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Effective: Summer 2013

Grade Type: Letter Grade, the student may select Pass/No Pass
Not Repeatable.
FHGE: Humanities Transferable: CSU/UC
4 hours lecture, 1 hour laboratory. (60 hours total per quarter)

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Description -
The History of the Blues is a research based course that examines the geographical regions, social influences, technological innovations, and musical styles within the blues form. It is about the dissemination and popularization of the blues, the basic song form of African American origin that is marked by flatted "blue" notes. The course will cover the development of the blues in the United States throughout the 20th century. Emphasis will be on the creation of the 12 bar blues, its evolution into jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and its impact on social issues.

Course Objectives -
The student will be able to:
  1. Identify a blues scale and write out a basic 12 bar blues progression.
  2. Describe a typical AAB blues lyric phrase structure, a three line stanza with the second line repeating the first.
  3. Identify major performers and instrumentalists of various blues styles (i.e. Classic Female Blues, Delta Blues, Chicago blues, etc.)
  4. Identify typical instrumentation of the blues genre according to geographic location and decade.
  5. Identify early record labels and producers of blues music.
  6. Identify the parallel development of blues and technology from the evolution of the phonograph to present day innovations.
  7. Identify blues idioms that were significant in the development of rhythm and blues.
  8. Explore the relationship between jazz and urban blues.
  9. Identify blues elements found in classical music (M. Ravel, D. Milhaud, G. Gershwin, and others)
Special Facilities and/or Equipment -
  1. Classroom with staff-lined blackboard, piano, DVD player, computer, and sound system.
  2. When taught via Foothill Global Access, ongoing access to a computer with e-mail address, software and hardware, and internet.

Course Content (Body of knowledge) -
This course traces the evolution of the blues as a stylistic musical expression. Material to be covered will include:
  1. Rudiments of music
    1. Note values, meter, I-IV-V chord theory, transposition, and ear training.
  2. Compare and contrast vocal styles of major performers of different geographic regions.
    1. guttural tones
    2. falsetto
    3. blue notes
    4. melismas
    5. recitative like vocal delivery
  3. Examine the standard techniques used on the instruments associated with the blues style:
    1. Voice
    2. Guitar (slide and regular) diddley bo
    3. Piano (stride and boogie woogie)
    4. Wind instruments (harmonica, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, saxophone)
    5. Bass
    6. Accordion
    7. Drums
      1. Work Hoes
      2. Washboards
      3. Spoons
      4. Bones
  4. Examine the pitch bending techniques used by singers, guitarists, and wind players (and simulated by pianists)
  5. Examine mutual influences among blues-gospel-ragtime-country-zydeco
  6. Trace the rise in popularity of the American blues in Europe, and the blues revival in the 1960's.
  7. Discuss the socio-economic and technological effects on the blues genre.
  8. Experience different blues styles through live performance, film, DVD, podcasts, and recorded material.
    1. Classic Female Blues/ Tent Shows/Vaudeville Blues
    2. Jump Blues
    3. Country Blues/Downhome Blues
    4. Piano Blues
    5. Rhythm and Blues and Soul Blues
    6. Chicago Blues
    7. Delta Blues
    8. Texas Blues
    9. Memphis Blues
    10. West Coast Blues
    11. Louisiana Blues
    12. New Orleans Blues
    13. Gospel Blues
    14. Terms: examples-hokum (lyrics with double meanings), cutting heads (outplay the next performer), mess around (take a solo)
    15. Cajun / Zydeco
    16. British Blues
    17. Modern Electric Blues
    18. Modern Acoustic Blues
  9. Integrate musical, historical, and cultural components of the blues study into oral and written essays and presentations.
  10. Read and respond to stories of violence and celebration, written by:
    1. a young woman living in the 6th ward of pre-Katrina New Orleans, 2005
    2. The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave (1831), from Six Women's Slave Narratives
  11. Understand the contribution of polyrhythms from Africa and form from Europe
  12. Understand the historical background and geography of the blues, beginning with the slave trade in the Ivory Coast and spreading throughout the United States.
  13. Establish a "sense of place" and identify with the cultural context of the blues by reading personal narratives.
  14. Research the subject matter of the blues lyric as a means to communicate hidden meanings (ex. the underground railroad), or spread news
  15. Live performances by instructors, students, and guests
Methods of Evaluation -
  1. Writing
    1. Chapter review sheets
    2. CD Song comparison essay
    3. Lyric analysis essay
    4. Instrumental analysis essay
    5. 10 history and debate responses
  2. Research Projects
    1. Oral presentation on a blues performer
    2. Creation of a children's book on a blues performer
    3. Songwriting project
  3. Tests
    1. 3 written tests (essays, matching, and multiple choice questions)
    2. listening: musical style, performer, and era identification
  4. Lab
    1. written submissions based on weekly lab activities
  5. Class participation and discussions
Representative Text(s) -
Brackett, David. The Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader: Histories and Debates, Oxford University Press, 2009 .
Wyman, Bill. Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey: A Journey to Music's Heart and Soul, Dorling Kindersley Publishing; New York, 2001.
Gates,Jr. Henry Louis. Six Women's Slave Narratives, Oxford University Press, 1988.

