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The Power of Black MusicInterpreting its History from Africa to the United States$
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Samuel A. Floyd

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195109757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195109757.001.0001

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Troping the Blues: From Spirituals to the Concert Hall

Troping the Blues: From Spirituals to the Concert Hall

(p.212) Chapter 9 Troping the Blues: From Spirituals to the Concert Hall
The Power of Black Music

Samuel A. Floyd

Oxford University Press

Throughout its history in the United States, black music has been through the repetition and revision of texts, through the interplay of black language and black music in a long chain of Signifyin(g) tropes, such that African American peasants became and continue to be poets in a land that initially denied them the right to be called artists of any stripe. It is clear from the nature of their texts and their tunes that the makers of this music—the repeaters and revisers of the musical derivatives of the ring—have privileged and honored the spirit of Esu as, for example, that spirit is personified in the redoubtable Harriet Tubman, who bid many thousands to come ride her train.

Keywords:   Signifyin(g), African American Music, Esu

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