Origin of the Genre

Blues music originated in the south towards the end of the 19th century. It’s soulful sounds were developed from work songs created by Black workers on plantations, and derives from negro spirituals created during slave times.

Characteristics of the Genre

Blues, in its most recognizable form, is broken into twelve measures with four counts in each measure. The measures follow a specific chord progression starting with I (the tonic chord), leading into IV (the subdominant chord), then back to I, moves to V (the dominant chord), then back down to IV, down to I, and then  transitions back to V finally resolving and ending the phrase before starting the chord progression cycle over again. Blues is known for its call and response pattern that happens while the blues chord progression is happening.

Important Performers

  • Muddy Waters
  • Mammie Smith
  • Eta James
  • Ma Rainey (The Mother of the Blues)


W. C. Handy, the self-proclaimed “Father of Blues” started a  business printing blues music and selling the scores. This spread of these musical copies assisted in the spreading of blues music from out of the south and disperse to the rest of the country.

Influences of Future Genres

Blues has influenced many other genres of music including: soul, funk, rock and roll, and jazz.

Conclusory Opinions

Blues was a key predecessor in the creation of pivotal rock and roll artist such as The Beatles and The Rollings Stones. Without the blues, many of the music styles that we listen to today would not exist.


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