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Blues is a music genre and musical form originated by African
Americans in the
Deep South of the
United States around the end of the
19th century. The genre developed from roots in African musical
African-American work songs, spirituals, and the folk
music of white
Americans of European heritage.
spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed
simple narrative ballads. 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. Blue
notes (or "worried notes"), usually thirds or fifths flattened in
pitch, are also an essential part of the sound.
Blues shuffles or
walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive
effect known as the groove.
Blues as a genre is also characterized by its lyrics, bass lines, and
instrumentation. 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. 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. The origins of
the blues are also closely related to the religious music of the
Afro-American community, the spirituals. The first appearance of the
blues is often dated to after the ending of slavery and, later, the
development of juke joints. It is associated with the newly acquired
freedom of the former slaves. Chroniclers began to report about blues
music at the dawn of the 20th century. The first publication of blues
sheet music was in 1908.
Blues has since evolved from unaccompanied
vocal music and oral traditions of slaves into a wide variety of
styles and subgenres.
Blues subgenres include country blues, such as
Delta blues and Piedmont blues, as well as urban blues styles such as
Chicago blues and West Coast blues.
World War II
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. In the 1960s
and 1970s, a hybrid form called blues rock developed, which blended
blues styles with rock music.
4.2 Prewar blues
4.2.1 Urban blues
4.4 1960s and 1970s
4.5 1980s to the present
5 Musical impact
6 In popular culture
7 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
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). 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". As time went on, the phrase lost the
reference to devils, and "it came to mean a state of agitation or
depression." 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.
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. In lyrics
the phrase is often used to describe a depressed mood. 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".
American blues singer
Robert Johnson (1911 – 1938), His landmark
recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar
skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations
American blues singer
Ma Rainey (1886–1939), the "Mother of the
The lyrics of early traditional blues verses probably often consisted
of a single line repeated four times. It was only in the first decades
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. Two of the first
published blues songs, "Dallas Blues" (1912) and "Saint Louis Blues"
(1914), were 12-bar blues with the AAB lyric structure. W. C. Handy
wrote that he adopted this convention to avoid the monotony of lines
repeated three times. The lines are often sung following a pattern
closer to rhythmic talk than to a melody.
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". 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
The lyrics often relate troubles experienced within African American
society. For instance Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Rising High Water
Blues" (1927) tells of the Great
Mississippi Flood of 1927:
"Backwater rising, Southern peoples can't make no time
I said, backwater rising, Southern peoples can't make no time
And I can't get no hearing from that Memphis girl of mine."
Although the blues gained an association with misery and oppression,
the lyrics could also be humorous and raunchy:
"Rebecca, Rebecca, get your big legs off of me,
Rebecca, Rebecca, get your big legs off of me,
It may be sending you baby, but it's worrying the hell out of me."
From Big Joe Turner's "Rebecca", a compilation of traditional blues
Hokum blues celebrated both comedic lyrical content and a boisterous,
farcical performance style. 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. Blues
songs with sexually explicit lyrics were known as dirty blues. The
lyrical content became slightly simpler in postwar blues, which tended
to focus on relationship woes or sexual worries. Lyrical themes that
frequently appeared in prewar blues, such as economic depression,
farming, devils, gambling, magic, floods and drought, were less common
in postwar blues.
The writer Ed Morales claimed that
Yoruba mythology played a part in
early blues, citing Robert Johnson's "Cross Road Blues" as a "thinly
veiled reference to Eleggua, the orisha in charge of the
crossroads". However, the Christian influence was far more
obvious. The repertoires of many seminal blues artists, such as
Charley Patton and Skip James, included religious songs or
spirituals. Reverend Gary Davis and Blind Willie Johnson
are examples of artists often categorized as blues musicians for their
music, although their lyrics clearly belong to spirituals.
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. During the first decades
20th century blues music was not clearly defined in terms of a
particular chord progression. With the popularity of early
performers, such as Bessie Smith, use of the twelve-bar blues spread
across the music industry during the 1920s and 30s. 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". There are also 16-bar blues, such as
Ray Charles's instrumental "Sweet 16 Bars" and Herbie Hancock's
"Watermelon Man". Idiosyncratic numbers of bars are occasionally used,
such as the 9-bar progression in "Sitting on Top of the World", by
Chords played over a 12-bar scheme:
Chords for a blues in C:
I or IV
V or IV
I or V
C or F
G or F
C or G
The basic 12-bar lyric framework of a blues composition is reflected
by a standard harmonic progression of 12 bars in a 4/4 time signature.
The blues chords associated to a twelve-bar blues are typically a set
of three different chords played over a 12-bar scheme. They are
labeled by Roman numbers referring to the degrees of the progression.
For instance, for a blues in the key of C, C is the tonic chord (I)
and F is the subdominant (IV).
The last chord is the dominant (V) turnaround, marking the transition
to the beginning of the next progression. The lyrics generally end on
the last beat of the tenth bar or the first beat of the 11th bar, and
the final two bars are given to the instrumentalist as a break; the
harmony of this two-bar break, the turnaround, can be extremely
complex, sometimes consisting of single notes that defy analysis in
terms of chords.
Much of the time, some or all of these chords are played in the
harmonic seventh (7th) form. The use of the harmonic seventh interval
is characteristic of blues and is popularly called the "blues
Blues seven chords add to the harmonic chord a note with a
frequency in a 7:4 ratio to the fundamental note. At a 7:4 ratio, it
is not close to any interval on the conventional Western diatonic
scale. For convenience or by necessity it is often approximated by
a minor seventh interval or a dominant seventh chord.
