collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

I don't read music; it looks like dog droppings to me - Pinetop Perkins, in Faded Blues by Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Author Topic: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing  (Read 15501 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10911
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #30 on: March 14, 2007, 03:36:47 PM »
Hi all,
I realized the other day that there is a raggy Blues form that has appeared often enough over the years to be considered an archetype.  It generally works out to be 18 bars long, although the last two bars are a kind of Al Jolsonesque sort of flourish, like "I mean it, baby!"  A quick listen through Buddy Moss's three Document re-issues turned up five songs with this form:  "Daddy Don't Care", in C, "Can't Use You No More", in G,  "Tricks Ain't Walking No More", in C, "Too Dog Gone Jealous", in C, and "I'm Sitting Here Tonight", in G.  A similar listen through Volume 2 of the JSP Blind Boy Fuller recordings yielded 2 more songs of this type, "I Crave My Pigmeat", in G, and Baby, You Gotta Change Your Mind", in C. 
The form works as follows, with chords indicated for the key of G:

   |   I (G)    |    VI7 (E7)    | II7 (A7)/V7 (D7)  |    I (G)    |

   |   I (G)    |    VI7 (E7)    |     II7 (A7)   |    V7 (D7)  |

   |   I (G)    |     I7 (G7)     |    IV (C)     |  VIdim7 (Edim7)|

   |   I (G)    |     VI7 (E7)    | II7 (A7)/V7 (D7)  | I (G)/VI7 (E7)  |

   | II7 (A7)/V7 (D7) |    I (G)      |

Most often, the same line, e.g., "Pigmeat that's taken today, today, is something I do crave", is sung over the first, second and fourth four-bar phrase, with "I mean", or something like that, sung over the VI7 chord at the end of the fourth four-bar phrase, sending you into a  final re-iteration of "is something I do crave" over the last two bars of the form.  The only portion of the form that changes from verse to verse, lyrically is the third line, which also quite often goes into stop-time behind the vocal.
The portion of the form that seems most subject to different interpretation by different players is the chord chosen for the last bar of the third four-bar phrase, which in the songs I listened to was done variously as IV minor, flat VI, #IV, and I, flatIII, or VI dim7 (the last three are constructed with the same notes, but have a different note in the bass). 
I don't know if I have ever heard an old recording of a Country Blues musician playing this progression in any positions other than G or C in standard tuning, but both D and F in standard tuning would work out really well without too much difficulty and could be a way to carve out an original sound using a tried and true Blues progression to make something of your own.
All best,
Johnm 
« Last Edit: March 15, 2007, 09:31:35 AM by Johnm »

Offline Coyote Slim

  • Member
  • Posts: 268
    • coyoteslim.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #31 on: March 14, 2007, 08:43:44 PM »
John we must have some type of psychic connection because when you posted that I was listening to Blind Boy Fuller's "Baby You Got to Change Your Mind" and thinking about the structure.
Puttin' on my Carrhartts, I gotta work out in the field.

Coyote Slim's Youtube Channel

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10911
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #32 on: March 14, 2007, 10:34:55 PM »
That's cool, Slim.  It's a neat progression and very catchy, every time out of the box--a lot of fun to play, too.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Pan

  • Member
  • Posts: 1900
  • Howdy!
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #33 on: March 15, 2007, 01:06:00 PM »
Hi all

Blind Boy Fuller seems to have quite a few of these 18-bar rag things. One that I think is slightly different is "Piccolo Rag". The A -part is the 18-bar rag exactly as John describes , but the song has also an 8-bar bridge:

[| III7 | % | VI7 | % |

|  II7  |  % |  V7 | % |]

This is what has become to be known as the "rhythm bridge" among jazz players (since it appeared in  George Gershwins' "I Got Rhythm"), and I have seldom heard it played exactly like this in blues. Can you think of another CB song with this bridge? The only song that I can think of is Sonny Boy Williamsons IIs' postwar song "Peach Tree".

Fuller also scat sings during the bridge of Piccolo Rag, and plays the strings behind the nut (!), and generally creates quite a show! :D

I learned the song a long time ago from an old S. Grossman book, where it was noted in C. The recording however sounds in B flat. I originally thought Fuller was tuned down a whole-step, but I now have a sneaking suspicion that it might actually be played out of the G position capoed up to the 3rd fret. Any thoughts on this would be welcome!

