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The Birth Of The Blues

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The Birth Of The Blues

  1. 1. The Birth of the Blues (and Beyond) The Mississippi Delta region, circa 1890-1920
  2. 2. Origins of the Blues <ul><li>Small Towns </li></ul><ul><li>Rural Regions </li></ul><ul><li>Plantations </li></ul><ul><li>Heavy Manual Labor </li></ul><ul><li>Segregated Society </li></ul><ul><li>Oral Tradition </li></ul><ul><li>Work Songs </li></ul><ul><li>Field Hollers </li></ul><ul><li>Rasping Vocal Style </li></ul><ul><li>Call and Response </li></ul>
  3. 3. Robert Johnson “Me and the Devil Blues” <ul><li>One of the first recorded artists of this “down-home” style </li></ul><ul><li>Sold about 4000 copies of each record </li></ul><ul><li>Instrumental introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Vocal melody with guitar interludes </li></ul><ul><li>This acts as a call and response </li></ul><ul><li>Use of “vocables” </li></ul><ul><li>Text/melodic form AAB. One line that repeats, followed by a contrasting line </li></ul><ul><li>Melodic line descends and has frequent use of the flatted third and seventh pitch </li></ul>
  4. 4. Mamie Smith <ul><li>Originally a theatre and cabaret singer </li></ul><ul><li>FIRST successful recording of a blues song by a black singer. (1920) </li></ul><ul><li>The Jazz Hounds </li></ul><ul><li>Sold 75,000 copies in just a few months </li></ul><ul><li>Example of the entertainment blues </li></ul>
  5. 5. “St. Louis Blues” W. C. Handy <ul><li>Composed in 1914 </li></ul><ul><li>“ The wail of a lovesick woman for her lost man.” </li></ul><ul><li>12 bar blues with an 8 bar tango section. </li></ul><ul><li>Performed here in 1925 by Bessie Smith with Louis Armstrong. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Big Band Blues <ul><li>“ Everyday (I Have the Blues)” </li></ul><ul><li>Follows the form discussed previously used by Robert Johnson (AAB) </li></ul><ul><li>The Big Band acts as the response to the vocal “call” in various ways </li></ul><ul><li>Use of “vocables” </li></ul><ul><li>Melodic line primarily descends </li></ul>
  7. 7. Today’s Blues Jonny Lang “Matchbox” <ul><li>Notice the raspy quality of the voice. The singer is in his late teens in this example yet has the quality of a seasoned bluesman </li></ul><ul><li>Instrumental introduction, then the voice and instruments act as a call and response </li></ul><ul><li>The text is more varied than the earlier examples yet still follows the AAB pattern </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Blues Summary <ul><li>Originated in the Mississippi Delta region 1890-1920 </li></ul><ul><li>Primarily Vocal with Instrumental Accompaniment </li></ul><ul><li>Characteristics continue today </li></ul>
  9. 9. Blues Characteristics <ul><li>12 Bar format </li></ul><ul><li>Call and response between the vocal and instruments </li></ul><ul><li>AAB form melody and text </li></ul><ul><li>Melodic line is primarily descending </li></ul><ul><li>Frequent use of the flatted 3 rd and 7 th scale degrees </li></ul>
  10. 10. Some Significant Blues Artists <ul><li>Robert Johnson </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“Down-home” blues sound </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vocal/Guitar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recorded artist (rare in this form) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generally sold about 4000 copies per recording </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Some Significant Blues Artists <ul><li>Mamie Smith </li></ul><ul><ul><li>First black singer to successfully record a blues song (1920) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recorded with the Jazz Hounds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sold over 75,000 copies of “Crazy Blues” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Originally a cabaret/theatre singer </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Some Significant Blues Artists <ul><li>Joe Williams </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Performed and recorded with Count Basie </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Song example was “Everyday (I Have the Blues) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Jonny Lang </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Young contemporary bluesman </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Performed at the age of 17 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Song example was “Matchbox” </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. References/Sources <ul><li>Crawford, Richard “An Introduction to America’s Music” </li></ul><ul><li>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Johnson </li></ul><ul><li>Feather, Leonard “The Encyclopedia of Jazz” </li></ul><ul><li>Johnson, Robert “Me and the Devil Blues” by Robert Johnson </li></ul><ul><li>Smith, Bessie & Armstrong, Louis “St. Louis Blues” by W. C. Handy </li></ul><ul><li>The Count Basie Band and Joe Williams “Everyday (I Have the Blues) by </li></ul><ul><li>Peter Chatman </li></ul><ul><li>Lang, Jonny “Matchbox” by Ike Turner </li></ul>

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