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Old December 13th, 2012, 02:34 AM   #201

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Back to some trad

Got this on at the office -

*Edit; Back to the OP and the origins of blues music...

I've always accepted the idea that it began in African-American communities around the turn of the century and not really thought much more about it. Your thread prompted me to find these though...

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=18724

http://www.shmoop.com/blues-history/

... and this


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Old December 13th, 2012, 04:15 AM   #202

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The roots of Blues music are deep.

Their deepest origins are to be found in Africa, where several tribes have a kind of music very reminiscent of blues. Unlike most European music at the time, rhythm was very integral to the song. Like a lot of African music, the voice is very important.

Slavery in the New World brought about some new influences: firstly, all percussion was usually banned, as slave owners believed that this was a way for slaves to spread information. Percussion is, of course, very important to African music, being the basis of rhythm. Clapping took the place of percussion. Secondly, Christianity. Slaves were forced to learn Christian ideas (apart from the ones about not making other men your slaves, of course, and brotherly love). This involved Christian songs, like hymns and popular, Christian themed folk songs (of which there were many).

Add to this their increasing awareness of their position in life, and slaves created something very much their own: spirituals, which often contained coded expressions of rebellion and even mockery of their captors. (Later, they even made their own dance, the "cakewalk" which mocked the swaggering, exaggerated pomposity of their white neighbours. This dance became popular with the whites- even in Britain! It's a strange world.)

The end of slavery did not, for the most part, (and contrary to popular opinion), result in what I'd call "Freedom". In fact, for many, the end of slavery resulted in far worse conditions. Former slaves were turned off their former owner's land: now that he had to pay someone, he'd sooner pay blacks next to nothing and charge then rents or pay whites not a great deal more. Some, in a fit of pique, evicted their ex slaves. Many of these evictees found that they were not welcome in many other places. Like the Rural poor of late 18th and early 19th century England, many had to resort to squatting on the edges of villages and attempting very poorly paid day work.

If this doesn't give you the Blues, I can't think what will. But it was to get far worse in the Southern States, a series of laws and by-laws were introduced, known, eventually, as Jim Crow, allegedly named after a slave who ran away once too often and who was "hobbled": they broke his ankles with a large hammer. (See the film, "Misery" . Ouch). That meant that to walk, the poor man had to hop, like a crow.

Jim Crow had its foundations in early "Black Laws" which made no pretence at equality or even equality before law. Jim Crow advocated what it called "separate but equal". Blacks only schools, buses, drinking fountains etc.

In reality, Jim Crow severely restricted the lives, pay and opportunities for betterment amongst blacks. So, they sang about it.

The original American blues instrument was.......the fiddle. The 6 string guitar was relatively rare compared to fiddles, and a steel strung instrument is much harder to make. Whereas a fiddle of sorts can be made from an old cigar box.

But when the guitar was adopted, new techniques like bottleneck (a steel or glass tube on a finger of the guitarist's left hand, slid up and down the strings. Very effective and completely a Blues thing), Vibrato (the art of basically vibrating the string and making it sing more using a fast "wobble" of the left hand fingers) and "bends", which is pushing a string upwards to raise the pitch in a smooth way. Both these latter tricks were hard to do with the steel strings then available: they were very thick. During the late 60's when the British blues boom happened, guitarists would resort to using far thinner banjo strings.

All of which happened under the very noses of the whites, who hardly saw any of it. An entire, underground and thriving culture, and virtually none of it made the mainstream and few whites heard it...... (apart from elements of it which made Rock n roll happen: a fusion of Jazz and Blues)

Except in Britain during the 50's and 60's! British music fans would listen to anything with an American label. They didn't care what colour the artist was. So, white audiences heard labels like Sun and Chess and a myriad other "black" labels.

They started to play that stuff, giving it a British twist and, often, a great deal of amplification. Hello Mr. Marshall.

They exported it to America's whites, and they had no idea that it came right from under their own noses. (Apart from a few notables, such as Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield - both Jewish!, and very white boy Johnny Winter, who would walk into black only bars and ask to play alongside the black men playing blues. This must have been a real shock, since Johnny is an albino!. You can't get whiter than that.)

For me, American guitars and blues are America's greatest gift to the world.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 04:37 AM   #203

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Good stuff Blackdog, thanks.

I didn't know that about 'cakewalk', I wonder now how it evolved to its modern meaning...

I'll be hunting down some tribal music too to see if I can hear some blues in it - it's very true anyway that a lot of such music is predominantly rhythmic, that's one of the reasons I love it.

I'd only add the blues harp ... harmonicas were introduced to America by Matthias Hohner in the 19th Century and reputedly, became popular among early blues musicians for its portablility and ease and was ideal for impromptu gatherings.

