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The Birth of the Blues

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					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
           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…

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

• I‟m goin‟ to leave baby, ain‟t going to say

• But I‟ll write you and tell you the reason
                       The Music…
• The 12 bar blues is the
most common chord
structure used in “the

(the 10th chord is almost always a
    IV due to Rock and Roll‟s
      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

• 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.