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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 153

Blues People is a sociocultural analysis of the multiple roles of music for African American people throughout US history. Tracing the influences and interactions of European and African genres back to colonial times, Baraka shows how innovation and tradition supported and inspired Africans and their descendants even in the darkest times of their enslavement.

Although this type of ethnomusicology has become standard, this pioneering work was not uniformly accepted when published in the 1960s.

Baraka organizes the work in three sections. He begins with a synthetic overview of music in black culture. In the second section, he provides more specifics about the music, covering four centuries. Finally, he focuses on the period beginning in 1930, interweaving his own experience with the close analysis of major musicians and genres. interpretative survey of important genres. In this he attends both to the major contributions of blues, jazz, and rock, and addresses the white and commercial appropriation.

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