Blues - call and response patterns

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Correlli, Oct 3, 2005.


  1. Correlli

    Correlli

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,559
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Hi all,

    I'm currently doing a indepth study of the development and evolution of the Blues genre, from the very early 1900's to present day. In the literature that I am using, there are references to call and response patterns used by Blues musicians, but it doesn't go into that much detail about it.

    Does anyone know of some good examples of Blues musicians using call and response patterns? Maybe a specific recording, or even some written music will do.
     
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    79,588
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Just about anything recorded in the early days. Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Son House, etc. All of them featured a vocal line followed by a guitar line that "answered" the vocal. Also, if you can find early turn of the century Negro spirituals, prison songs, and work songs, they are a wealth of call and response. Here's a couple good websites that discusses the early recorded pioneers:

    http://www.earlyblues.com/
    http://www.toad.net/~harpe/blues/bhome.html

    Also, do a search on Alan Lomax, who was the most well-known early blues historian. And you could probably go to Amazon.com and search on things like work songs and early blues and hear some samples.
     
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2000
    Messages:
    3,392
    Location:
    Still in Margaritaville
    Southern slave "field hollers" employed the call and response pattern. One singer sang a phrase which was followed by the group singing a response in unison while the slaves worked in the fields, hence the name "field holler."

    If I recall correctly, an excellent example of this can be heard in the at the start of the movie "Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?" in which a 1930s prison chain gang demonstrates a classic call and response style (while George Clooney plots his escape.)

    The style survives today as exemplified by B.B. King's method of singing, then playing his guitar then singing, then playing his guitar. He seldom if ever does both at the same time. He says that his guitar Lucille answers his singing.
     
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2000
    Messages:
    5,313
    Location:
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Even the typical blues lyric structure is call and response, the lyrics sung over the first four bars are repeated over the next four, then different lyrics over the final four. I.e.:

    I went down to the crossroads tried to flag a ride
    I went down to the crossroads tried to flag a ride
    Nobody knows me everyone passed me by
     
  5. Register to disable this ad
  6. JimK

    JimK

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 1999
    Messages:
    17,268
    Chuck Rainey used to have a "Woodshed" column in Guitar Player mag(pre-Bass magazines!)...he sometimes talked about constructing/thinking of lines that followed a 'call & response' vibe.

    Very basic/simple examples-

    lG-B-C-D-lGG-F-E-D-l
    or
    lG-D-F-G-lB-C-C#-D-l

    Bar 1 is 'the call'
    Bar 2 is 'the response'
     
  7. Correlli

    Correlli

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,559
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Thanks guys,

    I've been listen to blues music for a while, but didn't really know what the techniques were called, and how they they are used. So you could say "the penny dropped". The only example of a call and response pattern that I found, was My Generation by The Who. But that really didn't explain the traditional technique of call and resonpse, and how to it came about.


    Cheers
     
  8. JimK

    JimK

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 1999
    Messages:
    17,268
    I think Bop's post explained how it came about...early Blues guitarists emualated what was passed down by even earlier "Blues" vocalists.
     
  9. Correlli

    Correlli

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,559
    Location:
    New Zealand
    For me, I tend to appreciate music more when I learn about it's origins. I think modern popular music owes alot to the early blues musicians.
     
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    79,588
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It owes EVERYTHING to those early blues musicians.
     
  11. Correlli

    Correlli

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,559
    Location:
    New Zealand
    OK... keep your wig on. The world is huge place pal.
     
  12. bad_andy

    bad_andy

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    590
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    And (in the Cream version at least) each repetition of the verse lyric, i.e. "I went down to the crossroads tried to flag a ride", is answered by a guitar figure, i.e. the root-octave-m7-P5 lick that Clapton used as the main rhythm theme.
     
  13. Bushfire

    Bushfire

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2004
    Messages:
    447
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I think that's giving a little too much credit, I think almost every genre from the past has really contributed into todays popular music.
     
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    79,588
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Without blues, there is no modern music.
     
  15. groove100

    groove100

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    VA.
    call and response came from the early spriritual songs.
    early late 1800s close to 1900

    where a chant is being sang (prayer in a form of song) by a person or group of people , then the congregation or the other people response to it. Thats how it all started.
    Same poeple who created the Blues.

    that form can be heard in jazz also.
    if you have a chance listen to the tune "work song"
     
  16. Correlli

    Correlli

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Messages:
    1,559
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Koko Taylors's "Wang Dang Doodle" is one of my favoriate blues tunes.
     
  17. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2000
    Messages:
    3,392
    Location:
    Still in Margaritaville
    I haven't had time to dig into my blues history notes, but I believe the field holler may have actually predated what was eventually called the Negro spiritual. A famous song from that period is "Swing Low Sweet Chariot." Many spirituals do represent call and response patterns.

    Field hollers were sung by slaves as they toiled in the cotton, rice and tobacco fields of the Old South.

    (I recently read an article that said that today's rap music is a descendent of the original field holler pattern of call and response. I'm not really into rap music, so I cannot argue either for or against this theory.)

    Back to call and response. Field hollers were characterized by one person with his phrase and the group answering with their phrase. When blues began developing, call and response took on a new life in which the same musician called and responded to his very own music.
     
  18. groove100

    groove100

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    Messages:
    103
    Location:
    VA.
    I think that is also correct boplicity.
    I think the work song and spirituals happened in the same time, because as what i said this is a part of the culture.
     

Share This Page