The pre-history of musical revolutions

Anyone interested in innovation would do well by studying the evolution of new musical genres. One of the most striking elements of musical revolutions is their evolutionary origins. PBS’s 10 hour documentary, The History of Rock & Roll captures much of this evolution in the voices of the artists themselves: Little Richard describes combining gospel with R&B (and a bit of burlesque); Bob Dylan channels Kerouac; and David Crosby finds his role model for being a rock star in the Beatle’s movie Hard Day’s Night.
But Rock & Roll’s origins go way back, to the sharecropper’s life on plantations in the late 1800s (and no doubt before). And now UC Santa Barbara, through the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project, is posting a collection of old recordings (done on the orginal cylindrical wax records). Jody Rosen of the NYT picked it up in a nice articlethat puts the music in context. Take a listen.