THE BLUES by ewghwehws

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									THE BLUES
                  ORIGINS
• Lyrically, the blues is
  a reality show,
  showcasing life as it
  is, instead of as a
  perfect fantasy world.
• Playing the blues
  means spinning raw
  stories about work,
  abuse, love, sexuality,
  and death.
            HOW DEPRESSING?
• Is the blues depressing?
      No
The blues was meant not to depress people
  but to help them chase their blues away, in
  the same way venting your problems to
  your friends makes you feel better.
        WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

• The blues was born after the Civil War,
  during reconstruction.
• Slaves had gained their freedom, but
  encountered a hostile environment with
  few opportunities.
• Many freed men and women worked as
  sharecroppers, who paid a farm owner for
  the right to work and live on the land.
EVEN FARTHER BACK
        • The blues, they say,
          was born in the cotton
          fields of the South.
        • Slaves toiled side by
          side, hollering across
          vast fields while
          working.
        • In fact, the field hollers
          were even used to
          pass secret messages
          so that the slave
          masters wouldn’t know
          what they were talking
          about.
            THE DEVIL’S MUSIC
• At first, churches rejected the blues as
  ungodly: “the devil’s music.”
• Ironically, the blues borrowed some of it’s
  musical features from church music, such
  as call-and-response.
          TAKE EM TO CHURCH

• Call-and-response is when a choir leader
  sings or shouts a phrase, then the
  congregation shouts it back.
• After a blues singer sings a phrase, voices
  or an instrument like a guitar might
  respond by repeating the same melody.
                SONGSTERS
• Blues singers could double their income
  by playing house parties and in clubs
  (barrelhouses) after working all day in the
  fields.
• One or two guitarists or a pianist were
  enough to get a whole barrelhouse
  rocking.
• Traveling singers, called songsters,
  learned to sing various styles, including
  blues, country, church music, and pop
  music.
               DELTA BLUES
• The majority of blues players and singers
  were illiterate and poor.
• Wealthier and more educated African
  Americans often dismissed the blues as
  music of the wandering “cornfield” people.
          DISCOVERING THE BLUES
• Musician W.C. Handy was
  waiting for train in Tutwiler,
  Mississippi which was nine
  hours late.
• He heard a poor songster
  from the countryside playing
  blues guitar, “pressing a
  knife against the strings to
  get a slurred, moaning,
  voice-like sound that closely
  followed his singing.”
         DRESSING UP THE BLUES
• Soon afterward, Handy began composing
  his own blues songs.
• His songs were different though, because
  they contained elements of the blues but
  were more “mainstream” sounding.
• Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” became hugely
  popular and helped bring the blues into the
  mainstream.
WHOZ YO DADDY?

       • Though Handy’s
         “blues” songs only
         slightly resembled
         the downhome
         delta blues, he is
         still considered by
         many to be the
         “Father of the
         Blues.”
          SHOW ME THE MONEY

• Much of Handy’s success was due to the
  sale of sheet music, rather than recordings
  of his songs.
• Record players were incredibly expensive,
  but most people could afford sheet music
  and learn to play the songs themselves.
             ON THE RECORD
• The first blues artists to become recording
  “stars” were women.
• Mamie Smith’s version of “Crazy Blues”
  became a smash hit in the mid 1930’s,
  selling 75,000 copies in the first two
  months.
• The success of this recording at the
  beginning of the Great Depression showed
  record companies that blues records were
  big business.
                      DIVAS
• Bessie Smith went on
  to be hugely
  successful, as did
  Gertrude “Ma” Rainey.
• In an age when African
  Americans were still
  treated like second
  class citizens, Rainey
  had her own tour bus,                  Bessie Smith
  and Bessie Smith her
  own private, custom-
  built train car and
  merchandise.
• They were the
  equivalent of early rock
  stars.                     Ma Rainey
           DOWN HOME BLUES

• As the Great Depression wore on, people
  bought less music.
• Record companies turned their attention to
  songsters instead of female performers
  because it was cheaper to record them.
• This began the rise of Country Blues, or
  Delta Blues.
KING OF THE DELTA BLUES
           • Though there were
             many Delta Blues
             artists, Robert Johnson
             remains the most
             popular and the most
             intriguing.
           • Though he recorded
             less than 40 songs in
             his lifetime, his legend
             and his influence are
             still felt today.
        ACCORDING TO LEGEND...

• According to Son House, a fellow Delta
  Blues musician, Robert Johnson sold his
  soul to the Devil in exchange for his
  awesome guitar skills.
• Supposedly, Johnson was a terrible
  guitarist, until he disappeared from the
  scene for a few years.
• When he returned, his guitar skills were
  astonishing. He was suddenly able to play
  any song after hearing it only once.
           ALL THAT GLITTERS...

• As is the case in most stories about
  people making deals with the Devil, things
  didn’t work out well for Robert Johnson.
• He died mysteriously at the age of 27.
• Some say he was shot, some say he was
  poisoned, other say he was stabbed.
               ROCK STAR

• Many music
  scholars consider
  Robert Johnson the
  beginning of Rock
  ‘n’ Roll.
• One said, “His
  music had a
  vibrancy and a
  rhythmic excitement
  that was new to the
  country blues.”

								
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