[Dixielandjazz] Playing blue notes

Bill Gunter jazzboard at hotmail.com
Wed Mar 16 09:11:00 PST 2005

Hi all,

I thought about what Bob Smith said about "blue" notes (see citation below).

It seems to imply that in order to play a "blue" note it must be bent. I 
don't think I agree with that.

I will agree with the following statements:

1. Some instruments can bend notes - others can't.

2. All instruments which can produce any specific note can play a blue note.

3. Bent notes MAY not be "blue" and "blue" notes MAY not be bent.

4. Playing two adjacent notes on a piano doesn't necessarily make the sound 
"blue" - it may simply be a discord.

5. Jazz pianists play "blue" notes all the time and they are not 'pseudo' -- 
they're real.

6. A blue note is most commonly simply a note played a half step down from 
some expected note.

7. There are many exceptions to #6 (above)

8. It's possible that I can produce a "blue" note on my washboard.

Anybody wanna debate this (Steve?) -- step right up!

Respectfully submitted,

Bill "Am I Blue" Gunter
jazzboard at hotmail.com

>-----Original Message-----
>From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com
>[mailto:dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com] On Behalf Of Robert Smith
>Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2005 12:25 AM
>To: Dixieland Jazz
>Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Playing blue notes
>Several families of instruments can produce blue notes. These are: the
>violin family; the slide trumpet family; the human voice; fretted string
>instruments (by pushing the string to one side with the finger on the 
>Swanee whistles keyboards with a glissando lever. Other instruments can
>"bend" tempered notes, e.g. woodwinds, valve brass (half valving)
>Instruments with fixed notes (e.g. pianos) can only produce pseudo blue
>notes by playing two adjacent notes together (in Ken Gates' example E and
>Eb). Thelonius Monk does this. I think most people can hear blue notes when
>they hear Bessie Smith sing, or when Johnny Hodges plays the blues, just to
>quote a couple of examples - there are a thousand others. Outside OKOM,
>composer David R. Holsinger (ASCAP) wrote "The War Trilogy: 1971", and in
>the 1st movement ("Rebirth and Awakening: New Day One") he has written
>quartertone glissandoes for the trombones, e.g. from B to a flattened B#.
>This can certainly be heard. In fact, Ken, I'm sure you will hear the
>difference when the notes are played in sequence.
>Bob Smith
>Dixielandjazz mailing list
>Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
>Dixielandjazz mailing list
>Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com

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