The Blues Lyric Formula
This book is the first rigourous and detailed exploration of exactly how blues singers used formulas to create songs, and it more than amply fills the gap in the the study of the blues, where the structure and content of the lyrics have been less fully explored than the musical form.
Focusing on the songs recorded by African-American singers for pre-World War Two commercial recording companies, this is an excellent structural analysis of the formulaic composistion of blues lyrics.
This book gives a step-by-step description of the rules implicit in this formulaic structure and inspires new discussion of lyric structures.
A wide array of readers will find this insightful and informative: from students of African-American music, cultural studies, history and linguistics, to Blues fans fascinated by exactly how the lyrics of this influential music style are written.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Defining the Commercial Blues 2. Defining the Blues Formula 3. Fine Adjustments: Extraformulaic Elements in the Blues 4. The Ties that Bind: Formulas to Lines, Lines to Stanzas, Stanzaes to Songs 5. Twenty Common Formulas 6. One Singer's Formulaic Tradition: The Repertoire of Garfield Akers Conclusion: Why is the Blues Formulaic? Singers and Their Songs References Index
Michael Taft is head of the Archive Folk Culture at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. He is the author of Talkin' to Myself: Blues Lyrics 1921-1940 (Routledge 2005).