St. Louis Blues

This famous tune was the first blues piece to top the charts!

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St. Louis Blues was composed by W. C. Handy and published in September 1914. It was one of the first blues songs to succeed as a pop song. When Handy passed away in 1958, he was earning royalties of approximately $25,000 annually–about $217,000 in 2018 dollars–for just St. Louis Blues.  It remains part of the repertoire of jazz musicians.

Ironically, the piece has roots closer to ragtime than to jazz. The different sections of the piece give it a similarity to classic ragtime pieces popular around the time of composition of St. Louis Blues.
This arrangement includes all three sections, making it a wonderful introduction to W. C. Handy and his music and influence on American popular music.

Key: G major

Mood: sad, upset, determined, resigned

Pedagogy: countermelodies, staccato, dynamics, repeats, 1st/2nd endings


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