"[45], There are few characteristics common to all blues music, because the genre took its shape from the idiosyncrasies of individual performers. Early blues frequently took the form of a loose narrative, often relating the racial discrimination and other challenges experienced by African-Americans. To express this musically, blues performers use vocal techniques such as melisma (sustaining a single syllable across several pitches), rhythmic techniques such as syncopation, and instrumental techniques such as “choking” or bending guitar strings on the neck or applying a metal slide or bottleneck to the guitar strings to create a whining voicelike sound. Slaves used “field hollers” to communicate in the fields and work songs to keep time when performing a task. [92] After Phillips discovered Elvis Presley in 1954, the Sun label turned to the rapidly expanding white audience and started recording mostly rock 'n' roll.[93]. Garofalo, pp. He composed and wrote many standard blues songs of the period, such as "Hoochie Coochie Man", "I Just Want to Make Love to You" (both penned for Muddy Waters) and, "Wang Dang Doodle" and "Back Door Man" for Howlin' Wolf. The blues have had their greatest influence on rock music. Guitar, saxophone, drums, trumpet, piano, trombone, clarinet, and the double bass … British rock musicians in the 1960s, especially the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and John Mayall, were strongly influenced by the blues, as were such American rock musicians as Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, and the Allman Brothers Band. Singers such as Blind Willie McTell and Blind Boy Fuller performed in the southeastern "delicate and lyrical" Piedmont blues tradition, which used an elaborate ragtime-based fingerpicking guitar technique. John Lee Hooker settled in Detroit, and on the West Coast T-Bone Walker developed a style later adopted by B.B. This space could be claimed entirely by a list of names, dates and hometowns — such is the deep history of blues and blues adjacent music from Texas. The electric guitar and the amplified harmonica created a driving sound of great rhythmic and emotional intensity. It was initially a folk music popular among former slaves living in the Mississippi Delta, the flat plain between the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. Morales attributed this claim to. Blues, secular folk music created by African Americans in the early 20th century, originally in the South. "[80], Urban male performers included popular black musicians of the era, such as Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and Leroy Carr. In melody, blues is distinguished by the use of the flattened third, fifth and seventh of the associated major scale.[28]. King and Howlin' Wolf before he moved to Chicago in 1960. At the time, there was no clear musical division between "blues" and "country", except for the ethnicity of the performer, and even that was sometimes documented incorrectly by record companies. Blues performances were organized by the Theater Owners Bookers Association in nightclubs such as the Cotton Club and juke joints such as the bars along Beale Street in Memphis. African tribes used drums in part as communication. Soul music and rhythm and blues also show obvious blues tonalities and forms. Much of the time, some or all of these chords are played in the harmonic seventh (7th) form. Blues musical styles, forms (12-bar blues), melodies, and the blues scale have influenced many other genres of music, such as rock and roll, jazz, and popular music. [65] Before the blues gained its formal definition in terms of chord progressions, it was defined as the secular counterpart of spirituals. The lyrics of early traditional blues verses probably often consisted of a single line repeated four times. Bebop classics, such as Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time", used the blues form with the pentatonic scale and blue notes. [59], Blues music also adopted elements from the "Ethiopian airs", minstrel shows and Negro spirituals, including instrumental and harmonic accompaniment. The first publication of blues sheet music may have been "I Got the Blues", published by New Orleans musician Antonio Maggio in 1908 and described as "the earliest published composition known to link the condition of having the blues to the musical form that would become popularly known as 'the blues. (2011). Let us find out the genre of popular African-American music on Facts about Rhythm and Blues. Early blues frequently took the form of a loose narrative. It is often called RnB or R&B. In the 1940s, the jump blues style developed. Gershwin's second "Prelude" for solo piano is an interesting example of a classical blues, maintaining the form with academic strictness. Garofalo, p. 44. Our latest episode for parents features the topic of empathy. Minstrel Shows Gain Popularity The minstrel show, with its blackface performers, crude racial caricatures, and the song "Jump Jim Crow" becomes part of American popular culture. Major artists of the Texas style are Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds (led by harmonica player and singer-songwriter Kim Wilson), and ZZ Top. The Billboard Blues Album chart provides an overview of current blues hits. It is similar to the musical instrument that griots and other Africans such as the Igbo[57] played (called halam or akonting by African peoples such as the Wolof, Fula and Mandinka). Blues is a unique genre. Blues music is shrouded in a veil of legend and lore. The audience for both blues and jazz split, and the border between blues and jazz became more defined. Blind