Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2] [3]


Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?

GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Apr 15 - 02:18 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Apr 15 - 02:31 PM
fat B****rd 22 Apr 15 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Apr 15 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Apr 15 - 04:17 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Apr 15 - 04:18 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 22 Apr 15 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Apr 15 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 22 Apr 15 - 09:00 PM
GUEST 22 Apr 15 - 10:52 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Apr 15 - 11:14 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 23 Apr 15 - 05:35 AM
GUEST,Hootennany 23 Apr 15 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 23 Apr 15 - 11:18 AM
Helen 23 Apr 15 - 04:46 PM
GUEST 23 Apr 15 - 05:38 PM
GUEST,big al whittle 23 Apr 15 - 09:10 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 24 Apr 15 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 24 Apr 15 - 02:20 PM
Big Al Whittle 24 Apr 15 - 07:17 PM
GUEST 25 Apr 15 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 30 Apr 15 - 01:58 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Apr 15 - 08:49 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 01 May 15 - 01:14 PM
GUEST,Stim 01 May 15 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 01 May 15 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,Stim 01 May 15 - 07:02 PM
GUEST,Elijah Wald 02 May 15 - 11:47 AM
GUEST 02 May 15 - 12:06 PM
dick greenhaus 02 May 15 - 12:30 PM
Big Al Whittle 02 May 15 - 01:00 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 02 May 15 - 05:15 PM
GUEST,Stim 02 May 15 - 05:34 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 04 May 15 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 04 May 15 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 05 May 15 - 12:04 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 06 May 15 - 01:05 PM
GUEST,Stim 06 May 15 - 01:12 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 06 May 15 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 06 May 15 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 06 May 15 - 02:06 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 06 May 15 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 06 May 15 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 06 May 15 - 04:48 PM
GUEST,Stim 06 May 15 - 06:22 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 07 May 15 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 07 May 15 - 03:15 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 11 May 15 - 04:57 PM
GUEST,Stim 12 May 15 - 07:08 PM
GUEST 12 May 15 - 07:48 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:













Subject: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 02:18 PM

Much of the discussion over the decades of the earliest jazz musicians supposedly being very blues-oriented has basically relied on simple fudging, on taking non-blues songs such as "Careless Love" (which was known to New Orleans musicians because it was known all over the South) to be supposed "blues" songs.

Blues music became a national fad in 1916 and 1917. (The total number of "Blues" songs published and/or copyrighted and "Blues" recordings made, combined, in the year 1915 was about 26. The total for 1916 jumped to about 73.) So all jazz musicians who recorded during 1917 onward were doing so at a time when blues music was already a national fad. The Original Dixieland Jazz Band recording in 1917 or Wilbur Sweatman in 1917 or James Reese Europe in 1919 or Johnny Dunn in 1921 or Kid Ory in 1922 or King Oliver in 1923 (etc.) could be expected to record any blues _because blues music was very popular in the professional entertainment world during 1916 on_ and they wanted to be successful. What the professional entertainment world knew of blues during 1916 on was very largely what W.C. Handy's example told them blues was (not what e.g. Lemon Jefferson thought blues was; they'd never heard of him yet).

What we'd call blues music (with or without the word "blues" in it) was apparently very popular among Southern folk musicians as of 1911.

How interested were New Orleans "jazz" musicians (whoever we think those people quite were) in what we'd call blues music as of say 1905-1911?

One way we can look at this is to notice that normal 16-bar blues, a la Lemon Jefferson's "One Dime Blues" and William Moore's "Midnight Blues," were apparently popular among Southern folk musicians as of 1911. For instance, Texas Alexander sang a 16-bar blues that mentioned getting a Merrow Widow hat, and those were a huge brief fad (a la Crocs) in 1908. Emmet Kennedy recalled that he had already encountered his 16-bar version of "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" before 1908. In about 1915, when the likes of John Bray and Lemon Jefferson were writing or encountering 16-bar blues that mentioned the Great War, pop songwriters were overwhelming writing 12-bar blues songs, not 16-bar blues songs. W.C. Handy disliked the repetitiveness of lyrics like AAAB, and always avoided the normal 16-bar blues form in his blues, and he was hugely influential on other professional blues writers during about 1913 on because of his great success.

So about 1913 on, don't expect to find the pro music world taking much interest in 16-bar blues (the occasional anomaly such as Euday Bowman aside). Meanwhile, we've got the fact that musicians like these knew the normal 16-bar blues approach: Leadbelly, Furry Lewis, Bo Carter, Rev. Gary Davis, Henry Thomas, Charley Jordan, Mance Lipscomb, Peg Leg Howell, Jesse Fuller, Walter Vinson, Simmie Dooley, Barbecue Bob, Jim Baxter, Daddy Stovepipe, Rufe Johnson, Tom Darby, Blind Boy Fuller, Will Shade, John Bray, William Harris, Smith Casey, Blind Blake, Ed Bell, Tom Bell, Roy Harvey, Reese Crenshaw, Tom Johnson, Elizabeth Cotten, Sam Butler, Bill Jackson, David Miller, Freeman Stowers, Wiley Barner. And these kinds of musicians generally behaved as if 12-bar and 16-bar songs were equally authentically "blues," and often switched between 12-bar and 16-bar in the same tune. All this suggests that there was a time (arguably about 1911) when normal 16-bar blues and normal 12-bar blues were _both_ very popular with Southern folk musicians, but pro musicians weren't yet all that interested in blues music, 12-bar or 16-bar -- or overall we would find many more examples of normal 16-bar blues from pro musicians, as recorded ever.

There are many, many New Orleans jazz musicians who were born before 1900 and eventually recorded. They were routinely asked to record blues. During the '40s on, these older musicians were routinely asked to record the oldest jazz-associated repertoire they remembered. Suppose that New Orleans jazz musicians in general were significantly interested in folk blues during 1905-1911. If so, why are there apparently so very, very few examples of them knowing the normal 16-bar blues approach, while meanwhile the likes of Peg Leg Howell, Charley Jordan, Leadbelly, and Jesse Fuller showed up in recording studios in the '20s-'50s (and even e.g. Johnie Lewis, Thomas Shaw, and Rufe Johnson in the '70s) apparently thinking people who liked blues wanted to hear some of the 16-bar blues they remembered?

