The blues is a genre of music that has deep roots in African-American history. It originated on Southern Plantations by slaves in the 19th Century.It evolved from Negro spirituals, African chants, work songs, rural life and drum music.
The phrase ‘the blues’ is a reference to having a fit of ‘the blue devils’, meaning ‘down’ spirits, depression and sadness, so it was common that most blues music had a slower pace compared to genres like jazz.
Elements of the blues genre include the call and response (which is a common tradition in African American music). Stringed instruments such as guitars are commonly used.The original lyrical form of the blues was repetition of lines, it was common to hear a single line, repeated about three times.
In the early twentieth century, the blues was viewed as offensive, particularly as white crowds started tuning in to the blues amid the 1920s.In the mid twentieth century, W.C. Handy was the first to make the blues more respectable to non-black Americans.
The blues recordings that came out of the Mississippi Delta from the late 1920s through the late ’30s have had an enormous impact on American music, influencing everyone from The Rolling Stones to Cassandra Wilson. Famous Mississippi Delta blues singers include Charley Patton, Tommy Johnson. Other artists that made up the genre are B.B King, Muddy Waters and Bessie Smith.
In the 1950s, blues had a huge influence on mainstream American popular music. American artists such as Elvis Presley and Bill Haley who were heavily influenced by the blues sounds, incorporated the sounds into their own music and recordings. Elvis Presley ,especially, did in fact popularize the blues and make a huge profit off “his” music, but failed to give recognition to the original musicians.
Popular musicians like Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry’s approach to performance was one of the factors that influenced the origins of rock and roll. Blues musical styles, melodies, and the blues scale have influenced many other genres of music, such as rock and roll, jazz, and popular music. From the name ‘Rhythm and Blues’, it is obvious that this genre was also influenced by the Blues.