Singin’ The Blues

Everyone should hear this classic jazz piece; it’s C-melody sax player Frankie Trumbauer playing with cornet-player Bix Beiderbecke, way back in the 1920s. Wonderful music indeed; Eddie Lang is playing the guitar :

And another classic:




Filed under Music

6 responses to “Singin’ The Blues

  1. Joan

    I wonder who compiled these terrific video songs. I enjoyed listening to at least 3 before someone else got dibs on the computer.
    The next one of the series, called “There”l Come a Time” is accompanied by wonderful archival photos of the Jazz age. It’s almost like watching a short movie (or MTV) with the music as background.
    Music-wise, however, I believe I prefer the Davenport Blues….. with it’s bleaker scenes of Davenport itself.

    BTW what’s a C-melody sax player?

  2. A C-melody sax is half-way between a tenor sax and an alto sax. It’s native scale is C Major –in other words, it’s not a transposing instrument. Most brass instruments are most at home in flat keys like B-flat and E-flat. Stringed instruments are more comfortable in the sharp keys. The C-melody sax sits right in between.

  3. Joan

    Thanks Larry. Since my only formal music training was on a piano and I quit lessons at 14, I was not even aware that band instruments came in ‘keys’. The piano, of course is not limited in that way. Chris played tenor sax and later alto sax but I just figured that as deeper voiced ‘tenor’. (grin)
    What would be a ‘transposing’ instrument btw?

  4. The alto sax is a “higher-voiced” instrument rather than a “lower-voiced” instrument.

    A transposing instrument is one which uses printed music printed out in another key; I once played trombone, and the music I played was printed out in the treble clef; the trombone’s music was in the alto clef but the music I used was transposed from the alto clef, just for convenience.

  5. Joan

    Yeah, speaking of transposing…I was not very awake and switched the instruments Obviously a tenor voice is lower than an alto. All I know was at the time is he played a ‘regular’ sax at first and they needed a deeper ‘voiced.’ one later.. I’m still trying to wrap my mind about what a ‘contra alto’ male singer would sound like when standing next to an alto. Probably a Castrati. (grin)
    But still…not having played any other instrument than the ‘Tonette’ ( and later a few very basic guitar chords) , I’m not exactly tuned in to this conversation. . The Tonette, which later may have morphed into the ‘fluteophone’ was some kind of plastic pregnant looking whistle all 6th graders were made to play. The sound may have been about as tonally rich as the current cicada chorus. It was not pretty. Soooo I’m still woefully ignorant about band instruments, and though this must be glaringly obvious to people who play them, why can’t the ‘c’ instrument transpose? Not ‘sharp’ enough? (grin) .
    I’m better off commenting in the section on Mystery novels, with which I’m at least familiar.

  6. Mark

    The “key” of the instrument has much to do with the history and evolution of instruments. When wind instruments capable of playing all pitches (chromatic) were first developed it took a while for manufacturers and players to come to consensus on the ideal size for the instrument. For each different size instrument the fingering of a given note is different, so it was decided that the music would be written in such a way as to make the written notes on each instrument fingered the same, so the player would not have to learn a completely new set of fingerings for each instrument. A written C on a Bflat tenor saxophone, trumpet or clarinet is a “concert” (piano pitch) Bflat. An Eflat alto’s written C is an Eflat. The music is written to accomodate this transposition. In this way a sax player can play the same fingering for a given written not the same on every different size sax, even though the sounding notes will be different. Hope this makes it at least slightly less confusing.

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