Willie McTell and Blind Boy Fuller were representative of this style. [44] This period corresponds to the transition from slavery to sharecropping, small-scale agricultural production, and the expansion of railroads in the southern United States. Jerry Lee Lewis's style of rock and roll was heavily influenced by the blues and its derivative boogie woogie. The first appearance of the blues is often dated to after the ending of slavery and, later, the development of juke joints. [5] Though the use of the phrase in African-American music may be older, it has been attested to in print since 1912, when Hart Wand's "Dallas Blues" became the first copyrighted blues composition. The origins of the blues are also closely related to the religious music of the Afro-American community, the spirituals. [38] A record of blues music as it existed before 1920 can also be found in the recordings of artists such as Lead Belly[39] and Henry Thomas. [4] The phrase blue devils may also have been derived from Britain in the 1600s, when the term referred to the "intense visual hallucinations that can accompany severe alcohol withdrawal". Blues is a music genre[3] and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s[2] by African-Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, and spirituals. B. The first section or phrase of 4 bars only uses the ton… The earliest references to blues date back to the 1890s and early 1900s. [33] This music is poorly documented, partly because of racial discrimination in U.S. society, including academic circles,[34] and partly because of the low rate of literacy among rural African Americans at the time. His style of music was not exactly rockabilly but it has been often called real rock and roll (this is a label he shares with several African American rock and roll performers).[125][126]. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove. Handy wrote that he adopted this convention to avoid the monotony of lines repeated three times. Garofalo cited other authors who also mention the "Ethiopian airs" and "Negro spirituals". Shuffle rhythm is often vocalized as "dow, da dow, da dow, da" or "dump, da dump, da dump, da":[31] it consists of uneven, or "swung", eighth notes. [58] However, in the 1920s, when country blues began to be recorded, the use of the banjo in blues music was quite marginal and limited to individuals such as Papa Charlie Jackson and later Gus Cannon. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. In 1986 the album Strong Persuader announced Robert Cray as a major blues artist. J. Francis Davis's The History of the Blues is a groundbreaking rethinking of the blues that fearlessly examines how race relations have altered perceptions of the music. B. Lenoir from the Chicago blues movement in the 1950s recorded several LPs using acoustic guitar, sometimes accompanied by Willie Dixon on the acoustic bass or drums. Herein are 15 standards of blues music according to "The Big Book of Blues" by Robert Santelli. Kunzler's dictionary of jazz provides two separate entries: "blues", and the "blues form", a widespread musical form (p. 131). During the 1980s blues also continued in both traditional and new forms. I said, backwater rising, Southern peoples can't make no time His album Alabama Blues contained a song with the following lyric: I never will go back to Alabama, that is not the place for me (2x) [61], The musical forms and styles that are now considered the blues as well as modern country music arose in the same regions of the southern United States during the 19th century. B. Charles Peabody mentioned the appearance of blues music at Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Gate Thomas reported similar songs in southern Texas around 1901–1902. The blues scale is often used in popular songs like Harold Arlen's "Blues in the Night", blues ballads like "Since I Fell for You" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love", and even in orchestral works such as George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Concerto in F". Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. In the 1700s, millions of people were taken from Africa to work as slaves in the West Indies and America. (1991). In the 1920s and ’30s Memphis Minnie, Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy, and Sonny Boy Williamson were popular Chicago performers. 679 likes. [60] The style also was closely related to ragtime, which developed at about the same time, though the blues better preserved "the original melodic patterns of African music". They sometimes expose the quirky side to a personality or an interest outside their musical career, and they will often miss out the most … King introduced a sophisticated style of guitar soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later electric blues guitarists. The new migrants constituted a new market for the music industry. In contrast with the West Side blues, the Texas style is strongly influenced by the British rock-blues movement. Blind Lemon Jefferson was by far the most influential Texas bluesman. It uses saxophone or other brass instruments and the guitar in the rhythm section to create a jazzy, up-tempo sound with declamatory vocals. Presley’s rapid rise to national stardom revealed the new cultural and economic power of both teenagers and teen-aimed media—records, radio, television, and motion pictures.