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In jazz and blues, a blue note (also "worried" note[1]) is a note sung or played at a slightly lower pitch than that of the major scale for expressive purposes. Typically the alteration is a semitone or less, but this varies among performers and genres. Country blues, in particular, features wide variations from the diatonic pitches with emotive blue-notes. Blue notes are often seen as akin to relative pitches found in traditional African work songs.

Blue notes (*): b3, (#4)/b5, b7

The blue notes are usually said to be flattened third, flattened fifth, and flattened seventh scale degrees[2]. The flattened fifth is also known as the sharpened fourth[3]. Though the blues scale has "an inherent minor tonality, it is commonly 'forced' over major-key chord changes, resulting in a distinctively dissonant conflict of tonalities"[3] as well as the blue notes. A similar conflict occurs between the notes of the minor scale and the minor blues scale, as heard in songs such as "Why Don't You Do Right?".

In the case of the flattened third over the root (or the flattened seventh over the dominant), the resulting chord is a neutral mixed third chord.

Blue notes are used in many twelve-bar and eight-bar blues, and also in blues ballads, many types of modern jazz, and in conventional popular songs with a "blue" feeling, such as Harold Arlen's "Stormy Weather". Blue notes are also prevalent in English folk music[4]. Bent or "blue notes", called in Ireland "long notes", play a vital part in Irish music and can be heard on any instrument capable of producing them.[5]

See also

References

  1. ^ Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, p.359. Seventh Edition. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
  2. ^ "Blue Notes". How To Play Blues Guitar. 2008-07-06. http://how-to-play-blues-guitar.com/blues-concepts/blue-notes/. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  3. ^ a b Ferguson, Jim (1999). All Blues Soloing for Jazz Guitar: Scales, Licks, Concepts & Choruses, p.20. ISBN 0786642858.
  4. ^ Lloyd, A.L. (1967). Folk Song in England, p.52-4. London: Lawrence & Wishart. Cited in Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-15275-9.
  5. ^ Epping, Rick. "Irish Harmonica". www.celticguitarmusic.com. http://www.celticguitarmusic.com/irishharm.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
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