The Blues

 

 

The Blues are the true facts of life expressed in words and song, inspiration, feeling, and understanding.


Willie Dixon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BLUES

 

The diagram below shows you the form of 12-bar blues. 

Each bar (or measure) contains 4 beats - those are the slashes.

The main 3 chords typically change in the same bar each time.

 

             
Bars123456789101112
Beats/  /  /  / /  /  /  / /  /  /  / /  /  /  / /  /  /  / /  /  /  / /  /  /  / /  /  /  / /  /  /  / /  /  /  / /  /  /  / /  /  /  /
ChordsI   IV I VIVI 

 

 

Here is a blues song that shows you the 3 chords used.

Sweet Home Chicago

 

12-bar blues form is used in country and rock songs also.  It's everywhere!!

Led Zeppelin

 

Now try some interactive composition!

Interactive Desktop Blues

Another blues loop

 

 

Blues Lyric Form

 

Line 1: 

Make a statement. 

We think of the blues as being sorrowful,

but a better way to think of it is a statement of conflict -

something that needs to be resolved

 

Example:

Woke up this mornin' with a hammer in my head

 

Line 2: 

Say it again

(sometimes with slight variation)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I woke up this mornin' with a hammer in my head

 

Line 3: 

This line develops or resolves the idea,

 sort of like a punchline

Important:  This line rhymes with the other two

 

 

 

 

Well, I see the best solution is to go straight back to bed.

 

 

Another example:

I'm gonna lay my head on some lonesome railroad line. (make a statement) "A"

I'm gonna lay my head on some lonesome railroad line. (say it again) "A"

And let that 5:15 train pacify my mind. (add a punchline and make sure the last word rhymes) "B"

 

This is sometimes referred to as AAB form

Here is an example of one verse from a BLUES CHICK

(Remember - your assignment requires 3 verses:  see your Course Outline)

OK, your turn.  For this assignment, you will compose your own blues song (no music, just words). 

For fun, if you'd like to try singing your song, click on the Desktop Blues again and sing along with the fellow playing the guitar -

he is playing correct 12-bar blues form and your lyrics should fit!

 

Note that you should be able to say your blues words with the music if you have written it properly.  It should flow (not have too many or too few words per line).  That's what the 'rhythm' refers to in the rubric below.

 

Here's how your assignment will be graded

 

Blues Lyrics Rubric

CriteriaPerformance Indicators
FailingIncompleteAcceptableGoodExcellent
Blues FormMissing or unacceptable formLess than 3 phrases per verse, incorrect blues form3 phrases in each verse, incorrect blues form3 phrases in each verse, form partially correct3 phrases in each verse, correct blues form
0 points35 points40 points45 points50 points
ContentNo versesOne verseTwo versesThree verses, but incompleteThree complete verses
0 points21 points24 points27 points30 points
Rhyme SchemeNo rhyme schemeIncorrect rhyme schemesIncorrect rhyme scheme in at least one verseOne or more close rhyme schemesExact rhyme scheme
0 points7 points8 points9 points 10 points
RhythmNo regard for rhythmInconsistent rhythmPartially consistent rhythmMostly consistent rhythmConsistent rhythm
0 points7 points8 points9 points10 points
Total Points0708090100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sounds like the blues are composed of feeling, finesse, and fear.
Billy Gibbons
 

 

Go ahead and play the blues if it'll make you happy.
Dan Castellaneta
 

There was one emotional outlet my people always had when they had the blues. That was singing.
Ethel Waters
 

It is from the blues that all that may be called American music derives it most distinctive characteristics. 

James Weldon Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

Created and maintained by Vicky V. Johnson