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Early blues frequently took the form of a loose narrative.African-American singers voiced his or her "personal woes in a world of harsh reality: a lost love, the cruelty of police officers, oppression at the hands of white folk, [and] hard times".Early blues frequently took the form of a loose narrative, often relating the racial discrimination and other challenges experienced by African-Americans.Many elements, such as the call-and-response format and the use of blue notes, can be traced back to the music of Africa.It was only in the first decades of the 20th century that the most common current structure became standard: the so-called AAB pattern, consisting of a line sung over the four first bars, its repetition over the next four, and then a longer concluding line over the last bars. Handy wrote that he adopted this convention to avoid the monotony of lines repeated three times.Two of the first published blues songs, "Dallas Blues" (1912) and "Saint Louis Blues" (1914), were 12-bar blues with the AAB lyric structure. The lines are often sung following a pattern closer to rhythmic talk than to a melody.Early traditional blues verses consisted of a single line repeated four times.It was only in the first decades of the 20th century that the most common current structure became standard: the AAB pattern, consisting of a line sung over the four first bars, its repetition over the next four, and then a longer concluding line over the last bars.
Tampa Red's classic "Tight Like That" (1928) is a sly wordplay with the double meaning of being "tight" with someone coupled with a more salacious physical familiarity.Some sources state that the term blues is related to "blue notes", the flatted, often microtonal notes used in blues, but the Oxford English Dictionary claims that the term blues came first and led to the naming of "blue notes".The lyrics of early traditional blues verses probably often consisted of a single line repeated four times.During the first decades of the 20th century blues music was not clearly defined in terms of a particular chord progression.Other chord progressions, such as 8-bar forms, are still considered blues; examples include "How Long Blues", "Trouble in Mind", and Big Bill Broonzy's "Key to the Highway".