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Bangin' Blues in the 1920s

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S: Bangin' Blues in the 1920s. By David Amiel. Fats Waller

FC: Bangin' Blues in the 1920s By: David Amiel, Fats Waller

1: Bing Crosby | "Brother, Can you spare a Dime?" | An instant 1920's Hit.

2: Blues Singers come in all shapes and sizes | ... And Ages.

3: Sample Blues Albums | ... From the 1900's

4: The Following Pages will be... Bangin' Blues in the 1920's An Essay By David Amiel Fats Waller

5: Before you completely understand the amazing and wondrous aspects of blues, you first must establish what blues music is. Blues songs actually started as work songs that slaves sang during the 1900s. When they were first sung by whites, it seemed to be a combination of traditions (Downey, Harvey, Katzman, Markowitz, and Mayer 89). "American troops brought the blues home with them following the first world war" (Baker). This type of music developed into songs that were sung by whites and recognized in the north in the 1920s. When the blues started, they were singing about sad things, then when the Great Depression hit, the songs became that much more emotional.

6: Blues tunes first became popular around 1914. The composer W. C. Handy was held responsible for the blue's popularity ("Music from the Era"). W. C. Handy turned the work songs of slaves into the first blues songs (Downey, Harvey, Katzman, Markowitz, and Mayer 89). Later, during the 1920s, the blues was considered a nationwide craze! Blues singers had thriving careers in the Roaring 20s. Then, with the stock market crash, the country fell into a "Great Depression" ("Music from the Era"). When the blues first began, composers found it difficult to place the notes for blues music on the standard music staff. So, they designed a scale just for blues. Miraculously, the scale was named the Blues Scale. In fact, the notes in blues tunes are the characteristic that seems to stand out the most (Baker). The blues scale was only different from the standard music staff because of the subnote steps when singers wanted to emphasize a note ("Blues Scale").

7: "Blues lyrics contain some of the most fantastically ... autobiographical" components to it (Baker). That means that the lyrics of blues songs tend to revel personal sorrows or financial issues. Blues seemed like a way for people to vent out their personal feelings. People told about the hardships that they faced at their homes. If you listened closely, you could hear their personal life was intertwined with the moving melody of the song. Blues songs also told about the depressing factors of losing a job, being starved, having no money, or grieving a loss. Blues music was what some called, "Complaining with a tune" ("Music From the Era"). W. C. Handy was most famous for the birth of the blues. He sang two hit songs. His first song, sang in 1912, was called "Memphis Blues". Then in 1914, "St. Louis Blues" was an instant success. Another popular artist of the 1920s, who also sang many hits, was the famous B. B. King. "Big Boy Aurthur", Wyonnie Harris, and Thorton sang such impressive songs, that Elvis Presley remade some of their hits ("Music from the Era").

8: A famous song originally by Bing Crosby was called, "Brother, Can you spare a dime?" This wonderful song was first recorded by Bing Crosby. Then, 2 days later, Rudy Vallee remixed this song, and attracted popularity to the blues for the coming years of the Great Depression. This touching song reflected the Veterans from the first World War that came back from the war and ended up jobless ("Music from the Era").

9: As you can imagine, the blues has filled the hard earned hearts of many. The tradition of blues has been going on since W. C. Handy mixed traditions of the black work songs in 1914. The tradition will continue long into our future. Even during and all through the Great Depression, people found themselves tapping their feet to the tunes of blues. The next time you listen to a blues song see if you can identify the special scale behind all of the songs. I hope that this blue-tastical journey has helped you realize the tradition and nature that you will find nowhere else but in the flowing melody of the blues.

10: A Photo Recap

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  • By: David A.
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  • Title: Bangin' Blues in the 1920s
  • Fats Waller
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  • Published: about 8 years ago