Time in the Blues

ISBN : 9780190666552

Julia Simon
272 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Aug 2017
Send mail

Spontaneity, immediacy and feeling characterize the blues as a genre. Whether it's the movement of call and response, the expressive bends and wails of voice and instruments or the synergistic relationship between audience and performers, the blues embody a kind of "living in the moment" aesthetic. At the same time, the blues genre has always responded in a unique way to its historical moment, its formal characteristics, figures, and devices constantly emerging from—and speaking to—the social relations emanating from Jim Crow segregation, sharecropping, racist violence, and migration.

Time in the Blues presents an interdisciplinary analysis of the specific forms of temporality produced by and reflected in the blues. Examining time as it is represented, enacted, and experienced through the blues, interdisciplinary scholar Julia Simon addresses how the material conditions in the early twentieth century shaped a musical genre. The technical aspects of the blues—ostinato patterns, cyclical changes, improvisation, call and response—emerge from and speak to the Jim Crow era's economic, social, and political relations. Through this temporal analysis, Simon addresses how the moment-to-moment aspect of time in blues performance relates to the genre's location within historical time, with careful examinations of the historical performance and reception of blues music from the 1920s to the present day. Simon examines the structuring of time, and analyzes temporality to open the broader questions of desire, agency, self-definition, faith, and forms of resistance as they are articulated in this music. Ultimately, Time in the Blues, argues for the relevance, significance, and importance of time in the blues for shared values of community and a vision of social justice.


Chapter 1 Theoretical Considerations
Chapter 2 Sharecropping, Risk, Time, and Agency: Fattening Frogs for Snakes
Chapter 3 Waiting: Longing, Prison, Addiction, and the Enduring Present
Chapter 4 Tense, Mood, and Aspect: Story-Telling and Migration
Chapter 5 Objects, Fragments, Scenes, and the Construction of Narrative
Chapter 6 Time, Tradition, Performance, and the Aesthetic Object: Repetition

About the author: 

Julia Simon is Professor of French at the University of California, Davis. She is the author, most recently, of Rousseau Among the Moderns: Music, Aesthetics, Politics. Her interests in the blues spring from her experience as a blues musician, as bass player and vocalist in the duo, Chicken & Dumpling, and the electric band, Julie and the Jukes.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.