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Vocal Styles and Techniques Used in The Blues

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Ashley Ashmore

on 9 October 2013

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Transcript of Vocal Styles and Techniques Used in The Blues

Vocal Styles and Techniques Used in The Blues
The Role of Vocals
No matter what the genre, the voice is an extremely important instrument.
By utilizing the voice, musicians can convey the main idea of the piece via lyrics, inflection, and certain techniques.
The Blues are no exception to this rule.
The Emotion
Because the Blues originated from deep seated emotion and was used as an outlet to all people involved in the genre, the flexibility and ability to display this emotion makes the voice a perfect candidate.
The lyrics Billie Holiday is singing paints a gruesome picture of racism in the deep South.
Vocal Techniques
Blues vocalists' main objective is to tell a story. They usually start by "freeing up" and "energizing" the voice so it may be completely flexible to display the message of the song freely.
In Conclusion
The Blues is a very expressive genre and requires a flexible and easily controlled instrument to highlight the theme and/or portray the story being told.
These same vocal styles can be heard today as well. (Example: Adele "Rolling in the Deep")
Musical Example
That was Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit" which was one of the first anti racist songs ever performed live.
What did you hear?
Analyzing the Vocals
"Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees."
Billie Holiday also uses several techniques common to the blues to word paint this main idea or to convey emotion.
Other techniques include breathing, phrasing, repertoire, shading (changing the color/character of the voice), growling, slurring (up and down octaves), dialoging, squeezing notes, and nasal sounds.
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