A minor pentatonic scale; play (help·info)
In melody, blues is distinguished by the use of the flattened third,
fifth and seventh of the associated major scale. These specialized
notes are called the blue or bent notes. These scale tones may replace
the natural scale tones, or they may be added to the scale, as in the
case of the minor blues scale, in which the flattened third replaces
the natural third, the flattened seventh replaces the natural seventh
and the flattened fifth is added between the natural fourth and
natural fifth. While the 12-bar harmonic progression had been
intermittently used for centuries, the revolutionary aspect of blues
was the frequent use of the flattened third, flattened seventh, and
even flattened fifth in the melody, together with crushing—playing
directly adjacent notes at the same time (i.e., minor second)—and
sliding, similar to using grace notes. The blue notes allow for
key moments of expression during the cadences, melodies, and
embellishments of the blues.
Detroit blues rock shuffle
Chicago blues shuffle
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Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and
call-and-response, and they form a repetitive effect called a groove.
Characteristic of the blues since its Afro-American origins, the
shuffles played a central role in swing music. 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. When this riff was played over the bass and the
drums, the groove "feel" was created. 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. On a guitar
this may be played as a simple steady bass or it may add to that
stepwise quarter note motion from the fifth to the sixth of the chord
Blues shuffle or boogie in E major ( Play (help·info)).
Guitar tablature for a blues shuffle in E major.
"The Memphis Blues"
The Memphis Blues, composed by
W. C. Handy
W. C. Handy in 1912 and recorded by the
Victor Military Band, the first known commercial recording of Handy's
first commercially successful blues composition
The first commercial recording of vocal blues by an African-American
singer: Mamie Smith's performance of Perry Bradford's "Crazy Blues" in
Keep your lamp trimmed and burning
Traditional spiritual performed by Texas gospel singer Blind Willie
Johnson (vocal and guitar) and
Willie B. Harris
Willie B. Harris (vocal) in 1927, an
example of the close relationship between gospel and blues music
Piedmont blues, performed in 1930 by Blind Willie Walker
Bluegrass, performed in 1930 by Charlie Poole, a bluesman of Irish
Good Liquor Gonna Carry Me Down
Chicago blues of the late prewar era, the so-called Bluebird sound,
recorded by Big Bill Broonzy
Deep Elem Blues
Rockabilly version of a traditional blues recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis
in 1956 or 1957
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Main article: Origins of the blues
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.'" Hart Wand's "Dallas Blues" was
published in 1912; W. C. Handy's "The Memphis Blues" followed in the
same year. The first recording by an African American singer was Mamie
Smith's 1920 rendition of Perry Bradford's "Crazy Blues". But the
origins of the blues were some decades earlier, probably around
1890. This music is poorly documented, partly because of racial
discrimination in U.S. society, including academic circles, and
partly because of the low rate of literacy among rural African
Americans at the time.
Reports of blues music in southern Texas and the
Deep South were
written at the dawn of the 20th century. Charles Peabody mentioned the
appearance of blues music at Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Gate Thomas
reported similar songs in southern Texas around 1901–1902. 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. Handy, who first heard the blues in
Tutwiler, Mississippi, in 1903. The first extensive research in the
field was performed by Howard W. Odum, who published an anthology of
folk songs from Lafayette County, Mississippi, and Newton County,
Georgia, between 1905 and 1908. The first noncommercial recordings
of blues music, termed proto-blues by Paul Oliver, were made by Odum
for research purposes at the very beginning of the 20th century. They
are now lost.
Other recordings that are still available were made in 1924 by
Lawrence Gellert. Later, several recordings were made by Robert W.
Gordon, who became head of the Archive of American Folk Songs of the
Library of Congress. Gordon's successor at the library was John Lomax.
In the 1930s, Lomax and his son Alan made a large number of
non-commercial blues recordings that testify to the huge variety of
proto-blues styles, such as field hollers and ring shouts. A
record of blues music as it existed before 1920 can also be found in
the recordings of artists such as Lead Belly and Henry Thomas.
All these sources show the existence of many different structures
distinct from twelve-, eight-, or sixteen-bar.
John Lomax (left) shaking hands with musician "Uncle" Rich Brown in
The social and economic reasons for the appearance of the blues are
not fully known. The first appearance of the blues is usually
dated after the Emancipation Act of 1863, between 1870 and 1900, a
period that coincides with post-emancipation and later, the
establishment of juke joints as places where blacks went to listen to
music, dance, or gamble after a hard day's work. This period
corresponds to the transition from slavery to sharecropping,
small-scale agricultural production, and the expansion of railroads in
the southern United States. Several scholars characterize the
development of blues music in the early 1900s as a move from group
performance to individualized performance. They argue that the
development of the blues is associated with the newly acquired freedom
of the enslaved people.
According to Lawrence Levine, "there was a direct relationship between
the national ideological emphasis upon the individual, the popularity
of Booker T. Washington's teachings, and the rise of the blues."
Levine stated that "psychologically, socially, and economically,
Americans were being acculturated in a way that would have
been impossible during slavery, and it is hardly surprising that their
secular music reflected this as much as their religious music
There are few characteristics common to all blues music, because the
genre took its shape from the idiosyncrasies of individual
performers. However, there are some characteristics that were
present long before the creation of the modern blues.
