Blues Music Essay Research Paper ArtsA Brief
Bluess Music Essay, Research Paper
A Brief History of the Blues 2000-06-30
A Brief History of the Blues Joseph Machlis says that the blues is a native American musical and verse signifier, with no direct European and African ancestors of which we know. ( p. 578 ) In other words, it is a blending of both traditions. Something particular and wholly different from either of its parent traditions. ( Although Alan Lomax cites some illustrations of really similar vocals holding been found in Northwest Africa, peculiarly among the Wolof and Watusi. p. 233 ) The word & # 8216 ; blue & # 8217 ; has been associated with the thought of melancholia or depression since the Elizabethan epoch. The American author, Washington Irving is credited with coining the term & # 8216 ; the blues, & # 8217 ; as it is now defined, in 1807. ( Tanner 40 ) The earlier ( about wholly Negro ) history of the blues musical tradition is traced through unwritten tradition as far back as the 1860s. ( Kennedy 79 ) When African and European music foremost began to unify to make what finally became the blues, the slaves sang vocals filled with words stating of their utmost agony and want. ( Tanner 36 ) One of the many responses to their oppressive environment resulted in the field bellow. The field bellow gave rise to the religious, and the blues, & # 8220 ; noteworthy among all human plants of art for their profound desperation. . . They gave voice to the temper of disaffection and anomy that prevailed in the building cantonments of the South, & # 8221 ; for it was in the Mississippi Delta that inkinesss were frequently forcibly conscripted to work on the levee and land-clearing crews, where they were frequently abused and so tossed aside or worked to decease. ( Lomax 233 ) Alan Lomax states that the blues tradition was considered to be a masculine subject ( although some of the first blues vocals heard by Whites were sung by & # 8216 ; lady & # 8217 ; blues vocalists like Mamie Smith and Bessie Smith ) and non many black adult females were to be found singing the blues in the juke-joints. The Southern prisons besides contributed well to the blues tradition through work vocals and the vocals of decease row and slaying, cocottes, the warden, the hot Sun, and a hundred other wants. ( Lomax ) The prison route crews and work packs where were many bluesmen found their vocals, and where many other inkinesss merely became familiar with the same vocals. Following the Civil War ( harmonizing to Rolling Stone ) , the blues arose as & # 8220 ; a distillation of the African music brought over by slaves. Field bellows, laies, church music and rhythmic dance melodies called jump-ups evolved into a music for a vocalist who would prosecute in call-and-response with his guitar. He would sing a line, and the guitar would reply it. & # 8221 ; ( RSR & A ; RE 53 ) The guitar did non bask widespread popularity with blues instrumentalists until about the bend of the century. Until so, the banjo was the primary blues instrument. ) By the 1890? s the blues were sung in many of the rural countries of the South. ( Kamien 518 ) And by 1910, the word & # 8216 ; blues & # 8217 ; as applied to the musical tradition was in reasonably common usage. ( Tanner 40 ) Some & # 8216 ; bluesologists & # 8217 ; claim ( instead questionably ) , that the first blues song that was of all time written down was & # 8216 ; Dallas Blues, & # 8217 ; published in 1912 by Hart Wand, a white fiddler from Oklahoma City. ( Tanner 40 ) The blues signifier was foremost popularized about 1911-14 by the black composer W.C. Handy ( 1873-1958 ) . However, the poetic and musical signifier of the blues foremost crystallized around 1910 and gained popularity through the publication of Handy & # 8217 ; s & # 8220 ; Memphis Blues & # 8221 ; ( 1912 ) and & # 8220 ; St. Louis Blues & # 8221 ; ( 1914 ) . ( Kamien 518 ) Instrumental blues had been recorded every bit early as 1913. Mamie Smith recorded the first vocal blues vocal, & # 8216 ; Crazy Blues & # 8217 ; in 1920. ( Priestly 9 ) Priestly claims that while the widespread popularity of the blues had a critical influence on subsequent wind, it was the & # 8220 ; initial popularity of wind which had made possible the recording of blues in the first topographic point, and therefore made possible the soaking up of blues into both wind every bit good as the mainstream of dad music. & # 8221 ; ( Priestly 10 ) American military personnels brought the blues place with them following the First World War. They did non, of class, learn them from Europeans, but from Southern Whites who had been exposed to the blues. At this clip, the U.S. Army was still segregated. During the mid-twentiess, the blues became a national fad. Records by taking blues vocalists like Bessie Smith and subsequently, in the mid-thirtiess, Billie Holiday, sold in the 1000000s. The mid-twentiess besides saw the blues become a musical signifier more widely used by wind musicians every bit good as blues vocalists. ( Kamien 518 ) During the decennaries of the mid-thirtiess and mid-fortiess, the blues spread northerly with the migration of many inkinesss from the South and entered into the repertory of big-band wind. The blues besides became electrified with the debut of the amplified guitar. In some Northern metropoliss like Chicago and Detroit, during the ulterior mid-fortiess and early 1950ss, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Howlin & # 8217 ; Wolf, and Elmore James among others, played what was fundamentally Mississippi Delta blues, backed by