World War II marked the transition from acoustic to electric blues and the progressive opening of blues music to a wider audience, especially white listeners. 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.  Prominent jazz, folk or rock performers, such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Bob Dylan have performed significant blues recordings. For instance, for a blues in the key of C, C is the tonic chord (I) and F is the subdominant (IV). At the time, rhythm and blues was basically a code phrase for "music recorded and bought by black people." At a 7:4 ratio, it is not close to any interval on the conventional Western diatonic scale.  Through these artists and others, blues music influenced the development of rock music. Vocally, it is the most speechlike, and the guitar accompaniment is rhythmic and percussive; a slide or bottleneck is often used. The style of British blues developed in the UK, when bands such as the Animals, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the supergroup Cream and the Irish musician Rory Gallagher performed classic blues songs from the Delta or Chicago blues traditions.  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.  This melancholy has led to the suggestion of an Igbo origin for blues because of the reputation the Igbo had throughout plantations in the Americas for their melancholic music and outlook on life when they were enslaved.. B. Guitar, saxophone, drums, trumpet, piano, trombone, clarinet, and the double bass … Handy was the first to popularize blues-influenced music among non-black Americans. He asked several famous directors such as Clint Eastwood and Wim Wenders to participate in a series of documentary films for PBS called The Blues. Shuffle rhythm is often vocalized as "dow, da dow, da dow, da" or "dump, da dump, da dump, da": it consists of uneven, or "swung", eighth notes. The Billboard Blues Album chart provides an overview of current blues hits. Lyrics took up urban themes, and the blues ensemble developed as the solo bluesman was joined by a pianist or harmonica player and then by a rhythm section consisting of bass and drums. ", Urban male performers included popular black musicians of the era, such as Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and Leroy Carr. The notion of blues as a separate genre arose during the black migration from the countryside to urban areas in the 1920s and the simultaneous development of the recording industry.  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. Spiritual singing developed because African-American communities could gather for mass or worship gatherings, which were called camp meetings. Handy wrote that he adopted this convention to avoid the monotony of lines repeated three times. , The lively Memphis blues style, which developed in the 1920s and 1930s near Memphis, Tennessee, was influenced by jug bands such as the Memphis Jug Band or the Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers. His songs, originally distributed only in Europe, commented on political issues such as racism or Vietnam War issues, which was unusual for this period. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and call-and-response, and they form a repetitive effect called a groove. Before World War II, Tampa Red was sometimes referred to as "the Guitar Wizard". While the style is often associated with solo piano, boogie-woogie was also used to accompany singers and, as a solo part, in bands and small combos. Blues Music History Trivia . (Parentheticals in Garofalo.). 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. introducing the ragtime to public. Rockabillies were also said to be 12-bar blues played with a bluegrass beat. King and Howlin' Wolf before he moved to Chicago in 1960. , The social and economic reasons for the appearance of the blues are not fully known. Almost any self-respecting blues band should be able to cover these songs. , The Diddley bow (a homemade one-stringed instrument found in parts of the American South in the early twentieth century) and the banjo are African-derived instruments that may have helped in the transfer of African performance techniques into the early blues instrumental vocabulary. The audience for both blues and jazz split, and the border between blues and jazz became more defined. , City or urban blues styles were more codified and elaborate, as a performer was no longer within their local, immediate community, and had to adapt to a larger, more varied audience's aesthetic. For other uses, see. These recordings were typically labeled "race records" to distinguish them from records sold to white audiences. Our latest episode for parents features the topic of empathy. White audiences' interest in the blues during the 1960s increased due to the Chicago-based Paul Butterfield Blues Band featuring guitarist Michael Bloomfield, and the British blues movement. As well festivals such as the Newport Folk Festival brought traditional blues to a new audience, which helped to revive interest in prewar acoustic blues and performers such as Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, and Reverend Gary Davis.  The lines are often sung following a pattern closer to rhythmic talk than to a melody. The use of the harmonic seventh interval is characteristic of blues and is popularly called the "blues seven". Blues is a unique genre. Since the 1980s there has been a resurgence of interest in the blues among a certain part of the African-American population, particularly around Jackson, Mississippi and other deep South regions. From world music to modern opera, sort fact from fiction in this study of musical origins. It uses saxophone or other brass instruments and the guitar in the rhythm section to create a jazzy, up-tempo sound with declamatory vocals.  