(Also note that when it is possible to find pro musicians here and there who knew the 16-bar approach, such as Cow Cow Davenport and Wilton Crawley, those pro musicians have no special relationship to New Orleans, just to the South generally.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 02:31 PM

Can i recommend a book - Elijah Wald's Escape from the Delta.

Wald explains the subject better than i ever could.

Wald's proposition is that to understand the development of the blues, we need to examine the pressures and circumstances under which the music was produced, and these vary greatly. I would hazzard a guess, that Wald would say that the mixture history threw up in those years was too various to generalise over much.

each truth demands its own space.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: fat B****rd
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 03:03 PM

Seconded Big Al. A fascinating and informative book if ever I read one.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 03:53 PM

Wald is far, far more knowledgeable about 1930s blues than pre-1915 blues. I first talked with him about the distortions regarding pre-1915 blues in this book in 2004, and I had another detailed discussion with him recently, in which imo he had nothing to defend some of what he's claimed (about pre-1915) than repeated handwaving.

I'd definitely _not_ recommend Wald on pre-1915 blues (but would highly recommend him on Robert Johnson in particular).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 04:17 PM

Here's an example of Wald not knowing what he's talking about, at all, about early blues: "Blues is one of the great American popular music styles, not an obscure back-country folk art. There have been plenty of back-porch blues pickers, just as there have been plenty of garage rock bands, but they were never the music's driving force." That sounds very interesting, even revelatory, but does it matter that it's simply wrong? Howard Odum documented folk blues sung before 1909. Antonio Maggio heard a black guitarist play blues on a levee in about 1907. Emmet Kennedy heard folk blues on the street in about 1906. E.C. Perrow documented folk blues that was sung in Mississippi in 1909. The first publication of a blues song was three years after 1909, in 1912. Abbott and Seroff's extensive research has debunked Ma Rainey's claims about how early she was performing blues, and has shown how blues music only became popular among relatively small-time stage performers in roughly 1911-1912.

W.C. Handy and his peers admitted that blues music originated as folk music why? Because that... wasn't in their interest? Because it did?

Unfortunately, when Wald wrote his Robert Johnson book, he had read Stephen Calt's ridiculous 1990s book about Skip James. Calt had an absurd axe to grind with folkies in general, and also, as it happens, had apparently done little more actual research into the _earliest_ blues than Calt ever has. Calt distanced blues music from folk music inaccurately in his book because... well, because that made him feel good, is the only actual reason I can think of.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 04:18 PM

"had apparently done little more actual research into the _earliest_ blues than Calt ever has." This should read "... than Wald ever has."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 05:24 PM

Two simple questions; How are YOU defining what is or is not BLUES?

Is there documentation of the actual music heard by Maggio, Kennedy and Perrow?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 08:41 PM

"How are YOU defining what is or is not BLUES?"

The same way blues fans generally do today, which is the same way black blues musicians born in the South in roughly 1900 generally did. It only became fashionable to sing about having the quote "blues" among black folk musicians (before it became fashionable among anyone else) in about 1907, in songs that were very similar to first-person songs that had sad lyrics and did not have the word "blues" in them along the lines of "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" and "All Out And Down." I'm calling all those types of songs blues songs. Mance Lipscomb recalled hearing "All Out And Down" in about 1909, and Gus Cannon recalled hearing "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" in roughly 1900.

"Is there documentation of the actual music heard by Maggio, Kennedy and Perrow?"

Maggio and Kennedy yes, Perrow no (and it wasn't Perrow who heard blues in Missisippi in 1909, it was a guy named Aldrich who provided lyrics to Perrow for an article). Maggio said he based the 12-bar section of his instrumental "I Got The Blues" on the 12-bar strain with the same title that the black guitarist played on the levee in 1907, and that section is 12-bar blues musically. Kennedy heard a variant of "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" sung by blacks on the streets of Gretna, Louisiana, and included it under the title "Honey Baby" in his book _Mellows_. Perrow's article gave lyrics (about having the "blues"), and the lyrics were very similar to blues lyrics collected independently by Odum before 1909.

Anyway, did Calt or does Wald (or does Karl Hagstrom-Miller) have actual credible evidence that pro musicians helped invent blues music: Nope.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 09:00 PM

"Anyway, did Calt or does Wald (or does Karl Hagstrom-Miller) have actual credible evidence that pro musicians helped invent blues music: Nope."

And bear in mind that pro musicians' activities were being documented far MORE (e.g. we know that "Stack O'Lee" was performed by black pianist Charlie Lee in 1897, "I'm Going To Start A Little Graveyard Of My Own" was sung by black minstrel-show performer Billy Cheatham in 1900, "Chicken Can't Roost Too High For Me" was sung by black minstrel-show performer C.W. Bebee in 1905, etc., because of vintage newspaper articles) than folk musicians' activities were being documented during the relevant period.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 10:52 PM

For what it's worth... I define "blues" differently than Joseph Scott. Unlike him, I don't think my definition is the only possible one. Unlike him, I recognize the validity and usefulness of his definition, though it is not the one I generally use.

I distinguish between singing about "having the blues" and singing a music called "blues." There is no evidence whatsoever of anyone calling a style of music "blues" before about 1908. I take it for granted that there was similar music played before that, possibly even two or three decades before that. I understand the logic of calling that music "blues"--but also understand the logic of differentiating it from the emergence of blues as a distinct genre.

Incidentally, if Joseph is going to keep quoting Lynn Abbott against me, he's going to have to accept that Lynn and I agree that we don't disagree about this.

Best,
Elijah


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Apr 15 - 11:14 PM

I think we're talking at cross purposes.

Irish folk music certainly existed before the Clancy Brothers became major recording stars. However when an act becomes so popular that it is seemingly ubiquitous - it becomes a force that ordinary gigging musicians have to take note of in the perennial quest of putting food on the table.

