MISSISSIPI AND ITS ENVIRONS. ON WHY BLUES COMPOSITIONS SOUND THE SAME
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Listeners who are not familiar with the blues might have the impression that most compositions in that style appear to sound somewhat alike. This article examines the question of what might contribute to creating this impression. The original blues compositions were created within the so-called local traditions. Local tradition can be described as a group of blues musicians who perform together, learn from each other and live in the same area. In each such tradition the musician would absorb the general style of composing the blues, which would consist mainly in transforming the existing rhythmic and melodic motifs, and to a lesser extent in creating totally new elements. As a result, each musician would use similar melodies, texts and instrumental parts. The bluesman did not have at his disposal a set of particular songs, but elements of traditional character (texts, melodies, instrumental parts) which would be linked together during performance in a way which suited him at the time. What made it possible was the use of improvisation, as well as the fact that the works did not have a strictly defined structure - their form was shaped during the performance. As a result we may note that the impression of monotony in the blues compositions most probably arises from the fact that we apply to folklore the criteria used to evaluate commercial music. The blues is the kind of music in which emotions, reaching the listener with the message contained in the work, and adapting it to the particular situation and audience, are of key importance. Of lesser importance is the degree to which the composition is innovative and different from others of the same genre.
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