The saxophonist J. T. Brown played in bands led by Elmore James and by J. But the origins of the blues were some decades earlier, probably around 1890. King, Buddy Guy, Gary Clark Jr., Jeff Beck, Derek Trucks, Keb Mo, and others. When Jerry Lee Lewis returned to country after the decline of 1950s style rock and roll, he sang his country with a blues feel and often included blues standards on his albums. The origins of the blues are also closely related to the religious music of the Afro-American community, the spirituals.  Ma Rainey, the "Mother of Blues", and Bessie Smith each "[sang] around center tones, perhaps in order to project her voice more easily to the back of a room". 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. They come from different eras and include styles such as ragtime-vaudeville, Delta and country blues, and urban styles from Chicago and the West Coast. In the 1960s and 1970s, a hybrid form called blues rock developed, which blended blues styles with rock music. 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. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Boogie-woogie was pioneered by the Chicago-based Jimmy Yancey and the Boogie-Woogie Trio (Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis). 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.  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". Records. , Reports of blues music in southern Texas and the Deep South were written at the dawn of the 20th century. 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.  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. Hendrix was a skilled guitarist, and a pioneer in the innovative use of distortion and audio feedback in his music. The blues have had their greatest influence on rock music. Blues music was originally performed by one singer accompanied by a guitar or banjo. Another development in this period was big band blues. After WWII, blues had a substantial influence on jazz. ", There are few characteristics common to all blues music, because the genre took its shape from the idiosyncrasies of individual performers. Although instrumental accompaniment is almost universal in the blues, the blues is essentially a vocal form. The bassist and prolific songwriter and composer Willie Dixon played a major role on the Chicago blues scene. , The blues' 12-bar structure and the blues scale was a major influence on rock and roll music. She was a free-born black from Pennsylvania who was working as a schoolteacher in South Carolina, instructing both slaves and freedmen, and wrote that she "came home with the blues" because she felt lonesome and pitied herself. The lyrics often relate troubles experienced within African American society. B. Kunzler, Martin (1988). 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. Jerry Lee Lewis's style of rock and roll was heavily influenced by the blues and its derivative boogie woogie. They sometimes expose the quirky side to a personality or an interest outside their musical career, and they will often miss out the most … It is associated with the newly acquired freedom of the former slaves. The earliest references to blues date back to the 1890s and early 1900s. The blues evolved from informal performances in bars to entertainment in theaters.  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. Although she admitted being unable to describe the manner of singing she heard, Forten wrote that the songs "can't be sung without a full heart and a troubled spirit", conditions that have inspired countless blues songs..  The first blues recordings from the 1920s are categorized as a traditional, rural country blues and a more polished city or urban blues. Smaller blues labels of this era included Vee-Jay Records and J.O.B. 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. Among the cities in which the blues initially took root were Atlanta, Memphis, and St. Louis.  For convenience or by necessity it is often approximated by a minor seventh interval or a dominant seventh chord. The term Blues may have come from "blue devils", meaning melancholy and sadness; an early use of the term in this sense is in George Colman's one-act farce Blue Devils (1798). Slaves used “field hollers” to communicate in the fields and work songs to keep time when performing a task. The first Stevie Ray Vaughan recording Texas Flood was released in 1983, and the Texas-based guitarist exploded onto the international stage. Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, and spirituals. King. BACK; NEXT ; Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge. In the 1920s, the blues became a major element of African American and American popular music, reaching white audiences via Handy's arrangements and the classic female blues performers.  The simplest shuffles, which were the clearest signature of the R&B wave that started in the mid-1940s, were a three-note riff on the bass strings of the guitar. (2011). Gordon's successor at the library was John Lomax. Before the origination of the blues, African American's voiced their feelings and interpersonal relationships while working out on the planatations. 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.  However the call-and-response format can be traced back to the music of Africa. This commercial stream had important consequences for blues music, which, together with jazz and gospel music, became a component of R&B..  Dallas-born T-Bone Walker, who is often associated with the California blues style, performed a successful transition from the early urban blues à la Lonnie Johnson and Leroy Carr to the jump blues style and dominated the blues-jazz scene at Los Angeles during the 1940s. 