Rhythm and Blues music existed in America before the Beatles, the Stones, the Yardbirds and the Animals - but the careers of muddy Waters, Nina Simone, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry etc started doing bigger business after the British invasion.

Such trends are a simple observable fact.As Doc Watson said, when something like the Beatles comes along - you run with the idea.

Similarly I don't think Wald has any need to defend.. the truth of his contention is the sudden proliferation of the terms like ragtime and blues as titles for songs makes his point. as does the appearance of cultural like Shakespepherian rag in TS Eliots The Wasteland.

blues /ragtime - it was in the air that people breathed all over the western world at that time. musicians were hardly likely to miss the trend.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 23 Apr 15 - 05:35 AM

The same way blues fans generally do today


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Hootennany
Date: 23 Apr 15 - 05:56 AM

I'll Try again:

"How are YOU defining what is or is not BLUES?"

    "The same way blues fans generally do today" Oh really?

I assume that you have documentary evidence and another long list consisting of the names of blues fans that agree with you or who care.

Early New Orleans jazz musicians lived in a musical melting pot and would hear and be interested in many musical styles including blues. If blues was popular among the paying customers then they would be very, very interested. 12 bars, 16 bars, 8 bars, completely irrelevant likewise who "invented" it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 23 Apr 15 - 11:18 AM

"Unlike him, I don't think my definition is the only possible one." I certainly do not think my definition of blues music is the only possible one, and I have never said to you or anyone else that I think that.

I'll ask you again, Elijah, what credible evidence do you have that pop musicians contributed to the invention of blues music? Using any working definition of blues music you like.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: Helen
Date: 23 Apr 15 - 04:46 PM

Hi all,

I have been reading this thread with interest, but I confess that I am more of an early jazz and swing music fan, more than a blues fan. I am also not well-read on the origins of jazz, swing and the blues.

However, I have been watching some documentaries which have aired on the Australian indigenous TV channel, NITV.

This one is a 2 part documentary and the first part aired last Monday 20 April 2015. The second part is going to air next Monday night. For a week or two the first part show can be viewed on this link and after the second part on Monday that will also be available to view for a week or so.

Black music : an American (r)evolution

Black music : an American (r)evolution - more info

One of the assertions in part 1, which I hadn't heard before, was that jazz music was doing well commercially for white audiences but most of the commercial interest was in happy & upbeat songs. On the other hand, the African-American musicians themselves played and sang the blues in their own social circles as an expression of their sadness and the difficulty of their lives while living in a society which was still prejudiced against them.



I also have the 10 DVD set of the documentary series Jazz, by Ken Burns. It gives a lot of detail about the social context of the music in relation to African-American society.

I admit that I have not read the books referred to in this thread, and I certainly don't know what the information in the documentaries was based on, and I also admit that just because someone made a film about it doesn't mean the information in the film is true. There is, however a lot of good original film footage of the music in both series, and both of the series raise a lot of issues surrounding the music.

On a personal note, it especially upsets me about the hypocritical attitudes of white people who "loved" the music, or made lots of money by selling the music, or misappropriated the music to claim it as their own, but still expressed prejudice towards the musicians.

As I said, I'm not an expert in the blues or in any music. I just love jazz and swing music with a passion and I'm interested in its evolution.

Helen


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Apr 15 - 05:38 PM

There must be something to be written about the history of jazz clarinet and its cross fertilization with klezmer clarinet playing. The role of the clarinet in klezmer changed dramatically between the 1900s and the 1920s, under the influence particularly of Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras- the loop closed with 1940s swing and Benny Goodman reimporting klezmer style into jazz.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 23 Apr 15 - 09:10 PM

what credible evidence have you that unpopular musicians created the blues rather than popular musicians?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 01:58 PM

"what credible evidence have you that unpopular musicians created the blues rather than popular musicians?"

Howard Odum's collecting of black folk songs during 1905-1908 included blues songs about having the "blues," such as the 12-bar "Knife-Song." (Wald has acknowledged to me that Odum collected what he would call blues songs during that period.) E.C. Perrow's articles collecting folk lyrics, independently of Odum's research, included blues lyrics about having the "blues" sung in 1909, notably similar to lyrics collected by Odum. A guitarist on a levee performed a number called "I Got The Blues" in 12-bar form within Antonio Maggio's earshot in 1907. We know Emmet Kennedy knew a variant of "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" during the second half of the first decade of the century ("I feel certain that [that song] goes back further than 1905," he claimed), and he recalled that he first heard it done by blacks on the street; Gus Cannon recalled knowing that song around then too. Famously, W.C. Handy recalled hearing what we'd generally call a blues performance from a musician in Tutwiler, in roughly 1904 (his memoir doesn't say it was "1903"). Mance Lipscomb recalled that he knew "All Out And Down" in about 1909. Elizabeth Cotten learned "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad" in roughly 1909; Handy's writings show that he believed that song was around before that. The 12-bar "Got No More Home Than A Dog" that Handy claimed he encountered before 1900 is similar to roustabout music apparently from around the same time that was collected by Mary Wheeler, and is also similar to other music that the likes of Leadbelly apparently learned before 1910. Wheeler and Texas Alexander (in "Blues") independently both had the "Merry Widow hat" stanza, and those hats were a brief fad in about 1908.

Southerners who were old enough to know such as W.C. Handy and Perry Bradford claimed that blues music had originated among folk musicians. "[B]lues originated from old... folk lore songs." -- Bradford, 1921. "'Blues' music... is of negro origin.... [I]t is from the levee camps, the mines, the plantations, and other places where the negro laborer works that these snatches of melody originate." -- Handy, 1919.

Some songs we'd call blues songs have demonstrable roots in pre-1905 folk music; e.g., the Memphis Jug Band's "A Black Woman Is Like A Black Snake" is based on the folk song "Hop Joint," which John Hurt recalled well he knew before 1905.

