Archive for the ‘Definitions’ Category

Diye--Profile of Aka Divining SongAuthor: Victor Grauer



“I found this essay by Fred McCormick only recently, though it apparently dates back to the ’90s. I was impressed by his knowledge of so many aspects of Cantometrics as well as his many insightful criticisms. As I’m now undergoing my own personal reconsideration of this methodology, I decided it would be interesting to present a response, however belated. My interleaved comments are in boldface.”



Authors: Givewell Munyaradzi & Webster Zimidzi

Source: Creative Education, vol. 3, n0 2, 2012, 193-195


ABSTRACT: “This article provides a review of Western and African music. The study made a comparison of Western and African music against a biased background towards Western music especially during the nineteenth century when music was interpreted from a Euro-centric perspective. It is important to investigate Africa’s contributions to the music industry. Different interpretations were informed by lack of literature on African music prior to colonization because African music was not recorded in written form. It was entirely based on oral tradition. Failure by early European ethnomusicologists to appreciate traditional African music further isolated African music. Areas of differences are seen in the way Africans treat their rhythm. African rhythms are complicated as compared to Western rhythm. Data for the study were collected using review of related literature on both Western and African music. Major recommendations from this study are as follows, a cross cultural paradigm is needed to enable researchers related stake holders to understand the significance of both Western and African music.”


Author: Rémy Corbet

Source: Masters Degree, Southern Illinois University, 2011

A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Masters in History in the Graduate School
Department of History Southern Illinois University Carbondale


“Blues music is a reflection of all the changes that shaped the African American experience. It is an affirmation of the African American identity, looking forward to the future with one eye glancing at the past. It is a reminder of the tragedies and inequalities that accompanied African Americans from slavery to official freedom, then from freedom to equality. It is the witness of the development of African Americans, and of their acculturation to the individual voice, symbol of the American ethos, which made the link between their African past and their American future.”


Author: Eddie S. Meadows

Source: Blues Unlimited – winter 1987 – n° 148/149

(with sincere thanks to Stefan Wirz for the careful OCR scanning –


“MORE RECENT research in Black culture has recognised the need to be ‘afrocentric’ rather than ethnocentric.  Thus more documentation has occurred which covers a wider spectrum of African influence than mere mention of call-response patterns. To begin, understanding the meaning behind communication and musical patterns of a culture requires extensive comprehension of the world view involved. The understanding
of blues semantics can be enhanced if one relies on knowledge of African world view, because the use of certain vocabulary items and categories in blues lyrics can be explained in terms of African sources. In
particular, I am concerned with explaining the categories of sex and conjure which are so frequently present in blues lyrics, because the tendency of many researchers, in the past, has been to define blues subjectmatter as a socioeconomic phenomenon rather than African world view.”


Author: Guy B. Johnson
Source: Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, vol. 22 (1927-28), pp 12-20
Reprinted and commented in: Alan Dundes, Mother Wit; from the laughing Barrel, 1990, pp-258-266


Double meaning and the metaphoric style were among the main features of African verbal art, and they have been transported to the blues. In this article, Guy B. Johnson (1901–1991),  sociologist and social anthropologist and a distinguished student of black culture in the rural South, deals with one of the subjects of metaphoric verbal art: sex (both the act and the designation of the sexual organs).


Authors: John Jeremiah Sullivan
Source: Harper’s Magazine, November 2008


John Jeremiah Sullivan (born 1974) is an American writer and editor. He is a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine, and southern editor of The Paris Review.

Read  HERE one of his essays in Harper’s Magazines, in which he discusses amongst others Elijah Wald’s ‘Escaping the Delta’, and Marybeth Hamilton’s “In search of the blues”.


Author: Dorothy Scarborough

Source: Coffee in the Gourd, Frank Dobie, 1923



Dorothy Scarborough (1878 – 1935) was an American writer who wrote about Texas, folk culture, cotton farming, ghost stories and women’s life in the South-West.

She developed a keen interest in the ‘authentic’ songs of the African-American, which she believed to be in danger because of the new technologies of radio and recording.

In this text, published in 1923, she interviews W.C. Handy on the blues. Read it HERE.