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I’ve been thinking a good bit about the Blues lately. The musical genre, not the psychological state.
This is partly because I’ve been working up some new Blues material for the clawhammer song library in the Breakthrough Banjo course. Doing so, I’ve realized just how much blues there is even in the traditional canon of banjo material.
Yet, these days, folks don’t typically associate the banjo with the blues.
There are likely multiple reasons why, though part of it just boils down to semantics.
The strictest definition of the Blues with a capital “B” involves a very specific 12 bar format and a pre-ordained chord progression. But this “blues form” came about in tandem with commercialization of the blues, and commercialization almost always breeds homogeny.
It’s much easier to reproduce, package, and market something that has a reproduceable formula. Creating these formulas often means sacrificing certain elements for the sake of commerce.
And I hear the sounds of the blues in MANY of the old banjo tunes, elements that would later be smoothed out and formalized into the standard form.
Chilly Winds, this week’s tune, certainly belongs in the “proto-blues” camp, at a minimum. And you can likely hear why. The theoretically inclined may note that this is on account of the use of the flattened 7th and 3rd notes in the major scale (even the flattened 5th makes an appearance).
No matter what label you stick on it, it’s a super cool tune.
aEAC#E tuning, Brainjo level 3-4
Notes on the tab:
Notes in parentheses are “skip” notes. To learn more about these, check out my video lesson on the subject.
For more on reading tabs in general, check out this complete guide to reading banjo tabs.
Level 2 arrangements and video demos for the Tune (and Song!) of the Week tunes are now available as part of the Breakthrough Banjo course. Learn more about it here.
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