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Des “notes bleues”

De la septième de dominante et de la musique en général
Jean-François Baré
p. 101-124


“Blue notes”: On the Dominant Seventh and on Music in General. – Harmonic analyses of the thorny problem of jazz’s specificity and, therefore, of its birth from the blues, are relatively scarce. Blues builds on classical harmony’s tonal cadence but by isolating the seventh dominant chord, which contains one of the traditionally identified « blue notes ». Jazz took up from this point by systematizing the use of dissonant chords and thus of chromatic passages, as the tonal cadence was opened and the seventh chord, gradually “dethroned”. This opening was implied by the use of the three “blue notes” in the blues. However, neither chromaticism nor syncopation nor dissonance is specific to jazz, since classical music shares all of these. Though using these elements only occasionally, jazz did lay them down as principles. Jazz forms a specific musical corpus, but taps the resources of music in general. This is undoubtedly one reason why it is a subject for anthropological inquiry.

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Bibliographical reference

Jean-François Baré, « Des “notes bleues” », L’Homme, 158-159 | 2001, 101-124.

Electronic reference

Jean-François Baré, « Des “notes bleues” », L’Homme [Online], 158-159 | avril-septembre 2001, Online since 25 May 2007, connection on 26 February 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Jean-François Baré

Institut de recherches et de développement, UMR Regards, Pessac.

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© École des hautes études en sciences sociales

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