bass, membranophones, piano and on occasion harmonica, and began hiting national hits with blues vocals. At about the same clip, T-Bone Walker in Houston and B.B. King in Memphis were open uping a manner of guitar playing that combined wind technique with the blues key and repertory. ( RSR & A ; RE 53 ) In the early nineteen-sixties, the urban bluesmen were & # 8220 ; discovered & # 8221 ; by immature white American and European instrumentalists. Many of these blues-based sets like the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the Rolling Stones, the Yard birds, John Mayall & # 8217 ; s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Canned Heat, and Fleetwood Mac, brought the blues to immature white audiences, something the black blues creative persons had been unable to make in America except through the purloined white cross-over screens of black beat and blues vocals. Since the 1960ss, stone has undergone several blues resurgences. Some stone guitar players, such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen have used the blues as a foundation for outgrowth manners. While the conceivers like John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins and B.B. King & # 8211 ; and their inheritors Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and subsequently Eric Clapton and the late Roy Buchanan, among many others, continued to do antic music in the blues tradition. ( RSR & A ; RE 53 ) The latest coevals of blues participants like Robert Cray and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, among others, every bit good as decorating the blues tradition with their unbelievable trifle, have drawn a new coevals hearers to the blues. There are a figure of different thoughts as to what the blues truly are: a graduated table construction, a note out of melody or out of cardinal, a chord construction ; a doctrine? The blues is a signifier of African-american beginning in which a modal tune has been harmonized with Western tonic chords. ( Salzman 18 ) In other words, we had to suit it into our musical system somehow. But, the job was that the blues weren & # 8217 ; T Sung harmonizing to the European thoughts of even tempered pitch, but with a much freer usage of set pitches and otherwise emotionally inflected vocal sounds. ( Machlis 578 ) These & # 8216 ; set & # 8217 ; pitches are known as & # 8216 ; bluish notes & # 8217 ; . The & # 8216 ; bluish notes & # 8217 ; or blue keies are one of the specifying features of the blues. Tanner & # 8217 ; s sentiment is that these keies resulted from the West Africans & # 8217 ; hunt for comparative tones non included in their pentatonic graduated table. He claims that the West African graduated table has neither the 3rd or 7th tone nor the level 3rd or level seventh. & # 8220 ; Because of this, in the effort to copy either of these tones the pitch was sounded about midway between [ the child AND major tierce, 5th, or 7th ] , doing what is called a blue tonality. & # 8221 ; ( Tanner 37 ) When the scribes attempted to compose down the music, they came up with the alleged & # 8220 ; blues s
cale, ” in which the tierce, the 7th, and sometimes the 5th scale-degrees were lowered a half measure, bring forthing a graduated table resembling the minor graduated table. ( Machlis 578 ) There are many niceties of tune and beat in the blues that are hard, if non impossible to compose in conventional notation. ( Salzman 18 ) But the bluish notes are non truly minor notes in a major context. In pattern they may come about anyplace. ( Machlis 578 ) Before the field call, with its bending of notes, it had non occurred to instrumentalists to research the country of the bluish keies on their instruments. ( Tanner 38 ) The early blues vocalists would sing these “bent” notes, microtonal shadings, or “blue” notes, and the early musicians attempted to double them. ( Kamien 520 ) By the twentiess, instrumental blues were common, and “playing the blues” for the musician could intend improvising a tune within a blues chord sequence. Brass, reed, and threading musicians, in peculiar, were able to bring forth many of the vocal sounds of the blues vocalists. ( Machlis 578-9 ) Blues wordss contain some of the most fabulously perforating autobiographical and telling statements in the Western musical tradition. For case, the complexness of thoughts implicit in Robert Johnson’s ‘Come In My Kitchen, ’ such as a hardly hidden desire, solitariness, and tenderness, and much more: You better come in my kitchen, It’s gon na be rainin’ out-of-doorss. Bluess wordss are frequently intensely personal, often contain sexual mentions and frequently trade with the hurting of treachery, abandonment, and unanswered love ( Kamien 519 ) or with unhappy state of affairss such as being idle, hungry, broke, off from place, lonely, or downhearted because of an unfaithful lover. ( Tanner 39 ) The early blues were really irregular rhythmically and normally followed address forms, as can be heard in the recordings made in the mid-twentiess and mid-thirtiess by the legendary bluesmen Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson and Lightnin’ Hopkins among others. ( RSR & RE 53 ) The metre of the blues is normally written in iambic pentameter. The first line is by and large repeated and 3rd line is different from the first two. ( Tanner 38 ) The repeat of the first line serves a intent as it gives the vocalist some clip to come up with a 3rd line. Often the wordss of a blues song do non look to suit the music, but a good blues singer will stress certain syllables and extinguish others so that