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The Blues

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Liz Rosner

on 27 January 2015

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Transcript of The Blues

Origins of the Blues
Origin of the term "the blues"
Developed from Songsters
songs drew from various slave traditions and popular songs of the day
First transmitted in an oral tradition
The Mississippi Delta has been designated the area that gave birth to the blues
Sung all over the South
Got the Blues?
Basis for many widely recognized American musical forms
The blues tradition has its origins in the field hollers, spirituals and work songs to its pervasive influence on 20th century Rock 'n' Roll
12 Bar Blues
One of the most popular chord progressions used in popular music
Played in any key
Many variations
Build on "primary chords"
I, IV, V
chords built upon first, fourth, and fifth scale degrees
Delta Blues
Verse Form
Early Blues lyric form AAB
Call and response pattern

I went down to the cross road, got down on my knees.
Yes, I went down to the cross roads, got down on my knees.

I begged the Lord for mercy, if you please
"Blue Notes"
Country or Rural Blues
Earliest phase of blues development
Direct result of personal expression
Usually sung solo
Singer sometimes introduces and ends his performances with spoken word
Melodies emphasize notes of the chords that provide the harmony
Also incorporate notes that are microtonally lower
Typically the third, seventh, and sometimes fifth of the scale
Son House
born in Lyon, MS
highly influential Delta blues musician
known for his vocals and slide guitar
also recorded by Alan Lomax
"Death Letter Blues"
Robert Johnson
born in Greenwood, MS
influenced by Son House
"Johnson epitomized for white blues enthusiasts the quintessential black American blues artist, and his life and work have become a romantic legend" (Paul Oliver, Grove).
hugely influential
Legend of the crossroads
Most famous American songster
Born in Mooringsport, LA
worked as a laborer and traveled as a working musician
1930 went to prison and met folklorists John and Alan Lomax who were recording prison songs and helped to launch his career
Urban myth: The Lomax's helped to get Leadbelly's sentence reduced.
Huddie Ledbetter "Leadbelly" (1889-1949)
Alan Lomax: The Man, The Myth, The Legend
Worked in the Archive of American Folksong, Library of Congress
Produced many radio and television shows on American folk music
Known for traveling the country and recording and documenting American folk music, particularly in the rural south, night clubs, churches, and prison farms

Began during Reconstruction
Jim Crow Laws
Legal process that was a series of laws that stripped African Americans of their new rights
The Birth Place of the Blues
Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton
Full transcript