Definition of the Blues

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Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:23 am

pinhedz
Schrödinger's Hepcat
Sat Jul 25, 2009 4:18 pm

Give it your best shot; I'll come back later and correct you. rabbit

Hosni
King of Pop
Sat Jul 25, 2009 10:50 pm

C7 C7 C7 C7
F7 F7 C7 C7
G7 F7 C7 C7

Arthur Askey
Cool Cat
Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:32 am

Still thinkin' here, boss.

While you're waiting, Georgia White reckons that the blues ain't nothin' but a woman wanna see her man.

She rather contradicts herself by averring that the blues ain't nothin' but a low down heart disease. Well, what is it then?

Georgia just can't make up her mind - she now reckons the blues ain't nothin' but a woman lovin' a married man, and moments later, here she is a-contradicting herself again, saying the blues ain't nothin' but a good woman feelin' bad. Georgia! Get a grip gal. Here she goes again: the blues ain't nothin' but a feelin' that will get you down.

There you have it. Georgia White's rather confused definition of what the blues ain't.

Me, I fancy old Bob Johnson had it sussed - the blues is a lowdown shakin' chill. Or is it an achin' old heart disease?

Goat Smith
Thumble Snowglobe
Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:18 am

A Venting Rant Of Hopeful Melancholy Set To A Basic Series Of Chords And Turnarounds.

Arthur Askey

I's still thinkin'

Willie Dixon knew a thing or two about the blues. He said 'I am the blues'. There you are: definition of the blues.

I'm not so sure.

Goat Smith

WELL, I WAS DRUNK THE DAY MY MOMMA GOT OUT OF PRISON
AND I WENT TO PICK HER UP IN THE RAIN
BUT BEFORE I COULD GET TO THE STATION IN MY PICKUP TRUCK
SHE GOT RUN-NED OVER BY A DAMNED OLD TRAIN

Arthur Askey

Drunk, momma, prison, rain, station, pickup, train. Yep, that's the blues.

John McLaughlin
Head Wankee
Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:15 am

And you don't have to call me darlin, darlin.

pinhedz

Hint--the bluest of the blues have only one chord and 16 bars--not 12.

Hosni

Ladies and germs, here you have it, the definition of the blues:

Bb7 etc.

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:24 am

I knew there's be a heap of work to do here. Razz

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:48 am

To take on this weighty question--the definition of the blues--one has to do the groundwork first, and we been doin' it.

-- We been doin' it here: http://acrosstheuniverse.forummotion.com/t403-8-bar-blues-no-12s-no-16s

-- And we been doin' it here: http://acrosstheuniverse.forummotion.com/t251-16-bar-blues-no-12s-allowed

That means that when you define the blues, you can't define it in terms of bar structure (not 12-bar, that's for sure), because the bar structure is all over the place.

-- Also, we been doin' it here: http://acrosstheuniverse.forummotion.com/t185-blue-with-no-chord-changes

So that means you can't define it in terms of chord changes either. Shocked

So what left? What makes the blues the blues if it's not the bar structure or chord changes? scratch

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:03 am

I've got an idea--the 12-bar, 16-bar and 8-bar forms can be thought of as branches of the blues.

So, to decide what it is that is the blues, we just need to identify what is the trunk, from which all of those branches are growing.

I think we did that one time--yes?

Yes, but that was long ago and far away.

But I remember that to define the trunk, we had to identify the roots first.

That means we need a "Roots-of-the-Blues" thread, that talks about the pentatonic minor scale, the 6-hole fifes, the 16-bar anglo-celtic ballads, and the Hawaiian open tunings and the guitar slides and bottlenecks.

Someone needs to start a thread like that. bounce

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  Guest on Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:23 am

pinhedz wrote:But I remember that to define the trunk, we had to identify the roots first.
The blues ain't nothin' but a tree...

