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When people from Australia or Japan or Italy say, 'Oh, I love the blues,' they're not talking about the Southwest blues styles, the Georgia 12-string players, ragtime Piedmont styles or whatever. It's the Delta blues. If you say, 'Who do you like?' they'll name Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Son House - Dick Waterman, to Francis Davis, quoted in Davis' book

Author Topic: 16-Bar Blues  (Read 14106 times)

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Offline GhostRider

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2005, 09:34:56 PM »
Hi all:

Here's a very unusual 16 bar format to a very common melody.

Funny Papa Smith does a tune called County Jail Blues, over which he sings the melody to Careless Love (different words). The chords however...

I - V - I - I
III - III - V - V
I - I7 - IV - I
I - V - I - I

In C (the key he plays it in)

C - G - C - C
E - E - G - G
C - C7 - F - C
C - G - C - C

I'm not sure of some of the chords in the second and third lines (i'm sure of the E at the beginning of line two), so I've attached the tune so you folks can correct me or confirm (unlikely).

Judge, here's my 45,
Alex
« Last Edit: January 05, 2005, 09:36:37 PM by pyrochlore »

Offline Johnm

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2005, 05:00:00 PM »
Hi Alex,
This one is a great find.  I had forgotten all about it.  The way JT Smith harmonizes the melody here would be pertinent on another thread on the Main Forum--Harmony/Hearing Chord Changes, on page 4, I believe (I don't know how to link to threads).
Anyhow, after listening to the tune a couple of times it sounded like he was playing the progression so:
 |  I  |  I/V  |  I  |  I  |
 | III | III | II |  II |
 |  I  |  I  |  II |  I  |
 |  I  |I/V |  I |  I  |
JT does a lot of Sam Collins' trick of harmonizing the melody note as though it is the root of the chord it is happening over, so that in the second line of the progression, the melody goes from an E note in the key of  C up to a G note and then lands on a D note for the last two bars of that line.  Normally that melody would be harmonized
 |  I  |  I  |  V  |  V  |,
but in this instance JT goes for the root chord of that E note followed by the root chord of the D note that the melody lands on.  He makes the choice of D even more striking by rocking back and forth between D major and D minor.
In the third bar of the third line, I think he just moves the C chord fingering the third fret of the first string up two frets to get the A melody note, which definitely would be harmonized with a IV chord normally.  I think in the first and fourth lines where the V chord would normally fall he just rocks his bass in the C chord down to the third fret of the sixth string without changing the fingering in the treble.  This one is really a piece of work!
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 23, 2006, 02:58:42 PM by Johnm »

Offline frankie

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2005, 01:04:20 AM »
That's an amazing one - definitely a good example of the type of harmony referred to in this thread.

Offline GhostRider

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2005, 10:53:48 AM »
John:

Thanks for the correction.

I did some more research. In the liner notes to the Funny Papa Smith vinal Yazoo album The author states that the chord changes in this tune were an example of FPS's musical ineptness, playing the wrong chords to get certain melody notes.

I have never thought that FPS was musically inept. I suspect he knew exactly what he was doing. Mind you he wasn't too hot at tuning.

Alex
« Last Edit: January 07, 2005, 01:15:49 PM by pyrochlore »

Offline Slack

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2005, 11:45:10 AM »
Quote
I have never though FPS was musically inept. I suspect he knew exactly what he was doing. Mind you he wasn't too hot at tuning.

I agree with you Alex that he knew exactly what he was doing and the tuning could have been the low-end guitars he was playing.  We take good setup for granted these days, but Sears and Robuck type guitars had all kinds of problems with them, including improper scale length and fret spacing.

cheers,
slack

Offline GhostRider

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #20 on: January 07, 2005, 01:12:07 PM »
Mr. John:

Agreeing with me, I knew it had to come. Hold that thought.

One down, one to go, now I just have to work on Unkie Bud.

Alex

Offline dj

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2005, 06:57:48 AM »
Quote
I agree with you Alex that he knew exactly what he was doing and the tuning could have been the low-end guitars he was playing.

Or it could have just been that Mr. Smith liked his guitar tuned that way.  I remember an article by David Evans in an early Blues Review Quarterly describing a visit to Ishmon Bracey in the 60s.  Evans asked Bracey if he still played, and when Bracey said he did, but only religious songs, Evans handed him a guitar which he considered perfectly in tune and which Bracey promptly fiddled with until it had that kind of "sour" (Evans's word, if I recall correctly) tuning that Bracey used on his  recordings.
   

Offline GhostRider

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2005, 04:22:11 PM »
DJ:

Hmmm, interesting. I hadn't thought of that. Thanks.

Alex

Offline Johnm

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2005, 02:47:33 PM »
Hi all,
I have been listening a lot recently to Sleepy John Estes and noticed that his song "Someday Baby Blues" is a 16-bar blues of a type previously not discussed in this thread.  John Estes later used the same form again for his musical "sequel", "New Someday Baby".  Lyrics and chords work out as follows in this archetype.  Note that all measures are four-beat measures, despite their uneven visual lengths.   Since Sleepy John phrases so far in front of the beat in this model, I will run the lyrics from the last four bars of the harmonica solo that precedes the first verse.