We know a lot about what songs that were published during 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912 were like. Plenty of white songwriters and plenty of black songwriters were publishing songs during that period. The first publishing or copyrighting of blues songs by pro songwriters didn't take place until 1912. The thorough research of Abbott and Seroff, Henry Sampson, and others in vintage black newspapers (in which articles were often quite detailed) supports the notion that blues music became popular with relatively small-time pro performers in about 1911 -- and 1911 is at least 3 years after Odum encountered "Knife-Song."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 02:20 PM

Helen wrote: "One of the assertions in part 1... was that jazz music was doing well commercially for white audiences but most of the commercial interest was in happy & upbeat songs. On the other hand, the African-American musicians themselves played and sang the blues in their own social circles as an expression of their sadness and the difficulty of their lives while living in a society which was still prejudiced against them."

The music that eventually became known as "jazz" developed in New Orleans, mostly among black musicians, and was dance music, fun music, mostly for black audiences early on. A typical type of tune played by a black New Orleans dance band in about 1908-1911 would be "High Society." Typical blues lyrics from about 1908-1911 would be, as you say, along the lines of the version of "All Out And Down" Mance Lipscomb heard, the "Knife-Song" Howard Odum heard ("... I got the blues.... That woman will be the death of me..."), the variant of "Poor Boy Long Ways From Home" Emmet Kennedy heard, etc. Sad, and typically involving male-female relationships.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Apr 15 - 07:17 PM

i thought Jelly Roll Morton invented jazz with his song Wining Boy in the late 1890's as a break from from playing Tales from the Vienna Woods.

My granny saw folks dancing the cakewalk in St Joseph in 1891. this was a dance that had a sort of ragtime rhythm.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 06:19 PM

Jelly Roll Morton was, as Sterling Brown put it, a "big liar."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 30 Apr 15 - 01:58 PM

"I'll ask you again, Elijah, what credible evidence do you have that pop musicians contributed to the invention of blues music? Using any working definition of blues music you like."

As I was saying, Elijah Wald doesn't have credible evidence that pop musicians contributed to the invention of blues music.

The wording "Invention Of The Blues" in the title of Wald's 2004 book, combined with his inaccurate claims relating to early blues music and folk music, including in that book, are likely to mislead people, because blues music was invented by black folk musicians before 1910, and thus that invention had nothing to do with how any "revivalists" or the like happened to take an interest in or think about folk blues or non-folk blues later. Nothing at all.

Wald's website currently says: "... [F]irst [blues] was a black pop style, and it remained a black pop style until the 1960s. Then, it retroactively became a folk style...." Blues music never "retroactively became" folk music. (Nor did people like Peggy Seeger and Alan Lomax only take interest in the likes of Elizabeth Cotten and the Pratcher brothers as late as the 1960s, for that matter.)

Wald said in 2004 (_New York Times_) that "the blues was pop music -- it simply wasn't folk music." That is a bizarrely wrong statement, given that blues music was folk music continuously from before 1910 -- e.g. the three-lines-per-stanza "Knife-Song" about having the quote "blues" that Howard Odum heard from a folk musician before 1909 -- to decades later. Wald has acknowledged to me that he considers some of the _folk_ material Odum collected before 1909 to be what he calls blues music. If you're thinking, but that doesn't add up, yeah, it doesn't.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Apr 15 - 08:49 PM

i should have thought it was common sense that popular musicians influence the progress of every type of music.
take Vic Bertons invention of the hi-hat. that must have been a sensation.

can you imagine r and b without a drum kit with the hi hat sound


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 01 May 15 - 01:14 PM

"i should have thought it was common sense that popular musicians influence the progress of every type of music"

After popular musicians adopted blues music from folk musicians, popular musicians often influenced how some blues sounded (when that was "progress" is a matter of personal taste). For instance, W.C. Handy's dislike of what he considered overly repetitive lyrics apparently helped cause the popularity of 16-bar blues with AAAB lyrics to drop off, once his publications were successful and influencing other writers of published blues tunes.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 01 May 15 - 03:06 PM

Jazz was ensemble based, and both improvised soloing and extemporanteous arrangement are a central part of performance. Twelve bar blues structure lends itself to a lot more possibilities than the sixteen bar structure, and is much easier to work with from that point of view.

If you know the conventions, you can take a single four count phrase and turn it into a great performance. On the other hand, if you and your crew are so inclined, you can fit 20 or 30 different ideas into that same space. That's a significant part of the reason jazz musicians adopted blues, though certainly not the only one.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 01 May 15 - 03:20 PM

"Twelve bar blues structure lends itself to a lot more possibilities than the sixteen bar structure, and is much easier to work with from [the jazz] point of view." How so?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 01 May 15 - 07:02 PM

I've written three or four different explanations, but they were all TMI-the short answer is that the 12 bar is more simple, with fewer chord changes, so that there are fewer beginnings and endings to worry about, giving you a lot more freedom. Also, one of the cool things about 12-bar blues is that you can work out a short lead phrase and repeat it over all the changes to good effect--not so much with 16-bar blues.

Also important to understand--early blues was not necessarily less sophisticated music that early jazz--in fact jazz developed by adding elements of blues.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Elijah Wald
Date: 02 May 15 - 11:47 AM

Joseph writes, "Howard Odum documented folk blues sung before 1909." I understand what he means by that sentence: that Howard Odum documented music before 1909 which Joseph defines as blues. I don't disagree with him about that, at all.

However, my perspective includes the fact that Odum himself, in the book he published in 1925 with Guy Johnson, "The Negro and His Songs," was still carefully distinguishing that music from "blues," which they categorized as a modern, commercial style.

Within a few years, Odum and Johnson had changed their minds and had decided that blues was, in some instances, a genuine folk style, closely linked to earlier African American folk music. I don't disagree with that choice, or the choice of Joseph and others to follow this practice and describe early songs as blues. I'm just pointing out that they were not called that at the time, and the shift came after the wave of commercial blues hits.

To me, that does not mean the earlier songs were not "blues," or that they were. It just means that the taxonomy changed between 1900 and 1930, and has kept changing--and I am interested in changes in taxonomy as well as changes in music. The story of how the music we now call blues evolved is a separate question from how the term "blues" evolved, and both are interesting.

