The Foundations of Blues Music


The Blues sound originated in Mississippi and quickly became extremely popular along the Mississippi delta area. The music first came to be when clubs in the south wanted music to play for adults to dance to. From that, blues style music emerged from specific chord progressions. It became the secular dancing music of the south.

W.C. Handy is accredited as the  Father of the Blues because of his link to the discovery of the blues sound. At the age of thirty, soon after arriving in Mississippi in 1902, he came across a man strumming and plucking a guitar in a peculiar way that stuck with him. By 1914, Handy became popular for his blues song “Memphis Blues” selling millions of copies of sheet music. 

Twelve-Bar Blues:

The twelve-bar blues was the most popular blues chord progression during its prime in the early 20th century. This chord progression consists of repetition of the I, IV, and V chords of a specific key.  Blues style music was often associated with being songs about pain and struggle, and although that was often true, it was also a common misconception. The reason that people perceived the blues as a “sad” style of music was because the chord progression was usually played in a minor key making the music sound gloomy. But, when listening to the listen, it is clear that the music was made to dance to and often was very secular.

Blues Legends:

Robert Johnson was born dirt poor on May 8th, 1911 in Mississippi. He was known as a music genius. He was a crafty guitar player with a special ear for music. He became one of the most famous of the delta blues singers. His music inspired many other blues artists and rock-n-roll artists to come.

McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, was born on April 4th, 1913. He was a singer, songwriter, and musician. He is known as the Father of modern Chicago Blues because he brought the blues sound to Chicago. He influenced a lot of the northern states to embrace the blues. 

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