A number of Black and ethnically Arab scholars and ethnomusicologists have looked at the connection between Blues, Islam, and African American fiddling traditions and a handful of European musicians and researchers in the Blues have commented on the similarity of Blues as a modal system and how that might connect with Arabic Maqam and Indian Raga. This says a lot about the tools and background knowledge that researchers bring with them and why most [White] scholars and educators in American Music programs take a decidedly Anglo and/or Eurocentric [and Essentialist] approach to the Blues and those connections.
Many of the issues of this type of exclusion are echoed in my commentary and analysis about <Perpetually Foreign Music> and especially in my Early Black Musicians, Composers, and Music Scholars (505-1505 CE) piece, Slave Orchestras, Choirs, Bands, and Ensembles bibliography, and Arabic Music Theory (650-1650) Bibliography project.
This page is an extension of a MyBib page resource, Islam, African American Fiddling, and the Blues, which I’m no longer updating and which has limited functionality for annotations and endnotes. As with many of my other online bibliography projects this is an ongoing work and will be updated and annotated as I have the time.
Image: Mobile Strugglers, a Black String Band from Alabama active in the 1940s-50s.
PUBLISHED 7/1/2021; LAST UPDATED 9/11/2021
Baylor, L. (2013, January 2). The Islamic Influence on the Blues: Interview with Jonathan Curiel. Communicators Radio Show. https://youtu.be/i9McsxBbrMM
Borneman, E. (1959). Creole Echoes. Jazz Review, 2(8), 14–15.
Coleman, A. (2010, March). Fiddling in West Africa: A Conversation with Professor Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje. FolkWorks. https://folkworks.org/old-columnists/folk-beat-audrey-coleman/36482-fiddling-in-west-africa
Curiel, J. (2004, August 15). Muslim roots of the blues / The music of famous American blues singers reaches back through the South to the culture of West Africa. SFGATE. https://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Muslim-roots-of-the-blues-The-music-of-famous-2701489.php
Curiel, J. (2006). Saudi Aramco World : Muslim Roots, U.S. Blues. Aramco World. https://archive.aramcoworld.com/issue/200604/muslim.roots.u.s.blues.htm
Diouf, S. A. (n.d.). African Muslims and American Blues. Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas. http://www.muslimvoicesfestival.org/resources/african-muslims-and-american-blues
Diouf, S. A. (2013). Servants of Allah. ; NYU Press. https://nyupress.org/9781479847112/servants-of-allah/
Diouf, S. A. (2017, August 22). Too African to Be Muslim. Process: A Blog for American History. https://www.processhistory.org/diouf-african-muslim/
Diouf, S. A. (2019). What Islam Gave the Blues. Renovatio. https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/article/what-islam-gave-the-blues
DjeDje, J. C. (2008). Fiddling in West Africa : touching the spirit in Fulbe, Hausa, and Dagbamba cultures. Indiana University Press.
Einboden, J. (2012). Arabic Slave Writings and the American Canon. Northern Illinois University: Department of English. https://www.niu.edu/arabic-slave-writings/index.shtml
Eyre, B. (2007, April 19). Afropop Worldwide | Africa and The Blues: An Interview with Gerhard Kubik. Afropop Worldwide. https://afropop.org/articles/africa-and-the-blues-an-interview-with-gerhard-kubik
Farmer, H. G. (1924). The Arabic influence on music in the Western Soudan. Including references to modern jazz. 158–159.
Garnier, D. ‘Jalma. (2007). The Musical and Cultural Roots of Louisiana Creole and Zydeco Fiddle Traditions. Routes to Roots, Volume 2. http://www.louisianafolklife.org/LT/Articles_Essays/creoleroots.html
Jenoure, T. (2008). The Afro-American Fiddler. Contributions in Black Studies, 5(1). https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cibs/vol5/iss1/6/
Khan, A. (2019, March 5). New Play “American Griot” Explores Blues Music’s Muslim and African Roots. Religion News Service. https://religionnews.com/2019/03/05/new-play-american-griot-explores-blues-musics-muslim-and-african-roots/
Khan, S. A. (2019, April 11). Muslims Arrived in America 400 Years Ago as Part of the Slave Trade and Today Are Vastly Diverse. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/muslims-arrived-in-america-400-years-ago-as-part-of-the-slave-trade-and-today-are-vastly-diverse-113168
Kubik, G. (1999). Africa and the Blues. University Press Of Mississippi.
