Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Floyd, Samuel A. Jr. "Troping the Blues: From Spirituals to the Concert Hall." Black Music Research Journal 13, no. 1 (Spring 1993): 31-51.

African-American music has continually used the troping of texts in blues, jazz, and other popular traditions. Two examples of troping occur in the use of the spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" and the riding train. Troping of the spiritual has occurred on the textual and musical level. Furry Lewis tropes the idea of a motherless child in his piece "Big Chief Blues." Washington "Bukka" White also creates his trope relating to the motherless child in "Panama Limited" while singing about being far from home. Musical troping can be found in George Gershwin's repetition of the tune of "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" in the piece "Summertime" from the opera Porgy and Bess. Gershwin tropes the spiritual's intervallic structure, rhythm, melodic structures, and beat structure throughout "Summertime." David Baker and Olly Wilson also trope the music and text of "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child." The train trope deals in the sounds created by a passenger train throughout the United States. Duke Ellington's composition "Happy-Go-Lucky-Local" tropes the passenger train through its use of chugging rhythms, whistles, and sounds of steam locomotives through orchestration. These tropes display an evolution in African-American music through repetition and revision of texts and music.

Works: Traditional: Big Chief Blues as performed by Furry Lewis (36-37); White: Panama Limited (37); Gershwin: "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess (37-43); Baker: Through This Vale of Tears (43-44); Wilson: Sometimes (44-45); Ellington: Happy-Go-Lucky-Local (46-47); Logan: Runagate Runagate (47-50).

Sources: Traditional: Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child (35-45).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Altizer

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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