                                    I don't care how long you
|   I    |   I     |     I      |           I                        |
FORM BEGINS:
go       I don't care how long you stay      But that good kind
|  I   |              I                     |   I     |      I                  |
treatment   Bring you back home someday       Someday
|      IV    |              IV                    |    I    |   I         |
Baby       You ain't gonna worry  my mind       any-
|  I       |           I          |     I            |     I        |
more                                                I hate that
|   I      |    I                |     I           |     I          |

A couple of points about this performance:
   *  I can not recall another 16-bar archetype that is so monochromatic chordally.  Out of the 16-bar form, only two bars are devoted to the IV chord and the V chord is never played. 
   * "Someday Baby Blues" is a "Chorus" blues, though not like any other I've encountered.  It's refrain, "Someday, baby, you ain't gonna worry my mind anymore" arrives at the tail end of the eighth bar and takes about five bars to be sung.  It has a very stretched-out, attenuated feel, and the expression and variety that John Estes brings to his phrasing of it is really masterful.  It's as though it was designed to show off his singing, which is truly spectacular.  If anything, it is even more varied and expressive on "New Someday Baby", too.
   * The verse portion of the song has an unusual phrasing scheme, as well.  Sleepy John phrases very far in front of the beat so that he winds up with lyrics jammed closely into the weaker second and fourth bars of each four bar phrase, and often a single syllable or word landing on the downbeats of the stronger first and third measures.  In addition to having a great conversational feel, this phrasing scheme provides space for instrumental fills by either John, on guitar, or Hammie Nixon, on harmonica, in the tail end of the strong measures.
   *  Sleepy John was a very under-rated guitarist, I think.  He played this out of C position, standard tuning, his favorite playing position, and hearing the powerful way he moves the time along and the sneaky bends and fills he inserts from time to time impresses me all the more with repeated listenings.  C is a tough key to sound strong in, and to my taste, at least, his playing is some of the very strongest I've heard in C, right up there with Charley Patton's "Down The Dirt Road Blues", or "34 Blues".
   * Hammie Nixon's playing on this tune is also excellent; busy, yet appropriately so.  He most often plays the melody right under Sleepy John's singing of the verse, and then handles fills.  The final four bars are devoted to a harmonica signature lick that suggests resolution to a V chord that Sleepy John never picks up on.  Hammie's playing is also very under-rated, I think.  He had a spooky, closed-sounding tone that was quite distinctive.
If you haven't heard this tune, you may want to request it on the Juke.  It is a real beauty.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: January 23, 2006, 03:08:42 PM by Johnm »

Offline MTJ3

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #24 on: October 23, 2005, 05:26:15 PM »
Quote
I can not recall another 16-bar archetype that is so monochromatic chordally.  Out of the 16-bar form, only two bars are devoted to the IV chord and the V chord is never played.

Fascinating observation and great thread.  Kassie Jones, with a reference to which you started this thread, is just 2 bars of IV off "Someday Baby." 

This may have been dealt with elsewhere, but there are a number of "rag blues" (e.g., Blind Boy Fuller's "Baby You Got To Change Your Mind") in 16 bar form that follow generally this progression:

I-III7/VI7/II7-V7/I/
I-III7/VI7/II7-V7/I/
I/I7/IV/VIdim/
I-III7/VI7/II7-V7/I

III7 is sometimes omitted.

This may reflect the influence of popular music rather than any blues tradition or innovation per se.

Offline Rivers

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #25 on: January 22, 2006, 05:50:13 AM »
This thread's been dormant a while.

Rev. Gary Davis's Running To the Judgement in G is another 16 bar somwhat bluesy gospel tune, quite unusual and great fun to play. Structure is:

I I I I IV-IIm IIm IIm
I I I I V-IV I I

The last IIm implies the V chord nicely as the lick played over the top of it ends on a high D

Likewise one pass of Pure Religion is 16 bars but the doubled-up verses, same chords voiced differently, gives it a 32 bar feel.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 06:10:52 AM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #26 on: April 13, 2006, 09:03:35 AM »
Hi all,
I've been noticing 16-bar blues lately that I had not previously remarked upon.  One is Edward Thompson's "West Virginia Blues", another is Geeshie Wiley's "Skinny Leg Blues", which is included on Yazoo's "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of".  Elvie Thomas's "Motherless Child" is another, and to my taste, the fairest of the fair.  There's a thread that talks about 8-bar blues in which the solo switches to a 12-bar form, like Buddy Moss's "New Lovin' Blues".  Mance Lipscomb's version of "Rocks And Gravel" is a 12-bar form that switches to a 16-bar form for its solo.  Interesting!
All best,
Johnm

Offline GhostRider

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #27 on: December 31, 2007, 11:11:28 AM »
Hi:

An interesting 16-bar blues (well, sort of a blues) is "Bye Bye Baby Blues" by Little Hat Jones. I've played this one for a while but never really thought about the structure before. The form is of a type not yet mentioned. Little Hat playes the tune in Standard Tuning, G position.

I  / IV/  I  /I-I7

IV/ IV/V-V7/ I

 I / I / I / I

I  / IV/  I  / I

Alex

« Last Edit: December 31, 2007, 11:13:16 AM by GhostRider »

Offline zoner

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #28 on: December 31, 2007, 02:23:58 PM »
How 'bout K.C. Moan by the Memphis Jug Band?

Offline Johnm

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Re: 16-Bar Blues
« Reply #29 on: January 02, 2008, 04:46:12 PM »
Hi all,
I was listening to the new JSP set, "A Richer Tradition" and heard one that was new to me, Simmie Dooley and Pink Anderson's "C.C. & O Blues", on which Pink does some great playing in D, standard tuning.
All best,
Johnm

 


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