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Author Topic: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords  (Read 39888 times)

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Offline a2tom

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #30 on: May 07, 2005, 06:06:20 AM »
BTW, I learned and have been working on Bill Williams Pocahontas stimulated by JohnM's listing it on this thread - thanks there too!  Great and really fun little tune to play, not too hard really, although it is a workout on the pinky picking up the bass notes out of the Am chord position (that's the way I've been doing it, and finding my pinky lacking some strength there...).

tom

Online Johnm

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #31 on: September 15, 2005, 11:52:21 AM »
Hi all,
The mention of Hacksaw Harney over on the guitar duet thread made me check out his CD "Sweet Man" again.  The title cut is played in A minor, so it would fall into this category.
All best,
Johnm

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2006, 10:56:38 PM »
Hi all,
I was thinking about an unusual song that falls into this category:  Bo Carter's song "Some Day", from 1938.  Bo plays it out of C in standard tuning.  The song is in two alternating 12-bar sections, and is the only blues I have encountered with such a structure.  Bo never really takes a solo on this one, though he's playing plenty of nifty runs.  Rather he just keeps going back and forth between the two parts.  The first 12-bar section is a recognizably conventional 12-bar blues form, like so:

|      I         |       V7        |       I         |      I      |

|     IV        |      IVm7      |       I         |      I      |

|     V7       |   IV-IVm7     |       I         |      I      |

One slightly unusual touch that Bo gives to this first section is that he voices his I chord, C, with its fifth, G, in the bass.  This was the preferred C voicing for Elizabeth Cotten, and Rev. Davis used it too, "Cocaine".

The second 12-bar section in "Some Day" is the odd one.  In it, Bo switches to the relative minor of C major, A Minor, and rocks back and forth between the V7 of A minor, E7, and A minor, like so.

|      V7     |    V7        |      Im7       |       Im7    |

|      V7     |    V7        |      Im7       |       Im7    |

|      V7     |    V7        |      Im7       |       Im7    |

The tonality of this section is made really ambiguous by the runs that Bo plays over the A minor chord, for he never really fingers an A minor chord.  He just plays a string of runs that are like C runs with an A note in the bass.  Bo's sound on this is so different from what you usually hear, and so original that it's hard even to make a guess as to who his models may have been for this harmonic concept.  Perhaps it is all his own.

This is a really cool and unusual song that is never performed and that would not be hard to figure out by ear, since the re-issued versions are crystal clear.  When I hear Bo's more Pop-sounding material I sometimes wonder if he missed his calling on Tin Pan Alley.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2006, 05:39:01 AM »
More Rev. Gary tunes, Keep Your Lamps Trimmed & Burning is an Em opus of course. Running to The Judgement is a monotonic bass G song and moves from the IV (C) to A minor for one and a half very bluesy bars. It's a 16 bar form so I also added it to that thread.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 05:51:28 AM by Rivers »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2006, 07:24:25 AM »
Hey, John M, I have been listening with a keen ear to Some Day, since the Bo Carter CD with your liner notes was one of a few CDs I brought with me on this trip. Thanks for the refinement of your description, giving more detail than the CD notes. This is definitely on my "must learn" short list.
All for now.
John C.
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Offline MTJ3

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #35 on: March 06, 2006, 05:19:03 PM »
I don't mean even to get anywhere near starting a discussion of Walter Davis's harmony, but his post-War "You Are The One I Love" is an 8 bar blues (well, sort of 8 bars--it is highly irregular metrically) in a minor key.  It is purely Im, with the exception of the V7 in the 6th (sort of) measure. "The Only Woman," which he recorded in 1941, also starts out with "St. James Infirmary" changes and morphs into a 12 bar blues.

Online Johnm

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #36 on: March 06, 2006, 06:41:53 PM »
Hi MTJ3,
Thanks for mentioning Walter Davis.  I particularly admire his music and his harmonic sense was special in every way.  Really, I think he deserves his own thread (and a good deal more study on my part, before starting such a thread).  Oddly enough, I think a lot of what he was doing was trying to sound like Leroy Carr (pianistically), but his unusual instincts kept him distinctively his own man.  "Sloppy Drunk Again", "I Can't See Your Face"--so many wonderful songs and performances.
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #37 on: July 06, 2006, 08:53:05 AM »
Another one to add: the Memphis Jug Band's "Fourth Street Mess Around". Unusual form in this one which I'm not going to analyze now, 'cause my guitar's in Spanish, but give it a listen.