…. Dorsey helped to popularize Gospel music. Later, several recordings were made by Robert W. Gordon, who became head of the Archive of American Folk Songs of the Library of Congress. The 12-bar blues structure can be found even in novelty pop songs, such as Bob Dylan's "Obviously Five Believers" and Esther and Abi Ofarim's "Cinderella Rockefella". The music originated from the United States of America. However, beginning in the 1990s, digital multitrack recording and other technological advances and new marketing strategies including video clip production increased costs, challenging the spontaneity and improvisation that are an important component of blues music. "Immigrant, Folk, and Regional Music in the Twentieth Century". The Blues music originally grew popular among the black population during the time when slavery was prominent in the United States. 2. Blue notes (or "worried notes"), usually thirds, fifths or sevenths flattened in pitch are also an essential part of the sound. The development of this musical genre was traced back in 1940s. King, Buddy Guy, Gary Clark Jr., Jeff Beck, Derek Trucks, Keb Mo, and others. 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. Electric blues used electric guitars, double bass (gradually replaced by bass guitar), drums, and harmonica (or "blues harp") played through a microphone and a PA system or an overdriven guitar amplifier. 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". By the 1800s in the United States, the term blues was associated with drinking alcohol, a meaning which survives in the phrase blue law, which prohibits the sale of alcohol on Sunday. Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) and Sonny Terry are well known harmonica (called "harp" by blues musicians) players of the early Chicago blues scene. Dixon, Robert M.W. [35], Reports of blues music in southern Texas and the Deep South were written at the dawn of the 20th century. Morales, p. 276. [101], By the late 1950s, the swamp blues genre developed near Baton Rouge, with performers such as Lightnin' Slim,[102] Slim Harpo,[103] Sam Myers and Jerry McCain around the producer J. D. "Jay" Miller and the Excello label. [75] The smooth Louisiana style of Professor Longhair and, more recently, Dr. John blends classic rhythm and blues with blues styles. Blues developed in the southern United States after the American Civil War (1861–65). Although it's almost certainly not true, a legend about Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues, bears repeating if only for the very remarkable fact that it achieved wide currency in the first place. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/art/blues-music, All About Jazz - A Brief History of the Blues, National Blues Museum - The Evolution of the Blues, New Georgia Encyclopedia - Arts and Culture - Blues Music, blues - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), blues - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Idiosyncratic numbers of bars are occasionally used, such as the 9-bar progression in "Sitting on Top of the World", by Walter Vinson. The simple but expressive forms of the blues became by the 1960s one of the most important influences on the development of popular music throughout the United States. Blues as a genre is also characterized by its lyrics, bass lines, and instrumentation. The Texas blues is characterized by high, clear singing accompanied by supple guitar lines that consist typically of single-string picked arpeggios rather than strummed chords. Bohlman, Philip V. (1999). The first blues recordings were made in the 1920s by Black women such as Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, and Bessie Smith. King. Songs from this genre include "Scratch my Back", "She's Tough" and "I'm a King Bee". Call-and-response shouts were an early form of blues-like music; they were a "functional expression ... style without accompaniment or harmony and unbounded by the formality of any particular musical structure". She overcame her depression and later noted a number of songs, such as Poor Rosy, that were popular among the slaves. Kentucky-born Sylvester Weaver was in 1923 the first to record the slide guitar style, in which a guitar is fretted with a knife blade or the sawed-off neck of a bottle. [5] As time went on, the phrase lost the reference to devils, and "it came to mean a state of agitation or depression." Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters were known for their deep, "gravelly" voices. Jazz instruments. The Great Depression and the World Wars caused the geographic dispersal of the blues as millions of Blacks left the South for the cities of the North. Although instrumental accompaniment is almost universal in the blues, the blues is essentially a vocal form. After WWII, blues had a substantial influence on jazz. Blues music was originally performed by one singer accompanied by a guitar or banjo. Strongly influenced by Jimmy Reed, swamp blues has a slower pace and a simpler use of the harmonica than the Chicago blues style performers such as Little Walter or Muddy Waters. Eric Clapton, known for his performances with the Blues Breakers and Cream, made a comeback in the 1990s with his album Unplugged, in which he played some standard blues numbers on acoustic guitar. Steinberg, Jesse R.; Fairweather, Abrol (eds.) An important label of this era was the Chicago-based Bluebird Records. Most artists of the Chicago blues style recorded for the Chicago-based Chess Records and Checker Records labels. In 2003, Martin Scorsese made significant efforts to promote the blues to a larger audience. Origins of the blues African slaves brought their musical traditions with them when they were transported to work in the North American colonies. They are now lost. [54] However the call-and-response format can be traced back to the music of Africa. [11] The lines are often sung following