Baby blues

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My impression is that this kid has grasped the pattern of how vocals typically fit into the 12-bar blues form — when I have a spare hour, I'll compare his distribution of vocal syllables to those of some masters of the genre.


  1. Joe said,

    September 18, 2014 @ 12:23 pm

    The incipient oral formula, in Homeric parlance.

  2. Rod Johnson said,

    September 18, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

    Is there a link here I'm not seeing? I only see the Otis Spann one.

  3. Rod Johnson said,

    September 18, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

    Oops, AdBlock was blocking it, fixed now.

  4. Bill Benzon said,

    September 19, 2014 @ 6:27 am

    He's got the basic idea, but it needs some refinement. The guitar does roughly a 2-bar intro and the kid comes inabout a beat and a half or two beats in anticipation of the first bar of the chorus. That's fine, that's standard, though by no means obligatory. The standard blues has 12 bars grouped 4, 4, and 4, which important harmonic changes at the beginning of each 4-bar group. In traditional blues the vocal lines not only are cut to those 4-bar phrases, but they may take a call and response pattern: 2 bars call, 2 bars response (& the response may be purely instrumental). The kid is clearly aware of all that, but doesn't quite follow it. Either he doesn't quite have it, or he's a young master and is playing around with the form.

    For example, in the first chorus, he misses the vocals that should come on bars 5 and 6. He's silent for those two bars, plays a harmonica note at the beginning of 7 and a short vocal phrase in 8. Then he gets back on track for the climax on bar nine. And, though he's not really singing specific pitches, he does know that there's some kind of important change at bar 9 and you can hear it in his voice, which is a bit higher at that point.

  5. deb kirsch said,

    September 19, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

    I like it! Though it could use a bit more harmonica, for my taste. I'd love to hear him again in about 12-14 years. How 'bout it, Dad?

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