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". A form of this pre-blues was heard in slave ring
shouts and field hollers, expanded into "simple solo songs laden with
Blues has evolved from the unaccompanied vocal music and oral
traditions of slaves imported from West Africa and rural blacks into a
wide variety of styles and subgenres, with regional variations across
the United States. Although blues (as it is now known) can be seen as
a musical style based on both European harmonic structure and the
African call-and-response tradition that transformed into an interplay
of voice and guitar, the blues form itself bears no
resemblance to the melodic styles of the West African griots, and the
influences are faint and tenuous. Additionally, there are
theories that the four-beats-per-measure structure of the blues might
have its origins in the Native American tradition of pow wow
No specific African musical form can be identified as the single
direct ancestor of the blues. However the call-and-response format
can be traced back to the music of Africa. 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.
Diddley bow (a homemade one-stringed instrument found in parts of
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 banjo seems to be directly imported from West
African music. It is similar to the musical instrument that griots and
other Africans such as the Igbo played (called halam or akonting
by African peoples such as the Wolof, Fula and Mandinka). 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
Papa Charlie Jackson and later Gus Cannon.
Blues music also adopted elements from the "Ethiopian airs", minstrel
shows and Negro spirituals, including instrumental and harmonic
accompaniment. 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".
Charley Patton, one of the originators of the
Delta blues style,
playing with a pick or a bottleneck slide
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. Recorded blues and country
music can be found as far back as the 1920s, when the record industry
created the marketing categories "race music" and "hillbilly music" to
sell music by blacks for blacks and by whites for whites,
respectively. 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
Though musicologists can now attempt to define the blues narrowly in
terms of certain chord structures and lyric forms thought to have
originated in West Africa, audiences originally heard the music in a
far more general way: it was simply the music of the rural south,
Mississippi Delta. Black and white musicians shared the
same repertoire and thought of themselves as "songsters" rather than
blues musicians. 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. Blues
became a code word for a record designed to sell to black
The origins of the blues are closely related to the religious music of
Afro-American community, the spirituals. The origins of spirituals go
back much further than the blues, usually dating back to the middle of
the 18th century, when the slaves were Christianized and began to sing
and play Christian hymns, in particular those of Isaac Watts, which
were very popular. Before the blues gained its formal definition
in terms of chord progressions, it was defined as the secular
counterpart of spirituals. It was the low-down music played by rural
Depending on the religious community a musician belonged to, it was
more or less considered a sin to play this low-down music: blues was
the devil's music. Musicians were therefore segregated into two
categories: gospel singers and blues singers, guitar preachers and
songsters. 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. Gospel
music was nevertheless using musical forms that were compatible with
Christian hymns and therefore less marked by the blues form than its
The American sheet music publishing industry produced a great deal of
ragtime music. By 1912, the sheet music industry had published three
popular blues-like compositions, precipitating the Tin Pan Alley
adoption of blues elements: "Baby Seals' Blues", by "Baby" Franklin
Seals (arranged by Artie Matthews); "Dallas Blues", by Hart Wand; and
"The Memphis Blues", by W. C. Handy.
Sheet music from "Saint Louis Blues" (1914)
Handy was a formally trained musician, composer and arranger who
helped to popularize the blues by transcribing and orchestrating blues
in an almost symphonic style, with bands and singers. He became a
popular and prolific composer, and billed himself as the "Father of
the Blues"; however, his compositions can be described as a fusion of
blues with ragtime and jazz, a merger facilitated using the Cuban
habanera rhythm that had long been a part of ragtime; Handy's
signature work was the "Saint Louis Blues".
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 blues
evolved from informal performances in bars to entertainment in
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. Several record
companies, such as the American Record Corporation, Okeh Records, and
Paramount Records, began to record
As the recording industry grew, country blues performers like Bo
Carter, Jimmie Rodgers (country singer), Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie
Tampa Red and
Blind Blake became more popular in the African
American community. 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. The slide
guitar became an important part of the Delta blues. The first
blues recordings from the 1920s are categorized as a traditional,
rural country blues and a more polished city or urban blues.
Country blues performers often improvised, either without
accompaniment or with only a banjo or guitar. Regional styles of
country blues varied widely in the early 20th century. The
Delta blues was a rootsy sparse style with passionate
vocals accompanied by slide guitar. The little-recorded Robert
Johnson combined elements of urban and rural blues. In addition to
Robert Johnson, influential performers of this style included his
Charley Patton and Son House. Singers such as Blind
Willie McTell and
Blind Boy Fuller
Blind Boy Fuller performed in the southeastern
"delicate and lyrical"
Piedmont blues tradition, which used an
elaborate ragtime-based fingerpicking guitar technique. Georgia also
had an early slide tradition, with Curley Weaver, Tampa Red,
"Barbecue Bob" Hicks and James "Kokomo" Arnold as representatives of
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. Performers such as
Frank Stokes, Sleepy John Estes, Robert Wilkins, Joe McCoy, Casey Bill
Memphis Minnie used a variety of unusual instruments such
as washboard, fiddle, kazoo or mandolin.
Memphis Minnie was famous for
her virtuoso guitar style. Pianist
Memphis Slim began his career in
Memphis, but his distinct style was smoother and had some swing
elements. Many blues musicians based in Memphis moved to
the late 1930s or early 1940s and became part of the urban blues
Bessie Smith, an early blues singer, known for her powerful voice
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.
Classic female urban and vaudeville blues singers were popular in the
1920s, among them "the big three"—Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie
Smith, and Lucille Bogan—and Victoria Spivey. 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. 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". Smith would "sing a song in an unusual key, and her artistry in
bending and stretching notes with her beautiful, powerful contralto to
accommodate her own interpretation was unsurpassed".
