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Once when singing in midtown Manhattan, a passer-by remarked that he played very much like Reverend Gary Davis, to which Gary replied that he knew Reverend Gary Davis quite well - Barry Kornfeld in Oh, What a Beautiful City

Author Topic: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords  (Read 38878 times)

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Offline GhostRider

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Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« on: January 06, 2005, 02:15:10 PM »
Hey Ramblin' Frank:

The IV to IVm movement with a following vocal melody only occurs in one song I have heard, but it's a good one, Lonnie Johnson's Blue Ghost Blues, one of the few (only?) songs he ever did in E standard.

I love blues with prominent minor chords (in an electric vein "The Thrill is Gone" chills me to the bone). Are there any others with promenent (as opposed to passing) minor chords?

I feel like I'm sinkin' down,
Alex

Offline waxwing

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Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2005, 02:47:31 PM »
I know of one "revisionist" usage. Dave van Ronk used it in his total rearrangement of Brownie McGee's Sportin' Life Blues in Drop D (Brownie played it in A). Dave played an F form G wrapping his thumb to get the 5th fret bass and just lifted a finger to get the minor with the barre. Sweet.
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Offline uncle bud

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Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2005, 09:33:03 PM »
I really like DVR's version of that tune. Just great.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2005, 10:07:06 AM »
Hi all,
I thought of a song that fit this topic:  Georgia Tom and Tampa Red's "If You Want Me To Love You", from the old Yazoo L-1039, "Tampa Red-Bottleneck Guitar".  It's a great spooky tune in which Tampa Red, rather than tuning to a minor tuning like cross-note to accommodate the minor melody, stays in Vastapol and plays in the relative minor, so that his "do" note, instead of being the open first string, is the second string at the second fret.  It seems like an approach that might bear checking out if you play slide (or even if you don't).  The song is a 16-bar blues with a progression I don't recall having seen before--
   | Iminor | flat VI |Imin/flatVI| I minor |
   | Iminor | Iminor |  V7     |   V7     |
   | Iminor |   V7    | Iminor  | flatVI/V7|
   | Iminor | flatVI  | Imin/flatVI | Imin |
Georgia Tom actually varies the chords a fair amount on the piano.  On the first verse, he plays a V7 chord in the second bar, and about half the time he does the rocking from the I minor to the flat VI chord in the fourth and sixteenth bars, too.  The changes are subtle enough that they don't throw off Red who is just playing some tremendous fills and shadowing the melody.  It's a beautiful and very unusual cut.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stefan Wirz

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2005, 05:48:13 AM »
how about RGD's 'Death Don't Have No Mercy' ?! Maybe not 'blues' in a narrow sense, but surely an utmost moving song - especially when you not only hear it but see the man in action (Great God Almighty!) on the (Vestapol?) video (btw: Larry Johnson's among the listeners)
Stefan

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2005, 06:21:13 PM »
You are right, of course, Stefan.  "Death Don't Have No Mercy" is a powerful song without a doubt.  Isn't there also a video version in which Rev. Davis plays it at great length while Donovan watches?
All best,
Johnm

Offline frankie

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2005, 06:33:56 AM »
Isn't there also a video version in which Rev. Davis plays it at great length while Donovan watches?

That's Children of Zion - also minor.  A brilliant performance, too - totally intense and relentless throughout.  What a giant!

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2005, 07:02:38 AM »
Isn't there also a video version in which Rev. Davis plays it at great length while Donovan watches?

That's Children of Zion - also minor.  A brilliant performance, too - totally intense and relentless throughout.  What a giant!

Brilliant indeed. I was watching this again recently as it's part of the Ernie Hawkins dvd set on Gary Davis. Achieves total heavyosity. (Oh Glory How Happy I Am also has Donovan watching from the same Pete Seeger Rainbow Quest show - I like how Seeger keeps thinking that one's ending but Gary just keeps goin' and goin').


Offline Johnm

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2005, 09:29:25 AM »
Thanks for the correction on "Children of Zion", Frank.  Does it have any lyrics?  I remember the video version as being instrumental, and wondered whether Rev. Davis had lyrics to it which he sang in some versions.  I'm going to to have to go  back to the video again--it has been a while since I watched it, and I remember one chord change in particular that is sort of nagging at my memory, right near the phrase ending.  Do any of you all play "Children of Zion"?
All best,
John

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2005, 09:43:54 AM »
Hi all,
I recalled another great minor blues, "Ain't It Hard", from Mance Lipscomb's first Arhoolie album.  It is a 16-bar blues in A minor with the following structure:
   | Imin |  V7  | Imin | Imin |
   | Imin | Imin |  V7  |  V7  |
   |  I7    |   I7   | IV7  | IV7  |
   | Imin |  V7  | Imin | Imin |
In the third and fourth bars, Mance sometimes does a repeated hammer from the 4th fret of the 6th string to the 5th fret of the sixth string, resolving it down to the open sixth string in anticipation of the seventh bar of the form.  Wow, is it a great sound!  It is also really exciting when he goes to the long A and A7 in the 9th and 10th bars, after having only played the I chord as a minor chord up to that point.  It really brightens it up.  Mance had such an enormous range, it is fortunate Chris Strachwitz was able to record so much of him.  He seems like he could easily have recorded as much material again without running out of new songs or fresh ideas.
All best,
Johnm 

Offline frankie

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2005, 09:57:30 AM »
Thanks for the correction on "Children of Zion", Frank.? Does it have any lyrics?? I remember the video version as being instrumental, and wondered whether Rev. Davis had lyrics to it which he sang in some versions.

