collapse

* Member Info

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

* Like Us on Facebook

Arrest me for murder and I ain't harmed a man. Arrest me for forgery, I can't even sign my name - Furry Lewis, Judge Boushay Blues

Author Topic: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing  (Read 15399 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline banjochris

  • Member
  • Posts: 2069
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #60 on: January 19, 2012, 08:49:27 AM »
And this has nothing to do with the form of it, but the early Western swing group the Light Crust Doughboys used a version of "Eagle Ridin' Papa" for their theme song, with the chorus "We're the Light Crust Doughboys from Burrus Mill!" -- there's a recording of it on that old Columbia Roots N' Blues Retrospective box set.
Chris

Offline uncle bud

  • Administrator
  • Member
  • Posts: 8314
  • Rank amateur
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #61 on: January 20, 2012, 09:00:19 AM »

It seems most likely that the composition was Georgia Tom's (Thomas Dorsey's).

Yes, and Georgia Tom recorded it the year before in 1929 with a different guitar player known only as "Jones ?" to B&GR and the discographical info on Georgia Tom Vol 1. Anyone know if he's since been identified? The session was in Richmond, Indiana, not Chicago like the majority of Georgia Tom's early recordings found on Vol 1. There is a later Richmond session in 1930 that has Scrapper Blackwell on guitar.

Quote
I suspect that there are more of these 32-bar Pop Blues with refrains out there. 

Georgia Tom liked it, since the song recorded right after "Eagle Ridin' Papa" on that July 1929 session, "Rollin' Mill Stomp", uses the same form (though not the nifty flat VI). Attached for reference.

[attachment deleted by admin]

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10825
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #62 on: January 20, 2012, 09:44:37 AM »
Hi all,
Thanks very much for attaching that "Rolling Mill Stomp", uncle bud.  Ask and ye shall find, I guess! 

It is interesting that while "Rolling Mill Stomp" is definitely a Pop Blues 32-bar with refrain, it does include new and different structural wrinkles.  Instead of being AABA in its form, it is more like AAB1B2, since the final 8-bar phrase is a repetition of the third 8-bar phrase, but with a different ending. 

Lyrically, the song is a different model, too.  The B sections operate as a chorus, repeating intact with every pass through the form, whereas the refrain in the A parts changes every time you pass through the form.

Looking at the ease with which Tomas Dorsey handled both the compositional and lyric materials of the blues, it's not surprising how expertly he adjusted to the similar demands of Gospel Music, which he moved on to after retiring from blues playing.
All best,
John

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10825
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #63 on: October 03, 2012, 06:25:13 PM »
Hi all,
Every once in a while, I realize that a song I've known for some time employs a different phrasing archetype than any I've previously encountered.  One song that falls into this category is John Hurt's "Monday Morning Blues".  It is a 12-bar blues (though with two six-beat measures in the last four-bar phrase), and the way its verses work is something I've not seen before.  Whereas many or most 12-bar blues use an AAB phrasing of the lyric, for "Monday Morning Blues", John Hurt uses a sort of truncated version of the A lyric idea over each of the first two four-bar phrases; the truncated A idea is short, and takes only one bar to elapse.  For the third four-bar phrase, John Hurt sings the A lyric idea in full.  It works out like so, assuming four beats per measure unless otherwise indicated.  Note too, that "Monday Morning Blues" is one of those blues in which the first two four-bar phrases start on the IV chord, so it has that additional wrinkle.

I woke up this morning                                                                              I woke
          |        IV              |           IV             |            I             |           I                 |
           up this morning                                                                               I woke
          |        IV              |           IV             |            I              |          I                  |
           up this morning with the Monday morning blues 
          |       V (6 beats)                          |  I (6 beats)     |         I           |        I            |

All of the subsequent verses conform to this phrasing model exactly.  Perhaps one reason the song has such an epic quality in the narrative sense is that it takes so long to get where it is going; instead of having a neat little tension/resolution pay-off in each verse as in the AAB verse format, "Monday Morning Blues" requires an entire verse just to complete the A idea in the verse.  Much credit to John Hurt for coming up with this original approach.  It's a neat idea, and plays out particularly well in the playing and singing of the song.