As to the role of professional musicians in creating and spreading blues--by any definition--I would refer everyone to Abbott and Seroff's work. Joseph has cited them as authorities and I agree--indeed, I submitted the chapter in "Escaping the Delta" which deals with what I would call pre-blues and early blues to Lynn Abbott for comments and corrections, and followed his guidance.

The short version is: professional musicians have borrowed from non-professionals, and vice-versa, for as long as music has been a profession. At the turn of the century, there were both African American professionals and non-professionals making music all over the southern US. We know almost nothing about most of them, are working with tiny and mostly unrepresentative tips of huge icebergs, and can support all sorts of arguments...if what we want to do is make arguments. I don't. I'm interested in the range of music being made, and when Joseph tells me something about that music that I don't know, I'm grateful to him.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 May 15 - 12:06 PM

Incidentally, when Joseph writes, "Wald has acknowledged to me that he considers some of the _folk_ material Odum collected before 1909 to be what he calls blues music," he is absolutely right. My own taxonomy is that of a white blues musician raised in the 1960s, and I consider songs like "Pallet on the Floor" to be blues. So did Jelly Roll Morton, in 1939.

Does that mean that "Pallet on the Floor" was blues when Morton first heard it around the turn of the century?

My answer would be: maybe.

People born around the turn of the century in the Mississippi Delta tended to call "Pallet on the Floor" (at least, as played by rural musicians like Mississippi John Hurt) and songs like that "ragtime," which they distinguished from "blues"--a term they associated with the kind of music performed by Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.

I would not be surprised if people in New Orleans were already using the term "blues" for the older music, or music like it. Whereas older Delta musicians tended to talk about blues as something that arrived around 1920, older New Orleans musicians tended to talk about it as a popular style in the late 19th century--but they used the term for slow, dirty songs like Morton's version of "Pallet" and Buddy Bolden's "Funky Butt," not specifically for songs related to the 12-bar form. They were dance musicians, and for them "blues" seems to have distinguished a dance tempo, and a playing style associated with non-reading musicians, as compared to the more formal music of the Creole orchestras.

Joseph considers New Orleans musicians to be "fudging" when they called songs like "Careless Love" blues, apparently because for him "blues" has a single definition, which those songs don't fit. That's fine. His taxonomy is his taxonomy, like Morton's was Morton's. I'm interested in both, and accept neither as definitive.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 May 15 - 12:30 PM

Discussion of a word becomes meaningless unless the discussers agree on the word' meaning. Like "Folk"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 May 15 - 01:00 PM

not really Dick..   words like folk and blues are in common usage. everyone knows what they mean.

it takes a would be Henry VIII to want to scratch peoples eyes out over abstruse points of doctrine.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 02 May 15 - 05:15 PM

Elijah wrote: "I don't disagree with... the choice of [some] to... describe early songs as blues. I'm just pointing out that they were not called that at the time, and the shift came after the wave of commercial blues hits." The earliest known references to "blues" music, starting in 1909, are from before the wave of commercial blues hits started, in 1912.

"Joseph considers New Orleans musicians to be 'fudging' when they called songs like 'Careless Love' blues...." Actually I was talking about music writers basically fudging.

"Odum himself, in the book he published in 1925 with Guy Johnson, 'The Negro and His Songs,' was still carefully distinguishing that music from 'blues,'..." If you're referring to pp. 149-150, the book doesn't claim that its folk songs "class" (category) doesn't include blues songs. It says that there were "modern... popular 'hits' and 'blues'" that weren't folk songs, which of course was true.

Regarding taxonomies, good-faith _working definitions of blues music_ can differ, can be broader or narrower, and your current answer to

"Elijah, what credible evidence do you have that pop musicians contributed to the invention of blues music? Using any working definition of blues music you like"

is that it's somewhere in Abbott and Seroff? Okay, where? You want your website to say that blues music began as popular music, but you don't want to "make arguments" that that's true, because... there's no actual possible argument that supports that idea, right?

"The short version is: professional musicians have borrowed from non-professionals, and vice-versa, for as long as music has been a profession." In music in general. There are multiple concrete examples we know of of professional musicians learning blues music in particular from folk musicians by 1907, and that corresponds to what people like Perry Bradford recalled had happened; there is no known evidence of any folk musician learning blues music in particular (as opposed to e.g. "I Got Mine") from a professional musician by 1907.

Here's a quote from the experienced and very intelligent blues researcher Pete Lowry: "One ought to immerse one's self in that which is being examined and then winkle out possible generalizations later." Best I can tell, you've never immersed yourself in the blues and blues-related music of before 1912 (nor is it the job of a writer about Robert Johnson to do so, if he can stick to making claims about Robert Johnson's era). That's why you're relying on what you can imagine as true -- i.e., it seems plausible that pro musicians _could_ have helped invent blues music -- as the only substitute you have for giving an argument based on evidence. The reason your website informs people that blues music began as popular music is you can imagine that maybe it did for all you know.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 02 May 15 - 05:34 PM

Blues is a musical form and it has a variety of clearly defined elements. If you learn the elements and the form, you can not only play a body of music, you can use it as a basis to create new music.
Blues continues to be important to this day because it can be used that way. Also, because it is really easy to learn how to use the elements.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 04 May 15 - 11:08 AM

From Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff's "'They Cert'ly Sound Good to Me': Sheet Music, Southern Vaudeville, And The Commercial Ascendancy Of The Blues," emphasis added: "Clearly it was at the insistence of the southern vaudeville audiences that the blues, a previously submerged aspect of African American _folk_ culture, ascended the stage.... When southern vaudevillians embraced _folk-blues_ concoctions in their stage repertory, the audience shouted loud in recognition...." "... John H. Williams specialized in the comic adaptation of the up-to-date Southern _folk_ idioms from which blues was gleaned." "String Beans, Baby Seals, Johnnie Woods and Little Henry, Willie and Lulu Too Sweet, Laura Smith -- these were some of the first 'blue diamonds in the rough' [quoting W.C. Handy, who said blues music originated as folk music] to rise above the anonymous street corners, barrelhouses, juke joints, railroad depots, and one-room country shacks of _folk-blues_ literature. They were the fathers and mothers of the blues on the American stage." "The implication is that by 1909 the term blues was known to describe a distinct _folk_-musical genre...." From Abbott and Seroff's _Ragged But Right: ... The Dark Pathway To Blues And Jazz_: "By mid-decade [of the 1910s], blues singing had begun to make a permanent home in tended minstrelsy [by black performers]. W.C. Handy's early blues publications [which started in 1912]... initiated [that] trend."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 04 May 15 - 11:26 AM

Some more examples, in addition to what's quoted below:

The country musician Elbert Bowman rarely encountered black people in his small Tennessee town when he was young, but remembered that during 1903-1905 a railroad was built through the area, and black laborers building it sang a member of the "K.C. Moan" family.