a pattern closer to rhythmic talk than to a melody. [129] Almost 30 years later, Mahal wrote blues for, and performed a banjo composition, claw-hammer style, in the 2001 movie release Songcatcher, which focused on the story of the preservation of the roots music of Appalachia. [10] Two of the first published blues songs, "Dallas Blues" (1912) and "Saint Louis Blues" (1914), were 12-bar blues with the AAB lyric structure. Early rock singers such as Elvis Presley often used blues material. King's singing and virtuoso guitar technique earned him the eponymous title "king of the blues". and the whole world let them peoples go down there free. [20], The American sheet music publishing industry produced a great deal of ragtime music. Handy, who first heard the blues in Tutwiler, Mississippi, in 1903. The first publication of blues sheet music was in 1908. Typically the first two and a half measures of each line are devoted to singing, the last measure and a half consisting of an instrumental “break” that repeats, answers, or complements the vocal line. The blues form is a cyclic musical form in which a repeating progression of chords mirrors the call and response scheme commonly found in African and African-American music. Blues Music Facts. [81] Chicago boogie-woogie performers included Clarence "Pine Top" Smith and Earl Hines, who "linked the propulsive left-hand rhythms of the ragtime pianists with melodic figures similar to those of Armstrong's trumpet in the right hand". However, when rural black music began to be recorded in the 1920s, both categories of musicians used similar techniques: call-and-response patterns, blue notes, and slide guitars. The first Stevie Ray Vaughan recording Texas Flood was released in 1983, and the Texas-based guitarist exploded onto the international stage. R&B music can be traced back to spirituals and blues. [131], This article is about the music genre. Chicago blues also influenced Louisiana's zydeco music,[95] with Clifton Chenier[96] using blues accents. It was Chicago, however, that played the greatest role in the development of urban blues. That blue notes predate their use in blues and have an African origin is attested to by "A Negro Love Song", by the English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, from his African Suite for Piano, written in 1898, which contains blue third and seventh notes. The "territory bands" operating out of Kansas City, the Bennie Moten orchestra, Jay McShann, and the Count Basie Orchestra were also concentrating on the blues, with 12-bar blues instrumentals such as Basie's "One O'Clock Jump" and "Jumpin' at the Woodside" and boisterous "blues shouting" by Jimmy Rushing on songs such as "Going to Chicago" and "Sent for You Yesterday". [8] It is in this sense of a sad state of mind that one of the earliest recorded references to "the blues" was written by Charlotte Forten, then aged 25, in her diary on December 14, 1862. Several record companies, such as the American Record Corporation, Okeh Records, and Paramount Records, began to record African-American music. The band formed also began a successful tour under the Blues Brothers marquee. Jump blues tunes by Louis Jordan and Big Joe Turner, based in Kansas City, Missouri, influenced the development of later styles such as rock and roll and rhythm and blues. The Blues is full of larger-than-life characters and these thumbnail facts are meant to give a flavour of the person behind the name. development of the genre. The blues was highlighted in Season 2012, Episode 1 of "In Performance at The White House", entitled "Red, White and Blues". It was the low-down music played by rural blacks. Chicago became a center for electric blues from 1948 on, when Muddy Waters recorded his first success, "I Can't Be Satisfied". Among the cities in which the blues initially took root were Atlanta, Memphis, and St. Louis. [21] Reverend Gary Davis[22] and Blind Willie Johnson[23] are examples of artists often categorized as blues musicians for their music, although their lyrics clearly belong to spirituals. Boogie-woogie was pioneered by the Chicago-based Jimmy Yancey and the Boogie-Woogie Trio (Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis). King, Bo Diddley, Erykah Badu, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Charlie Musselwhite, Blues Traveler, Jimmie Vaughan, and Jeff Baxter. You know they killed my sister and my brother Blues guitarist and vocalist Keb' Mo' performed his blues rendition of "America, the Beautiful" in 2006 to close out the final season of the television series The West Wing. The term "the blues" was first used by Washington Irving in 1807. Contemporary blues music is nurtured by several blues labels such as: Alligator Records, Ruf Records, Severn Records, Chess Records (MCA), Delmark Records, NorthernBlues Music, Fat Possum Records and Vanguard Records (Artemis Records). [69] The first blues recordings from the 1920s are categorized as a traditional, rural country blues and a more polished city or urban blues. [99][100] Expressive guitar solos were a key feature of this music. As the recording industry grew, country blues performers like Bo Carter, Jimmie Rodgers (country singer), Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, Tampa Red and Blind Blake became more popular in the African American community. B. Its influence on popular singing has been so widespread that, at least among males, singing and emoting have become almost identical—it is a matter of projection rather than hitting the notes.". Work as slaves in the 1920s and ’ 30s Memphis Minnie was for... 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