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History of Blues

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Kyle Thompson

on 19 September 2016

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Transcript of History of Blues

History of Blues
How should I approach these lecture slides?
All the information that will be on the test will be covered on these slides.

Please take thorough notes.

Learning Targets
Students will be able to identify and elaborate in their own words on specific social conflicts

Students will be able to identify and elaborate in their own words on specific blues and jazz musicians, genres and ensembles and their importance within the idiom.

Students will be able to identify and elaborate on the blues and jazz timeline

Students will be able to listen to, name and identify musicians from listening examples

Students will be able to identify connections of American Blues and Jazzz Music with other music genres.
The Blues
What are the "blues?"
Origins of the Blues
Blues is the name given to both a
musical form
and a
music genre
that originated in African-American communities of primarily the
"Deep South"
of the United States.

Appears around the
middle of the 19th century

Comes from
spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads.

The blues form is widely used in
jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll.

Characterized by specific chord progressions, of which the
twelve-bar blues chord progression
is the most common.

blue notes
are for expressive purposes and are sung or played flattened or gradually bent (minor 3rd to major 3rd) in relation to the pitch of the major scale, are also an important part of the blues sound.
Why is it called the blues?
The name of this great American music probably originated with the 17th-century English expression
"the blue devils,"
for the intense visual hallucinations that can accompany
severe alcohol withdrawal

Shortened over time to "the blues," it came to mean
a state of agitation or depression.
"Blue" was slang for "drunk" by the 1800s. The link between "blue" and drinking is also indicated by "blue laws" that still prohibit Sunday alcohol sales in some states.

By the turn of the century, a couple's dance that involved slowly dancing together called "the blues" or "the slow drag" and was popular in Southern juke joints.

Today, musicians play "the blues" in
the twelve-bar format introduced by William C. Handy in his 1912 sheet music "Memphis Blues."
First Blues recordings
The first blues recordings were made i
n the 1920s
by black women such as Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, and Bessie Smith.

These performers were primarily stage singers backed by
jazz bands; their style is known as classic blues.

The earliest blues recordings are very poorly documented, due in part to
racial discrimination within American society.

Also many recordings were not made due to
academic circles
, and to the
low literacy rate
of the rural African American community at the time.
Mamie Smith's Crazy Blues
The Blues and Social Issues

The first appearance of American blues is often dated after the Emancipation Act of 1863, between 1870 and 1900, a period that coincides with Emancipation and, later, the development of juke (jukebox) joints as places where Blacks went to listen to music, dance, or gamble after a hard day's work.

This period corresponds to the transition from slavery to sharecropping, small-scale agricultural production, and the expansion of railroads in the southern United States.

Several scholars characterize the early 1900s development of blues music as a move from group performances to a more individualized style.

They argue that the development of the blues is associated with the newly acquired freedom of the enslaved people.
Muddy Waters "I can't be satisfied"
12 Bar blues form
12 Bar Blues Form
Muddy Waters
McKinley Morganfield (April 4, 1913 – April 30, 1983), known as Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician who is considered the "father of modern Chicago blues".

He was a major inspiration for the British blues explosion in the 1960s and is ranked No. 17 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
BB King
Riley B. King (born September 16, 1925 May 14, 2015), known by the stage name B.B. King, is an African-American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at No. 6 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time (previously ranked No. 3 in the 2003 edition of the same list), and he was ranked No. 17 in Gibson's Top 50 Guitarists of All Time.

King "introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that would influence virtually every electric blues guitarist that followed." King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

He is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname 'The King of Blues'. He is also known for performing tirelessly throughout his musical career appearing at 250-300 concerts per year until his seventies. In 1956 it was noted that he appeared at 342 shows, and at the age of 87 King appeared at 100 shows a year.
How Blue Can You Get?
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stephen "Stevie" Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990) was an American guitarist, singer-songwriter, and record producer. Often referred to by his initials SRV, Vaughan is best known as a founding member and leader of Double Trouble. They ignited the blues revival of the 1980s. With a career spanning only seven years, Vaughan and Double Trouble consistently sold out concerts while their albums frequently went gold.

Although his career had progressed successfully, Vaughan quickly checked into a rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, Georgia to give up a cocaine and alcohol habit and returned to touring with the band. In June 1989, their new album "In Step" was released and earned them a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Performance. On August 27, 1990, Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash following a performance in East Troy, Wisconsin.

He has received wide critical recognition for his guitar playing, ranking at #6 on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Guitarists" in 2011. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000.
Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
Eric Patrick Clapton CBE (born 30 March 1945) is an English guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream.

Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time. Clapton ranked second in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and fourth in Gibson's Top 50 Guitarists of All Time.