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #38 on: November 07, 2006, 11:25:27 PM »
Hi all,
There were a few complicated raggy tunes recorded by Leecan & Cooksey that had minor sections.  "Blue Harmonica" starts out with a tour de force flat-picked intro by Bobby Leecan in A minor, modulates to C for Robert Cooksey's harmonica entrance and concludes with a modulation to F for the final section of the tune.  "Macon Georgia Cut-Out" similarly starts in E minor and modulates to G major.  Finally, "Cold Morning Shout", which was recorded with a line-up featuring Robert Cooksey on harmonica, Bobby Leecan on tenor banjo and Alfred Martin on guitar, starts in A minor and modulates to C major.  If you were at PT two years ago, you may have been fortunate enough to see Del Rey and Steve James perform their version of this tune, for which Del has created an amazing ukulele lead part.  Del and Steve have the piece worked out beautifully.  Those of you who particularly favor a sophisticated raggy sort of blues owe it to yourselves to check out the music of Leecan & Cooksey.  Whew, were they great!
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #39 on: November 17, 2006, 11:14:04 AM »
Another one with minor chords. Sylvester Weaver's What Makes a Man Blue starts out in what sounds like Am (no guitar handy) with an intro 8 bar verse, then goes into C major and a standard 12 bar AAB form.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #40 on: November 18, 2006, 08:02:05 AM »
I just noticed another Rev. Davis E minor gospel blues. The Angels' Message To Me (on Early Recordings) incorporates a lot of the elements of Death Don't Have No Mercy and Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning. Since the latter two were not recorded back then it's interesting to compare.

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #41 on: July 04, 2007, 03:44:43 PM »
Hi all,
I recently found another tune with minor chords in JSP's "The Paramount Masters" set.  The song is "Come On In (Ain't Nobody Here But Me)", and it is performed by Harum Scarums, which consists of Bill Broonzy on guitar, Georgia Tom on piano and vocals and Mozelle Alderson on vocals.
The song has an unusual 16-bar raggy form, like so, opening with an 8-bar break in minor.  (Broonzy is finger-picking out of A minor and C in standard tuning, and I didn't check the pitch--he may be capoed around the third fret.)

   |     Am     |     Am     |     Am     |     Am     |

   |     Am     |     Am     |     Am     |     Am     |

   |     A       |       A      |       D     |       D      |

   |     C       |       G      |       C     |       C       |

The song could work well as a solo piece or in a string band setting like the Mississippi Sheiks, too.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #42 on: December 09, 2007, 06:59:18 PM »
St Louis Blues was one we missed. The A part is a 12 bar major sequence I-IV-I-I  IV-IV-I-I  V-IV-I-I, usually in the key of E on guitar. In part B it modulates to a 16 bar form with the root minor Im-Im-V-V  Im-Im-I/II/V (x2), then reverts to the major in the A part. Very effective use of chords and forms by W.C. Handy I always think.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2007, 07:03:04 PM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #43 on: January 25, 2008, 09:05:51 PM »
Hi all,
I recently found another tune with minor chords in JSP's "The Paramount Masters" set.  The song is "Come On In (Ain't Nobody Here But Me)", and it is performed by Harum Scarums, which consists of Bill Broonzy on guitar, Georgia Tom on piano and vocals and Mozelle Alderson on vocals.
The song has an unusual 16-bar raggy form, like so, opening with an 8-bar break in minor.  (Broonzy is finger-picking out of A minor and C in standard tuning, and I didn't check the pitch--he may be capoed around the third fret.)

   |     Am     |     Am     |     Am     |     Am     |

   |     Am     |     Am     |     Am     |     Am     |

   |     A       |       A      |       D     |       D      |

   |     C       |       G      |       C     |       C       |

The song could work well as a solo piece or in a string band setting like the Mississippi Sheiks, too.
All best,
Johnm

Hah, I was just going to post about this song and find John beat me to it ages ago. Dave's question about the Famous Hokum Boys led me to it, as a very similar (but I think different version) is on Vol 1 of the Famous Hokum Boys on Wolf. The sound is atrocious and this version on the Paramount Masters is much better and the same arrangement.

Is this the first song to use the lyric "I'm drunk and disorderly and I don't care/If you want to you can pull off your underwear"?

BTW, another minor version, which sticks to minor right through the form, is delivered by Washboard Sam.

And BTW, Washboard Sam is just great IMO. I've been enjoying him immensely lately...
« Last Edit: January 25, 2008, 09:10:12 PM by andrew »

Offline dj

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #44 on: January 28, 2008, 01:53:25 PM »
Jimmie Gordon's "L & N Blues", recorded June 4 1940 in Chicago, is a standard 12 bar blues in g minor with all minor chords.  The song features some nice alto sax from Buster Bennett and absolutely lovely piano playing from Sammy Price.  The song has the ring of an older piece.  Does anyone know if it's taken from Clara Smith's 1925 recording of the same name?  Walter Davis and Bill Gaither also each recorded an "L & N Blues", but these are unrelated lyrically and in major keys.

 


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