John Lowry Goree included a variant of "K.C. Moan" among the folk material he said he encountered in Alabama before he moved to Texas in 1903.

"Howard Odum's collecting of black folk songs during 1905-1908 included blues songs about having the 'blues,' such as the 12-bar 'Knife-Song.' (Wald has acknowledged to me that Odum collected what he would call blues songs during that period.) E.C. Perrow's articles collecting folk lyrics, independently of Odum's research, included blues lyrics about having the 'blues' sung in 1909, notably similar to lyrics collected by Odum. A guitarist on a levee performed a number called 'I Got The Blues' in 12-bar form within Antonio Maggio's earshot in 1907. We know Emmet Kennedy knew a variant of 'Poor Boy Long Ways From Home' during the second half of the first decade of the century ('I feel certain that [that song] goes back further than 1905,' he claimed), and he recalled that he first heard it done by blacks on the street; Gus Cannon recalled knowing that song around then too. Famously, W.C. Handy recalled hearing what we'd generally call a blues performance from a musician in Tutwiler, in roughly 1904 (his memoir doesn't say it was '1903'). Mance Lipscomb recalled that he knew 'All Out And Down' in about 1909. Elizabeth Cotten learned 'Going Down The Road Feeling Bad' in roughly 1909; Handy's writings show that he believed that song was around before that. The 12-bar 'Got No More Home Than A Dog' that Handy claimed he encountered before 1900 is similar to roustabout music apparently from around the same time that was collected by Mary Wheeler, and is also similar to other music that the likes of Leadbelly apparently learned before 1910. Wheeler and Texas Alexander (in 'Blues') independently both had the 'Merry Widow hat' stanza, and those hats were a brief fad in about 1908.

Southerners who were old enough to know such as W.C. Handy and Perry Bradford claimed that blues music had originated among folk musicians. '[B]lues originated from old... folk lore songs.' -- Bradford, 1921. '"Blues" music... is of negro origin.... [I]t is from the levee camps, the mines, the plantations, and other places where the negro laborer works that these snatches of melody originate.' -- Handy, 1919.

Some songs we'd call blues songs have demonstrable roots in pre-1905 folk music; e.g., the Memphis Jug Band's 'A Black Woman Is Like A Black Snake' is based on the folk song 'Hop Joint,' which John Hurt recalled well he knew before 1905."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 05 May 15 - 12:04 PM

"the 12 bar is more simple, with fewer chord changes, so that there are fewer beginnings and endings to worry about, giving you a lot more freedom" Forty-eight bars of ordinary 12-bar looks like this: I-I-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-V-V-I-I-I-I-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-V-V-I-I-I-I-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-V-V-I-I-I-I-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-V-V-I-I. Forty-eight bars of ordinary 16-bar looks like this: I-I-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-V-V-I-I-I-I-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-V-V-I-I-I-I-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-V-V-I-I. The first changes chords 16 times, the second 18 times; not much difference.

"one of the cool things about 12-bar blues is that you can work out a short lead phrase and repeat it over all the changes to good effect--not so much with 16-bar blues." A phrase can be repeated over all the changes the same way in 16-bar blues as in 12-bar blues. The only section the 16-bar blues adds is another IV-IV-I-I, which is in the 12-bar blues already.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 06 May 15 - 01:05 PM

Wald wrote: "[M]y perspective includes the fact that Odum himself, in the book he published in 1925 with Guy Johnson, 'The Negro and His Songs,' was still carefully distinguishing that music from 'blues,' which they categorized as a modern, commercial style."

Looking through the book, I think Wald simply misread what's on pp. 149-150; I can't see what else he'd be trying to refer to. The sentence that spans pp. 149-150 says: "While the variations of the songs of the first and second classes [categories] would afford material for an interesting study, they are in reality not folk songs. Accordingly, only those that have been become adapted [the third class] are given in this collection." That collection is the folk stuff from 1905-1908 that Odum also presented in the _Journal Of American Folk-Lore_ back in the 1910s: the 12-bar "Knife-Song" with its lyrics about having the quote "blues" and so on.

Wald wrote to me four months ago: "I think that many of the folk songs Odum collected before 1909 are what I now would call blues music...." Yeah, me too.

I'm not sure how important it would be if Odum changed his mind about what a blues song is between 1925 and 1926, but I don't think we actually have evidence that he did.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 06 May 15 - 01:12 PM

Sorry to take so long to reply, Joseph, but it's not always easy to explain this stuff.

I'm not saying that the 16 bar form is not valid or not useful, I'm just saying the 12 Bar form is simpler, and easier to use.

Rather than talking about the blues as simply 12 measures, it's more useful to break it into three four-measure phrases.

Next, you break the four-measure phrase into two measures (eight counts) of exposition and two measures (eight counts) of recapitulation.

The blues moves through three chord shifts, the Tonic, subdominant, an the dominant. The 12-bar blues allows a a two-measure exposition and two-measure recapitulation for each of the three chords and we're done.

It's important to note that in each four-measure phrase the exposition is restated in the tonic, subdominant and dominant modalities, but the recapitulation is always on the tonic chord.

With the 16 bar blues, it's necessary to modulate to the sub-dominant a second time, which, because there are three chord shifts, but four four-measure phrases, means there is extra emphasis on the sub-dominant.

