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[Detail] Wayne Perry playing fiddle, Crowley, Louisiana.

The Blues

In addition to humorous songs, this collection indexes those songs classified as belonging to the blues genre. Students can begin to get a sense of this genre by sampling some of these songs and considering the following questions.

  • What do you think makes a song a blues song?
  • What do these songs have in common?
  • What instruments are used? What sounds are created by these instruments and by the singer's voice? What adjectives would you use to describe them?
  • What moods are created and how?
  • What are the subjects and themes of these songs?
  • Why do you think this genre is called the "blues"?

Students may also want to analyze the songs' lyrics with questions suggested in the section on poetry. Then, they can inform their understanding with some research into the background of these songs, reading correlative fieldnotes and viewing images of blues musicians. What is the cultural and historical context of these songs' creation and perpetuation through time? To learn more, students can supplement their exploration of these songs with chapters from Robert Palmer's Deep Blues.

Finally, these songs can be studied in conjunction with literature by blues authors such as Langston Hughes, Robert Wright, and Zora Neale Hurston as well as William Faulkner. How do these writers' African-American characters of the South compare with the singers and subjects of Southern Mosaic's blues songs? How are the sounds of blues music reflected in blues literature? Southern Mosaic also offers the opportunity to view images of Zora Neale Hurston in her hometown of Eatonville, Florida, the setting for her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, by searching Hurston and Eatonville.