Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blues on a Saturday: Bessie Smith "St. Louis Blues"

Some interesting tidbits from wikipedia on this great tune by W. C. Handy

At the time of his death in 1958, Handy was earning royalties upwards of US$25,000 annually for the song. The original published sheet music is available online at the United States Library of Congress in a searchable database of African American music from Brown University.[4]

The form is unusual in that the verses are the now familiar standard twelve bar blues in common time with three lines of lyrics, the first two lines repeated, but it also has a 16-bar bridge written in the habanera rhythm, popularly called the "Spanish Tinge", and identified by Handy as tango[5] Handy's tango-like rhythm is notated as a dotted quarter note, followed by an eighth, and two quarter notes, with no slurs or ties, and is seen in the introduction as well as the sixteen-measure bridge.[6]

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