NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1925 __ Skiffle band
Comment : Skiffle is a type of folk music with jazz, blues and country influences, usually using homemade or improvised instruments such as the washboard, tea chest bass, kazoo, cigar-box fiddle, musical saw, comb and paper, and so forth, as well as more conventional instruments such as acoustic guitar and banjo. Skiffle and jug band music are closely related. Skiffle was particularly popular in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. Skiffle's use of country, folk and blues influences mixed with a much faster tempo, electric instrumentation and wild, energetic performances has led some people to suggest it as an early form of rock & roll, very similar to rockabilly. Skiffle first became popular in the early 1900s in the United States, starting in New Orleans. The Oxford English Dictionary states that skiffle was a slang term for "rent party." Originally, skiffle groups were referred to as spasm bands. By the 1920s and 1930s, a form of skiffle was being played in Louisville and Memphis. Skiffle's roots are also found in the jazz bands of the 1940s and 1950s. The informal, humorous style of skiffle made it twice a precursor of rock and roll, first in the United States in the early years and again in Great Britain in more recent times The first use of the name on records was in 1925 by the otherwise unknown Jimmy O'Bryant and his Chicago Skifflers. In 1948 Dan Burley & His Skiffle Boys, led by barrelhouse piano player and journalist Burley, brought together New Orleans bassist Pops Foster, and guitar-playing brothers Brownie and Stick McGhee. Skiffle was a novelty or happenstance musical form in the United States, in the 1920s through the 1940s. It had largely faded from view when, in the late 1950s, skiffle was reborn as a major musical movement in the United Kingdom. Skiffle was the British equivalent of rockabilly, a new form of music, loud and fast, with a direct communication between the band and the audience. Like rockabilly, British skiffle provided new opportunities for the more adventurous professional musicians. (Compiled from various sources)
French comment : « Le skiffle, qu’est-ce que c’est ? Hum ... c’est comme les rossignols, ça a chanté bien avant d’avoir un nom. Le skiffle, c’est le nom de baptême que l’on a attribué à un genre de musique qui ... que ... heu ... La musique noire d’Amérique s’est toujours signalée par la variété de ses rythmes; noms de rythmes et noms de danses existent à des douzaines d’exemplaires: stomp et Susie-Q, bunny-hop et shuffle ... Mais au fait, ce shuffle, ce “traînement de pieds” rythmique, ne serait-il pas à l’origine de ce terme de “skiffle” ? Eh bien, peut-être, mais ce sont les Anglais qui ont inventé le terme skiffle pour désigner un genre de musique inspirée par les grands chanteurs populaires noirs tels que Hudie Leadbetter surnommé Leadbelly (Tripes de plomb). Le skiffle est un traitement de ballade et de chants populaires qui est axé sur une tradition très ancienne. Le skiffle, c’est un “à la manière de” appliqué à des thèmes populaires connus comme “Red river valley” ou “Home on the range”, ou à l’armature traditionnelle du blues. Le skiffle s’apparente un peu à la musique “Hillbilly” des montagnards d’Amérique, un peu au “rock and roll”, un peu au blues classique. L’accent est mis sur la simplicité, même la rusticité, et la sincérité. ». (Boris Vian, aka Eugène Minoux, sleeve notes EP “Pierre Gossez et ses Texas-Boys”, Philips, n° 424.065, février 1958)
Source : Vian, Boris (), « Derrière la Zizique », Le Livre de Poche, Christian Bourgois Éd., 1997 (first edition: 1976), pp. 151-152.

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