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Bessie Smith & Duke Ellington (600 words)

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Read the particle, listen to the music then analysis the song

Part 1: (300 words)

Listen Bessie Smith’s “Downhearted Blues” and “Empty Bed Blues.” What is innovative or unique about her vocal style, and her artistic approach? How does her voice contrast with the music. How are these recordings emblematic of Classic blues music in the 1920s? Review the lyrics for both songs (attached below), and discuss what the songs are seemingly about; and describe her use of language and colorful imagery. How might these songs exhibit a sense of liberated feminism?

Down hearted Blues:

Bessie Smith – “Empty Bed Blues” (1928): Bessie Smith – “Empty Bed Blues” (1928)

Part 2:

Listen to the following three Duke Ellington compositions. Compare and contrast these songs and create a list of musical attributes or characteristics that define the Ellington style. How does Ellington use instrumentation and space in his compositional pieces? What sounds unique about Ellington’s style? Which of the three did you enjoy the most? (300 words)

Duke Ellington Orchestra – “Black and Tan Fantasy” (1928)

Duke Ellington – “It Don’t Mean A Thing” (1931) (Links to an external site.)

Duke Ellington Orchestra – “Sophisticated Lady” (1933)

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