Seminar Paper: Use of Music Therapy

Pages: 14 (4267 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Blues through History of Slavery and the Clinical Applications of Blues Form in today's therapy

History of American Slavery -- Brief Overview

In the year 1619, first African slaves were transferred to the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia. They were brought here to help in the production of crops like tobacco, which were considered to be lucrative. This even marked the beginning of slavery in America, which turned out to be the biggest curse for the country. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, slavery was a common practiced all over the American colonies. Slaves, who were of African-American origin, played a great role in the development of the economic foundations of the new country. In the year 1793, the cotton gin was invented that resulted in the solidification of the central significance of slavery to the economy of the South. By the mid of the 19th century, the westward expansion of America, along with an expanding abolition movement in the North, provoked a huge debate pertaining to slavery. This debate and confrontation had the potential to tear the nation, as the American Civil War was a result of that. The War started in 1861 and ended in 1865. Even though, the Union victory resulted in the freedom of 4 million American slaves, the legacy of slavery went on to leave an impact on the American history, starting from the torturous years of Reconstruction (which was the period from 1865 through 1877) to the movement of civil rights that surfaced during the 1960s, about a century after emancipation of slaves.

Psychological Effects of Slavery on the African-Americans

Needless to say the institution of colonization and slavery resulted in many adverse effects on the African-Americans. It is quite evident that these people suffered from economic distress, but the aspect of slavery that is not talked about is the psychological toll that it took on the African-Americans. As a result of slavery, many Americans of African descent find themselves suffering from a sub-conscious inferiority complex. This inferiority complex has led to the force disconnection of these people from the self-identity and self-concept. All and any positive reinforcement including their accomplishments and history, were then taken over by a repetitive and reinforced theory of African-American inferiority (Gussow 51). The owners, as well as the rest of the white people in the society ensured negative mental conditioning o these slaves. They were treated harshly, with brutal reprisals, whenever the slaves showed interest in seeking knowledge of their history or of the world in general. The African-American men were humiliated in the presence of their family every time they made an attempt that was even remotely linked to seeking justice. Their self-respect and pride was stripped. It was not uncommon for the women to be taken away from their husbands, at the discretion of the owner. The women were then raped, so as to further diminish the sense of male self-worth as well as that of women's.

The status of slaves as human beings was further diminished through castration and other barbaric practices including the amputation of limbs for small infractions. These practices led to the slaves becoming physically handicapped, along with the hellish psychological suffering and torment they were going through at the hands of their owners. Groups of slaves were made to fight with each other, practice known as battle royals, for no apparent reason. This was done by the owners after they bet as to which group would win, and to entertain themselves. In other cases, the slaves were thrown against each other in human cockfights, and some slaves even died in the process. Such brutal contests further reinforced the psychological acceptance of the slaves as being lesser beings.

History of Development of Blues

Even though we never find out for sure, it will be safe to say that music was developed around thousands and thousands of years ago. The purpose behind the development of music was to synchronize and coordinate the collective human aspirations and movements, which back in the years, were farming or hunting (Cohn) Even in the current times, it is a natural phenomenon to start humming or singing a rhythmic song, especially the ones that go with the activity that is being performed by a group of people, irrespective of what they are doing from building a roof to hiking a mountain. It is assumed that great singers were given a significant social status, just like that of top hunters or shamans. Later on, as the development of percussion instruments took place so as to accompany music, the emergency of individual percussionists also took place. After that, new sorts of instruments, and not just percussive ones, were produced that further enhanced skillful playing of music. At some points in time, while the evolution of civilizations was taking place, "solo music" was developed to appreciate and admire the playing of the best instrumentalists and vocalists. There is a possibility that, at first, the performances of the singers were primarily for upper classes and were merely musical. At some point, the solo poetry and solo music merged naturally so as to provide entertainment to the upper classes, and later on to the masses with some of kind of morals that were known to people. While it was the purpose of the racial instinct to divide the western European forms, particularly the Anglosaxons, from others, it was just a matter of a few hundred years that the divide started to vanish with time. The most disturbing confrontations for the Europeans were no doubt the existence of African music. The African music had long been discarded by the Europeans, as it was considered to be a peculiarity of the animal kingdom, since the sound of the music was pretty much like that of animals. However, the music did somehow manage to stay there for over two centuries, in the presence of the European music. Once it became prevalent in Europe, the music made roads into the American society. During the 19th century, there were many aspects of the African music that started to infiltrate into the folk music of the white people (Floyd) This particular phenomenon occurred in the Americas. However, by that time African music had not percolated in the European society. Once again, rhythm was thought to be the main differentiating factor. The Africans did not invent the rhythms, but definitely the African polyrhythms were quite different from rhythms of the European folk music, which were linear in nature. The influence of black or African music on the white music was not felt initially, however later on it became the primary factor for the fueling of innovation. In fact, the European folk music had hardly transformed at all over hundreds of years, but started to change widely after the African-American music started to have an influence on it. After the Ars Nova, the integration of African folk music with European folk music was the most significant source of innovation for music, particularly in the western world. However, on the other hand the conditions of the European classical music stayed odd. It constantly refused to welcome African music, as it was still regarded as a form of inferior animal oddity. Therefore, the bridge between folk and classical music could not be built as the gap started to increase widely during the 19th century.

The African-Americans are particularly known for Blues. Blues is basically a genre of music that emerged towards the end of the 19th century in the communities of the African-American people, during the time of their slavery. Primarily, the music genre originated in the communities of the Deep South of the United States from field hollers, work songs, tuned simple narrative ballads, chants and shouts, and spirituals. The development of Blues from work shouts, which were referred to as arhoolies, continued among many generations of the African-American communities. Initially, they were performed towards the end of the 20th century in rural areas of Mississippi. During that time, they were referred to as the vocal narratives, but as this genre developed it started to become known as Blues. It is assumed that this term might have emerged from the term "blue devils," which means sadness and melancholy. An early adaptation of this term pertaining to the aforementioned sense can be found in Blue Devils (1798) written by George Colman. Even though, this term has been used by African-Americans since a long period of time, it formally became accepted since the year 1912, when Dallas Blues by Hart Wand became the first blues composition that was copyrighted. As for the lyrics of this music genre, they are described as expressing a low or depressed mood.

Slavery was one of the most horrifying realities of the late 17th century, which became widespread in the New England Colonies. Thousands of African-Americans were captured as prisoners and taken from one place to another on crowded boats, and the blacks that could not survive the cruel journey to America were heartlessly tossed into… [END OF PREVIEW]

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