Sign Up
Tutor Hunt on twitter Tutor Hunt on facebook

Tutor HuntResources Music History Resources


What Is Blues? (music Style)

Date : 07/03/2016


Author Information

Uploaded by : Sasha
Uploaded on : 07/03/2016
Subject : Music History

W.C. Handy " the weirdest music I had ever heard" .

Blue - best explains the mood of Negro slaves in White America, what they managed to express through the music blues music. It was faith and hope that African American slaves put into field hollers, work songs, spirituals and country strain ballads. ("Hammer , Ring" a work song by Jesse Bradley & group, for instance, used to drive the spikes that fastened the long steel rails to the wooden ties). It was played after work, at the parties, picnics and juke joints and listened by other agricultural labourers, who enjoyed the sound of the acoustic guitar, piano or harmonica. But nobody gave this music an actual name.

Slowly, emerging from the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana and Texas, this music started to be known as country blues, with its spontaneous expression of thought and mood, call response form, wide range of subjects, tendency toward single chord accompaniment and solo accompanying, but united under the same blue mood colour sorrow. W.C. Handy decided to transcribe and publish sheet music for some this type of songs and with several songs like "Memphis Blues "(originally written in 1909 for a political campaign ) or "St Louis Blues" (published in 1914) he introduced elements of western harmony (sixteen-bar bridge within "St Louis Blues"), added new instrumentation (an orchestra), he transferred the unique feature, which was sorrow, and, in fact, invented another form to musical composition and made the blues more respectable to non-black Americans. From the original free form of blues, twelve-bar structure eventually became the standard, different singers brought together all the different styles and practices of the minstrel shows, of vaudeville theatres and of ragtime and eventually blues became planned, arranged (texts and music) and precise in form (12-bar structure). These "new" Classic blues singers were almost all women, in the tradition of the old vaudeville shows. Their style was more polished, structured and arranged (they fronted a band instead of playing the guitar). Singers like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith opened the window on Blues to a wider audiences (they also were the examples of the first emergence of black female singers into popular music industry), and it was their rise to public recognition that proved so critical to the history of the blues, bringing it to the threshold of mainstream culture.

Accused of being the "devil`s music", thusly criticised by white audiences during the 1920s, blues have left a great impact on the world of music. Blues scale, for instance, can be frequently found in forms like popular songs (Harold Arlen "Blues in the Night"), blues ballads ("Since I Fell for You" ,Buddy Johnson) and even orchestral works like George Gershwin`s Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F. Instrumentation and form, which even turns up in some surprising places like Batman`s movie musical theme and in many jazz classics music without lyrics. Blues is the "root music" of the US and it played an important role in the development of much of the folk and popular music that followed. For instance, Jimmie Rodgers, who was a blues performer, became the first great country music star as well as transferred all those blues features into a different musical style (he was also called "white -blues singer").

Swapped acoustic guitars for electric ones, fill of sound with drums, harmonica and standup bass, gave rise to an electrified blues sound with a stirring beat that drove people dancing and pointed the way to rhythm and blues and rock and roll. It can also be classified as an outgrowth of blues. It would be really hard to find a major song from rock-and roll`s period that is not a blues composition transformed by rhythm. Take for example "Mystery train" written by Junior Parker and later performed by Elvis Presley. You can hear that it is the same song, same 12 bar blues, but there is a different instrumentation and it is faster.

To truly understand the meaning of the Blue music we have to look back into history, to know what is the real mood that this harmony, structure and lyrics are carrying. Blues is the path that the slave took to citizenship. Music of African slaves in the United States influenced White America in terms of values and perspectives passed on through it. Artists of the following musical periods just adapted blues structure and harmony to their distinctive styles, accents and vocabularies. Artists are still doing that in our modern world.

"A History of Popular Music" Piero Scaruffi
Calliope Film Resources . "The Classic Blues and the Women Who Sang Them"
Blackboard Reading Texts.

This resource was uploaded by: Sasha

© 2005-2020 Tutor Hunt - All Rights Reserved

Privacy Policy | Copyright | Terms of Service
loaded in 0.172 seconds
twitter    facebook