All best,
Johnm
 

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 6942
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #64 on: October 03, 2012, 08:44:01 PM »
You have a knack of landing on things I've half-thought for ages but have been unable to articulate, Johnm.

Offline frailer24

  • Member
  • Posts: 337
  • Good Mornin', Judge
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #65 on: October 03, 2012, 08:48:10 PM »
I find that the one-chord "drone" blues a la Charlie Patton's "Mississippi Bo Weavil" is extremely odd in regards to phrasing. I'd outline an example myself if I was any good at such a thing. P.S. I also find one chord numbers a bit more challenging in spite of apparent simplicity.
That's all she wrote Mabel!

Offline colm kill paul

  • Member
  • Posts: 139
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #66 on: October 04, 2012, 12:51:09 AM »
Quote
Perhaps one reason the song has such an epic quality in the narrative sense is that it takes so long to get where it is going; instead of having a neat little tension/resolution pay-off in each verse as in the AAB verse format, "Monday Morning Blues" requires an entire verse just to complete the A idea in the verse.
"True wit is nature to advantage dressed,

What oft was thought but ne'er so well expressed".

John thanks for sharing this insight. It is inspiring!

Colm



Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10825
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #67 on: February 27, 2013, 10:38:36 PM »
Hi all,
I realized recently that in two of John Hurt's songs, he begins the song with a full pick-up measure.  This is quite unusual--there are many, many songs which begin with one or two pick-up beats leading into the downbeat of the form, but to have a full measure of pick-up is something I can't remember having encountered very often.
The two songs are "Coffee Blues" and "Spike Driver's Blues".  "Coffee Blues" is an 8-bar blues, and is usually shown when transcribed like so:

   |    A    |    D    |    D    |    A    |

   |    A    |    E    |    E     |    A    |

When you think of the lyrics, though, in the opening line, "I got to go to Memphis, from there to Leland . . ..", the downbeat of the form falls on the first syllable of "Memphis", which coincides with the arrival of the IV chord, D.  Re-analyzed in this light, the form looks much more regular:

   |    D    |    D    |    A    |    A    |

   |    E    |    E    |    A    |    A    |
In this phrasing set-up, the last bar of the form is used to provide the vocal pick-ups for the next verse.

Similarly, the form of "Spike Driver's Blues" would normally be shown like so.  It is a 10-bar blues (not many of those out there!).

    |    G    |    G    |    G    |    C bass |

    |  C bass |   G    |    G7  |   G7      |

    |    G     |     G     |

If you think of the opening verse, though, "This is the hammer that killed John Henry . . . . ", the downbeat of the form coincides with the first syllable of "hammer", which is the downbeat of what has been shown as the second measure above.  Re-adjusting the form to reflect that, we end up with the following:

   |    G    |    G    |    C bass |  C bass  |

   |    G    |   G7   |    G7    |    G    |

    |    G    |    G    |

As in "Coffee Blues", the final measure of the form supplies the rhythmic space for the pick-ups to the next verse.  It would be interesting to see if this phrasing method of using an entire measure to provide the pick-ups for the next verse occurs elsewhere, either in other John Hurt songs or songs by other musicians.  People have a way sometimes of thinking of John Hurt's music as being simple or perhaps even obvious.  The more I study it, the more I encounter things I've not run into elsewhere.  He really had his own way of hearing, singing and playing.
All best,
Johnm

 

Offline Laura

  • Member
  • Posts: 234
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #68 on: February 28, 2013, 03:42:34 AM »
That's really interesting, John.  I've had a go at both those songs recently, which when written down do appear fairly simple at first but on listening to the recordings there is so much more going on.  In particular I've had problems with Spike Driver's Blues in getting that first line to fit in with what I'm playing.

I wonder if he also does this on "If you don't want me"?

Offline colm kill paul

  • Member
  • Posts: 139
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #69 on: February 28, 2013, 09:46:31 AM »
Quote
People have a way sometimes of thinking of John Hurt's music as being simple or perhaps even obvious.  The more I study it, the more I encounter things I've not run into elsewhere.  He really had his own way of hearing, singing and playing.

Absolutely true John and may I take this opportunity to thank you for "decoding" the playing of MJH so that it's detail is made plain for mere mortals like me."Thank you John Miller!"

