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Origin of the Genre

The blues originated in the 1890s and was played all throughout the South.  It was created by African Americans as a form of expression of the trials they were going through during their day to day lives. Blues has roots in negro folk music, chants, and work songs.

Characteristics

Blues is a type of storytelling. Storytelling is an important proponent in African history. In Africa, griots were storytellers who incorporated music to bring life to their history. Blues musicians are similar, they tell their personal stories through song as well. Blues singers were typically black women with powerful voices. The style of call and response was an element that continued to be passed down through African American music. In blues, it can be found in both the instrumentation as well as the vocals. The most common form of blues is the twelve-bar AAB form or variations of it using chords I, IV, or V in the key. The first four bars would include I, I, I, I followed by IV, IV, I, I and lastly V, IV, I, V.

Commodification

With the blues, the money was in publishing, not writing. This is something W.C. Handy realized very early on. He first heard the blues in Mississippi and was amazed. He realized the blues was something he could profit on and made a living writing and publishing music. He went on to nickname himself ” The Father of Blues”. Blues was heard on the radio and records. Race records began to gain popularity, they were records created by blacks for blacks.

Important Performers

Mamie Smith

Papa Charlie Jackson

Rosa Henderson

Social Implications

The blues has been around throughout the south for years. It was popularized in the 60s by whites. Whites’ interest in the blues led to research on its origin and performers. This came after white musicians used the blues to gain fame. Some prominent white blues artist are Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Johnny Winter.

Influence of Future Genres

Elements of blues went on to influence popular music in the United States. Blues is a key ingredient in genres such as jazz, rock and roll, and even western swing and honky-tonk styles.

Conclusory Opinion

The blues is a genre that is truly American. It was the pure innovation of African Americans that brought the blues into existence. The blues are bittersweet in the sense that their content contained sad stories, but these stories turned into art. Music can’t get any more authentic or raw then what the blues had to offer.

Avani Smith

Avani Smith

Avani Smith

Hi! My name is Avani Smith. I am a first-year Health Science major from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I grew up learning about African American music from

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