In the mid-1960s, Clapton departed from the Yardbirds to play blues with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. In his one-year stay with Mayall, Clapton gained the nickname "Slowhand". Immediately after leaving Mayall, Clapton formed Cream, a power trio with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce in which Clapton played sustained blues improvisations and "arty, blues-based psychedelic pop."

For most of the 1970s, Clapton's output bore the influence of the mellow style of J.J. Cale and the reggae of Bob Marley. Two of his most popular recordings were "Layla", recorded by Derek and the Dominos, another band he formed and Robert Johnson's "Crossroads", recorded by Cream.

A recipient of seventeen Grammy Awards, in 2004 Clapton was awarded a CBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music. In 1998, Clapton, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, founded the Crossroads Centre on Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers.
Driftin Blues
History of the Blues Part 2
The Boogie Woogie and Rock N Roll
The piano style that came to be called "boogie woogie" originated from the Piney Woods, in Louisiana, in the early-middle of the 20th century.

Here, black workers of the railway used to gather in a "barrelhouse" (basically, a tented saloon or a shack) to listen to their music.

The entertainers of these rowdy crowds devised a dance version of rural blues music.

Piano Based.

Loud/Percussive to sound over the audience/crowd.

Became a major element of the development of rock n roll.

Given that the barrelhouse could not hire more than one musician, the piano players developed a style that imitated the interplay of three guitars: one playing the chords, one the melody, and one the bass.

Last but not least, the most natural rhythm to imitate in a barrelhouse was the rhythm of the steam train.
Meade Lux Lewis- Honky Tonk train Blues
Albert Ammons- Boogie Woogie Stomp
On a separate piece of paper, please answer...
What is the "blues"? Be able to describe
What did the blues develop out of?
What are musical characteristics of blues (form)
What regions heavily influenced the blues
What is Boogie Woogie blues? What are some characteristics?
What are the influential blues musicians? Be able to name at least 4.
What are elements of contemporary blues (be able to describe it)

Contemporary Blues
Robert Cray
W.C Handy
William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958) was a blues publisher, composer and musician. He was widely known as the "Father of the Blues".

Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music.

Handy was an educated musician who used folk material in his compositions. He was scrupulous in documenting the sources of his works, which frequently combined stylistic influences from several performers.
Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith (April 15, 1894 – September 26, 1937) was an American blues singer.

The Empress of the Blues
, Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s.She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and, along with Louis Armstrong, a major influence on other jazz vocalists.

Smith became
the highest paid black entertainer
of the day, heading her own shows, which sometimes featured as many as 40 troupers, and touring in her own
railroad car.
Charlie Patton
Charley Patton was born circa 1887 in Hinds County, Mississippi. (April 1887 and 1891 – April 28, 1934)

By 1910, he was performing and writing songs and had played with guitarist Willie Brown. In 1914, he started playing guitar with the Chatmon family. He made his first recording in 1926, consisting of 14 songs for Paramount Records, and would go on to make around 70 recordings. Patton died on April 28, 1934 in Indianola, Mississippi.

Was an American Delta blues musician. He is considered by many to be the "Father of the Delta Blues", and is credited with creating an enduring body of American music and personally inspiring just about every Delta blues man.

Musicologist Robert Palmer considers him among the most important musicians that America produced in the twentieth century. Many sources, including musical releases and his gravestone,spell his name “Charley” even though the musician himself spelled his name "Charlie".
Electric Blues
Words vs. Music
Although instrumental accompaniment is almost universal in the blues, the blues is essentially a
vocal form
. Blues songs are l
yrical rather than narrative
; blues singers are expressing
feelings rather than telling stories

The emotion expressed is generally one of
sadness or melancholy, often due to problems in love
. To express this musically, blues performers use vocal techniques such as
melisma (sustaining a single syllable across several pitches), rhythmic techniques such as syncopation,

And instrumental techniques such as
“choking” or bending guitar strings on the neck or applying a metal slide or bottleneck to the guitar strings to create a whining, voice-like sound.
The Vocal Form
Typically the first two and a half measures of each line are devoted to singing, the last measure and a half consisting of an instrumental “break” that repeats, answers, or complements the vocal line. In terms of functional (i.e., traditional European) harmony, the simplest blues harmonic progression is described as follows (I, IV, and V refer respectively to the first or tonic, fourth or subdominant, and fifth or dominant notes of the scale):

Phrase 1 (measures 1–4)

Phrase 2 (measures 5–8)

Phrase 3 (measures 9–12)
Origins cont.
Blues derived from and was largely played by Southern black men, most of whom came from the milieu of agricultural workers.

