When we reduce our culture to simply a scale or a music form, we do a diservice to the sights, smells, tastes and mentalities that make up the black experience.
This is something I realized watching about the overall cultural war about the blues in jazz. Black people want so badly for white people to “get it.” I mean do get annoyed when white musicians roll their eyes and huff puff about playing a blues song, because they feel it is so easy to play.
But I began to realize I can’t blame them. Every Indie acoustic band begins to sound the same to me. I dont get excited about saukraut or kimchi. While I respect those cultures and enjoy VISITING, they don’t represent or connect to my personal experiences.
So why do I expect non-blacks to understand that the blues isnt just a minor pentatonic scale with a sharp 11. The blues is the soundtrack to the black experience. It is what soothed Martin Luther King Jr, it is my grandmother frying chicken and cooking greens, it is life blood of a people who didnt allow slavery or racism to destroy them. The blues reminds every black person that we are overcomers and that we are descendants of conquerors.
Can other ethnic cultures connect to and play the blues well ? Of course ! Other cultures have been oppressed and great musicians always love to master a style. But again we shouldn’t force anyone to appreciate what we do, because it isnt just an intellectual experience. It is an emotional, historical and spiritual experience that was thrust on a people who didn’t ask to be slaves, but rose above the Middle Passage, cracks of the whip, Jim Crow and Police brutality.
The blues isnt just learned in the classroom it is an experience.