Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Blues with white and black 

Throughout the history of blues and jazz it has been argued whether only African American people have truly enjoyed and played the blues from the bottom of their heart. Although much has been written on the blues in America, today the people behind the stories come from various corners of the world.

For long blues has appeared also in the white man’s culture. There have been tunes of troubled lives at each coast of Atlantic. Estonians share the bitter history of slavery with Afro-Americans, and have been deported out of their homeland as recently as in 1950’s. Those nations have carried through the generations their folklore of the hard working people, and tales about their home rising from the fields of slavery.

According to Joseph Machlis the blues is a native American musical and verse form, with no direct European and African antecedents of which we know. It is a blending of both traditions. The word 'blue' comes from the Elizabethan era and reflects the depression among the black people in America. The songs of the slaves told of their sufferings and privation. Blues music was created mainly by black working class people as the primary artistic expression of this minority culture. Its simple musical structure had much of sensuality with poetic humorous or ironic lyrics. The singer had freedom to express emotion while improvising. According to Harry Shapiro the blues music was about the black and their "strong autobiographical nature, their intense personal passion, chaos and loneliness, executed so vibrantly that it captured the imagination of modern musicians."

On April 6 the blues tour “Rhythm & Blues World Service” begins in Estonia. It has been organized by ensembles Green Bullfrog and Bullfrog Brown who started off with the blues festivals in 2001. Till the end of April various concerts of Estonian blues music will take place in Tartu, Tallinn, Valga and Võru. Among the many groups we should mention the Estonian master of blues Aleksander Müller who appears on April 7 in Tartu City Library where blues related movies are screened with the help of U.S Embassy of Estonia.

The legendary blues singer alias Müller Sass presents his songs only in Estonian language, and has interprated also the works of the famous Estonian poets such as Viivi Luik and Artur Alliksaar. Müller’s texts vary from obscene to melancholic themes. ”Every peasant should stay loyal to his own culture”, says the man of blues. Müller who has a howling and even murmuring singing style claims to be an anarchist. He is even regarded by the Estonian punk generation as the father of their revolution in the Soviet regime. However, Aleksander Müller does not like politics, and prefers to focus on the stories of his own in the world of blues:”Although Estonians are considered the singing nation, I am an individual figure.”

Be it revolution or a silent howling we could find the music trans-national as long as the people share the same values and emotions. It is said that the blues performer plays to rid himself of "the blues". The blues music comes from the personal hardship, and in this context there could be no discrepancy between white and black people.


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