The Birth of the Blues Where did the word blue come from? “blue” means melancholy or depression, The word has been used since the Elizabethan era. The American writer Washington Irving is credited With the term “the blues”. (1807) History of “the Blues”… Field holler Spiritual Ballad Call and response songs Work songs Sea chanteys By the 1890‟s “the blues” were sung in many rural areas of the South Bessie Smith “The blues” was considered to be a primarily masculine discipline… HOWEVER… Mamie Smith The first “blues” songs heard by whites were sung by „lady blues singers like Mamie Smith and Bessie Smith. Some claim the first “blues” song ever written down was „Dallas Blues‟, published in 1912 by Hart Wand, a white violinist from Oklahoma City. “The Blues” were popularized from 1911-1914 by black composer, W.C Handy (1873-1958) W.C. Handy Mamie Smith recorded the first vocalized “blues” piece in 1920, entitled “Crazy Blues” In the 1920‟s it became a national craze after exposure during World War I. In the 1930‟s Billie Holliday and Bessie Smith each sold millions of records Billie Holliday different scale structure? notes out of tune? different chord structure? a whole new philosophy? “The Blues” comes from an African-American style that mixes modal melodies with Western tonal chords. A defining characteristic are bent pitches, known as “blues notes”. The 3rd, 7th, and sometimes 5th, of the scale are lowered a half step. This is referred to as “the blues scale”. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which came first, “the blues” or jazz? “The blues” influenced jazz, but the popularity of jazz made it possible for the mass recording of the blues as mainstream music. “The Blues” lyrics… The lyrics are usually autobiographical and usually very revealing statements. They are usually very personal and frequently deal with the pain of betrayal, desertion, and unrequited love or with un-happy situations such as…being jobless, poverty, hunger and loneliness The lyrics follow speech patterns, specifically, iambic pentameter. The first line is repeated, and the third line is different from the first two. Sample lyrics… • I‟m goin‟ to leave baby, ain‟t going to say goodbye. • I‟m goin‟ to leave baby, ain‟t going to say goodbye. • But I‟ll write you and tell you the reason why. The Music… • The 12 bar blues is the most common chord structure used in “the Blues”. I I I I IV IV I I V V I I (the 10th chord is almost always a IV due to Rock and Roll‟s influence) 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. Muddy Waters John Lee Hooker T-Bone Walker brought “the Blues” to Houston, and the legendary B.B. King called Memphis his home. B.B. King The 60‟s and beyond… •The musicians of the 60‟s brought “the Blues” to a new young white audience. • Some names of the 60‟s… Some contemporary “Blues” • Paul Butterfield Blues Band musicians are… • Rolling Stones • Roy Buchanon • Yardbirds • Otis Rush • Cream • Eric Clapton • Canned Heat • Robert Cray • Fleetwood Mac •Stevie Ray Vaughn Some say… “The Blues” is not an era in the development of Jazz, nor is it a style of singing or playing. “The Blues” is a way to approach music; a philosophy. “The Blues” is a musical tradition rooted in the black experience of the post-war South. No matter what it was “the Blues” strong autobiographical nature, it‟s intense personal passion, chaos and loneliness executed so vibrantly that captured the imagination of modern musicians and the general public as well.