“Didn’t Wake Up This Morning” … Get the Blues … Play the Blues … (workshop notes and links)

Here are the notes for my presentation on The Blues:

“Didn’t Wake Up This Morning” … Get the Blues … Play the Blues

Notes & Links

1. Intro — “Woke Up This Morning” was recorded on the album Down Home Bluesby blues musician Lightnin’ Hopkins recorded in 1964 and released on the Bluesville label.

2. Bessie Smith 1894 – 1937 “Reckless Blues” (with Louis Armstrong)

3. Robert Johnson 1911 – 1938 “Me and the Devil Blues”

4. Helen Humes with Count Basie & Lester Young (on clarinet) “Blues with Helen”

5. Characteristics of the Blues

  • The Blues tell a story, often in three 4-bar phrases (12 bar form).
  • Certain notes in a key are emphasized to create the Blues sound: b3, b5, b7
  • The harmony of a Blues progression begins on a I7 chord, moves to the IV chord in bar 5, and back to the I7 chord in bar 7. There is often a “turnaround” at the end of the 12-bar form.

6. Styles of Blues

  • New Orleans, Delta Blues, Chicago Blues, Kansas City Blues, Texas Blues, Country Blues, Blues-Rock, Gospel, Jazz
  • The Blues sound can be realized in several ways: blue notes, Blues scale, vocal melisma, outlining Blues chord changes
  • Not all music that sounds “bluesy” is the Blues.

7. Plain ‘ol Blues Harmony — “Hound Dog” Big Mama Thorton, 1952. During the vocal choruses, they play a 13-bar blues (extra bar at the end of the form).

8. Basic Jazz Blues harmony adds more chords.

9. Jimmy Rushing 1901 – 1972 “I Left My Baby” (minor Blues)

10. Billie Holiday 1915 – 1959 “Fine and Mellow”

11. Gospel — Sister Rosetta Tharpe “My Little Sparrow”

Sister Rosetta Tharpe uses “Vestapol” tuning to the key of Db major. The guitar is tuned: Db, Ab, Db, F, Ab, Db. This is not a Blues form, but uses elements of the blues sound.

12. Chicago Blues — Muddy Waters “I Got My Mojo Workin’”

13. Charlie Parker “Now’s The Time”

14. Ornette Coleman 1930 – 2015  — free jazz with a Blues melody —“Blues Connotation”

15. John Coltrane 1926 – 1967 — modal Blues — “Mr. Knight”

16. McCoy Tyner “Blues on the Corner” — Blues with modern harmonies

17. Kenny Dorham / Joe Henderson “Mamacita” — Jazz Boogaloo