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Old December 13th, 2012, 11:41 AM   #204

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One of my favorites:


Another:


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Old December 13th, 2012, 02:40 PM   #205

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Thanks for that Black dog for that long post there is always music when we read your posts
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Old December 13th, 2012, 03:31 PM   #206

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In this post, I hope not to bore anyone But I'd like to examine just why the blues is so popular, particularly amongst the British, who are pretty far away from the roots of the blues

Firstly, the guitar is THE instrument of the blues. It is hard to say which was designed for which: was the blues created for the guitar, or vice versa? In either case, it was a marriage made in heaven.

The guitar is a relatively modern instrument and it took quite a while to sort out the "courses" (number of strings and what notes they are tuned to). That number is, usually, 6 (12 string guitars merely "double up" some notes and repeat others 8 notes higher, so, in effect, a 12 string is played just like a 6 string, as Olly's great clip of Hendrix playing a 12 string accoustic shows).

The strings, from top (thickest) to bottom (thinnest) are: E, A, D, G, B, E

The steel bars which cross the guitar's neck are called "frets". By placing a finger behind the fret over the string, a guitarist plays a note. The magic happens when you realise that there are usually several places on a guitar's neck where a certain note can be found. For instance, the note "A" is the name of the second string down, but logically, starting from the string above (E), the frets work like this:

E = no fret
F= 1st fret
F# = 2nd fret
G= 3rd fret
G# 4th fret
A= 5th fret

Do the same trick on the A string, and you'll arrive at D, which is of course the name of the string below! (things get a little confused at the G string, but don't worry). So, we can get all but the highest notes by going no further than the 5th fret! It's logical.

In effect, this means that many chords (a chord is usually 3 or more notes played together) and most scales have the same visual pattern. In other words, a G Major scale looks the same as a G# Major scale, it is merely moved up (towards the guitarist) one fret. An A Major scale would be moved up yet another fret.

This sounds obvious and logical- and it is! A pianist is playing a much, much older instrument and so scales can be a nightmare for pianists to remember.

Central to blues music is what is known as the Pentatonic minor scale. "Pentatonic" merely means 5 notes which go together well. When one can reduce a scale to 5 notes, this makes things much easier. Most electric blues players hardly deviate from the pentatonic minor scales, which is the same pattern all over the neck.

There also exists the "Blues Scale" which is just like the Pentatonic Minor for most guitarists, but with extra notes added. These extra notes (known as "Blue Notes") are rather odd: they are rather out of place but add an air of.....sadness to the scale. You'll hear them everywhere in blues.

So: we have a rhythmic form of music, often based on or around just 3 chords and often, the guitarist plays his lead part in just one scale, usually (but not always) in the most dominant (common) chord of the song. For instance, if a song mostly uses E chords, then the guitarist will often play in the scale of E.

In other words, Blues is easy to get started with. It is almost always in 4/4 time (put simply, the beat is every 4 "claps"), which most musicians learn first. Most popular music is in 4/4 time.

Unlike Jazz, there are not thousands of chords to learn. (A guitarist's joke: what's the difference between a rock guitarist and a jazz guitarist? The former plays 3 chords in front of thousands of people, the latter plays thousands of chords in front of 3 people...)

It is endlessly inventive, despite having very simple theory and roots. It's FUN. The blues can make you laugh, cry, get angry, calm you down....

Playing it is like that, too. And no other instrument compares with the guitar for sheer expression and versatility.

And the English in particular have always had an affinity with guitar like instruments. And, of course, there have been lots of Scottish and Irish guitarists, as Mr Gallagher above shows.

But the main thing was: 3 or 4 unskilled musicians could plug away at 3 chords (E,A,B or E,A,D were always favourite) and get the feel and progress in a way that lessons and more formal music just couldn't do.

And the most marvellous thing of all about playing the blues? The awful, wonderful knowledge that no matter how hard you try, there's so much more to be done with it. And that sometimes, just hearing a man sing and clapping his hands or playing the harmonica is more the blues than anything.

It's humbling, uplifting, encouraging and amazing all at once.

Playing the blues, no matter how badly, just makes this 10 times more obvious. Go out and buy a guitar! Do it NOW !
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Old December 13th, 2012, 04:31 PM   #207

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Nice post matey some great info there, blues is great for getting your teeth into, when i was first learning guitar the blues gave me a good basic grounding in regards to timing and rhythm, spent hours making up lead using as many notes from the chords as i could, then it kinda clicked one day, then scales began to make more sense to me, i love the creative and emotive space jammin the blues gives you.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 06:14 PM   #208

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Back to the music guys. The brilliant Joe Bonamassa :

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Old December 14th, 2012, 12:20 AM   #209

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Really great posts Black Dog!

Here's a very interesting (and entertaining) video of Bobby McFerrin demonstrating the deep power of the pentatonic scale, which is the basis of blues music, from the 2009 World Science Festival:

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Old December 14th, 2012, 12:58 AM   #210

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Great posts. Hell yeah once you get that 12 bar rhythm and a few chord progressions in your gut then you can jam away all night long
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