Martinelli, F. (2019). Survivals from Arabic in Blues Texts as Proof of Influence of Islamic Civilizations in African-American Music. Current Research in Jazz; https://www.crj-online.org/v11/CRJ-ArabicSurvivals.php
Montes-Bradley, E. (forthcoming documentary). Black Fiddlers: String Band Music in Black America, from colonial Williamsburg to the Carolina Chocolate Drops. [documentary film]. Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/borges/black-fiddlers
Morrison, M. D. (2020, December 28). “And then to consider the ‘run’ in relation to Muslim vocal practices that many of our ancestors descend from (as I was reminded and talking with @AsiaLeeds about the other night).” Twitter.com. https://twitter.com/DrMaDMo/status/1343743441726038018
Nawaz, A., & Nagy, L. (2019, April 23). How the Autobiography of a Muslim Slave Is Challenging an American Narrative. PBS News Hour. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/amp/show/how-the-autobiography-of-a-muslim-slave-is-challenging-an-american-narrative
Rashid, H. (n.d.). Muslim Voices in America: The Making of a Modern Music Scene. Asia Society. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://asiasociety.org/muslim-voices-america-making-modern-music-scene
Salah, M. (2020a, May 18). Blues and Jazz .. An international music story with Arab and Islamic roots | tellerreport.com. Www.tellerreport.com. https://www.tellerreport.com/news/2020-05-18-blues-and-jazz—-an-international-music-story-with-arab-and-islamic-roots.HJgnt24eoI.html
Salah, M. (2020b, May 18). البلوز والجاز.. قصة موسيقى عالمية ذات جذور عربية وإسلامية. Aljazeera.net; Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.net/news/arts/2020/5/18/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%84%D9%88%D8%B2-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%82%D8%B5%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%82%D9%89-%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%B0%D8%A7%D8%AA
Salah, M. (2020c, May 19). CEAAT Arabistas Iberoamérica Prof.Tadmy. M.facebook.com. https://www.facebook.com/ceaat.arabistas/photos/a.117161466328452/267229711321626/
Silpayamanant, J. (2020a, September 11). When I first heard about Rhiannon Giddens’ opera about Omar Ibn Said…[thread]. Threadreaderapp.com. https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1304338377827852288.html
Silpayamanant, J. (2020b, October 31). This paragraph in Dr. DjeDje’s interview says so much, and am really looking forward to her book African American fiddling!…[thread]. Threadreaderapp.com. https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1322359299230846976.html
Silpayamanant, J. (2020c, November 10). Re-reading this and thinking about it in light of Dr. Jacqueline C. DjeDje’s work researching the little known African American Fiddling traditions and all the early Blues violinist recordings that we have…[thread]. Threadreaderapp.com. https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1326130875877224448.html
Silpayamanant, J. (2020d, November 10). Islam, African American Fiddling, and the Blues, MyBib. https://www.mybib.com/b/w8WADB
Silpayamanant, J. (2021a, February 7). One of the things I’m learning while working on this Arabic #MusicTheory Bibliography (650-1650) project is how Anti-Blackness is a feature of Western Music Theory [thread]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/Silpayamanant/status/1358553291962089477
Silpayamanant, J. (2021b, March 8). …a number of ethnomusicologists & historians have made the connection between Islamic music/vocalization/string playing & the Blues [thread]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/Silpayamanant/status/1369045688022106113
Spitzer, N. (1999, December 28). Violin Sing the Blues for Me: African-American Fiddlers 1926-1949. NPR.org. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1068455
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Spoleto Festival USA. (2019b, August 26). Making an Opera: Meet the Co-Composer, Michael Abels. Spoletousa.org. https://spoletousa.org/blog/making-an-opera-meet-the-co-composer-michael-abels/
Thomas, P. (1993). Islam’s contribution to Jazz and Improvised musics. Rubberneck, 15, 8–15.
Truelsen, K. (2018, February 27). Pick 5: Black Fiddle Traditions in Early Commercial Country Music. Birthplace of Country Music. https://www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org/pick-5-black-fiddle-traditions-early-commercial-country-music/
Webb, C. T. (2016, July 9). An Interview with Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje, Professor Emeritus of Ethnomusicology at UCLA. Signifying Scriptures. http://www.signifyingscriptures.org/an-interview-with-jacqueline-cogdell-djedje-professor-emeritus-of-ethnomusicology-at-ucla/
Wyatt, M. (n.d.). Violin, Sing The Blues For Me: African-American Fiddlers on Early Phonograph Records. Old Hat Records. Retrieved January 1, 2021, from http://www.oldhatrecords.com/ResearchAAViolin.html