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The Blues Work Songs devised in the United States in the 1600’s

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Presentation on theme: "The Blues Work Songs devised in the United States in the 1600’s"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Blues Work Songs devised in the United States in the 1600’s
plantations and prisons told a simple story heavy accents call-response good work-song leaders were in demand

2 The Blues Time Line Country (or Rural) Blues: City Blues:
(most active period) City Blues: (most active period) Rhythm and Blues: present (most active period) Rock and Roll: 1952/3 - present (most active period)

3 Country Blues blues is the root and foundation of jazz
country blues were developed at the same time as the work song earliest blues songs were sung by itinerant male singers in the South and Southwest informal, unrestrained, improvised songs were basic: sex love poverty death

4 Country Blues developed into a 12-measure (bar) format containing 3 equal phrases (ABA) 5 major characteristics of Country Blues 1. Unsophisticated lyrics and uncomplicated chords 2. Uses blue notes and personal inflection in the vocal line 3. Free from any traditional rhythmic restrictions 4. Relies on only a few harmonies per verse 5. Conveys a feeling of simplicity and personal identity

5 Blues Characteristics
Unsophisticated lyrics and uncomplicated chords blue notes bending notes away from their original pitch based on African tonal scales fundamental blues scale contains only 7 notes singers also growl, slide, swallow the sound freedom from traditional rhythmic restrictions take many liberties with the rhythm add or drop a beat Free to sing as the lyrics move the singer

6 Blues Characteristics
pronounced harmonic and textural repetition repetition gives the blues its solid structure the three chords (I-IV-V) creates three equal phrases 1st phrase introduces a statement 2nd phrase repeats 3rd phrase answers the first two three phrases combine to make one verse feeling of simplicity and personal identity vocal inflections (fills between phrases) often called primitive or undeveloped Technique still used by Ray Charles and B. B. King

7 “Hellhound on my Trail” Intro to Jazz disc 1 track 2
I got to keep movin’. Blues fallin’ down like hail. I can’t keep no money with a hellhound on my trail. If today was Christmas eve, and tomorrow Christmas day, I would need my little sweet rider just to pass the time away. You sprinkled hot-foot powder all around my door. It keeps me with a ramblin’ mind, rider, every old place I go. I can tell the wind is risin’, the leaves tremblin’ on the tree. All I need is my little sweet woman to keep me company.

8 Robert Johnson 1912 (?)

9 Robert Johnson 1912 (?) - 1938 born in Copiah County, Mississippi
Mother: Julia Majors; Father: Noah Johnson Mother already had 9 children by her husband, Charlie Dodds known as Johnson, Dodds or Spencer grew up near Robinsonville, Mississippi attracted to blues musicians played blues harp (harmonica)

10 Robert Johnson 1912 (?) learned guitar in six months (bargain with devil?) played “slide” (broken bottle) teamed up with Johnny Shines for two years 1936; Earnie Oertle, American Record Company five recording sessions - 29 blues masterpieces received several hundred dollars dies in 1938, poisoned, age 26


12 City Blues 12-bar format beginnings in minstrel and vaudeville shows
sung from a stage accompanied by other performers sung mostly by women refined and sophisticated

13 Country Blues City Blues
Sparse, usually a single guitar Quite free Earthy, dwelling on hardships of the downtrodden Undeveloped, but highly expressive Several instruments and/or piano Rigidly controlled by 12-bar structure Sophisticated, mature observations on love, verses carefully constructed to fit rhythm and meter Refined and carefully considered material

14 “St. Louis Blues” blues dialogue
a distant relative of call and response Bessie Smith sings verse Armstrong plays background and fills vocal part is written out fills are improvised somewhat different than usual 12-bar blues (AABC) no rhythm instruments - no drums or bass

15 “St. Louis Blues” .00 Introduction of one chord
st chorus, 1st phrase: vocal Cornet answers and continues as accompaniment, filling after each phrase nd phrase: relaxed lay-back style rd phrase: completes 12 measures; the fill is built on an expanding interval nd chorus, 1st phrase: same melody, dialogue continues; the cornet helps define the harmony and supplies the rhythm between the vocal phrases rd chorus, 1st phrase: new chord progression nd phrase rd phrase th phrase: completes 16 measures th chorus, 1st phrase: cornet harmonizes with the vocal part, voice becomes more aggressive, using a slight throat-growl effect end

16 Bessie Smith (1894? )

17 Bessie Smith (1894? - 1937) born April 15, 1894 or 1898
discovered by Lonnie and Cora Fisher or Ma Rainey made 160 phonograph records between thought by John Hammond to have been the greatest American Jazz Artist John Hammond

18 Bessie Smith (1894? ) father died when she was very young, mother when she was 9 sang on street corners to support the family age 18 professional dancer met Ma Rainey - the “Mother of the Blues” moved from chorus to featured singer vaudeville and minstrel for 11 years booked by the Theater Owners’ Booking Association (TOBA)

19 Bessie Smith (1894? - 1937) first records produced by Frank Walker
Walker headed Columbia Records “race” department recorded “Down-hearted Blues” and “Gulf Coast Blues” in sold 780,000 copies in 6 months contract with Columbia for $20,000 per year made $2500 per week for personal appearances 1923 married Jack Gee

20 Bessie Smith (1894? - 1937) 1928-1930 career on the downslide
economy talking movies blues not as popular TOBA folded voice deepened and roughened 1930 contract with Columbia cut in half 1931 dropped by Columbia left Gee and moved in with Richard Morgan

21 Bessie Smith (1894? - 1937) easily converted to the new swing style
great back-up musicians Jack Teagarden (trombone) “Chu” Berry (saxophone) Benny Goodman (clarinet) died on Sept. 27, 1937 in Clarksdale, Miss. following a car accident buried in an unmarked grave in Sharon Hill, Penn. in 1970 a marker was placed (paid for by Janis Joplin, John Hammond and others)

22 Ma Rainey

23 Ma Rainey born Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett in Columbus, GA cabaret singer husband, Pa Rainey, member of Rabbit Foot Minstrels recorded for Paramount in 1923 one of the most popular city blues vocal stylists no recordings after 1930 died in Rome, GA 1939

24 Ma Rainey

25 The Blues Continues interest began to decline in 1935
served as basis for rhythm and blues (R & B) 1940’s rock ‘n’ roll 1950’s rock groups 1960’s and 1970’s recent country western, fusion and contemporary gospel styles Human misery continues to be the theme boosted in the 1950’s and 1960’s by Chuck Berry and Fats Domino as well as The Drifters, Bill Haley, and Elvis

26 Muddy Waters

27 Muddy Waters 1915-1983 (McKinley Morganfield)
born in Rolling Fork, Miss. April 4, 1915 played harmonica and sang discovered by Alan Lomax first recordings for the Library of Congress and later for the Aristocrat label his recording “Rollin’ Stone” inspired Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” which led to the naming of the British rock group and the title of a periodical not able to make the transition to pop

28 B. B. King

29 B. B. King 1925 - the musician who most influenced rock guitarists
Riley B. King (“Blues Boy”) “Lucille” cannot sing and play at the same time call-response technique most famous disciple is Eric Clapton video

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