Blues Styles and the Blues Tradition
The blues tradition was born from the cultural melting pot of the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This form of music is characterized by the use of a pentatonic scale and expressive pitch inflections. In its earliest form, the blues was based on traditional African and Spiritual songs. However, over the course of its development, the blues has branched out into many different genres.
Early blues music was popularized by Bessie Smith in the 1920s. It originated in the Mississippi Delta, where formerly enslaved people worked as sharecroppers. As the population migrated northwards to urban centers, distinct local styles began to emerge. These regional forms of blues evolved into delta blues, which eventually gave birth to rhythm and blues.
Some of the most influential players in the blues tradition were Willie Brown, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Robert Johnson. Other notable figures include Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Ray Charles. But, while these artists are important in the history of blues, no single individual has claimed to have invented the blues. Instead, the blues form spread from musician to musician and community to community, as the lyricists often passed the lyrics between performers through oral tradition.
Blues musicians are often noted for the passionate vocalizing, which draws on a variety of musical devices and call and response patterns. A twelve-bar progression is commonly used, with the last measure and a half dedicated to an instrumental break. Several other chord progression lengths are also common.
Some of the most famous blues musicians were recorded in the 1980s. Stevie Ray Vaughan released his first record, Texas Flood, in 1983. John Lee Hooker’s The Healer, released in 1989, helped revive the blues style of the ’70s. While this style was primarily acoustic, it has since developed into a more electric form, as many young guitarists continue to record today.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the blues had an enormous impact on American popular music. Rock and Roll was born as a result of the blues. Originally, rock and roll was a fusion of jump blues and R&B. When the blues became more prevalent, the genre started to take on a more electric and jazzy style.
Electric blues, which was invented by T-Bone Walker in the 1940s, was a major influence on the music industry. It featured a driving, pulsating sound, and a beat that drove listeners to dance floors. Players played electric guitar and drums. Often, the harmonica was amplified to create a more driving sound.
By the late 1960s, the blues had been influenced by rock and roll. Guitarists like Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan were able to emulate the blues style on their albums. There were also a number of artists who took the blues to new levels.
Today, the blues still has a presence in the popular music industry, with many artists continuing to perform in the traditional style. However, the blues are not as well-documented as other forms of popular music, and the roots of the blues are disputed.