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The history of the BLUES

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1 The history of the BLUES
The blues comes from two other forms of music: Spiritual – a song which tells a Bible story Work Song – sung in the fields by slaves to pass the time.

2 The Blues Born from African musical traditions of singing songs to tell stories Despite the name, music was not meant to be sad – rather it was a way to feel better about life’s problems What musical progression is used for blues music? 12 bar blues

3 W.C. Handy (1873- 1958) The “Father of the Blues”
Son of a conservative pastor who forbade him from playing the guitar Learned to play the cornet instead Handy couldn’t get his songs published, so he started his own publishing house. His biggest hit was “St. Louis Blues,” written in 1914.

4 Mamie Smith and Bessie Smith. The first “blues” songs heard by
whites were sung by lady blues singers like ‘Ma’ Rainey, Mamie Smith and Bessie Smith. ‘Ma’ Rainey Mamie Smith Bessie Smith

5 Bessie Smith 1894–1937 The “Empress of the Blues”
The most important and influential of the woman blues singers from the early twentieth century. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee; began recording in 1923

6 Listening: “St. Louis Blues,” by W. C
Listening: “St. Louis Blues,” by W. C. Handy, sung by Bessie Smith (1925) This was the type of recording that introduced white America to the blues. Accompaniment—reed organ and cornet Louis Armstrong on cornet Fred Longshaw on reed organ (pump organ) Call and response between cornet and Smith Lyrics: Feeling tomorrow like I feel today Feeling tomorrow like I feel today I’ll pack my trunk and make my getaway.

7 Louis Armstrong moves to NY
In 1924 Louis Armstrong left King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band to pursue a solo career in New York. Earlier that year he had married Lil Hardin, a jazz pianist. He recorded “St. Louis Blues” with Bessie Smith. Later, he founded his band The Hot Five and they recorded “West End Blues”

8 West End Blues Intro – Armstrong’s most famous trumpet cadenza
0:13 – one chord heard by band 0:16 - trumpet plays melody; clarinet and trombone accompany 0:50 – Trombone solo 1:25 – clarinet plays as Armstrong scats 2:00 – piano solo by Earl Hines, the first great jazz pianist

9 New words What is a cadenza? What is scat?
- a virtuosic solo played or sung by a soloist in a free rhythmic style (not necessarily keeping a steady beat). What is scat? - nonsense syllables sung and made up on the spot (improvisation!) Swee-dle doo-bee do bop, sca-rata-tat-too……

10 Louis Armstrong: Basin Street Blues

11 In the 30’s and 40’s “The Blues” found a home in Detroit and Chicago.
Some of the best… Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Elmore James. T-Bone Walker brought “the Blues” to Houston, and the legendary B.B. King called Memphis his home. John Lee Hooker Muddy Waters B.B. King

12 The Blues Lyrics Lyrics are almost always set the same way
Five verses of AAB form The first two lines of each verse are the same, and the third line rhymes with the first two Example: Ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, crying all the time Ain’t nothing’ but a hound dog, crying all the time You ain’t never caught a rabbit, you ain’t no friend of mine.

13 Write your own blues song!
Form a group of 4-5 people Work for 10 minutes to create your lyrics. There should be 2 phrases, the first of which is repeated. Sing and/or teach your lyrics to the class You can sing your lyrics to the melody of “Hound Dog” or create your own melody.

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