Cheers

Pan

Edited to correct: as Mr. Mando and Uncle Bud pont out, the strings are being played behind the bridge, not the nut, during the break in the B-part.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2007, 04:39:39 PM by Pan »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10911
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #34 on: March 15, 2007, 01:36:56 PM »
Hi Pan,
That's a good find, "Piccolo Rag".  I listened to the recording and Fuller is indeed playing out of C position, sounding in B flat.  By glancing at the list of Fuller's keys/positions compiled by John Cowan in the Keys to The Highway section on the site, I was able to see that the song recorded by Fuller immediately prior to "Piccolo Rag" sounded a half-step lower than the position it was played in, and the two tunes following "Piccolo Rag" each sounded a full-step lower than the position they were played in, like "Piccolo Rag".  So, I guess, for whatever reason, Blind Boy Fuller ended up tuned a full step low in standard on that day in the studio.  Some musicians, like Furry Lewis and Robert Wilkins, did that quite a lot, but I didn't know that Fuller ever did it.
All best,
Johnm

Offline GhostRider

  • Member
  • Posts: 1270
  • That'll never happen no more!
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #35 on: March 15, 2007, 01:50:31 PM »
Hi:

I wouldn't be allowed to mention Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" would I?

Alex

Offline Pan

  • Member
  • Posts: 1900
  • Howdy!
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #36 on: March 15, 2007, 03:22:24 PM »
Hi John

Thanks for the clarification.

I had completely missed John C's excellent article on BBF guitar keys. I must remember to visit the Keys to the highways section more often!

Pan

Offline mr mando

  • Member
  • Posts: 254
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #37 on: March 16, 2007, 02:57:22 AM »

Can you think of another CB song with this bridge?

Fuller also scat sings during the bridge of Piccolo Rag, and plays the strings behind the nut (!), and generally creates quite a show!

Shake it, Baby by BBF has a similar bridge with the same structure. As for playing the strings behind the nut, I rather believe he plays them between the bridge and the tailpiece of his duolian in the case of Piccolo (and Shake it Baby).

Offline mr mando

  • Member
  • Posts: 254
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #38 on: March 16, 2007, 03:27:22 AM »
Great thread!
While I was reading thtough it, I noticed that there is a form that's not covered so far. It's a 12 bar structure, but not with a AAB (or AAA) form in the lyrics but with an ABAB form instead. The earliest example I can think of is Son House's "My Black Mama", the most famous is probably Robert Johnson's "Walking Blues". I guess Muddy Waters used the same form too. Maybe some of all you knowledgable folks can think of other examples.
Actually, this might be the precursor of what johnm calls chorus blues, as the first four bars are just as full of lyrics as in a "chorus blues". But then, from bar 5 onwards, there's no chorus but the two lines are repeated, with fills over the I chord. Below is verse 3 of Robert Johnson's "Walking Blues" as an example. I hope the phrasing of the vocal lines is more or less correct, I did this from memory, haven't played or sung this tune for years.

  People tell me       walkin' blues ain't bad   Worst old feeling   I most ever had  People
|            I          |              I               |            I           |              I                  |
 tell me          the old walkin' blues ain't bad                               well it's the
|           IV7        |             IV7            |            I           |              I                  | 
 worst old feeling,       Lord, I most ever had
|          V7          |            V7              |            I           |              I                  |


Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #39 on: March 16, 2007, 07:05:56 AM »

Can you think of another CB song with this bridge?

Fuller also scat sings during the bridge of Piccolo Rag, and plays the strings behind the nut (!), and generally creates quite a show!

Shake it, Baby by BBF has a similar bridge with the same structure. As for playing the strings behind the nut, I rather believe he plays them between the bridge and the tailpiece of his duolian in the case of Piccolo (and Shake it Baby).

I agree, with mr. mando. Fuller definitely does this trick behind the bridge. McTell does it too.

Offline Pan

  • Member
  • Posts: 1900
  • Howdy!
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #40 on: March 16, 2007, 07:46:01 AM »

Can you think of another CB song with this bridge?

Fuller also scat sings during the bridge of Piccolo Rag, and plays the strings behind the nut (!), and generally creates quite a show!

Shake it, Baby by BBF has a similar bridge with the same structure. As for playing the strings behind the nut, I rather believe he plays them between the bridge and the tailpiece of his duolian in the case of Piccolo (and Shake it Baby).

I agree, with mr. mando. Fuller definitely does this trick behind the bridge. McTell does it too.


Hey Mr. Mando and Uncle Bud. You are of course absolutely right! As you might have guessed I have a pin-bridge... :).

Pan

Offline Pan

  • Member
  • Posts: 1900
  • Howdy!
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #41 on: March 16, 2007, 08:31:50 AM »
I just remembered another form that has not yet been discussed here, if I?m not mistaken. On ?See See Rider? from  ?An Evening with Big Bill Broonzy?-LP (a 1956 live album in Copenhague), Broonzy sort of extends the AAB / 12 bar form into an  ?AAAB / 16? bars, by repeating the 2nd A-part (with IV and I chords) again, before moving to the B-part (with the V chord).

