New Orleans Rhythm and Blues in Contemporary Perspective

  • Michael Urban
Part of the Pop Music, Culture and Identity book series (PMCI)


When I asked my respondents to tell me what they would call the music that they played, many of them were reluctant to categorize it. Similarly a number of them balked at my question about the distinctive characteristics of New Orleans rhythm and blues. In either instance, they would explain that they simply did not think in such terms. They saw little point in putting labels on an ineffable thing such as music and, to the extent that they might want to engage in categorization, notions of “feel” or “groove” were quite sufficient. To these (initially) reluctant respondents, my only retort was that theirs was the luxury of a musician: their job is to make music. I, on the other hand, was attempting to write about it. Could I get away with telling a reader that New Orleans R&B involves a certain “feel” or “groove” and leave it at that? I would then point out the obvious: “That’s why I am asking for your help”. Invariably, this plea would be met with sympathetic understanding, and once-reluctant respondents would open up every bit as much as those who had addressed these questions straightaway when first they were put to them.


Control Chaos Contemporary Perspective Sympathetic Understanding Grateful Dead Discipline Laxity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Michael Urban 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Urban
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA

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