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From its origin in the South, the blues’ simple but expressive forms had become by the 1960s among the most important influences on the development of music that is popular throughout the United States.
Although instrumental accompaniment is almost universal in the blues, the blues is essentially a vocal form. Blues tunes are lyrical rather than narrative; feelings are being expressed by blues vocalists instead of telling stories. The emotion expressed is usually one of sadness or melancholy, commonly due to difficulties in love.
To express this musically, blues performers use vocal techniques for example melisma (prolonging one syllable across several pitches), rhythmic techniques such as syncopation, and instrumental techniques such as “choking” or bending guitar strings on the neck or implementing a metal slide or bottleneck to the guitar strings to create a whining, voice-like sound.
Normally the first two and a half measures of each line are dedicated to singing, the last measure and a half comprising an instrumental “break” that complements the vocal line, responses, or recurs. In terms of practical (i.e., traditional European) harmony, the most straightforward blues harmonic progression is described as follows (I, IV, and V refer respectively to the first or tonic, fourth or subdominant, and fifth or dominant notes of the scale):
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African influences are obvious in the blues tonality, the call and response pattern of the repeated refrain arrangement of the blues stanza, the falsetto break in the vocal style, and the imitation of vocal idioms by instruments, notably the guitar and harmonica.
The origins of the blues are poorly documented. Blues developed in the southern United States after the American Civil War (1861–65). It was affected by work songs and field hollers, minstrel show music, ragtime, church music, and the folk and popular music of the white inhabitants. Southern black men, most of whom came from the milieu of agricultural workers derived from and mostly played blues.
The first references to blues date s back to the 1890s and early 1900. In 1912 black bandleader W.C. Handy’s composition “Memphis Blues” was released. It became very popular, and afterwards many other Tin Pan Alley tunes entitled blues started to appear.
Jefferson, Blind Lemon [Credit: Archive Photographs]The rural blues developed in Mississippi, Georgia and the Carolinas, Texas, and three main areas. The blues of the Carolinas and Georgia is noted for its clarity of enunciation and regularity of rhythm. Affected by white and ragtime folk music, it’s more melodic than the Texas and Mississippi styles.
The Texas blues is characterized by high, sharp singing accompanied by supple guitar lines that consist usually of single -string picked arpeggios rather than strummed chords. Blind Lemon Jefferson was the most powerful Texas bluesman. Mississippi Delta blues has been the most influential and is the most intense of the three styles. Vocally, it’s the most speech-like, and the guitar accompaniment is percussive and rhythmic; a bottleneck or a slide is frequently used. The Mississippi style is represented by Charley Patton, Eddie (“Son”) House, and Robert Johnson, among others.
Acoustic Blues Guitar Teacher Queensland 4810 Townsville Mc.
Rainey, Ma [Credit: Archive Pictures]The first blues records were made in the 1920s by black women like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, and Mamie Smith. These performers were chiefly stage singers backed by jazz bands; their style is called classic blues.
The Great Depression and the World Wars caused the geographical dispersal of the blues as millions of blacks left the South for the cities of the North. The blues became adjusted to the more sophisticated urban surroundings. Lyrics took up urban themes, and the blues ensemble developed as the solo bluesman was joined by a pianist or harmonica player and then by a rhythm section consisting of bass and drums. The amplified harmonica and the electric guitar created a driving sound of great rhythmic and emotional intensity.
Hooker, John Lee [Credit:
It was Chicago, nevertheless, that played the greatest role in the development of urban blues.
Many other musical styles have been affected by the blues. Blues and jazz are closely connected; blues elements were employed by such seminal jazzmen as Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong within their music. Rhythm and soul music and blues also reveal clear blues tonalities and forms. The blues have had their biggest influence on rock music.
Blues content was regularly used by early rock singers such as Elvis Presley. British rock musicians in the 1960s, especially the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and John Mayall, were strongly influenced by the blues, as were such American rock musicians as Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, and the Allman Brothers Band.
Acoustic Blues Guitar Teacher 4810 Townsville Mc Queensland