Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Possible African Sources For The Terms "Boogie" & "Boogie Woogie"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides quotes from two websites about possible African sources. This post also includes other information about "boogie woogie" music including early forms of that term.

This post also includes a YouTube compilation tape of some early Boogie Woogie records.

The content of this post is presented for cultural and etymological reasons.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post with special thanks to John "Nonjohn" Tennison. Thanks also to the featured musicians and the publisher of this post's featured sound file boogie woogie compilation on YouTube.
Several posts on songs that include the word "boogie" in their title can be found on this pancocojams blog. Click the tag "boogie" below or use the internal search engine to find those posts.

The word "boogie" has come to mean "to dance" as in the sentence "Let's boogie". Much less often, the word "boogie" in that sentence can also mean "leave".

It should also be noted that although "boogie" is pronounced the same as "bogey" in the word "bogeyman", those words probably have different etymologies (origins).
"Bogeyman (also spelled bogieman, boogeyman, or boogie man, and pronounced /bʊɡimæn/ or /boʊɡimæn/; see spelling differences)[1] is a common allusion to a mythical creature in many cultures used by adults or older children to frighten bad children into good behavior...Parents may tell their children that if they misbehave, the bogeyman will get them.

The word bogey is derived from the Middle English bogge/bugge (also the origin of the word bug), and so is generally thought to be a cognate of the German bögge, böggel-mann (English "Bogeyman"). The word could also be linked to many similar words in other European languages: bogle (Scots), boeman (Dutch), Butzemann (German), busemann (Norwegian)"...

From The Boogie Woogie Foundation
..."early Boogie Woogie recordings are the unequivocal first recorded examples of what was later called "Rock and Roll." Consequently, Boogie Woogie has been rightfully called the "Father of Rock and Roll." Indeed, the influence of Boogie Woogie on Rock-and-Roll and popular music worldwide is greater than that of Blues in general. Put another way, Boogie Woogie can be regarded as the kind of Blues that has had the most influence on popular music throughout the world. Although profound in their own right, the slower, less-upbeat styles of Blues have not had this magnitude of influence. Moreover, the continuing influence of Boogie Woogie on popular music in general is undeniable. Boogie Woogie continues to be performed as a form of jazz, and has influenced classical composers throughout the world, including Conlon Nancarrow (United States), Nikolai Kapustin (Russia), and Louis Andriessen (The Netherlands)."
"In Houston, Dallas, and Galveston—all Negro piano players played that way. This style was often referred to as a 'fast western' or 'fast blues' as differentiated from the 'slow blues' of New Orleans and St. Louis. At these gatherings the ragtime and blues boys could easily tell from what section of the country a man came, even going so far as to name the town, by his interpretation of a piece.”1 -- E. Simms Campbell, 1939, pages 112-113, (in Chapter 4 "Blues") in the book, "Jazzmen: The Story of Hot Jazz Told in the Lives of the Men Who Created It"1

"BOOGIE WOOGIE: Its Origin, Subsequent History, and Continuing Development
by John "Nonjohn" Tennison, M.D. All Rights Reserved. This article was last updated on June 18, 2014*
" historian, Dave Oliphant has written:
"Barrelhouse, boogie-woogie, and jazz all originate to some degree in the religio-sexual customs of primitive African societies, for Wilfrid Mellers14 notes, one of the meanings of the phrase 'boogie-woogie,' and of the word 'jazz' itself, is sexual intercourse, even as the ritualistic-orgiastic nature of the music also represents an ecstatic form of a spiritual order."13
["Texan Jazz," 1996, by Dave Oliphant, University of Texas Press.]
*Notes 4 & 8 in the Wikipedia article quoted below are also from this website.
That site includes this statement: "This article is a draft that contains only a fraction of the material that I will eventually publish as a book. Some sections and references in this article are incomplete and will be expanded in the book, including never-before-published material from field research on Boogie Woogie by me and others."