In 1920 the vaudeville singer
Lucille Hegamin became the second black
woman to record blues when she recorded "The
Jazz Me Blues". These
recordings were typically labeled "race records" to distinguish them
from records sold to white audiences. Nonetheless, the recordings of
some of the classic female blues singers were purchased by white
buyers as well. These blueswomen's contributions to the genre
included "increased improvisation on melodic lines, unusual phrasing
which altered the emphasis and impact of the lyrics, and vocal
dramatics using shouts, groans, moans, and wails. The blues women thus
effected changes in other types of popular singing that had spin-offs
in jazz, Broadway musicals, torch songs of the 1930s and 1940s,
gospel, rhythm and blues, and eventually rock and roll."
Urban male performers included popular black musicians of the era,
such as Tampa Red,
Big Bill Broonzy
Big Bill Broonzy and Leroy Carr. An important label
of this era was the Chicago-based Bluebird Records. Before World War
Tampa Red was sometimes referred to as "the
Guitar Wizard". Carr
accompanied himself on the piano with
Scrapper Blackwell on guitar, a
format that continued well into the 1950s with artists such as Charles
Brown and even Nat "King" Cole.
A typical boogie-woogie bass line
Boogie-woogie was another important style of 1930s and early 1940s
urban blues. 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. Boogie-Woogie style was characterized by a
regular bass figure, an ostinato or riff and shifts of level in the
left hand, elaborating each chord and trills and decorations in the
Boogie-woogie was pioneered by the Chicago-based Jimmy
Yancey and the Boogie-Woogie Trio (Albert Ammons,
Pete Johnson and
Meade Lux Lewis).
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". The smooth
Louisiana style of
Professor Longhair and, more recently, Dr. John
blends classic rhythm and blues with blues styles.
Another development in this period was big band blues. The "territory
bands" operating out of Kansas City, the
Bennie Moten orchestra, Jay
McShann, and the
Count Basie Orchestra
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". A well-known big band blues tune is Glenn Miller's "In the
Mood". In the 1940s, the jump blues style developed.
Jump blues grew
up from the boogie woogie wave and was strongly influenced by big band
music. It uses saxophone or other brass instruments and the guitar in
the rhythm section to create a jazzy, up-tempo sound with declamatory
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. 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
Leroy Carr to the jump blues style and dominated the
blues-jazz scene at
Los Angeles during the 1940s.
The transition from country blues to urban blues that began in the
1920s was driven by the successive waves of economic crisis and booms
which led many rural blacks to move to urban areas, in a movement
known as the Great Migration. The long boom following World War II
induced another massive migration of the
the Second Great Migration, which was accompanied by a significant
increase of the real income of the urban blacks. The new migrants
constituted a new market for the music industry. The term race record,
initially used by the music industry for
African-American music, was
replaced by the term rhythm and blues. This rapidly evolving market
was mirrored by Billboard magazine's Rhythm and
Blues chart. This
marketing strategy reinforced trends in urban blues music such as the
use of electric instruments and amplification and the generalization
of the blues beat, the blues shuffle, which became ubiquitous in
R&B. This commercial stream had important consequences for blues
music, which, together with jazz and gospel music, became a component
Muddy Waters, described as "the guiding light of the modern blues
John Lee Hooker
Otis Rush, an originator of the "West Side sound"
After World War II, new styles of electric blues became popular in
cities such as Chicago, Memphis, Detroit and St.
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
Chicago became a center for electric blues from 1948 on,
Muddy Waters recorded his first success, "I Can't Be
Chicago blues is influenced to a large extent by Delta
blues, because many performers had migrated from the Mississippi
Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters,
Willie Dixon and
Jimmy Reed were all born
Mississippi and moved to
Chicago during the Great Migration. Their
style is characterized by the use of electric guitar, sometimes slide
guitar, harmonica, and a rhythm section of bass and drums. The
saxophonist J. T. Brown played in bands led by
Elmore James and by J.
B. Lenoir, but the saxophone was used as a backing instrument for
rhythmic support more than as a lead instrument.
Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) and
Sonny Terry are
well known harmonica (called "harp" by blues musicians) players of the
Chicago blues scene. Other harp players such as Big Walter
Horton were also influential.
Muddy Waters and
Elmore James were known
for their innovative use of slide electric guitar.
Howlin' Wolf and
Muddy Waters were known for their deep, "gravelly" voices.
The bassist and prolific songwriter and composer
Willie Dixon played a
major role on the
Chicago blues scene. 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. Most artists
Chicago blues style recorded for the Chicago-based Chess
Checker Records labels. Smaller blues labels of this era
Vee-Jay Records and J.O.B. Records. During the early 1950s,
Chicago labels were challenged by Sam Phillips' Sun
Records company in Memphis, which recorded
B. B. King
B. B. King and Howlin' Wolf
before he moved to
Chicago in 1960. After Phillips discovered
Elvis Presley in 1954, the Sun label turned to the rapidly expanding
white audience and started recording mostly rock 'n' roll.
In the 1950s, blues had a huge influence on mainstream American
popular music. While popular musicians like Bo Diddley and Chuck
Berry, both recording for Chess, were influenced by the Chicago
blues, their enthusiastic playing styles departed from the melancholy
aspects of blues.
