ELA 3: The Blues

Sky, royal, ocean, jay...we're talking about all sorts of blues today—oh wait. Never mind, just the musical kind. 

3rd GradeLanguage Arts
Elementary and Middle School3rd Grade
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:23

Others might exercise extra-hard to get their mind off of whatever's making them sad…

00:27

While some people might shovel as much ice cream into their face as they possibly can. [Girl eats ice cream]

00:31

And yes, by "some people," we mean…us.

00:33

But another response to feeling sad is to sing about it... most notably, in a genre

00:38

of music called “The Blues.” [Coop discussing the blues music]

00:40

So what do we know about the blues?

00:42

Well, for starters, it became popular after slavery ended in the late 1800s. [Slaves working in a crop field]

00:46

And that's because it's connected to the Deep South and was heard primarily in African-American

00:50

communities. [African American man playing a harmonica]

00:51

Think of it sort of like a blend between African music and folk music.

00:54

While you're probably already familiar with what the blues might sound like, it does have

00:58

a few key features..

00:59

Most notably, the lyrics are often repeated.

01:02

For instance, the famous blues song “Kansas City” begins with the first line... [A musical sheet of Kansas City song]

01:06

“I'm going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come” and then the second line is... the

01:10

exact same as the first.

01:13

Another notable feature of blues songs is that they often feature what's known as “call [A red telephone rings and person picks up]

01:16

and response.”

01:17

This is when the singer says one thing, and then another singer replies.

01:20

Or, in the case of blues, it could be an instrument replying instead. [Musical lyrics come out of saxophone]

01:24

As for the name, the blues might be called the blues because of “blue notes” which

01:29

are flat sounding notes found in many blues songs that tend to sound kind of sad. [Blue notes float in the air from a record player]

01:34

Listen to this lick of music, and pay attention to this highlighted note…

01:41

...hear how it sounds sad?

01:42

Yup!

01:43

That's what it's called The Blues!

01:44

And you might be thinking, "I've never heard of this kind of music before!

01:47

That makes me sad!" [Girl is upset in class]

01:49

To which we reply, "Write a blues song about it!"

01:51

But also, even if you don't listen to the blues, you probably do listen to music that's [Girl listening to music on a bus]

01:55

been influenced by it.

01:56

Famous musicians like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Bob Dylan all took

02:01

influences from the blues, who in turn went on to influence many more artists.

02:05

All because of the blues.

02:07

That's some news that doesn't give us the blues.

02:09

Lastly, if you want to put together your own blues band, you'd most certainly need guitar,

02:14

bass and drums. [Guitar, bass and drum set appear]

02:15

And if you really wanted to go all out, then a keyboard, some type of horn, and a harmonica

02:19

wouldn't hurt either.

02:20

Then all that's left to do is figure out what's making you sad, write some lyrics about it, [House of Cards buffering on a TV screen]

02:24

and voila, you're singing the blues, baby.

02:27

Heck, you could even write out about how cruddy your school's cafeteria food is. [Girl writing a blue's song]

02:30

Though if soggy pizza is the saddest thing in your life right now, well, you've got it

02:33

pretty darn good.