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The Origin of Blues

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The Origin of Blues

Blues played an important role in the history of music as it heavily influenced many types of music, particularly jazz and rock. It originated around the 1890’s from the Afro-American slaves’ folk music, work songs and spirituals and was typically performed with one person both playing the guitar and singing. The music consisted of stories of family, struggle, sexuality and rural life.

The beginning of the blues-singing period was during the Civil War in America. In 1863, President Lincoln adopted the Emancipation Proclamation into Law, which gave the slaves the freedom not to be bought and sold as slaves, to send their children to school, to be able to live with their families in a house rather than a slave cabin, to attend church and the opportunity to become teachers, preachers, politicians and landowners. This gave them a new attitude towards life. They began to sing openly without concern of white mans punishment, which also allowed them to explore and experiment with white 8 and 16 bar songs. Blues in its early days was a direct decent of African question and answer phrases but now it started to develop when it adopted the 3 line stanza (AAB) then furthermore into 12 bars. Although the blues music was influenced by European music the essential blue chords (I, IV, V) were from American music culture, which was most likely originated from their religious music.

In between 1911 – 1914 W.C. Handy made blues popular. He released “Memphis Blues”(1912) and “St. Louis Blues” (1914) which were two big hits. He was later referred to as The Father of Blues. The first vocal blues song Crazy Blues was recorded by Mamie Smith in 1920 which was an exceptional success. The record industry was keen to record all kinds of blues artists. From then, blues became a national craze and was an established part of the music industry.…...

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