Chicago blues also influenced Louisiana's zydeco
music, with Clifton Chenier using blues accents. Zydeco
musicians used electric solo guitar and cajun arrangements of blues
In England, electric blues took root there during a much acclaimed
Muddy Waters tour. 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. Although the
audience was largely jolted by the performance, the performance
influenced local musicians such as
Alexis Korner and
Cyril Davies to
emulate this louder style, inspiring the
British invasion of the
Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds.
In the late 1950s, a new blues style emerged on Chicago's West Side
pioneered by Magic Sam,
Buddy Guy and
Otis Rush on Cobra Records.
The "West Side sound" had strong rhythmic support from a rhythm
guitar, bass guitar and drums and as perfected by Guy, Freddie King,
Magic Slim and
Luther Allison was dominated by amplified electric lead
guitar. Expressive guitar solos were a key feature of this
Other blues artists, such as
John Lee Hooker
John Lee Hooker had influences not
directly related to the
Chicago style. John Lee Hooker's blues is more
"personal", based on Hooker's deep rough voice accompanied by a single
electric guitar. Though not directly influenced by boogie woogie, his
"groovy" style is sometimes called "guitar boogie". His first hit,
Boogie Chillen", reached number 1 on the R&B charts in 1949.
By the late 1950s, the swamp blues genre developed near Baton Rouge,
with performers such as Lightnin' Slim, Slim Harpo, Sam
Jerry McCain around the producer
J. D. "Jay" Miller
J. D. "Jay" Miller and the
Excello label. Strongly influenced by Jimmy Reed,
Swamp blues has a
slower pace and a simpler use of the harmonica than the
style performers such as
Little Walter or Muddy Waters. Songs from
this genre include "Scratch my Back", "She's Tough" and "I'm a King
Bee". Alan Lomax's recordings of
Mississippi Fred McDowell would
eventually bring him wider attention on both the blues and folk
circuit, with McDowell's droning style influencing North Mississippi
hill country blues musicians.
1960s and 1970s
B.B. King with his guitar, "Lucille"
By the beginning of the 1960s, genres influenced by African American
music such as rock and roll and soul were part of mainstream popular
music. White performers such as the Beatles had brought
African-American music to new audiences, both within the U.S. and
abroad. However, the blues wave that brought artists such as Muddy
Waters to the foreground had stopped. Bluesmen such as Big Bill
Willie Dixon started looking for new markets in Europe.
Dick Waterman and the blues festivals he organized in Europe played a
major role in propagating blues music abroad. In the UK, bands
emulated U.S. blues legends, and UK blues rock-based bands had an
influential role throughout the 1960s.
Blues performers such as
John Lee Hooker
John Lee Hooker and
Muddy Waters continued to
perform to enthusiastic audiences, inspiring new artists steeped in
traditional blues, such as New York–born Taj Mahal. 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. B. B. King's singing and virtuoso guitar
technique earned him the eponymous title "king of the blues". King
introduced a sophisticated style of guitar soloing based on fluid
string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later
electric blues guitarists. In contrast to the
King's band used strong brass support from a saxophone, trumpet, and
trombone, instead of using slide guitar or harp. Tennessee-born Bobby
"Blue" Bland, like B. B. King, also straddled the blues and R&B
genres. 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.
Eric Clapton performing at Hyde Park, London, in June 2008
The music of the civil rights movement and Free Speech Movement
in the U.S. prompted a resurgence of interest in American roots music
and early African American music. 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. Many compilations of classic prewar blues
were republished by the Yazoo Records.
J. B. Lenoir
J. 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. His songs, originally distributed only in Europe,
commented on political issues such as racism or
Vietnam War issues,
which was unusual for this period. His album
Blues contained a
song with the following lyric:
I never will go back to Alabama, that is not the place for me (2x)
You know they killed my sister and my brother,
and the whole world let them peoples go down there free
Texas blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan
White audiences' interest in the blues during the 1960s increased due
to the Chicago-based
Blues Band featuring guitarist
Michael Bloomfield, and the
British blues movement. 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
In 1963, LeRoi Jones, later known as Amiri Baraka, was the first to
write a book on the social history of the blues in
Blues People: The
Negro Music in White America.
The Argentine power trio
Manal in 1970, the first blues group to
perform in Spanish
In 1970 the trio
Manal established in
Argentina the basics of blues
sung in Castilian. Influenced poetically by the tango and generate
Beatnik, and musically by the blues, rock, jazz and African music
of River Plate, the trio composed of Alejandro Medina, Javier Martinez
and Claudio Gabis created a music that fused the roots of a genre born
Mississippi Delta with elements of idiosyncrasy and local
geography Porteña. The lyrics of
Manal emphasize existentialism,
the industrial city and the railroads, is notable in one of his most
well-known songs, "Avellaneda Blues":
Vía muerta, calle con asfalto siempre destrozado.
Tren de carga, el humo y el hollín, están por todos lados.
Sur y aceite, barriles en el barro, galpón abandonado. Charco sucio,
el agua va pudriendo, un zapato olvidado.
Dead rail, street with asphalt always shattered. Freight train, smoke
and soot, are everywhere.
South and oil, barrels in the mud, abandoned shed. Dirty puddle, the
water is rotting, a forgotten shoe.
"Avellaneda Blues" by
The British and blues musicians of the early 1960s inspired a number
of American blues rock fusion performers, including the Doors, Canned
Heat, the early Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, The
J. Geils Band, Ry Cooder, and the Allman Brothers Band. One blues rock
performer, Jimi Hendrix, was a rarity in his field at the time: a
black man who played psychedelic rock. Hendrix was a skilled
guitarist, and a pioneer in the innovative use of distortion and audio
feedback in his music. Through these artists and others, blues
music influenced the development of rock music.