Guest
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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  Andy on Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:31 am

The approach suggested is Platonic - well, classical if you wish -: all the particular instantiations of a thing given, go out to find the general Idea that is somehow present in all these particulars.

A fruitfull alternative might be found in Wittgenstein II, namely his theory of family relation.
People who are all members of the same family often share physical ressemblances to the point where outsiders can easily identify them as being family. And yet not single family has a single basic person that we use as a standard when we make such judgements.
Or take the example of games: there are so many different games and aspects about games that it is rather hard to define even a single non-trivial characteristic that is common to all of them. And yet we all seem to be able to use the term efficiently.

It seems reasonable to me the relations between musical sub-genres is of such a nature rather than a sort of Platonic participation-scheme.

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:26 am

I accidentally deleted this. Crying or Very sad


Last edited by pinhedz on Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:35 am; edited 4 times in total

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:34 am

Here's a root--16-bar anglo-celtic tune with a drone (not major chord) accompaniment. Muddy Waters sings this tune, but with a slide and his guitar tuned to an open major chord:


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:36 am

Same tune here--but the guitar is tuned to a major chord. That's why he keeps bending that minor third (the "blue note"):



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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:40 am

Rats--I accidentally edited this old post.


Last edited by pinhedz on Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:34 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  Yakima Canutt on Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:08 am




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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:05 pm

Here it is--this is all you need.

E = MC-squared, the rest can be derived:


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:35 am

Can it all be distilled to a word bite?

Maybe not--but here goes anyway:

The black folks in America took 16-bar tunes in pentatonic-minor scales as played on 6-hole fifes (the anglo-celtic component) and combined them with major-key accompaniments inspired by open-tuned guitars (the Hawaiian component), and the music came out blue.

And no way is that Platonic. bounce

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Fri Aug 26, 2011 5:14 am

I would also say the approach is not really Wittgensteinian either, because it's based genealogy rather than resemblance.

Perhaps it should be call anthropological--or zoological is maybe more like it. geek

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Fri May 03, 2013 10:12 am

BUMP

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  Yakima Canutt on Mon May 20, 2013 7:23 pm

Maybe about ten years ago I tried to watch Derek Jarman's flim called BLUE, but I never finished it, oi


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Wed May 29, 2013 9:05 am

Note that this thread is from August 14, 2011, almost two years old, but more relevant than ever.

pinhedz wrote:I've got an idea--the 12-bar, 16-bar and 8-bar forms can be thought of as branches of the blues.

So, to decide what it is that is the blues, we just need to identify what is the trunk, from which all of those branches are growing.

I think we did that one time--yes?

Yes, but that was long ago and far away.

But I remember that to define the trunk, we had to identify the roots first.

That means we need a "Roots-of-the-Blues" thread, that talks about the pentatonic minor scale, the 6-hole fifes, the 16-bar anglo-celtic ballads, and the Hawaiian open tunings and the guitar slides and bottlenecks.

Someone needs to start a thread like that. bounce

This message, however, is brand new. Very Happy

Anyways, the answer is that I was describing the TRUNK of the multi-limbed tree that is the blues.

Most blues today do not closely resemble the trunk (only Sharde still plays a fife), but they are identifiable as having grown out of (i.e., they are derived from) the trunk.

The most grotesquely overgrown limb of the blues tree is the 12-bar blues. Most of them are totally lame, but they are still blue to the core.

I will, of course, copy this to the open forum.
Smile

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Thu May 30, 2013 6:54 am

To put it another way--all blues don't sound like this, but they are derived from this--this came first:

pinhedz wrote:Here it is--this is all you need.

E = MC-squared, the rest can be derived:


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Thu May 30, 2013 7:00 am

Did everybody get this record like i told ya?


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Thu May 30, 2013 7:29 am

Gershwin went to lots of picnics trying to get this fife and drum part right.

