West End Blues

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  • Created by: LucySmith
  • Created on: 17-11-13 16:06


New Orleans Counterpoint; Rhythm Section comping; Frontline instruments include trumpet (plays the melody), clarinet (plays a decorative countermelody above the trumpet) and trombone (plays longer held notes below the trumpet).

Introduction begins with monophonic texture as trumpet is unaccompanied.

Chorus 1 - trumpet & clarinet with long, held notes. Avoid melody.

Chorus 2 - accompanying rhythm section with piano countermelody.

Chorus 3 - call and response.

Chorus 4 - unaccompanied piano.

Chorus 5 - full ensemble.

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There is tonal ambiguity in the introductory trumpet solo. II-V chord progression at end of introduction sets up an augmented dominant chord which leads to Eb major.

In the first chorus, dissonant chords such as Bb/Ab chord create tension.

In the final chorus (5), the trumpet plays an inverted dominant pedal.

The trumpet solo in the coda is based on a pentatonic scale. The piece ends with a (sort of) plagal cadence, except that chord IV is minor, and chord I has a sixth.

The whole piece is based on a 12-bar blues chord pattern.

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12 bar blues structure

Introduction (12 bars)

Chorus 1 (12 bars) - trumpet

Chorus 2 (12 bars) - trumbone

Chorus 3 (12 bars) - clarinet and vocal duet

Chorus 4 (12 bars) - piano solo

Chorus 5 (12 bars) - trumpet

Coda (3 bars) - full ensemble

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Instrumentation and Ensemble

Trumpets and Vocals were Louis Armstrong. 'Hot 5' played clarinet, trombone, piano, banjo and drums.

Ensemble was split between frontline and rhythm section.

Typical New Orleans ensemble.

Rhythm section did a lot of comping.

No formal arrangement - collective effort.

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Instrumental Techniques

Wind players used microtonal inflections to imitate the human voice.

Trumpet - staccato tonguing in the introduction; rip in chorus 5; scoop (lipping the note down with the embouchure); lip trill to decorate the Bb; terminal vibrato; Ab is 'swallowed' in bar 9.

Banjo - clipped chords.

Piano - clipped chords; tremolo piano chords; stride piano in chorus 4.

Trombone - slide is used to smear the pitches.

Clarinet - fast vibrato in chorus 3.

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Context / Recording Technology

New Orleans - sea port location causes cultural diversity.

Jazz was popular in the prostitution district.

Storyville was bulldozed in the 1920s for slum clearance, and lots of people moved to Chicago.

West End Blues was recorded onto a 78 RPM record, which lasted 3-5 minutes. The recording was electrical (rather than acoustic). This was clearer than the previous acoustic recordings.

The Hot Five's were only a recording band, and never played live.

The piece was composed by Joe King Oliver - not Louis Armstrong.

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Contribution of Louis Armstrong

Louis created a jazz singing style made up of nonsense words (****).

Louis encouraged people to improvise in a more creative way.

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Introduction - cadenza-like passage in two halves. Rising pattern then descending.

Chorus 1 - the head. Begins with simple stately phrases, then dissonance is added.

Chorus 2 - trombone melody has fewer notes in it. Higher register. Piano countermelody.

Chorus 3 - call & response. First begins with an echo, then a true 'answer'. Vocals echo trumpet style, and descending pattern is in thirds.

Chorus 4 - delicately executed arpeggios covering a wide range (right-hand piano).

Chorus 5 - trumpet pedal leads to rapidly descending semiquavers.

Coda - trumpet solo with descending pentatonic scale.

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Rising sequential pattern in opening trumpet solo. A fast pulse with crotchets is first establised, then the sense of movement increases with triple crotchets. This increases to quavers and triplet quavers in the remaining bars.

Chorus 1 - tension increases with the introduction of shorter note values.

Chorus 2 - contrast to chorus due to longer note-lengths.

Chorus 4 - syncopation.

Coda - gradually slowing trumpet solo.

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