Definition of the Blues

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:43 am

user wrote: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

Post  pinhedz on Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:48 am

Yes--that is very true, but it's the bent third that seems to date from the 19th century, when the 6-hole fife collided with queen Liliuokalani's guitar.

When WC Handy started publishing, he wrote the bent 3rd as a major 3rd with a minor grace note--very proper like (check out "Yellow Dog" blues).

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  woo on Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:02 pm

pinhedz wrote:
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).


Oy...Pinz, didn't you say that Zombie Blues wasn't a Blues song because it didn't have the elements of Blues song? I'd go search for that post, but don't want to at this moment.

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:41 pm

I remember that.  I can't find it either, but I remember it lacked the parentage--it came from a different tree.

Take structure, for example. Blues roots music has 16 bars and no chord changes (like "The Daemon Lover").  Blues is more varied--it can have 16 bars, 12 bars or 8 bars (actually the second half of the 16-bar format), and still trace back to the trunk.  And typically there are 3 chords, but the 16 or 12 or 8-bar structure will accommodate some fancy jazz chords, or no chord changes at all.  

But blues can't have 32 bars--that would be like Gershwin, or Cole Porter, or Irving Berlin. Or if you have some kind of new-age or trance music, that also does not trace back to the trunk.

Some blues by Muddy Waters are very close to the trunk--16 bars and no chord changes. But when Django Reinhardt played blues, he'd stick in 9th chords and other funny business.

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:07 pm

Check it out--this is the sound of the trunk (although he does do a chord change at 2:06):


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:22 pm

Django put in all kinds of non-roots stuff, but you can still count off the 12-bar/3-chord structure:




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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:23 pm

Django also made minor chords fit into the the 12-bar format.  Gypsies do stuff like that.  Duke Ellington also did that at least once.




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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:51 am

Any progress here, or is it just getting worse? geek 

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:42 am

Check this out--it's in the 16-bar format--and nowadays pickers would do this with 4 or five chord changes--but here the bass-pluck-and-strum never changes chords.  That's very close to the trunk.


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:47 am

^
I wish somebody would find a better copy of the record.
Surely the record company must have pressed fore than one.

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  woo on Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:54 am

pinhedz wrote:Any progress here, or is it just getting worse? geek 


It's always been a foreign language to me. I've tried to learn--ukulele, guitar, piano, flute--but it bored me; all I've ever wanted to do was play in nature, be outside in the sun and surf. Been listening to Clapton today while sunbathing. Yeah, my world will be right when I die...





Been thinking about what video/song I would post as my last post (ha!), Running On Faith is a serious contender...I could have been a contender.



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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:12 pm

Even Gunther Schuller (of whom I am a fan) got completely lost trying to define the blues.  He ended up saying that blues is defined by the 12-bar format--except when it isn't.

But the folks that play the blues (who are much less scholarly than Schuller) seem to always know what's blue no matter how far it diverges from the scholarly definitions.

I think the scholars fail because they try to define the blues by what it is, and what they need to do is define it by where it comes from--the genealogy and DNA.
study geek

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:10 pm

The Blues, ha, it can be a real trip!  The Blues can be real sad for the moody-broody Gus gloomers who cant even for shelter spend the night in the cave because the bobcat scared them away and it was so dark they thought it might be a mountain lioness, and didn't want to take that chance ... ... and and The Same Old Blues can also be used for a really fun boogie /woogie & oogie for the lives of a special dressup party for peoples from differing walks of life and experience... think about it


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Fri May 02, 2014 1:53 am

^
Blues also doesn't need two hands to play, which is good for musicians that need to rest one arm at a time for playing all night.

And of course blues is good-time music, which is why you have to get right to church on Sunday morning, before you die in a state of mortal sin. affraid 

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  woo on Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:41 am

I am still lost. You give terrible directions...ja!










Is it Blues?




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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Tue Feb 02, 2016 8:38 am

Yes--it's 12-bar boogie-woogie.

Pinz' point is that it could be not 12-bar and still be blues.

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:20 pm

This is where it started (I posted this before--but it can't be posted too often geek ).

This is not blues--not quite (it's almost St. James Infirmary--but not quite).

It needs one more thing to be blues.

It needs a Mississippian to discover Hawaiian open tuning (major key), and then play the major chord while singing the pentatonic minor-key tune.

That's when the blues was born:


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  Yakima Canutt on Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:43 am


i saw Professor Salisbury (i think) say that another element of blues were rhythmic patterns that were African in origin, i assume you have covered this area in your lecture series? hotlink?



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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:26 pm

I will certainly look into the professor's commentary on rhythms.

The pinhed has noted that there are rhythm patterns that are often used by bluesmen.

They have not been discussed in the pinhedz lecture series (although they could be in the future), because the pinhed has not (so far) concluded that they are a "defining" element of the blues.

That is to say, blues can be played using any rhythmic pattern, and still be blues (which might be a valuable point to demonstrate in future lectures).

It's like saying that alotta bluesmen play in the 12-bar chord changes, so alotta professors say the 12-bar format is a defining element of the blues.

But the pinhed says that blues can be played with NO CHORD CHANGES, so the chord changes are not a defining element (which is not to say they are not an interesting and significant characteristic).

And IF the pinhed is correct in the assertion that the blues can be played using ANY rhythmic pattern does it not follow that the rhymic pattern is not a defining element?

The pinhed will, of course, give this matter further study and try to address the question of whether rhythm is and defining element or a characteristic feature.

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  Yakima Canutt on Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:38 pm

i see your POV

but er if you played this as a polka it might mitigate the hues



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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:40 pm

The defining elements are those that the pinhed finds in  the "trunk" (which is American) as opposed to the "roots" (which come from Europe and Africa).

So those 16-bar English ballads are among the roots, but they are not American.

The minor pentatonic scale is another of the roots, and it came from Europe.

The Hawaiian-guitar open tuning is one of the roots--it came from a Pacific Island (which became American later).

And those African rhythms--I reckon they came from Africa.


But the blue note--created by the clash between the minor pentatonic scale and the open Hawaiian guitar tuning--that came from America.

That's why the pinhed identifies the blue note not as one of the "roots"--it first appears in the "trunk."


Last edited by pinhedz on Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:16 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:42 pm

Yakima Canutt wrote:i see your POV

but er if you played this as a polka it might mitigate the hues
Yes, indeed it would--but it would still be the same song--which is a blues song.

That's part of the reason the pinhed doesn't go with Long John's "sounds-like" test.

It's about tracing the branches back to the trunk. Some of those branches are a long way from the trunk, you just have to see if they're attached--or if they trace back to some other tree.

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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:01 pm

Speaking of rhythm -- my feet feel happy from this one--plus we got the 6-hole fife (that can only play in one minor pentatonic scale) and the one-chord guitar:

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 Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:11 pm

Sharde is all grown now, btw. I love you I love you I love you I love you

When this starts out, it almost sounds like she's going to sing "House Carpenter," or "The Daemon Lover" Shocked

Without the major-key guitar part, it's hard to say if this is roots or blues:


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Re: Definition of the Blues

Post  pinhedz on Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:15 pm

Very Happy Very Happy


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Re: Definition of the Blues

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