History of the Blue Music Genre
History of the Blue Music Genre
The origins of blues music may be traced back to the late 1800s in the southern United States, particularly in the Mississippi Delta. African-Americans created it by combining European and African music. The Blues emerged as a result of the fusion of these cultures and subcultures. Work songs, field hollers, spirituals, folk ballads, and minstrels are examples of early antecedents of blues music.
The phrase “delta blues” refers to a type of early blues that originated in the Mississippi Delta. Delta blues was typically played with only one vocal part and one guitar (or occasionally a keyboard); the performer would frequently perform alone, singing and playing at the same time.
It was only broadcast in rural, informal settings, such as a porch or a tavern. Fields, railroads, manual work, and other rural scenes were featured prominently in the lyrics. Many of the rare recordings from this period that have survived were made in the field by scholars such as Alan Lomax rather than by commercial recording firms.
Robert Johnson (1911-1938) is regarded as one of America’s most well-known painters. He was a mystery Delta blues singer and guitarist who, according to legend, sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in order to improve his guitar playing. Johnson’s songs and character have established a legendary mystique in American mythology, despite the fact that nothing is known about him. He died in 1938 at the age of 27. Despite the fact that he died in relative obscurity, he is famous for songs like “Crossroads Blues” and “Love in Vain,” which have been recorded by a slew of musicians and have sold more than half a million copies of his full recordings. Johnson predicted the movement of blues from the rural to the city in his song “Sweet Home Chicago.”
Blues music existed in the northern United States at the same period, but in a different form than in the south. The bands included early jazz instruments, the settings were in cities, and some of the artists were successful commercially. When compared to delta blues, northern blues music had African-influenced elements, but it sounded far more polished and European.
The song “Crazy Blues” (1920) by Mamie Smith (1891-1946) is recognized as the “first important vocal blues recording,” selling over 75,000 copies in Harlem alone. W.C. Handy (1873-1958) was the first to publish a blues song, “Memphis Blues,” in 1912. In 1914, he released “St. Louis Blues,” which went on to become one of the most well-known blues tunes of the time. On the Ed Sullivan Show in 1949, Handy sang that tune. The Delta Blues would be the most long-lasting of these early kinds of blues music.
In the mid-twentieth century, the blues took off in a big way. The term “urban blues” was used to characterize the blues that emerged during that period as a consequence of a variety of factors. For starters, during the so-called “Great Migration,” blacks travelled out of the southern United States in search of fresh possibilities.
The term “urban” refers to a shift in the location of blues music from rural to urban settings. Chicago blues is a phrase that refers to a significant center of the urban blues—Chicago—much like “delta blues” refers to a specific place where the early blues happened. Second, technology had altered the musical environment by the mid-nineteenth century. Electric instruments, voice amplification, improved recording techniques, record players, and radio transformed how people made and enjoyed music, including the blues.
The urban blues band was the first of its kind in the blues world. Instead of just a single vocal and a guitar, performances often featured piano, harmonica, and, notably, drums and bass. Instead of acoustic guitars, electric guitars are now being played. Urban blues offered slightly different subject matter (more city themes), less informal performances (real concerts rather than casual “get togethers”), more and better-quality recordings, and more exposure to blues artists and music through various media. Other musical genres, such as rock, funk, soul, and R & B, would be born out of this age of the blues.
Blues music has been solely associated with black American culture for over half a century. However, by the 1960s, blacks in America had shifted their focus to R & B and soul music. For black Americans, the blues are no longer the most popular genre. Many white musicians in the United States and overseas discovered the blues in the 1960s and began performing them. Although blacks continued to play the blues, its appeal to white audiences and artists resurrected the genre, but in a new cultural context—hence, the blues revival.
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