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Carla Bley$
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Amy C. Beal

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036361

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036361.001.0001

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Sing Me Softly of the Blues

Sing Me Softly of the Blues

Early Short Pieces and Songs without Words

(p.15) 2 Sing Me Softly of the Blues
Carla Bley

Amy C. Beal

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines Bley's early compositions. According to Bley, her earliest mature work is the twelve-bar blues in F called Donkey, which she probably composed in Los Angeles in 1958. In a collection of her piano music published in 1981, Bley called the melody of the piece “a blues line,” even though it flies by at a rapid pace and seems more akin to bebop melodies than to anything else. Likewise, the short explosion of Ictus (also dated 1958) is to be played “as fast as possible.” Unlike Donkey, which she considered a blues, Ictus does not have chord symbols written in the way then standard for jazz scores. Indeed, many of her early works have a tendency to obscure any sense of metrical regularity through irregular placements of short phrases, held notes across the bar lines, and plenty of rests.

Keywords:   piano music, blues, bebop melodies, Ictus, Donkey, jazz scores, metrical regularity

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