What’s That Sound? Teaching History with Soul Music

Written by on 05/16/2017

Stories can be told in many ways, for example, history books, which are placed on meter high shelves, and patiently waiting for the centuries to pass and to deliver events of humanity as time capsules of past epochs. Another possibility is the visual history communication with which history is held as an image. Whether painted or in full splendor as a photography is secondary, as also images can lead us into a certain time period.

Sounds and rhythms, on the other hand, characterize and accompany us all our lives, from the mother’s heartbeat in the mother’s body, to the sounds of the birds in nature, which are too often drowned out by daily traffic noise. However, even if sounds change, or sometimes differ only in small parts, they are the ones which quickly take us into their spell and lead us through the pillars of history.

In this series, I would like to lead you through the beginnings of soul music and to show you the important milestones of the music and history of the 20th century by means of the stylistic trends and songs.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Southern music developed from the sounds of the work songs of former slaves.

This music style was Gospel, blues, and what is now known as bluegrass and country music. Altough for this kind of history teaching you can go to Wikipedia! I will tell you the history of Soul and Urban Music through rhythms and sounds and not dry and orthodox like an encyclopaedia.

The Blue Note, for example, produces the unmistakable sound of blues music that Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and other greats have already taken advantage of.

Although their use has never been properly documented, one can almost certainly assume that it was used for the first time in the 1920s in the Chicago clubs.

It was a wild and informal time, with the upswing of the economy and before the great depression, everything and everyone had money. The people were unconstrained and so was their music. Afro-Americans began a migration of peoples into the big industrial cities in the north to escape poverty and racism. But besides a few suitcases and much hope in the heart, they also took the music of their forefathers to the north, which gained more and more attention and popularity.


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