Again, it's not that you can't do it, it just creates a more complex structure, and one that it a bit out of balance.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 06 May 15 - 01:35 PM

What I'll for convenience call the Calt/Wald myth, the myth that we don't have evidence that blues music arose among folk performers, is not something that lucky people about Archie Green's age had their time wasted with back in the good/bad old days. Green knew that Elbert Bowman heard a variant of "K.C. Moan" about 7 years before 1912, and wrote that he did in his fine book published 43 years ago.

The Calt/Wald myth is apparently being swallowed about whole since 2004 by some writers, such as
Vic Hobson in his largely valuable "Reengaging Blues Narratives," 2008
David Roberston in his underwhelming 2009 book about W.C. Handy
Karl Hagstrom Miller in his 2010 book that Paul Garon rightly called "fatally flawed." Hagstrom Miller goes whole hog with his ignorant Waldisms: "Reimagining Pop Tunes As Folk Songs: The Ascension Of The Folkloric Paradigm," etc.

Oh, Hagstrom Miller misrepresents what's on pp. 149-150 of Odum and Johnson 1925 on his pp. 256-257 (par for the course with Hagstrom Miller), so looks like maybe Wald has read Hagstrom Miller. That's pretty much Hagstrom Miller's trip, asserting that people like Handy and Odum changed their stories about things (without adequate evidence that they did in the ways he claims), and pretending that if they had that would somehow prove a lot.

The reason the likes of Howard Odum, E.C. Perrow, W.C. Handy, and Perry Bradford thought the likes of black railroad workers singing a variant of "K.C. Moan" within Elbert Bowman's earshot by 1905 were within a "folkloric paradigm" was they were.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 06 May 15 - 01:42 PM

Hi Stim, given that jazz musicians about Kid Ory's to Louis Armstrong's age liked to play e.g. tunes that started with V-V-I-I-V-V-I-I..., I don't understand why you believe that ...IV-IV-I-I-IV-IV-I-I... would give their creativity any challenge, or the like.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 06 May 15 - 02:06 PM

"And these kinds of musicians generally behaved as if 12-bar and 16-bar songs were equally authentically 'blues,' and often switched between 12-bar and 16-bar in the same tune."

Getting back to what jazz musicians apparently would have heard a lot of in New Orleans in about 1911 if they had been terribly interested in folk blues as of about 1911, here's are some examples of musicians who mixed 12-bar with 16-bar as if both were authentically blues and it made little difference which you did:

Peg Leg Howell (23 years old in 1911) "Fo' Day Blues"
Leadbelly (about 23 years old in 1911) "Blues I Got Make A New-Born Baby Cry"
Roy Harvey (about 19 years old in 1911) "Steamboat Man"
Jimmie Tarlton (about 19 years old in 1911) "Put-Together Blues"
Elizabeth Cotten (about 18 years old in 1911) "Vastopol"
Bo Carter (about 17 years old in 1911) "Pussy Cat Blues" (the 1931 recording)
Smith Casey (about 16 years old in 1911) "Santa Fe Blues"
Mance Lipscomb (about 16 years old in 1911) "Blues In G"
Reese Crenshaw (about 14 years old in 1911) "Trouble"
Furry Lewis (about 12 years old in 1911) "Mary Tell Blues"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 06 May 15 - 03:58 PM

So you are seriously suggesting that the people you list above could have been heard in New Orleans in 1911 ????

I have been listening to this music for over fifty years and didn't realise that I needed you to come along and tell me what I was listening to.
I am sure that all my friends will be unloading their libraries on E-Bay now that we have your expertise on line.

When did you write the rules of what is and isn't blues and how it should be played? Just think how much more successful Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker etc would have been if you had been there to explain it all.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 06 May 15 - 04:06 PM

"So you are seriously suggesting that the people you list above could have been heard in New Orleans in 1911 ????" Of course not.

"When did you write the rules of what is and isn't blues and how it should be played?" We can all give good-faith working definitions of blues music when we have good-faith discussions. Our good-faith working definitions of blues music don't have to be identical to each other's for us to talk about what the music was like during different eras.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 06 May 15 - 04:48 PM

"Meanwhile, we've got the fact that musicians like these knew the normal 16-bar blues approach: Leadbelly, Furry Lewis, Bo Carter, Rev. Gary Davis, Henry Thomas, Charley Jordan, Mance Lipscomb, Peg Leg Howell, Jesse Fuller, Walter Vinson, Simmie Dooley, Barbecue Bob, Jim Baxter, Daddy Stovepipe, Rufe Johnson, Tom Darby, Blind Boy Fuller, Will Shade, John Bray, William Harris, Smith Casey, Blind Blake, Ed Bell, Tom Bell, Roy Harvey, Reese Crenshaw, Tom Johnson, Elizabeth Cotten, Sam Butler, Bill Jackson, David Miller, Freeman Stowers, Wiley Barner."

That's 33 examples. Here are some more: Lemon Jefferson, William Moore, Johnie Lewis, Bill Broonzy, Thomas Burt, Skip James, Walter Roland, Henry Whitter, Butch Cage, Eddie Mapp, Lesley Riddle, the Birmingham Jug Band, the Mississippi String Band (Johnson and Copeland), Texas Alexander, Big Boy Cleveland, Bayless Rose, Bobby Grant, Willie Hill, Tom Bradford, Edward Thompson, Willie McTell.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 06 May 15 - 06:22 PM

I don't actually think that, Joseph, and I never said that.--I am just pointing out that 12-blues lends itself to a freer style of improvisation.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 07 May 15 - 12:00 PM

"much easier to work with" "easier to use"
"challenge, or the like"

I don't understand why 12-bar would be much easier to work with than 16-bar, for someone in about 1905-1911, because the chords in IV-IV-I-I-IV-IV-I-I consist of the same chords as in IV-IV-I-I, but twice, and musicians roughly Bechet's age were used to chord progressions that went ... X-X-Y-Y-X-X-Y-Y....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 07 May 15 - 03:15 PM

"'Meanwhile, we've got the fact that musicians like these knew the normal 16-bar blues approach: Leadbelly, Furry Lewis, Bo Carter, Rev. Gary Davis, Henry Thomas, Charley Jordan, Mance Lipscomb, Peg Leg Howell, Jesse Fuller, Walter Vinson, Simmie Dooley, Barbecue Bob, Jim Baxter, Daddy Stovepipe, Rufe Johnson, Tom Darby, Blind Boy Fuller, Will Shade, John Bray, William Harris, Smith Casey, Blind Blake, Ed Bell, Tom Bell, Roy Harvey, Reese Crenshaw, Tom Johnson, Elizabeth Cotten, Sam Butler, Bill Jackson, David Miller, Freeman Stowers, Wiley Barner.'