Colm

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10825
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #70 on: December 31, 2019, 10:32:45 AM »
Hi all,
Harry recently posted a performance by Tampa Red, joined by Black Bob on piano, of "Crazy With The Blues", over in the Tampa Red Lyrics thread at https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=1824.msg107350#msg107350 . I was interested to discover, in listening to the song, a blues structure that I had never encountered before, and one that works out so beautifully.  In the first eight bars, the song sounds like it is going to be a cover of "Sitting On Top of The World" or Big Maceo's "Worried Life Blues", utilizing the following progression:

   |    I    |   I7    |   IV    |   IVm  |
 
   |   I   |   V7   |  I  IV  |  I  I7  |

The song then pulls a surprise move, going to a bridge, landing on a strong IV7 chord, and continuing for an additional eight bars, like so:

   |   IV7  |   IV7  |    I    |    I    |

   |    V7  |   V7   |  I   IV  |  I  V7  |

So "Crazy With The Blues" ends up being a 16-bar blues unlike any other I've ever encountered.  The form works so well I'm surprised it hasn't been utilized more.  It must be said, too, that Tampa Red's singing and playing on this song are stellar--I can't imagine how they could be better, and Black Bob's time is so heavy, with such a deep backbeat that it is really a treat.  I think this song is over-ripe for rediscovery and performance in a variety of instrumental treatments.  It's always exciting to find a new variation on the form that works so well.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: March 10, 2020, 09:49:57 AM by Johnm »

Offline catyron

  • Member
  • Posts: 25
    • Blues Lyrics and Hoodoo
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #71 on: January 09, 2020, 12:01:44 AM »
Thanks for turning me on to that. I have never heard another song with that structure. It starts like "Sitting On Top of the world," but the IV7 opens a path to 8 more bars that gives it a kind of "hillbilly-meets-W.C.-Handy" flavour. Fascinating.

Offline harry

  • Member
  • Posts: 692
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #72 on: February 26, 2020, 06:35:46 PM »
On Tampa Red's "Crazy With The Blues" isn't it the I chord instead of the V7 in bar 5?

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10825
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #73 on: March 10, 2020, 09:50:36 AM »
Right you are, Harry.  I've made the change.
All best,
Johnm

Online Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 10825
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Blues Forms and Vocal Phrasing
« Reply #74 on: March 16, 2020, 09:14:47 AM »
Hi all,
Pink Anderson's "Sugar Babe", which he recorded playing out of E position in standard tuning tuned about a step low, employs a 16-bar form that I've not encountered elsewhere.  Here is Pink's performance of the song:



The song is very close to being a one-chord number, which would be very unusual for a player from Pink's part of the world.  The progression, as Pink played it, worked like so in the first verse accompaniment:

   |  Baug  E   |     E      |     E     |     E     |
   
   |  Baug  E   | Baug  E  |     E     |     E     |

   |  E   Baug  |     E       |     E     |     E     |

   |       E      |      E       |     E     |      E     |

In his verse two accompaniment, Pink varied the progression like so, shifting where the Baug chord and E chord go in the first two bars of the first three 4-bar phrases, but not otherwise changing the progression or adding any other chords.

   |  Baug  E   |     E     |     E     |     E     |

   |  Baug  E   |     E     |     E     |     E     |

   |  Baug  E   |     E     |     E     |     E     |

   |       E       |     E     |     E     |     E     |

In terms of playing the song, the shift from B augmented and E is simplicity itself, and makes for a very quiet left hand.  With the E played as a partial, fretted 0-X-2-1-0-0, using the second finger to fret the fourth string and the index finger to fret the third string, the B augmented is played simply by moving each of those fingers one string toward the bass, while keeping them on the same frets, so that you end up with X-2-1-0-0-0 for the B augmented chord.
Pink used this B augmented fingering and sound in a number of his other songs that he played out of E position in standard tuning, but it's not a sound that I can recall hearing in other East Coast players who were contemporaries of Pink, like Buddy Moss, Blind Boy Fuller, or even Rev. Davis.  What seems particularly interesting about "Sugar Babe" is that, despite never going to a IV7 chord or a V7 chord, it still sounds like a blues, so it's not really necessary to conform to one of the common blues forms for a piece to be heard and felt as a blues.
All best,
Johnm   

 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2020, SimplePortal