What is blues music?

B.B. King

B.B. King

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday

Blues music, as a genre, possesses many distinctive characteristics. The lyrics of early traditional blues music consisted of a single line repeated four times. It was only in the early decades of the 20th century that the most common current structure became standard: the so-called AAB pattern, consisting of a line sung over the four first bars, its repetition over the next four, and then a longer concluding line over the last bars. Early blues music frequently took the form of a loose narrative, often relating troubles experienced within African American society.

Many blues elements, such as the call-and-response format and the use of blue notes, can be traced back to the music of Africa. The origins of the blues are also closely related to the religious music of the Afro-American community, the spiritual. The first appearance of the blues is often dated to after emancipation and, later, to the development of juke joints. It was associated with the newly acquired freedom of the enslaved people. Chroniclers began to report about blues music at the dawn of the 20th century. The first publication of blues sheet music was in 1908. Blues has since evolved from unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of slaves into a wide variety of styles and sub-genres. Blues sub-genres include country blues, such as Delta and Piedmont, as well as urban blues styles such as Chicago and West Coast blues. World War II marked the transition from acoustic to electric blues and the progressive opening of blues music to a wider audience, especially white listeners. In the 1960s and 1970s, a hybrid, “blues rock,” evolved.

~ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Some of our favorite blues artists include:

  • Eric Clapton

  • BB King

  • Joe Bonamassa

  • John Lee Hooker

  • Jimi Hendrix

  • Aretha Franklin

  • Bonnie Raitt

  • Buddy Guy

  • Muddy Waters

  • The Rolling Stones

  • Stevie Ray Vaughn

  • Billie Holiday

  • Nina Simone

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