &...

  12. CHAPTER SIX THE OLD AND THE NEW: 1980–1989
    (pp. 125-148)

    In many ways the 1980s were a transitional period in the development of rhythm & blues. The title of this chapter alludes to the fact that during the 1980s a number of older artists—many of whom had been popular as far back as the early 1960s—enjoyed continued success alongside a new generation of musicians. African-American music had made great strides from the 1950s through the 1970s in acceptance by the general population of the United States. In the 1980s this trend became even more conspicuous with the worldwide success of two black artists, Michael Jackson and Prince, who were...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN RAP GOES MAINSTREAM: 1990–1999
    (pp. 149-169)

    If the 1980s were a decade of change in rhythm & blues, then the 1990s represent a period of consolidation of those changes. By the early 1990s a noticeable transformation had taken place in R&B, which blended the elements of older styles such as soul and funk with those of rap. Key features of the rap music style—the use of drum machines, synthesizers, and sampling, emphasis on percussion and sound effects, and the rap itself—were absorbed into mainstream R&B, and the result was that new artists began to dominate the field. The chart successes of the number-one and number-two...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT THE TRANSFORMATION OF RHYTHM & BLUES
    (pp. 170-192)

    The body of rhythm & blues music is a collection of various blends that draw from a common pool of elements of musical style, form, and content, which I have labeled “the blues system.” Using the data I have collected as evidence, we can examine the validity of the blues system concept while at the same time evaluating the influence of European and African musical traditions on the styles of R&B. Additionally, we can determine the relationship of the rhythm & blues music studied here to earlier African-American music, both folk and popular, and American popular music in general.

    It has been...

  15. APPENDIX A: Record Data Collection Methodology
    (pp. 193-198)
  16. APPENDIX B: Chord Conventions and Diacritical Marks
    (pp. 199-200)
  17. APPENDIX C: Interview with James Brown
    (pp. 201-206)
  18. NOTES
    (pp. 207-222)
  19. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 223-240)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 241-261)