The Blues isn’t Always Sad

Origin of the Genre

At the turn of the twentieth-century, blues folk music arose in the South. It stems from folk music and has its base from the early fiddle and banjo music. People would find anything they could that produced sound and used it in making blues music. The key elements of the blues are the unique sound (rural America/country sound). The blues was most prominent in the South from Georgia to eastern Texas, these places gave birth to the blues. Although it stretches farther north, the Blues in these places were just offsets of the South.

(I use to listen to Louis Jordan everyday with my Aunt)

Characteristics and Social Implications

There are distinct characteristics of the blues that makes it stand out. Blues texts are usually right to the point and concerned with the individual. Lyrics can talk about personal feelings which are dramatized most of the time, and also an contain humor.  The role of instrumentation is also important in blues music, an instrumental sort of acts like another voice. Blues also involves blue notes and blues scales.

Social Implications of the blues was music used to highlight the struggle of the African American. Before music was seen as communal but blues allowed for a focus on the individual and their problems. If the songs brought up other people it was still in relation to the self. The time when blues emerged showed a shift in African Americans goals. With the implementation of Jim Crow laws, they quickly saw that although slavery was over this was still a white world. Blues highlight the feelings of the black community and their mood at this time.

Important Performers

Bessie Smith

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W.C Handy

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Muddy Waters

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Money Making Blues

In the earlier days of blues, performers made money by appearing in places of low reputation. House parties, juke joints and clubs were home to a nightlife of blues performers. Many male blues performer were often gamblers, pimps and prostitutes which is why the music was looked down upon in the beginning. But as time went on the popularization of blues music led to many African Americans recording songs for commercialization and started to make a lot more money.


My impression of blues music was that it was a sad song but blues is not just for bad moods. Blues might highlight a struggle in the community but the sound comes in so many different forms that its hard to limit it to just being “sad”. Blues shaped genres of music in the future like “Rock N’ Roll” which is basically a name given to it to appeal to white consumers. African American have influenced generations by music that came from a time they didn’t see any hope. Instrumentation wise blues has added flavor to already existing ways to play instruments like the “bend” which gives off a very unique sound on a string instrumental and is seen in Rock N Roll. A lot of hip hop artist even base their music off of blues or rock n roll sounds.

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