The Blues

Dear Reader:

I made this multi-genre project as a way to introduce one of my favorite forms of music to the absolute beginner. As being a form of a website, I followed standard web design rules and standards throughout the project. I wrote this series of works with the assumption that my audience has prior knowledge of musical notation and composition. I do wish I would touch more on the style of jazz and the blues, but with the time I had, I decided the best way to explain the blues is by really hitting home the message of: "anything goes."

RECIPE

The Blues

Ready in 0 minutes....

...if you have a group of people that already understand the basics of jazz and improvisation. Otherwise, the time will vary. Time would have to account for writing out parts for inexperienced musicians, and possibly teaching the style of jazz and the blues.

Serves 7.6 billion people

The blues is part of the universal language -- music. The universality of the blues allows for any number of people to be served. I gave the population for the world since that would be the maximum number of people who can be served.

Calories per serving: -500

This is a rough estimate. Depending on whether you are an active performer, you can burn a lot of calories from moving around and playing your instrument. As a spectator, you may be able to burn lots of calories from dance.

Ingredients

  • An A section
    • 12 bars in length
    • Repeated if necessary with soloists
    • Recognizable melody
    • Follows a conventional blues progression
  • A B section
    • Either 8 or 12 bars in length
    • Melody that contrasts with the melody from the A section
    • Chord progression that is mainly 2 or 3 chords repeated in some manner
    • Either resolves to the A section or is the resolution to the A section

Preparation

  • Swing. It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).
  • Know the roadmap. Reviewing the roadmap before starting the song with the band can keep everyone together and confident -- resulting in better playing.
  • Have proper instrumentation. The blues relies on a drum set, piano, and bass (either upright or electric). Once these three instruments are covered, any other instruments may be added.

Tips

  • Practice. If you are a beginner, practicing balance and intonation is highly recommended, otherwise practice soloing will help everyone improve their solos.
  • Know the blues scales. The blues scale can help transform your solo to something that sounds bluesy.
A Section

This is the A section. This is where the tone of the entire song is set and where main melody is established. The chord progression is most commonly a variation of the 12 bar blues. The example here is one of the simplest and easiest 12 bar blues written in chord degree notation. From here, this tune can be played in any key.

B Section

This is the B section. This is where tension builds in the song. Usually the theme and mood change, and chords have no resolution. The A section is where the B section leads back to.

The song usually begins with the last 4 bars of the A or B section. The end of the song usually ends with the last 4 bars of the A section.

Endnotes:

  1. I included this peice because I really felt like I was able to provide an audience with exactly what one needs to actually create the blues

  2. This is a piece that aims to look and feel like an actual tutorial on some jazz website

  3. The composition shown was something that I arranged myself after playing it in the UW Honors Jazz band, with a guest artist being Marquis Hill himself. The peice was so simple yet so catchy that I couldn't help but try to write it myself, for a jazz combo that I had going.

  4. This video is the performance of the composition shown in piece 3. I had given the music to members of the combo only the day beforehand. We then practiced the piece together 30 minutes before we performed.