Transitions: Function and Difference in Myth and Ritual

Samuel A. Floyd

in The Power of Black Music

Published in print January 1997 | ISBN: 9780195109757
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853243 | DOI:
                   Transitions: Function and Difference in Myth and Ritual

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This chapter presents certain transitional musical events that took place in African American music during the 1940s—events that would have influential effects and would change the course of black music in the following decades. It is devoted to a clarification of these events, with focus on the role of myth and ritual. These events took place as follows: in jazz, the rise of bebop, with its creators returning to and embracing elements of African American myth and ritual, changed the course of the genre; in popular music, the rise of rhythm and blues laid the foundation for rock ‘n’ roll and soul music also caused an incursion of black music into white society; and in concert-hall music, certain black composers embraced myth, paid homage to ritual, and produced works of high quality and import, signaling the rise of black composers of the first rank in American society.

Keywords: African American music; jazz; bebop; popular music; concert-hall music

Chapter.  10671 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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