Santana, which was originally called the Carlos Santana
also experimented with Latin-influenced blues and blues rock music
around this time. At the end of the 1950s appeared the bluesy Tulsa
Sound merging rock'n'roll, jazz and country influences. This
particular music style was popularized in the 1970s by
J. J. Cale
J. J. Cale and
the cover versions performed by
Eric Clapton of "After Midnight" and
In the early 1970s, The Texas rock-blues style emerged, which used
guitars in both solo and rhythm roles. In contrast with the West Side
blues, the Texas style is strongly influenced by the British
rock-blues movement. 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. These
artists all began their musical careers in the 1970s but they did not
achieve international success until the next decade.
1980s to the present
Since the 1980s there has been a resurgence of interest in the blues
among a certain part of the
African-American population, particularly
Mississippi and other deep South regions. Often termed
"soul blues" or "Southern soul", the music at the heart of this
movement was given new life by the unexpected success of two
particular recordings on the Jackson-based Malaco label: Z. Z.
Hill's Down Home
Blues (1982) and Little Milton's The
Blues is Alright
African-American performers who work in this
style of the blues include Bobby Rush, Denise LaSalle, Sir Charles
Jones, Bettye LaVette, Marvin Sease, Peggy Scott-Adams, Mel Waiters,
Clarence Carter, Dr. "Feelgood" Potts, O.B. Buchana, Ms. Jody, Shirley
Brown, and dozens of others.
During the 1980s blues also continued in both traditional and new
forms. In 1986 the album
Strong Persuader announced
Robert Cray as a
major blues artist. The first
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan recording Texas Flood
was released in 1983, and the Texas-based guitarist exploded onto the
international stage. John Lee Hooker's popularity was revived with the
album The Healer in 1989. Eric Clapton, known for his performances
Blues Breakers and Cream, made a comeback in the 1990s with
his album Unplugged, in which he played some standard blues numbers on
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.
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.
In the 1990s, the largely ignored hill country blues gained minor
recognition in both blues and alternative rock music circles with
R. L. Burnside
R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough.
Blues performers explored a range of musical genres, as can be seen,
for example, from the broad array of nominees of the yearly Blues
Music Awards, previously named
W. C. Handy
W. C. Handy Awards or of the
Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary and Traditional
Blues Album. The
Blues Album chart provides an overview of current blues
hits. Contemporary blues music is nurtured by several blues labels
such as: Alligator Records, Ruf Records, Severn Records, Chess Records
(MCA), Delmark Records, Northern
Fat Possum Records and
Vanguard Records (Artemis Records). Some labels are famous for
rediscovering and remastering blues rarities, including Arhoolie
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (heir of Folkways Records),
Yazoo Records (Shanachie Records).
From the late 2000s to the present day, blues rock has gained a
cultural following, especially after the rise of the Internet, when
artists started creating
YouTube channels, forums, and
Notable blues rock musicians of this period include Joe Bonamassa,
Gary Clark Jr., John Mayer, Shemekia Copeland, Eric Gales, Beth Hart,
Warren Haynes, Jason Ricci, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Ben Harper
(in collaboration with Charlie Musselwhite) and Orianthi. Alternative
rock artists still combine strong elements of blues in their music,
especially ZZ Ward, Cage the Elephant, Jack White, and the Black Keys.
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. Prominent jazz, folk or rock
performers, such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and
Bob Dylan have performed significant blues recordings. 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". Gershwin's second
"Prelude" for solo piano is an interesting example of a classical
blues, maintaining the form with academic strictness. The blues scale
is ubiquitous in modern popular music and informs many modal frames,
especially the ladder of thirds used in rock music (for example, in "A
Hard Day's Night").
Blues forms are used in the theme to the televised
Batman, teen idol Fabian Forte's hit, "Turn Me Loose", country music
star Jimmie Rodgers' music, and guitarist/vocalist Tracy Chapman's hit
"Give Me One Reason".
Early country bluesmen such as Skip James, Charley Patton, Georgia Tom
Dorsey played country and urban blues and had influences from
spiritual singing. Dorsey helped to popularize Gospel music.
Gospel music developed in the 1930s, with the Golden Gate Quartet. In
the 1950s, soul music by Sam Cooke,
Ray Charles and
James Brown used
gospel and blues music elements. In the 1960s and 1970s, gospel and
blues were merged in soul blues music.
Funk music of the 1970s was
influenced by soul; funk can be seen as an antecedent of hip-hop and
R&B music can be traced back to spirituals and blues. Musically,
spirituals were a descendant of
New England choral traditions, and in
particular of Isaac Watts's hymns, mixed with African rhythms and
call-and-response forms. Spirituals or religious chants in the
African-American community are much better documented than the
"low-down" blues. Spiritual singing developed because African-American
communities could gather for mass or worship gatherings, which were
called camp meetings.
Edward P. Comentale has noted how the blues was often used as a medium
for art or self-expression, stating: "As heard from Delta shacks to
Chicago tenements to Harlem cabarets, the blues proved—despite its
pained origins—a remarkably flexible medium and a new arena for the
shaping of identity and community."
Duke Ellington straddled the big band and bebop genres. Ellington
extensively used the blues form.