The earliest references to blues date back to the 1890s and early 1900s. In 1912 black bandleader W.C. Handy’s composition “Memphis Blues” was published.

It became very popular, and thereafter many other Tin Pan Alley (New York) songs entitled blues began to appear.
Memphis Blues
Mamie Smith
Mamie Smith ( May 26, 1883 – September 16, 1946) was an American vaudeville singer, dancer, pianist and actress, who appeared in several films late in her career. As a vaudeville singer she performed a number of styles, including jazz and blues.

She entered blues history by being the first African-American artist to make vocal blues recordings in 1920.

It was the first recording of vocal blues by an African-American artist, and the record became a best seller, selling a million copies in less than a year.To the surprise of record companies, large numbers of the record were purchased by African Americans, and there was a sharp increase in the popularity of race records.

Because of the historical significance of "Crazy Blues", it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1994, and, in 2005, was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress.
Classic Blues
Contemporary Blues draws upon traditional acoustic and electric blues, but offers a more smoothed-out take on the genre that incorporates the influences of rock, pop, R&B, and/or folk.

Contemporary blues is most often (though not always) electric, and rarely (though once in a while) purist. Because of its up-to-date production and mellower audience sensibility, the style tends to be more polished- it's still definitely soulful, but not quite as earthy or gritty as the music that predates it.

Since it's influenced by other types of music, contemporary blues has a greater chance of crossing over to pop, album rock, or adult-contemporary radio formats. Artists like Robert Cray, Keb' Mo', and prodigies Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang epitomize the contemporary blues sound.
Cray started guitar in his early teens. He attended Denbigh High School in Newport News, Virginia.

In the late 1970s he lived in Eugene, Oregon, where he formed the Robert Cray Band.

In the 1978 film National Lampoon's Animal House, Cray was the uncredited bassist in the house party band Otis Day and the Knights.

After several years of regional success, Cray was signed to Mercury Records in 1982. Two albums on HighTone Records in the mid-1980s, Bad Influence and False Accusations, were moderately successful in the United States and in Europe, where he was building a reputation as a live artist.

His fourth album release, Strong Persuader, produced by Dennis Walker, received a Grammy Award, while the crossover single "Smokin' Gun" gave him wider appeal and name recognition.

Cray continues to record and tour. He appeared at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, and supported Eric Clapton on his 2006-2007 world tour. In Fargo, North Dakota, he joined Clapton on backup guitar for the Cream song "Crossroads". In 2011, Cray was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame.
Smoking Gun
Keb Mo
Keb' Mo' (born Kevin Moore, October 3, 1951) is a three-time American Grammy Award-winning blues musician. He is a singer, guitarist, and songwriter, currently living in Nashville, Tennessee.

He has been described as "a living link to the seminal Delta blues that travelled up the Mississippi River and across the expanse of America".

His post-modern blues style is influenced by many eras and genres, including folk, rock, jazz and pop. The moniker "Keb Mo" was coined by his original drummer, Quentin Dennard, and picked up by his record label as a "street talk" abbreviation of his given name.
Am I Wrong
The earliest blues, known as country or Mississippi delta blues, were a product of the 19th-century Southern rural experience, especially after emancipation.

Itinerant singer/guitarists (or harmonica players), generally men, traveled from one community to another singing about love, freedom, sex, and the sorrows of life. Important early musicians include Charlie Patton, Son House (who developed the bottleneck slide technique), and Robert Johnson.
Country Blues
Death Letter Blues
Son House
Shake it and Break it
Charlie Patton
Me and the Devil Blues
Robert Johnson
As rural African Americans migrated to urban areas such as Memphis and New Orleans in search of work, blues gradually became more of an urban phenomenon.

Classic or urban blues featured a male or female singer usually accompanied by a piano or whole jazz combo. Capitalizing on the increasing popularity of urban blues, the music industry began publishing and marketing arrangements for blues compositions such as W. C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" (1914).

These songs became so successful that many popular songs that were not actually blues simply added the word blues to the title to ensure their popularity.
Ma Rainey
Trust No Man
Bessie Smith
St Louis Blues
Jelly Roll Morton
Dead Man Blues
After World War II, the center of blues activity moved to cities such as Chicago, where musicians such as Muddy Waters, Riley "B. B." King, and Buddy Guy intensified the sound by amplifying the guitars and adding more emphasis to the drums.

During the 1950s this style was adapted by white musicians as well, and rhythm and blues hits were often rerecorded ("covered") by white musicians such as Elvis Presley and Bill Haley, transforming rhythm and blues into rock and roll.
After the Rain
Muddy Waters
BB King
Buddy Guy
Born To play the Guitar

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