----- Original Message -----
From: "Bob Olhsson" <[log in to unmask]>
> >... a properly qualified recording is a defining document.
> In fact it is the ONLY defining document possible other than maybe a piano
roll. All the rest is oral tradition. We were taught by my elementary school
violin teacher that musical notation is strictly a menomic device.
Sheet music tells one how the melody is supposed to go...which may or
may not be what an artist decides to play as his/her/its version of
> Rock & roll, swing, etc. pretty much all have their roots in the Chick
Webb band. Chick Webb happened to be black but his "swinging" drum style was
very much his own creation.
I'd have to compare some records to speak to this in an informed
> American popular music seems to be mostly a product of teachers who were
descendent's of African slaves that had been taught to perform 18th century
European music. Their students were the working poor of all races and
nationalities. Contrary to popular racist mythology, they could read, write
and perform with the best of classically trained Europeans.
To a certain extent that may be true...but I would see it primarily
applying to about the last 50 years or so. Prior to the emergence of
rock'n'roll as the standard form of pop music, much if not most of
our popular music was written by professional songwriters, who were
generally NOT performers of the music...and jazz recordings and
performances were usually based on these compositions, albeit
altered to varying degrees by the improvisation to which they
It is probably true that many of the popular music artists...and
certainly the songwriters...were trained and capable musicians.
However, that applies only to music "pre-rock'n'roll!" and a
certain portion of the "rock" musicians of the sixties and
seventies (whose music was often based upon, or quoted extensively
from, "the classics"). As an occasional performer of the current
era (blues and blues-based music) I am doing well (from a
performing standpoint) in spite of my "musical illiteracy"
and I know very few other performers who have significant
Steven C. Barr