From (given with some citation notes)

Stylistic origins: Blues, ragtime

Cultural origins: 1870s, Piney Woods of Northeast Texas

Typical instruments: Piano

Derivative forms: Rock and roll, boogie rock, rhythm & blues

Fusion genres: Jump blues, rock and roll, rockabilly, swing

Boogie-woogie is a musical genre that became popular during the late 1920s, but developed in African American communities in the 1870s. It was eventually extended from piano, to piano duo and trio, guitar, big band, country and western music, and gospel. While the blues traditionally expresses a variety of emotions, boogie-woogie is mainly associated with dancing.[1] The lyrics of one of the earliest hits, "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie", consist entirely of instructions to dancers...
It [Boogie Woogie] is characterized by a regular left-hand bass figure, which is transposed following the chord changes...

The origin of the term boogie-woogie is unknown, according to Webster's Third New International Dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary states that the word is a reduplication of boogie, which was used for "rent parties" as early as 1913.

Dr. John Tennison, a San Antonio psychiatrist, pianist, and musicologist, suggested some interesting linguistic precursors.[4] Among them are four African terms, including the Hausa word "Boog" and the Mandingo word "Booga", both of which mean "to beat", as in beating a drum. There is also the West African word "Bogi", which means "to dance",[5] and the Bantu term "Mbuki Mvuki" (Mbuki: "to take off in flight"; Mvuki: "to dance wildly, as if to shake off one's clothes").[6] The meanings of these terms are consistent with the percussiveness, dancing, and uninhibited behaviors historically associated with boogie-woogie music. The African origin of these terms is also consistent with evidence that the music originated among newly emancipated African-Americans. [4: Boogie Woogie: Development—by John Tennison (A.K.A. Nonjohn)—Updated November 3, 2010 at the Boogie Woogie Foundation]

In sheet music literature prior to 1900, there are at least three examples of the word "boogie" in music titles in the archives of the Library of Congress.[7] In 1901, "Hoogie Boogie" appeared in the title of published sheet music, the first known instance where a redoubling of the word "Boogie" occurs in the title of published music. (In 1880, "The Boogie Man" had occurred as the title of published music.)[8] The first use of "Boogie" in a recording title appears to be a "blue cylinder" recording made by Edison of the "American Quartet" performing "That Syncopated Boogie Boo" in 1913.[9]

"Boogie" next occurs in the title of Wilbur Sweatman's April 1917 recording of "Boogie Rag". However none of these sheet music or audio recording examples contain the musical elements that would identify them as boogie-woogie.

The 1919 recordings (two takes) of "Weary Blues" by the Louisiana Five contained the same boogie-woogie bass figure as appears in the 1915 "Weary Blues" sheet music by Artie Matthews. Dr. John Tennison has recognized these 1919 recordings as the earliest sound recordings which contain a boogie-woogie bass figure.[8: Boogie Woogie: Its Origin, Subsequent History, and Continuing Development—by John Tennison (A.K.A. Nonjohn)—Updated November 3, 2010.]

Blind Lemon Jefferson used the term "Booga Rooga" to refer to a guitar bass figure that he used in "Match Box Blues".[10] Jefferson may have heard the term from Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, who played frequently with Jefferson. Lead Belly, who was born in Mooringsport, La. and grew up in Harrison County, Texas in the community of Leigh, said he first heard boogie-woogie piano in the Caddo Lake Area of northeast Texas in 1899.[11] He said it influenced his guitar-playing. Lead Belly also said he heard boogie-woogie piano in the Fannin Street district of Shreveport, Louisiana. Some of the players he heard were Dave "Black Ivory King" Alexander, or possibly another Dave Alexander known as "Little Dave Alexander" and a piano player called Pine Top (not Pine Top Smith, who was not born until 1904, but possibly Pine Top Williams or Pine Top Hill.)[11][12] Lead Belly was among the first guitar-players to adapt the rolling bass of boogie-woogie piano.