It does have words - he does a tune called Italian Rag that's an instrumental and also in A minor.? I transcribed the lyrics to Children of Zion from that specific performance at one point - here they are:

Quote
Children Of Zion
Reverend Gary Davis

Lord, I wonder where my old mother
Amen
Lord, I wonder where my old mother
Amen

She's somewhere sitting in glory
Amen
Lord, she's somewhere sitting in glory
Amen

I wonder where my old father
Amen
Lord, I wonder where my old father
Amen

I rapped and rapped at mercy's door
'til my head got wet with the midnight dew
Feel like Children of Zion
Amen

I feel like Children of Zion
Amen
Lord, I feel like Children of Zion
Amen

Tell me which a way you travellin'
Amen
Won't you tell me which way you travellin'
Amen

Oh, tell me which a way you travellin'
Amen
Tell me which a way are you travellin'
Amen

I'm on my way to see Jesus
Amen
Lord, I'm on my way to see Jesus
Amen

I'm feelin' more like travellin'
Amen
Lord, I'm feelin' more like travellin'
Amen

I'm on my way to see Jesus
Amen
Lord, I'm on my way to see Jesus
Amen

I rapped and rapped at mercy's door
'til my head got wet with the midnight dew
Feel like Children of Zion
Amen

Oh, tell me which a way you travellin'
Amen
Won't you tell me which a way are you travellin'
Amen

I'm on my way to heaven
Amen
I'm on my way to heaven
Amen

I'm on my way to heaven
Amen
Lord, I'm on my way to heaven
Amen

I'm feelin' more like goin'
Amen
Lord, I'm feelin' more like goin'
Amen

I rapped and rapped at mercy's door

I feel like Children of Zion
Amen

Brother, keep on prayin'
Amen
Oh, Brother keep on prayin'
Amen

I'm feelin' more like shoutin'
Amen
Lord, I'm feelin' more like shoutin'
Amen

I'm feelin' more like shoutin'
Amen
Lord, I'm feelin' more like shoutin'
Amen

I'm feelin' more like goin'
Amen
Lord, I'm feelin' more like goin'
Amen

I'm feelin' more like goin'
Amen
Lord, I'm feelin' more like goin'
Amen

Tell me which a way you goin'
Amen
Tell me which a way are you goin'
Amen

I'm feelin' more like shoutin'
Amen
Lord, I'm feelin' more like shoutin'
Amen

I'm feelin' more like goin'
Amen
Lord, I'm feelin' more like goin'
Amen

I'm feelin' more like travellin'
Amen
Lord, I'm feelin' more like travellin'
Amen

I'm feelin' more like goin'
Amen
Lord, I'm feelin' more like goin'
Amen

I rapped and rapped at mercy's door
'til my head got wet with the midnight dew
Feel like Children of Zion

I feel like Children of Zion
Amen
Lord, I feel like Children of Zion
Amen

Tell me where my preacher
Amen
Won't you tell me where my preacher
Amen

He's setting down in glory
Amen
Well he's setting down somewhere in glory
Amen

I wonder where my old deacon
Amen
Lord, I wonder where my old deacon
Amen

I'm feelin' more like travellin'
Amen
Lord, I'm feelin' more like travellin'
Amen

I'm going to to have to go?back to the video again--it has been a while since I watched it, and I remember one chord change in particular that is sort of nagging at my memory, right near the phrase ending.? Do any of you all play "Children of Zion"?

I do play it, now & then.? The change you're thinking of is an A flat, played at the 1st fret with a C in the bass.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2005, 02:23:42 PM by Johnm »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2005, 10:45:12 AM »
Wow, thanks for the lyrics and pointer, Frank--ask and ye shall receive, I guess!  Obviously I need to watch that video some more, since I seem to have forgotten many crucial aspects of it.  I will look forward to that.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2005, 06:10:10 PM »
Hi all,
Another one in this category is Blind Boy Fuller's "Weeping Willow Blues", with its minor IV chord.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: April 18, 2005, 02:24:29 PM by Johnm »

Offline Slack

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2005, 08:31:42 PM »
Aha... I thought the song had to be in a minor key.  Well in that case, Geechie Wiley's "Last Kind Word"

Offline frankie

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2005, 06:11:08 AM »
Geechie Wiley's "Last Kind Word"

And Blind Lemon's Wartime Blues.

 


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