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2 November 2017

Post 564: THE 12-BAR BLUES AND 'OH, YOU BEAUTIFUL DOLL'

Everyone knows the CHORUS of Oh, You Beautiful Doll. But do you know the VERSE?

I was very interested to find that the VERSE is in fact a standard pattern 12-bar blues! In the sheet music, the 12 bars are played through twice in the key of Eb. Then there is a switch into the key of Ab and the familiar Chorus begins. (Of course, such transitions from the dominant to the tonic are very common in music, as one theme leads into another.)

Nat D. Ayer (who also wrote the music for If You Were The Only Girl in the World) composed the piece in 1911 - yes, all that long ago. So I think this is a fine example of the way the 12-bar blues form was influencing popular music even during those very early years in the Twentieth Century when traditional jazz bands were beginning to emerge. Handy's pioneering Memphis Blues, also with the standard 12-bar main theme, had appeared just a year earlier.

And, as we all know, the 12-bar blues went on to be the basis of about a tenth of the tunes our bands have played in their performances ever since; and of course it became the basis of rock'n'roll.

Here, from the original sheet music, is the transition point where the 12-bar blues (VERSE) ends and the CHORUS begins.