Disciplines -
Method of Instruction -
  1. Lecture
  2. Discussion
  3. Cooperative learning exercises
  4. Field work
  5. Oral presentations,
  6. Electronic discussions/chat
  7. Independent study
  8. Laboratory
Lab Content -
In Etudes, there will be 12 one hour lab assignments where the student will find the reading and listening material for each week under “Modules.” After completing the reading, student's will be asked to complete an activity by responding to questions they will find under “Assignments, Tests, and Surveys.” Each week is worth 20 points. The lab is a supervised extension of the grade and starts in week one. They will have one week to submit each lab assignment as they mainly move in parallel to the lectures and are intended to delve into a deeper level of personal enrichment and discovery. The intent of the lab is to integrate the history of pop music with society and technology. Through the lab, we will travel to far away museums, incorporate news media and current events, and review concerts. Within each lab there will be a variety of compelling historic websites and youtube clips for you to enjoy and be tested on. Some of the activities for example, will include reading bios from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website, reviewing recordings from Sun and other Race Records Studios, researching life on plantations, or reading and listening to interviews from NPR or The Smithsonian. The method by which student's will earn the points will be through multiple choice, true and false statements, essays, or opinions.
Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing and Outside of Class Assignments -
    1. Select 2 songs, 1 from each of 2 musicians featured in chapters 1 through 13 of the book.
    2. Print out each lyric sheet.
    3. Make a comparison between noting what is similar and what is different between the 2 songs, here are some possible ideas:
      1. The song length
      2. Subject matter of the lyrics
      3. Form
      4. Style
      5. Melody
      6. Harmony
      7. Rhythm
      8. Chords
      9. Politics
      10. Poetic devices (rhyme, alliteration, simile, repetition, metaphor, assonance personification, symbolism, onomatopoeia, etc.)
The Blues is a significant part of our American heritage. We want you to present your artist in a creative child's book format, through the eyes of a child aged 8-12 years old. Think about your first experiences with blues/rock/jazz music. What group, or artist, made a lasting impression on you? Now, write a child's book that you would have liked to have read when you were 10.
We will read 3 children's books in class on Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, and Louie Armstrong, for examples.
Please consider the following thoughts, and questions, as you weave your research into a children's book. What will you add? What will you delete? Think about The Combination that we read in class, and what was interesting about it, and then capture the magic of music, and the reality of fame, in your book!
Create a cover with the title, artwork or photograph, and author on the front. Your story should be 10-20 pages long, with 2-5 lines per page. Include your bibliography. New considerations that may require additional research:
  1. Training and background: Streets, jukes, cabarets, clubs, circus life, dance, poetry, drama, art, music, college, private lessons, film, Broadway, recording, producing
  2. Influences: Family life, political views, religious upbringing, morals, idols, other musicians. Did they ever pursue another career? Any film or TV connections?
  3. Style of music and explanation. For example: What is a blues song? Use terms from the text like hokum, mess around, cutting heads, juke joints for authenticity and to establish a "sense of place."
  4. A section on ?®What??s New??Ć during this artist??s time in the spotlight. Examples: radio, cassettes, MTV, amplifiers, synthesizers, i-pods,
  5. Theatrics and Fashion: Style of dress, hair, that is/was popular
  6. Include photographs, programs, ticket stubs, personal drawings, or artwork as necessary.
  7. Lifestyle challenges or controversies? Humanitarian contributions?
  8. Theme or symbolism within their musical performances?
  9. Innovator or stereotype? If any, in what way did they "push the envelope?"
  10. Select a song (by your artist), to be played quietly in the background as you read your children's book to the class
The following reserve books focus on THE BLUES and will be at the Reserve area by the front desk of the library:
  1. Afro-American Music and Art, by Linsay Patterson
  2. The American Rag, by David A Jasen and Gene Jones
  3. The Blues, by Tony Russell
  4. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, by Angela Davis
  5. The Blues Tradition, by Paul Oliver
  6. Blues Who??s Who: A Biographical Dictionary of Blues Singers, by Sheldon Harris
  7. The Country Blues, by Samuel B Charters
  8. The Da Capo Guide to Contemporary African Music, by Ronnie Graham
  9. Jelly Roll, Jabbo and Fats: 19 portraits in Jazz, by Whitney Balliett
  10. Listen to the Blues, by Bruce Cook
  11. More Than Dancing, edited by Irene Jackson (See The Blues Lyric) pages 221-237
  12. Nothing But the Blues, by Lawrence Cohn
  13. Rock is Rhythm and Blues (The Impact of Mass Media), by Lawrence N Redd
  14. Urban Blues, by Charles Keil