Texas, as the state of origin, became reinforced by Jelly Roll Morton who said he heard the boogie piano style there early in the 20th century; so did Leadbelly and so did Bunk Johnson, according to Rosetta Reitz.[13]

The first time the modern-day spelling of "boogie-woogie" was used in a title of a published audio recording of music appears to be Pine Top Smith's December 1928 recording titled, "Pine Top's Boogie Woogie", a song whose lyrics contain dance instructions to "boogie-woogie

Earliest attempts to determine a geographical origin for boogie-woogie

The earliest documented inquiries into the geographical origin of boogie-woogie occurred in the late 1930s when oral histories from the oldest living Americans of both African and European descent, revealed a broad consensus that boogie-woogie piano was first played in Texas in the early 1870s. Additional citations place the origins of boogie-woogie in the Piney Woods of northeast Texas. "The first Negroes who played what is called boogie-woogie, or house-rent music, and attracted attention in city slums where other Negroes held jam sessions, were from Texas. And all the Old-time Texans, black or white, are agreed that boogie piano players were first heard in the lumber and turpentine camps, where nobody was at home at all. The style dates from the early 1870s."[14: Elliot Paul, page 229, Chapter 10, That Crazy American Music, published in 1957.]"..

SHOWCASE EXAMPLE: The Greatest Boogie Woogie Songs of All Time - part one (1922-1935)

Silvan Spektor Uploaded on Nov 26, 2011

Song List-
The Fives (Hersal Thomas)

Golden West Blues (Jesse Crump)
Blues Mixture (Lemuel Fowler)
The Rocks (George W. Thomas)
The Weary Blues (Clarence Williams)
Chime Blues (Fletcher Henderson)

Chicago Stomps (Jimmy Blythe)
Armour Avenue Struggle (Jimmy Blythe)

Sunshine Special (Sodarisa Miller with Jimmy Blythe)
Suitcase Blues (Hersal Thomas)

5th Street Blues (Cow Cow Davenport)
Mr. Freddie Blues (Jimmy Blythe)

Honky Tonk Train Blues (Meade Lux Lewis)

Cow Cow Blues (Cow Cow Davenport)
Pine Top's Boogie Woogie (Pinetop Smith)
Pinetop's Blues (Pinetop Smith)
Five O'Clock Blues Jimmy Blythe)
State Street Jive (Cow Cow Davenport)

Pitchin' Boogie (Will Ezell)
Stomp 'Em Down to the Bricks (Henry Brown)
Henry Brown Blues (Henry Brown)
Chimes Blues (Cow Cow Davenport)
Wilkins Street Stomp (Speckled Red)
Head Rag Hop (Romeo Nelson)
Gettin' Dirty Just Shakin' That Thing (Romeo Nelson)
Indiana Avenue Stomp (Montana Taylor)
Playing the Dozen (Will Ezell)
Jump Steady Blues (Pinetop Smith)
Dearborn Street Breakdown (Charles Avery)
Fat Fanny Stomp (Jim Clarke)
The Dirty Dozen (Speckled Red)
Hastings Street (Charlie Spand)
Detroit Rocks (Montana Taylor)
Slow and Easy Blues (Jimmy Yancey)

Chain 'Em Down (Blind Leroy Garnett)
Fanny Lee Blues (Westley Wallace)
No. 29 (Westley Wallace)
Boot That Thing (Roosevelt Sykes)

Pratt City Blues (Jabo Williams)
Jab Blues (Jabo Williams)

Piano Stomp (Walter Roland)
Jookit Jookit (Walter Roland)
Devil's Island Gin Blues (Roosevelt Sykes)

Black Gal What Makes Your Head So Hard? (Joe Pullum)
Alligator Crawl (Fats Waller)
Barrel House Woman (Leroy Carr)

Strut That Thing (Cripple Clarence Lofton)
Boogie Woogie (Cleo Brown)
This is one of four YouTube compilation tapes in that series. Click for the link to that entire series. Those YouTube "videos" can also be found by looking on the right hand side of the page for each one of those videos.

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