Re: What is the blues

The New Harvard Dictionary of Music Sez-

(Sense 3, after "troublesome emotion" and a poetic verse form) "A standard rhythmic -harmonic strucure in which the 12 bar progession I-I-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-V-IV-I-I is tied to the AAB couplet in three 4 bar phrases. Although 8 and 16 bar patterns occur, the 12 bar blues predominates and is highly flexible...."

Hell, we all knew that. But where did the blues come from? For that, here are the lyrics to an old show tune I learned from my mother, a piano player.

The Birth of the Blues (1925)
Oh, they say some black folks long ago
Were searching for a different tune, one that they could croon
As only they can.
They only had the rhythm so, they started swaying to and fro
They didn't know just what to use, that is how the blues really began
The heard the breeze in the trees making weird melodies
And they played that as the start of the blues
And from a jail, came the wail of some downhearted frail
And they played that as a part of the blues
>From a whiporwill, out on a hill, they took a new note
Pushed it through horn, till it was worn
into a blue note
And then they nursed it, reheared it, and gave out the news.
That the Southland gave birth to the blues.

That's what you really need to know.

Glenn Weiser

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