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) The rural blues developed in three principal regions, Georgia and the Carolinas, Texas, and Mississippi. The first section or phrase of 4 bars only uses the ton… Blues music is shrouded in a veil of legend and lore. In the 1950s, soul music by Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and James Brown used gospel and blues music elements. Mamie Smith, more a vaudeville performer than a blues artist, was the first African American to record a blues song in 1920; her second record, "Crazy Blues", sold 75,000 copies in its first month. In contrast to the Chicago style, King's band used strong brass support from a saxophone, trumpet, and trombone, instead of using slide guitar or harp. Dorsey helped to popularize Gospel music. Garofalo, p. 44. 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". 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".  Performers such as Frank Stokes, Sleepy John Estes, Robert Wilkins, Joe McCoy, Casey Bill Weldon and Memphis Minnie used a variety of unusual instruments such as washboard, fiddle, kazoo or mandolin. This is put together as 3 phrases or sections, each being 4 bars long. , In the 1980s and 1990s, blues publications such as Living Blues and Blues Revue were launched, major cities began forming blues societies, outdoor blues festivals became more common, and more nightclubs and venues for blues emerged. Rock and roll has been called "blues with a backbeat"; Carl Perkins called rockabilly "blues with a country beat". During this period, Freddie King and Albert King often played with rock and soul musicians (Eric Clapton and Booker T & the MGs) and had a major influence on those styles of music. Mississippi Delta blues is the most intense of the three styles and has been the most influential. During the early 1950s, the dominating Chicago labels were challenged by Sam Phillips' Sun Records company in Memphis, which recorded B. Many elements, such as the call-and-response format and the use of blue notes, can be traced back to the music of Africa. ", "The Evolution of the 12-Bar Blues Progression", "A Jazz Improvisation Almanac, Outside Shore Music Online School".  The smooth Louisiana style of Professor Longhair and, more recently, Dr. John blends classic rhythm and blues with blues styles. Usually jazz had harmonic structures stemming from brass bands, whereas blues had blues forms such as the 12-bar blues. John Lee Hooker blended his blues style with rock elements and playing with younger white musicians, creating a musical style that can be heard on the 1971 album Endless Boogie. Many blues musicians based in Memphis moved to Chicago in the late 1930s or early 1940s and became part of the urban blues movement. In the UK, bands emulated U.S. blues legends, and UK blues rock-based bands had an influential role throughout the 1960s.. Waters, unsuspecting of his audience's tendency towards skiffle, an acoustic, softer brand of blues, turned up his amp and started to play his Chicago brand of electric blues. The name of this great American music probably originated with the 17th-century English expression “the blue devils,” for the intense visual hallucinations that can accompany severe alcohol withdrawal. These observations coincide more or less with the recollections of Jelly Roll Morton, who said he first heard blues music in New Orleans in 1902; Ma Rainey, who remembered first hearing the blues in the same year in Missouri; and W.C. Most artists of the Chicago blues style recorded for the Chicago-based Chess Records and Checker Records labels. An important label of this era was the Chicago-based Bluebird Records. Rebecca, Rebecca, get your big legs off of me, Kunzler's dictionary of jazz provides two separate entries: "blues", and the "blues form", a widespread musical form (p. 131). , No specific African musical form can be identified as the single direct ancestor of the blues. 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. The long boom following World War II induced another massive migration of the African-American population, the Second Great Migration, which was accompanied by a significant increase of the real income of the urban blacks. Garofalo cited other authors who also mention the "Ethiopian airs" and "Negro spirituals". In contrast with the West Side blues, the Texas style is strongly influenced by the British rock-blues movement.  The banjo seems to be directly imported from West African music. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. Were the first blues recordings made by women? Blues musicians are musical artists who are primarily recognized as writing, performing, and recording blues music.  The repertoires of many seminal blues artists, such as Charley Patton and Skip James, included religious songs or spirituals. Influenced by ragtime and white folk music, it is more melodic than the Texas and Mississippi styles. Charles Peabody mentioned the appearance of blues music at Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Gate Thomas reported similar songs in southern Texas around 1901–1902. Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed were all born in Mississippi and moved to Chicago during the Great Migration. "Hound Dog", with its unmodified 12-bar structure (in both harmony and lyrics) and a melody centered on flatted third of the tonic (and flatted seventh of the subdominant), is a blues song transformed into a rock and roll song. 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. Many early rock and roll songs are based on blues: "That's All Right Mama", "Johnny B. Goode", "Blue Suede Shoes", "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On", "Shake, Rattle, and Roll", and "Long Tall Sally". 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.…. 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. It may be sending you baby, but it's worrying the hell out of me. The new migrants constituted a new market for the music industry. 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. The emotion expressed is generally one of sadness or melancholy, often due to problems in love.