In the end, of course, it came out too high-falutin':


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:29 pm

So, let's parse this thing:

pinhedz said:


The black folks in America took 16-bar tunes in pentatonic-minor scales as played on 6-hole fifes (the anglo-celtic component) and combined them with major-key accompaniments inspired by open-tuned guitars (the Hawaiian component), and the music came out blue.


The Hawaiian open tunings are for MAJOR keys.  That means that the 3rd in the scale is a MAJOR 3rd.

But the 6-hole fife is tuned to a PENTATONIC MINOR scale.  That means the scale has a MINOR 3rd.

So, there is no way that those two instruments could ever play together, because you can't have a pentatonic MINOR melody accompanied by a MAJOR-key accompaniment.

You can't, of course, unless you don't know any better. Laughing

And then you might accidentally invent the BLUES, which has a BENT 3RD (neither major nor minor).  When the BLUE-NOTE record company was founded, it was named after the BENT 3RD.

Some youngsters trying to become bluesmen plug in their amps and spend whole nights just bending their 3rds (very annoying for people trying to sleep Mad ).

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  woo on Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:27 am

pinhedz wrote:So, let's parse this thing:

pinhedz said:


The black folks in America took 16-bar tunes in pentatonic-minor scales as played on 6-hole fifes (the anglo-celtic component) and combined them with major-key accompaniments inspired by open-tuned guitars (the Hawaiian component), and the music came out blue.


The Hawaiian open tunings are for MAJOR keys.  That means that the 3rd in the scale is a MAJOR 3rd.

But the 6-hole fife is tuned to a PENTATONIC MINOR scale.  That means the scale has a MINOR 3rd.

So, there is no way that those two instruments could ever play together, because you can't have a pentatonic MINOR melody accompanied by a MAJOR-key accompaniment.

You can't, of course, unless you don't know any better. Laughing

And then you might accidentally invent the BLUES, which has a BENT 3RD (neither major nor minor).  When the BLUE-NOTE record company was founded, it was named after the BENT 3RD.

Some youngsters trying to become bluesmen plug in their amps and spend whole nights just bending their 3rds (very annoying for people trying to sleep Mad ).


So, is this bent 3rd one of those elements that need to be present if a song is to be considered Blue?

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:08 am

Woo wrote:So, is this bent 3rd one of those elements that need to be present if a song is to be considered Blue?
One time just for the heck of it, I tried working out a blues instrumental using nothing but major thirds. It was an actual 12-bar blues with no "blue" notes in it.

Some might say--"But, pinhed, that doesn't sound blue." bounce 

That's true, it doesn't but it has the 12-bar blues chord changes and is easily identifiable as having grown out of the "trunk."

So I have to say that a toon can be blue, even with no blue notes.  The truth is, there is no single element that a blues MUST have (that's why it's so hard to compose this definition), the key is to be able to say: "I recognize that--you can tell it grew out of that tradition that started out with pentatonic-minor anglo-celtic folk ballads accompanied by open-tuned guitars."geek

Other blues have no chord changes at all (see Sharde with that cracker band above).

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  Yakima Canutt on Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:40 am

FIRST OF ALL THE TERM "BENT" IS RACIST AGAINST PIANO PLAYERS WHO CAN PLAY THE BLUES JUST FINE WITHOUT ANY BENDING, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

AND WHAT IS THIS CONFUSENING?  OH FINE, YOU CAN FIND PEDANTIC EXCEPTIONS BLABBLE BLABBLE BLABBLE BUT TO BE BLUES THERE MUST BE IN THE MELODY OR NOODLE-RIFFING AT LEAST SOMEWHERE OR FOR TO BE REEL REEL REEL DOWN DEEEEEP DIRTY DELTA THERE MUST BE TWO HALF-STEPS IN A ROW.


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  Yakima Canutt on Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:41 am

Also, isn't a lot of blues based around having a fixed minor 3rd and it is the 5th which vacillates between being normal and diminished??!!?!?

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Re: Definition of the Blues

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