The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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accompaniments of the singing. These motions are in even measure, and in perfect time; and so it wiU be found that, however broken and seemingly irregular the movement of the music, it is always capable of the most exact measurement. In other words, its irregularities invariably conform to the ^higher law' of the perfect rhythmic flow/* He also notes that the melodies are in the same scale as old Scottish music forms, with the fourth and seventh tones almost completely omitted. As Leonard De Paur has said, a comparison might also be drawn with Greek modal forms; "or you could say this is a deficiency of the western ear, because you can go to things that are being recorded in Africa and find evidences of twelve-tone scale usage." The presence of the flatted seventh, endemic to the blues, can be observed in only a few of the 112 songs reproduced, among them Roll, Jordan, Roll De Paur feels that the jazz use of such notes developed separately from the spiritual; "The blues was purely an urban development and didn t come into existence until the Negro had been exposed to some urban living of a peculiar sort, in that he was no longer a servant— at least not an indentured servant; he was still an economic slave, but he lived pretty much to himself in his own civilization within the confines of this urban area. Out of this came the blues and out of that the development of jazz. All of these things had a high degree of white origin. People don't like to admit this, because they like to think in terms of complete purity. The forms of the spirituals, too, can be traced directly to the hymns these slaves were taught, and other forms of gospel music-expressions of a fundamental sort generally, because the slaves were considered too simple-minded to absorb more organized western culture. They adapted things they had been taught or things they had heard. Only the rhythmic origins are purely Negro,"
There can be little doubt that the work songs, whether or not they derived from West Africa, and the Negro and white spirituals, which evolved in part from English hymns and ballads, overlapped with, and were in effect first cousins of, the blues. But even today there are religious singers who reject the idea of association between spirituals and blues. Interviewed by Mike