"Stuff You Gotta Watch": The effect of Anglo-American scholarship on North Mississippi blues fife and drum

Date

2009-08

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Abstract

Prior to 1942 North Mississippi blues fife and drum music was virtually unknown outside of its Hill Country context. It was during the 1940's, 50's, and 60's that ethnomusicologists like Alan Lomax made some of the first field recordings of Sid Hemphill (1876-1963), Othar Turner (1908-2003), and Napoleon Strickland (1924-2001), legendary players in the tradition. Through that early fieldwork this unique culture and music was first introduced to the world, and to an audience interested in commercializing and profiting from it. In this thesis, drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the Hill Country, videography, audio field recordings, field interviews, and other ethnographic data, I will argue that scholarly researchers and their methods profoundly affected the development of its community, musical content, and musical context.

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Keywords

Fieldwork history, Ethnomusicology, Fieldwork method

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