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-American work songs, and
spirituals. Blues incorporated
chants, and rhymed simple narrative
ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in
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, fifths or sevenths flattened in
pitch are also an essential part of the sound. Blues
walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the
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
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 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. (
harmonica, also called harp, French harp, and mouth organ, is a
wind instrument used primarily in
American folk music,
country music, and
rock and roll. It is played by blowing air into it or drawing air out by placing lips over individual holes (reed chambers) or multiple holes. The pressure caused by blowing or drawing air into the reed chambers causes a reed or multiple reeds to vibrate up and down creating sound. Each chamber has multiple, variable-tuned
reeds, which are secured at one end and loose on the other end, with the loose end vibrating and creating sound. (
Bessie Smith (April 15, 1894 – September 26, 1937) was an American
blues singer. Sometimes referred to as "The Empress of the Blues," Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and, along with
Louis Armstrong, a major influence on subsequent
jazz vocalists. (
||Blues is really America's finest art form and most dominant art form of the 20th century.
||Blues is a natural fact, something that a fellow lives. If you don't live it, you don't have it.
Big Bill Broonzy
||The blues is a low-down achin' heart disease
Like consumption killing me by degrees.
Robert Johnson, "Preaching Blues (Up Jumped the Devil)"
||When you lay down at night, turning from one side of the bed to the other and can't sleep, what's the matter? Blues got you.
||The blues had a baby and they named it rock and roll.