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MUS 505
Kim Chow- Morris

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MUS505 – Week 6 Lecture 1 Big Mama Thornton (1926-84) - Daughter of anAlabama Baptist minister - Everything that has led up to rock and roll music played a major influence on the genre itself - Came from a religious background in the deep south in the Mississippi Delta region - Strong woman and a strong musical performer - “Hound Dog” 1953 o Recorded in 1953 o Rural blues – electric guitar, hand clapping on beats 2 and 4, tom-tom o 12 bar blues, with a few extra beats like rural blues  Not a clean 4 bar phrase, she adds a few beats in there so it’s a bit looser in structure o Song made popular by Elvis Presley only 3 years later in 1956 o It’s not a bell canto (open operatic voice imitated by the pop singer crooners) BLUES BASED ROCKAND ROLL Elvis (The Pelvis) Presley 1935 -1977 - Blues based rock and roll which he mixed with hillbilly influences - Best selling solo artist ever - Born poor in Tulepo, Mississippi o Moved to Memphis, Tennessee a teenager o His adaptation of blues singing style is quite natural to him - Made movies and incorporated songs into them, this is another example of cross- merchandising - Grows up with “white gospel singing” at church o Organ, accapella, 4 part gospel harmony - On the radio, he heard country music, R&B and crooners - Began as a hillbilly singer with Sun Records o Sun Records did country and R&B  Southern label that did these two musical niches that was supposed to be their terrain - Popularized as the “King of Country Bop” - Sam Phillips of Sun, worked with black and white artists o Said if he could find a white man with “the Negro sound and the Negro feel” he could be a millionaire” o That man turned out to be Elvis Presley - Elvis is supposed to be that white guy that the mainstream white community is accepting of with Mississippi musical and dancing style that the hip youngsters of the day were interested in and were into - Elvis did a cover of Hound Dog and that’s when it went big, it went beyond the black community’s race record labels so it became very widespread because Big Mama Thornton’s was niche and catered to only the black community COVER RECORDS MUS505 – Week 6 Lecture 1 - It was normal then to cover songs right after the original artist did o Unlike now, where covers are done in a respectful time after it was originally made “Mystery Train” - Composed by Herman Little Junior Parker (Little Junior’s Blue Flames 1953) - Both recordings for Sun Records o Wanted to target the black and white community - R&B and blues influences - 12 bar blues in strophic form - There is an alteration in harmony and therefore - Instrumentation (typical of R&B) = electric guitar, piano, drums, acoustic bass and saxophone o Sax plays long and low “train whistle” - Chugging rhythm which mimics the train, the end vocals imitate the train braking - Train takes “baby” away and will again, it’s very slow and sad, it’s like a love song “laissez faire blues attitude” - Elvis Presley covered this in 1955 one year later o Recorded this song under the same recording label, Sun Records o Interpretation is quite different from original o Vivace, it is much faster than the original, faster tempo o Phrases are asymmetrical, unlike the original (adds and subtracts beats) o Train “never will again” take baby away – it comes off as more assertive, confident and positive o Organic musical performance, this was before drum machines were made so the drums were slower and faster between bars if you have a good musical ear o Instrumental break follows words “she’s mine all mine” = emphasizes this text o Instrumentation of this piece includes electric guitar, acoustic base, acoustic guitar (instead of piano) and drums  Didn’t include the sax, which is very typical to have in R&B o More blues notes and portamento than typical white music of the time (blues)  Often, people that weren’t familiar with him thought he was black when they heard him  They didn’t believe that he couldn’t possibly be a white guy singing portamento o This was a unique and a new style that Elvis created o Nashville producer ChetAtkins from RCAVictor later on changed Elvis’style, they packaged him into more of a pop style  Producers - booked backup musicians and studios, assisted with recording engineering and significantly affected overall sound o Elvis’style was initially called rockabilly (along with Buddy Holly) a combination of rock’n’roll and hillbilly music o Manager Thomas Parker got Presley on TV and acting in romantic films o Sexually aggressive, exuberant performance style MUS505 – Week 6 Lecture 1  The way
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