I don't know how to make the lyrics spacings stick, so I'll just have to content to write the chords and lyrics separately. Darn! Maybe I'll learn how to type one day.  >:(

See See Rider,see what you done done,
See See Rider,you see what you done done,
See, see rider,you see what you done done, you have
made me love you, now your man done come.

[| I   | I   | I   | I7    |

| IV   | IV | I   | I(7)  |

| IV   |IV  | I   |    I   |

| V(7)| IV | I   |  I    |]

I think this is a neat way to add a little element of surprise into the song structure, and I have occasionally tried it myself. :)

I wonder if you know other examples of this form?

The LP appears to be released as two CDs with additional material (the original LP is only from track 6 to the end of the 2nd CD!). You can just hear the first three ?A?s of the first chorus on the sound clip on: http://www.amazon.com/Evening-Big-Bill-Broonzy-Vol/dp/B0000022HH . Broonzy plays out of C position in standard tuning.

Pan

Edited to correct: what I'm describing here is just a standard 16-bar blues form; see Johnms' post below.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2007, 04:38:30 PM by Pan »

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10911
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #42 on: March 16, 2007, 09:42:19 AM »
Hi Pan,
The Broonzy "See See Rider" form sounds like a standard 16-bar blues like Lemon's "One Dime Blues" or "Wartime Blues".  Mance Lipscomb did "See See Rider" in the same fashion on his first Arhoolie record, but called it "Goin' To Lousiana".  It is cool when the movement to the IV chord is repeated.
All best,
Johnm

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10911
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #43 on: April 26, 2007, 12:21:01 AM »
Hi all,
I recently picked up a used copy of the "The Essential Bill Gaither", one of the two-CD sets put out by Document.  I have had little previous experience with Gaither's recordings, and it's been nice getting familiar with his sound.  One of the songs on the set particularly caught my attention, for it employs a phrasing scheme I've not previous encountered.  Though the lyric scheme is AAB and the form is metrically consistent, Gaithers runs his opening lines unusually long in a way I've never heard done before, as follows (all meaures have four beats):

I'm gonna quit

worryin', I'm gon' stop grievin', 'cause this bad luck will change some day.  I'm gonna quit
|           I                  |      IV                   |           I                       |          I             |
worryin', gonna stop grievin',  this bad luck will change some day
|           IV             |        IV        |         I                         |        I               |
   Though it's hard to walk in that straight and narrow way
|       V                                    |             V            |            I        |          I            |

"Bad Luck Child" is unusual for an AAB blues in that it allows so little time for an instrumental response at the tail end of the two opening lines.  In a 12-bar AAB form, the vocal lines are generally concluded around the end of the first beat in the third measure of each four-bar phrase.  "Bad Luck Child" runs all the way through the first beat of the fourth bar of the first two four-bar phrases.  This is rare enough that I think it would be difficult to figure out how the words were phrased without hearing the recording first.
As I said, I've never encountered this particular kind of phrasing before, but Gaither seems like a popularizer rather than an innovator, so it's likely that it appeared elsewhere first.  Is anybody aware of an earlier recording (most probably by Leroy Carr) that employed this phrasing scheme?  Thanks for any help locating such a song.
all best,
Johnm 
                         
« Last Edit: April 26, 2007, 12:23:13 AM by Johnm »

Offline MTJ3

  • Member
  • Posts: 164
  • Howdy!
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #44 on: April 26, 2007, 07:40:43 PM »
Johnm, If I understand you correctly, there are a number of what I have been calling, for lack of a better description or erudition or imagination on my part, "run on" 12 bar blues in the vocal mold of Gaither's "Bad Luck Child."  The only artist that occurs to me off the top of my head who recorded these is Big Maceo (and you are absolutely right to think that Gaither, steeped in Carr as he was, might have picked it up from one of Leroy's recordings, but I can't recall any such Carr recordings).  In fact, Maceo recorded one such "run on" 12 bar blues in 1945 (in fact, I do recall that he recorded several), entitled "Kid Man Blues," in which he plays the V chord in the second measure, which gives you a real head fake because you expect to hear an 8 bar blues, but it flows on into 12 bars.  Are you aware of those changes in any other songs?  I certainly can't think of any.  In any case, I'll check to see if I have any notes on this (I think I do, but finding them is another thing) and let you know.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2007, 10:33:35 PM by MTJ3 »

 


SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal