Pass Notes: The Blues

Programme Manager for Jazz and Popular Music, Flavio Li Vigni gives us his insight into the Blues, what constitutes the Blues and who can play the Blues. 

What is Blues music?

The Blues is a musical form and a musical genre that emerged, at the end of the 19th century, as a distinct African-American art form.  This music originated from work songs, folk tradition, black spirituals and the popular music of the time and was deeply rooted in the southern states of the U.S.

https://youtu.be/aivUXs68SyQ

Who should I listen to?

Whether you enjoy the music of Louis Armstrong or Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath or James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald or Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones or The Beatles, you are very likely to be listening to a version of the blues. The blues is a key building block of the popular music of the twentieth century.

What are the characteristic musical features of the blues?

The blues is a cyclic musical form characterised by a repeating structure and a repetitive chord progression. In its early days the blues form was not clearly defined and its form varied, but with the success of artists such as Bessie Smith, the use of the twelve-bar blues spread across America.  While the twelve-bar harmonic progression wasn’t a new formula, as it had been used for centuries, the innovative aspect was the introduction of the flattened third, flattened seventh, and even flattened fifth in the melody. Those notes are commonly known as the blues notes and  gave origin to what we now call the blues scale.

https://youtu.be/4s5FZBisaf8

Can anyone sing/ play the blues?

Of course everyone can play and sing the blues and maybe most people have done it already without realising.

What courses can I take to learn about the Blues?

According to the level you are at and the instrument you want to play, Morley offers a number of courses where you can learn to play blues or learn about the blues.

Further listening

https://youtu.be/c0_eRVroLqs

Programme Manager for Jazz and Popular Music, Flavio Li Vigni gives us his insight into the Blues, what constitutes the Blues and who can play the Blues.


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