That's 33 examples. Here are some more: Lemon Jefferson, William Moore, Johnie Lewis, Bill Broonzy, Thomas Burt, Skip James, Walter Roland, Henry Whitter, Butch Cage, Eddie Mapp, Lesley Riddle, the Birmingham Jug Band, the Mississippi String Band (Johnson and Copeland), Texas Alexander, Big Boy Cleveland, Bayless Rose, Bobby Grant, Willie Hill, Tom Bradford, Edward Thompson, Willie McTell."

Curley Weaver, Gabriel Brown, Elvie Thomas, Jimmie Tarlton, Lightnin' Hopkins, Tommy Jarrell, Lonnie Chatmon...

John Hurt used a variant of it with V at the start on "See See Rider." Jimmie Rodgers used a different variant on "Jimmie's Mean Mama Blues." Robert Wilkins and Frank Hutchison had the usual 16-bar progression but extended at the front on "That's No Way To Get Along" and "K.C. Blues" respectively. Uris Bouchillon sounded very similar to Hutchison on "Adam And Eve Part 2."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 11 May 15 - 04:57 PM

We know 12-bar and 16-bar blues were both known at all in the New Orleans area by 1908, because of e.g. the blues Antonio Maggio and Emmet Kennedy heard and were inspired by. The live issue is, how much did the likes of Bechet and Ory generally care about blues music before about 1912? Because the blues that jazz musicians ever recorded, no matter their age or when or for whom, tended to sound a lot like what was published as blues sheet music during 1912 on, rather than e.g. the normal 16-bar folk blues that were known to the likes of Mance Lipscomb as of about 1911.

(Emmet Kennedy's and Roy Carew's recollections are valuable. They were both interested in black folk music generally when Son House was two years old, and they compared notes with each other.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 12 May 15 - 07:08 PM

I will just say, again, that the 12-bar blues, with those three four-measure call and response phrases, offers possibilities for creativity and improvisation that 16-bar blues (often also written as 8) does not. I just finished listening to some old Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstong cuts, comparing their work with 12 and 16(or 8) and they both understood the differences, and used them to excellent effect.

Without going through the whole list of others above, I am guessing that they all understood and utilized the differences between the two forms. And I am out...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Earliest jazzers how blues-interested?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 15 - 07:48 PM

What about etymology? It's been touched on here, but not directly addressed, and I think it has bearing on the topic.

Does anyone have evidence to show why the term "blues" was selected when it became necessary to have a name for that kind of music?

Most people today think of blues music in connection with blue=sad. Joseph cited early examples of songs that appear to have made that connection. But blues has always included a lot of happy dance music and even comedy, contrary to the direction taken by the NTV show that Helen linked to. There's certainly nothing sad about "Dallas Blues," "Weary Blues," "West End Blues," "Jelly Roll Blues," or many other early pieces that used the term. And there's a huge body of extremely sad pre-twentieth century vocal music that would have merited that name more if it was in fact a reference to sadness.

The color blue has many other associations, such as "off-color" or "pornographic," and the "blue note" that characterizes blues music. We don't see those uses in pre-twentieth century literature, as we do the blue=sad usage, but I wouldn't expect either of those to be used in the literature of that time even if it was common in the vernacular. And the fact that blue=sad was used in 1798 doesn't necessarily mean that it was the most common association with that color in 1915.

A blue moon doesn't suggest sadness, just something unusual or rare.

The nursery rhyme "Little Boy Blue" suggests that at one time the color blue may have been associated with things going awry. That sounds like it could be connected with the idea of a blue note.

Kurt Vonnegut said that when he was a boy his mother's generation used the term "blue Monday" to indicate laundry day. That term has come to mean something completely different and to be associated with sadness. But laundry day wouldn't have been a particularly sad one for housewives in the late nineteenth century. We know they used "bluing" or "laundry blue" as a fabric whitener. That's more likely to be the origin of the term for them, and the idea of making dirty things turn white would give the word blue a bright, happy connotation.

Oddly enough, blue has also been associated with black, the exact opposite of laundry bluing. In the past, the word black was often used to mean anything dark, such as dark-skinned people or dark brown bread, and blue-black sometimes indicated true black. And then of course there's the association with fidelity, as in "true blue."

US soldiers wore blue uniforms from the Revolution till just before World War II, and soldiers were called "the boys in blue," a term later used for police in eastern US cities.

Blue is often a comforting color, the color of the sky in good weather, and in that context it's more naturally associated with happy rhythms such as those of early blues rags.

But blue can also indicate exposure to extreme cold, or bruising. It was once common to speak of a person being "beaten black and blue." Kerouac suggested that "beat" culture was the culture of people who had been beaten so thoroughly by the system that they had come to embrace the beating as a way of life. Could that idea have been around earlier, with a suggestion that being really beat made your skin turn black and your music turn blue?

N.B. I'm just asking. I don't know where the musical term "blues" came from, and I don't know whether any of the associations with the color blue that I've listed have any bearing on it. But I'm real curious about it.

And while I'm at it, what about "jazz"? A long time ago I listened to a radio discussion of jazz origins in which everyone seemed confident that they knew where that term came from, and they implied that it was pretty obvious if you think about the term and the culture that produced the music, but they also indicated that it would be too indecent to say on the radio. Any idea what they might have been talking about, and whether there's any evidence to support it?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
Next Page

  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 30 May 12:59 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.