The Urbanization of Blues

Introduction to Urban Blues

The Great Migration is one of the biggest cultural movements in history. African Americans migrated to the south to the north in large numbers between 1916 and 1970s. Big waves of African Americans migrated due to the Jim Crow laws being upheld n the south which caused racial segregation and poor economic conditions. As the migration occurred, the culture of African Americans followed as well. The music of African American music transformed as African Americans settled into different areas up north like Chicago, Detroit, New York, etc. As African Americans settled up north, the development of urban blues came along.


During the development of Urban Blues, amplified music grew as well, specifically the electric guitar. The electric guitar became very popular in Urban Blues along with the harp and bass. Amplified music grew due to the nosier up north bars and clubs. One of the earliest blues musicians to use the electric guitar was T-Bone Walker, his guitar style was one of a kind. Urban blues also included music notation and vocal lines in shouting styles. All urban blues songs are vocals accompanied by instruments. The majority of these songs follow a standard 3-line verse form in which the first line was repeated, or nearly so, in the second and then followed by a rhyming third line.


African Americans abandoned the low-paying jobs and migrated north to the urban cities. Life up north differed from down south. Southern juke joints transformed into blues bars. Performers had to find new experiences to talk about with their new lifestyles. The blues singers amplified their instruments and sang through microphones, producing a new and more insistent sound. Urban blues has gone on to influence other music styles and musicians as the years have developed

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