everything falls nicely into topographic point. ( Tanner 38 ) The construction of blues wordss normally consists of several three-line poetries. The first line is sung and so repeated to approximately the same melodious phrase ( possibly the same phrase played diatonically a perfect 4th off ) , the 3rd line has a different melodious phrase: I’m traveling to go forth babe, ain’t traveling to state adieu. I’m traveling to go forth babe, ain’t traveling to state adieu. But I’ll write you and state you the ground why. ( Kamien 519 ) Most blues research workers claim that the really early blues were patterned after English laies and frequently had eight, 10, or 16 bars. ( Tanner 36 ) The blues now consists of a definite patterned advance of harmoniousnesss normally dwelling of eight, 12 or 16 steps, though the 12 saloon blues are, by far, the most common. The 12 saloon blues harmonic patterned advance ( the one-four-five ) is most frequently agreed to be the undermentioned: four bars of tonic, two of subdominant, two of tonic, two of dominant, and two of tonic. Or, instead, I, I, I, I, IV, IV, I, I, V, V, I, I. Each Roman numerical indicates a chord built on a specific tone in the major graduated table. Due to the influence of stone and axial rotation, the ten percent chord has been changed to IV. This change is now considered criterion. ( Tanner 37 ) In pattern, assorted intermediate chords, and even some replacement chord forms, have been used in blues patterned advances, at least since the nineteen-twenties. ( Machlis 578 ) Some purists feel that any fluctuations or embroideries of the basic blues pattern alterations its quality or cogency as a blues vocal. For case, if the basic blues chord patterned advance is non used, so the music being played is non the blues. Therefore, these purists maintain that many tunes with the word “blues” in the rubric, and which are frequently spoken of as being the blues, are non the blues because their tunes lack this peculiar basic blues harmonic building. ( Tanner 37 ) I believe this point of view to be a spot broad of the grade, because it places a greater accent on blues harmoniousness than tune. The chief blues tunes are, in fact, bellow meters, set to a steady round and therefore turned into dance music and confined to a three-verse rhyming stanza of 12 to sixteen bars. ( Lomax 275 ) The vocalist can either reiterate the same basic tune for each stanza or improvize a new tune to reflect the altering temper of the wordss. ( Kamien 519 ) Blues beat is besides really flexible. Performers frequently sing “around” the round, stressing notes either a small before or behind the round. ( Kamien ) Jazz instrumentalists often use the chord patterned advance of the twelve-bar blues as a footing for drawn-out improvisations. The 12 or 16 saloon form is repeated while new tunes are improvised over it by the soloists. As with the Baroque bassocontinuo, the repeated chord patterned advance provides a foundation for the free flow of such jury-rigged melodic lines. ( Kamien 520 ) One of the jobs sing specifying what the blues are is the assortment of important sentiments. The blues is neither an epoch in the chronological development of wind, nor is it really a peculiar manner of playing or singing wind. ( Tanner 35 ) Some maintain ( largely musicologists ) that the blues are defined by the usage of bluish notes ( and on this point they besides differ – some say that they are merely flatted tierces, fifths, and sevenths applied to a major graduated table [ organizing a pentatonic graduated table ] ; some maintain that they are microtones ; and some believe that they are the 3rd, or fifth, or 7th tones sounded at the same time with the flatted 3rd, or fifth, or 7th tones severally [ minor 2nd intervals ] ) . Others feel that the vocal signifier ( 12 bars, one-four-five ) is the specifying characteristic of the blues. Some feel that the blues is a manner to near music, a doctrine, in a mode of speech production. And still others hold a much wider sociological position that the blues are an full musical tradition rooted in the black experience of the post-war South. Whatever one may believe of the societal deductions of the blues, whether showing the American or black experience in microcosm, it was their “strong autobiographical nature, their intense personal passion, pandemonium and solitariness, executed so vibrantly that it captured the imaginativeness of modern musicians” and the general populace every bit good. ( Shapiro 13 ) Kamien, Michael. _Music: An Appreciation_ . 3d Ed. N.Y. : McGraw Hill, 1984. ; Kennedy, Michael. _The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music_ . N.Y. : 1980. ; Lomax, Alan. _The Land Where the Blues Began_ . N.Y. : Pantheon Books, 1993. ; Pareles, Jon and Patricia Romanowski, eds. _The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll_.N.Y. : Rolling Stone Press, 1983. ; Priestly, Brian. _Jazz On Record: A History_ . N.Y. : Billboard Books, 1991. ; Salzman, Eric and Michael Sahl. _Making Changes_ . N.Y. : G. Schirmer, 1977. ; Shapiro, Harry. _Eric Clapton: Lost in the Blues_ . N.Y. : Da Capo Press, 1992. ; Tanner, Paul and Maurice Gerow. _A Study of Jazz_ . Dubuque, IA: William C. Brown Publishers, 1984.
Press, 1983. ; Priestly, Brian. _Jazz On Record: A History_ . N.Y. : Billboard Books, 1991. ; Salzman, Eric and Michael Sahl. _Making Changes_ . N.Y. : G. Schirmer, 1977. ; Shapiro, Harry. _Eric Clapton: Lost in the Blues_ . N.Y. : Da Capo Press, 1992. ; Tanner, Paul and Maurice Gerow. _A Study of Jazz_ . Dubuque, IA: William C. Brown Publishers, 1984.