Before World War II, the boundaries between blues and jazz were less
clear. Usually jazz had harmonic structures stemming from brass bands,
whereas blues had blues forms such as the 12-bar blues. However, the
jump blues of the 1940s mixed both styles. After WWII, blues had a
substantial influence on jazz.
Bebop classics, such as Charlie
Parker's "Now's the Time", used the blues form with the pentatonic
scale and blue notes.
Bebop marked a major shift in the role of jazz, from a popular style
of music for dancing, to a "high-art", less-accessible, cerebral
"musician's music". The audience for both blues and jazz split, and
the border between blues and jazz became more defined.
The blues' 12-bar structure and the blues scale was a major influence
on rock and roll music.
Rock and roll
Rock and roll has been called "blues with a
Carl Perkins called rockabilly "blues with a country beat".
Rockabillies were also said to be 12-bar blues played with a bluegrass
beat. "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. Jerry Lee Lewis's style of rock
and roll was heavily influenced by the blues and its derivative boogie
woogie. 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).
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". The early
African American rock musicians retained the sexual themes and
innuendos of blues music: "Got a gal named Sue, knows just what to do"
("Tutti Frutti", Little Richard) or "See the girl with the red dress
on, She can do the Birdland all night long" ("What'd I Say", Ray
Charles). 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".
Early country music was infused with the blues. Jimmie Rodgers,
Moon Mullican, Bob Wills,
Bill Monroe and
Hank Williams have all
described themselves as blues singers and their music has a blues feel
that is different, at first glance at least, from the later country
pop of artists like Eddy Arnold. Yet, if one looks back further,
Arnold also started out singing bluesy songs like 'I'll Hold You in My
Heart'. A lot of the 1970s-era "outlaw" country music by Willie Nelson
Waylon Jennings also borrowed from the blues. 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.
In popular culture
The music of Taj Mahal for the 1972 movie
Sounder marked a revival of
interest in acoustic blues.
Like jazz, rock and roll, heavy metal music, hip hop music, reggae,
rap, country music, and pop music, blues has been accused of being the
"devil's music" and of inciting violence and other poor behavior.
In the early 20th century, the blues was considered disreputable,
especially as white audiences began listening to the blues during the
1920s. In the early twentieth century,
W.C. Handy was the first to
popularize blues-influenced music among non-black Americans.
During the blues revival of the 1960s and '70s, acoustic blues artist
Taj Mahal and legendary Texas bluesman
Lightnin' Hopkins wrote and
performed music that figured prominently in the popularly and
critically acclaimed film
Sounder (1972). The film earned Mahal a
Grammy nomination for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture
BAFTA nomination. 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.
Perhaps the most visible example of the blues style of music in the
20th century came in 1980, when
Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi
released the film The
Blues Brothers. The film drew many of the
biggest living influencers of the rhythm and blues genre together,
such as Ray Charles, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, and
John Lee Hooker. The band formed also began a successful tour under
Blues Brothers marquee. 1998 brought a sequel,
Blues Brothers 2000
that, while not holding as great a critical and financial success,
featured a much larger number of blues artists, such as B.B. King, Bo
Diddley, Erykah Badu, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Charlie
Blues Traveler, Jimmie Vaughan, and Jeff Baxter.
Martin Scorsese made significant efforts to promote the blues
to a larger audience. He asked several famous directors such as Clint
Wim Wenders to participate in a series of documentary
films for PBS called The Blues. He also participated in the
rendition of compilations of major blues artists in a series of
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.
African American portal
Blues Hall of Fame
Blues – book
List of blues festivals
List of blues musicians
List of blues standards
British blues musicians
List of films based on blues music
List of train songs
African American culture
^ a b "BBC – GCSE Bitesize: Origins of the blues". bbc.co.uk.
Retrieved September 15, 2015.
^ Kunzler's dictionary of jazz provides two separate entries: "blues",
African-American genre (p. 128), and the "blues form", a
widespread musical form (p. 131). Kunzler, Martin (1988).
Jazz-Lexicon. Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag.
^ "The Evolution of Differing
Blues Styles". How to Play
Archived from the original on January 18, 2010. Retrieved August 11,
^ The "Trésor de la Langue Française informatisé" provides this
etymology of blues and cites Colman's farce as the first appearance of
the term in the English language; see "Blues" (in French). Centre
Nationale de Ressources Textuelles et Lixicales. Archived from the
original on January 18, 2010. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
^ a b Devi, Debra (2013). "Why Is the
Blues Called the 'Blues'?"
Huffington Post, 4 January 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
^ Davis, Francis (1995). The History of the Blues. New York: Hyperion.
^ Partridge, Eric (2002). A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional
English. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-29189-7.
^ Bolden, Tony (2004). Afro-Blue: Improvisations in African American
Poetry and Culture. University of Illinois Press.
^ Ferris, p. 230.
^ Handy, W. C. (1941). Father of the Blues: An Autobiography. Arna
Bontemps, ed. New York: Macmillan. p. 143. (No ISBN.)
^ Ewen, pp. 142–143.
^ Blesh, Rudi; Janis, Harriet Grossman (1958). They All Played
Ragtime: The True Story of an American Music. Sidgwick & Jackson.
p. 186. ISBN 978-1-4437-3152-2.
^ Thomas, James G. Jr. (2007). The New Encyclopedia of Southern
Culture: Ethnicity. University of North Carolina Press. p. 166.
^ Komara, p. 476.
^ Moore, Allan F. (2002). The Cambridge Companion to
Blues and Gospel
Music. Cambridge University Press. p. 32.
^ Oliver, p. 281.
