Blues is a very important type of music. Most music that you hear today has some form of blues in it. If it wasn’t for the blues there wouldn’t be any rock and roll, country, rap, pop, or jazz. Blues is also important for African American culture. African Americans were also the people who started the blues.
The Blues started in the late 1800’s in levee camps or plantations in places like Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas were many African Americans lived. The blues of that time was called country blues. It was a mixture of African music, field hollers, work songs, religious music, and ragtime.
The main influence of blues music was African music which has a strong and steady beat using drums or other instruments. Its beat and singing showed in the blues. Work songs and field hollers were an influence on blues. They were mostly made up as the musicians were singing. They were a mixture of storytelling and talking with a definite call and response. Religious music was very important in forming blues music. Because most blacks went to Christian churches from an early age and were exposed to Christian hymns.
Ragtime was an influence that came later and is a faster blues played with the piano and someone singing which was usually played in bars called barrel houses. The first country blues that was written and published was “Memphis Blues” by W.C. Handy in the early 1900’s. The first recorded blues was “Crazy Blues” by Mamie Smith in 1915. Most country blues were played with an acoustic guitar and with someone singing. It also has a definite call and response between the voice and guitar.
Guitars were used because they had a broad range of notes, they were portable, affordable, and they were permitted by slave owners at that time. The slave owners didn’t permit drums because they thought the drums could be used to signal to each other.
There were many beginning Blues musicians but only a few had their songs written, published, or recorded. The few who did became very popular. One example is Blind Melon Jefferson who started recording in 1926. His records outsold every other male musician at the time. Other popular musicians were Robert Johnson, Son House, Ma Rainy, and the most famous Charlie Patton who is credited for being the founder of the Delta Blues.
In the end, Blues came from many places, played an important part in African American culture, and was and still is a popular form of music for everybody.
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