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Fife and drum blues

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Fife and drum blues

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Fife and Drum blues is a rural derivation of traditional country blues. It is performed typically with one lead fife player aften also the band leader and vocalist, and a troop of drummers. The drum troop is loosely structured unlike drum corps and may have any number of snare, tom and bass drum players. Fife and drum performances were family affairs often held at reunions and big picnics. It is suggested by most texts that it has roots not in the American Revolutionary War, but actually in Africa; the use of fife is merely a replacement for instruments the slaves had used in Africa.

Fifes were carved from cane that grew locally. Drums were often hand-made, and equally often just percussive objects. The vocals seem to derive from two main styles:

  1. Traditional call and response of Black Spirituals
  2. Short repetative lyric

The genre originates in very rural areas of the farming South and today persists in a stretch of sparely populated Southern states stretching from northwest Georgia to an area south of Memphis. Notable performers are Napoleon Strickland, Dan Emmett, and Otha Turner.

Related texts

  1. David Evans, "Black Fife and Drum Music in Mississippi"
  2. Howard W. Odum, "Religious Folk-Songs of the Southern Negro"
  3. Eileen Southern "The Music of Black Americans: A History"
  4. http://www.folkstreams.net/context,86

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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