^ a b Morales, p. 277.
^ a b c Humphrey, Mark A. In Nothing but the Blues. pp. 107–149.
^ Calt, Stephen; Perls, Nick; Stewart, Michael. Ten Years of Black
Country Religion 1926–1936 (LP back cover notes). New York: Yazoo
Records. L-1022. Archived from the original on January 18, 2010.
^ "Reverend Gary Davis". 2009. Archived from the original on February
12, 2009. Retrieved February 3, 2009.
^ Corcoran, Michael. "The Soul of Blind Willie Johnson". Austin
American-Statesman. Archived from the original on January 18, 2010.
Retrieved February 3, 2009.
^ Brozman, Bob (2002). "The Evolution of the 12-Bar Blues
Progression,". Retrieved May 2, 2009.
^ Charters, Samuel. In Nothing but the Blues. p. 20.
^ Fullman, Ellen. "The Long String Instrument" (PDF). MusicWorks.
Issue 37, Fall 1987. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 25,
Jazz Improvisation Almanac, Outside Shore Music Online School".
Archived from the original on September 11, 2012.
^ Ewen, p. 143.
^ Grace notes were common in the Baroque and Classical periods, but
they acted as ornamentation rather than as part of the harmonic
structure. For example, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's
Piano Concerto No.
21 has a flatted fifth in the dominant. In these periods, this was a
technique for building tension for resolution into the perfect fifth;
in contrast, a blues melody uses the flatted fifth as part of the
^ Kunzler, p. 1065.
^ Pearson, Barry. In Nothing but the Blues. p. 316.
^ Hamburger, David (2001). Acoustic
Guitar Slide Basics.
^ Burger, Jim. "Lesson 72: Basic
Blues Shuffle". Retrieved November
^ Savidge, Wilbur M.; Vradenburg, Randy L. (2002). Everything About
Playing the Blues. Music Sales Distributed. p. 35.
^ Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff, ""They Cert'ly Sound Good to Me": Sheet
Music, Southern Vaudeville, and the Commercial Ascendancy of the
Blues", American Music, Vol. 14, No. 4, New Perspectives on the Blues
(Winter, 1996), p.406
^ Evans, David. In Nothing but the Blues. p. 33.
^ a b Kunzler, p. 130.
^ Bastin, Bruce. In Nothing but the Blues. p. 206.
^ Evans, David. In Nothing but the Blues. pp. 33–35.
^ Cowley, John H. In Nothing but the Blues. p. 265.
^ Cowley, John H. In Nothing but the Blues. pp. 268–269.
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^ Oliphant, Dave. "Henry Thomas". The Handbook of Texas Online.
Retrieved September 26, 2008.
^ Garofalo, pp. 46–47.
^ Oliver, p. 3.
^ Bohlman, Philip V. (1999). "Immigrant, Folk, and Regional Music in
the Twentieth Century". The Cambridge History of American Music. David
Nicholls, ed. Cambridge University Press. p. 285.
^ Oliver, Paul (1984).
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Commentary. New York: Da Capo Press. pp. 45–47.
^ a b Levine, Lawrence W. (1977). Black Culture and Black
Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom.
Oxford University Press. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-19-502374-9.
^ Southern, p. 333.
^ Garofalo, p. 44.
^ Ferris, p. 229.
^ Morales, p. 276. Morales attributed this claim to John Storm Roberts
in Black Music of Two Worlds, beginning his discussion with a quote
from Roberts: "There does not seem to be the same African quality in
blues forms as there clearly is in much Caribbean music."
^ "Call and Response in Blues". How to Play
Blues Guitar. Retrieved
August 11, 2008.
^ Charters, Samuel. In Nothing but the Blues. p. 25.
^ Oliver, p. 4.
^ "Music: Exploring Native American Influence on the Blues".
^ Vierwo, Barbara; Trudeau, Andy. The Curious Listener's Guide to the
Blues. Stone Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-399-53072-2.
^ Scott (2003). From the Erotic to the Demonic: On Critical
Musicology. Oxford University Press. p. 182. A blues idiom is
hinted at in "A Negro Love-Song", a pentatonic melody with blue third
and seventh in Coleridge-Taylor's African Suite of 1898, before the
first blues publications.
^ Steper, Bill (1999). "
African-American Music from the Mississippi
Hill Country: "They Say
Drums Was a-Calling"". APF Reporter. Archived
from the original on September 6, 2008. Retrieved October 27,
^ Chambers, Douglas B. (2009). Murder at Montpelier: Igbo Africans in
Virginia. University Press of Mississippi. p. 180.
^ Charters, Samuel. In Nothing but the Blues. pp. 14–15.
^ Charters, Samuel. In Nothing but the Blues. p. 16.
^ Garofalo, p. 44. "Gradually, instrumental and harmonic accompaniment
were added, reflecting increasing cross-cultural contact." Garofalo
cited other authors who also mention the "Ethiopian airs" and "Negro
^ Schuller, cited in Garofalo, p. 27.
^ Garofalo, pp. 44–47: "As marketing categories, designations like
race and hillbilly intentionally separated artists along racial lines
and conveyed the impression that their music came from mutually
exclusive sources. Nothing could have been further from the truth...
In cultural terms, blues and country were more equal than they were
separate." Garofalo claimed that "artists were sometimes listed in the
wrong racial category in record company catalogues."
^ Wolfe, Charles. In Nothing but the Blues. pp. 233–263.
^ Golding, Barrett. "The Rise of the Country Blues". NPR. Retrieved
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