A Short Introduction To Blues Music - bluesandjazz.net

A Short Introduction To Blues Music


A Short Introduction to Blues Music

Blues as a genre has been around for over a hundred years. It is hard to explain blues music to someone who hasn’t heard about it. But for those who already listened to a song or two, Blues is a genre that has a distinguishable style. It has that kind of ‘punch’ or ‘kick’ that goes straight to the guts. Call it visceral or raw, but Blues can make you feel ‘something.’ That something has to do with all the basic forms of human suffering. Be that be an existential crisis, poverty, discrimination, regret, or loss. Thus, this is not coincidental, as Blues itself was built in the same sentiments.

It brings back the woes of the African slaves in the South of the United States. If you’ve watched civil war films(especially those that tell the plight of the African American slaves as they were), then you’ll have an idea why they invented the Blues.

What is Blues Music?

A Short Introduction to Blues Music
A Short Introduction To Blues Music

Blues is the brother of Jazz, and they sprung out from the same parent and the same geography. It emphasizes the lyrical content and song structure, which is a little different from Jazz. Blues makes use of the Pentatonic scale with one ‘blue note’ which is flatted. We are not going into full technical details, but let’s say that the scale itself makes Blues sound different. Original Blues was a cappella. Then instruments were added until it evolved into a kind of music we know today. Blues are also the music of the people who are either sad, angry, or suffering. Nina Simone, who incorporated her Jazz and Blues talent, introduced this sentiment to the masses in the 50s and onwards. Blues is not about singing beautifully but instead singing honestly.

The History Of Blues

A Short Introduction to Blues Music
A Short Introduction To Blues Music

If you’ve watched the movie Gone With the Wind, then you can hear African-American cotton planters singing in a call and response pattern. A lead vocalist sings a line or two, and the rest of the crowd answered in a conclusive tone. Thus, this was the beginning of Blues music. Soon it evolved to include polyrhythms and electric instruments like the electric guitar and a Hammond organ. Artists like Howlin’ Wolf became influential in the ’50s onwards.

Pop Music Influenced By Blues Music

A Short Introduction to Blues Music
A Short Introduction To Blues Music

The late Elvis Presley borrowed heavily from blues. The music also became the foundation of Rock n’Roll. Even bands like The Beatles and The Doors were influenced by Blues music. The Madonna’s hit ‘Fever’ was a remake of a James Cotton classic. Hence, current artists and bands like The White Stripes and Black Keys have Blues tunes dominantly. Mega Pop star Adele also sings in a bluesy style.

Current Blues Artists

A Short Introduction to Blues Music
A Short Introduction To Blues Music

Artists like Tommy Castro, Gary Moore, Robert Cray, and Robben Ford, to mention a few, are keeping the Blues flame alive. Artists like James Cotton continue to record and perform.

Many artists are also fusing Blues and Jazz, so it is hard to label a particular band or artist as Blues or Jazz. Streaming sites and channels like YouTube are responsible for educating the new generation with good music. Music stores selling vinyl records are also responsible for the new generation’s appreciation of this great American musical form.

Blues continue to grow. The style is found in most genres, either in a subtle manner or outrightly. Younger people are also discovering Blues others from their streaming services, or from their parents’ record collection. It is safe to say that Blues has a bright future. Hence, it should have, considering that it is the music of the soul. It is also the music of everyone who goes through hardships in life.

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