Origins of Blues

Many of the elements of blues can be traced back to the African continent, known as the ‘cradle of blues’. The earliest style of blues had a functional expression, it had no accompaniment or harmony, it was often used to describe how they were feeling through music, feelings of the hardships they go through as slaves, very powerful music.

Instrument, in the ‘African blues’.

  • Akonting, a folk lute from the Jola tribe of Senegambia. It is obvious that it is a predecessor to the American banjo, especially in its playing style, the construction of the instrument and its role as a folk instrument.

Influence from Spirituals.

The Spiritual was a form of religious song, which was played in the camp meeting of The Great Awakening in the early 19th century. Spirituals gave the listeners the same feelings as misery and loneliness of mankind as the blues.

Social and economic aspects.

Blues has evolved over the years, from unaccompanied music of black slaves to many sub genres and a diverse variety of style. The first appearance of blues was probably between 1870 and 1900, a time which coincides with the emancipation of the slaves. Some people say that in the early 1900’s, blues became more individualised style as opposed to group performances, probably explains how we get so many forms of blues. The uncertainty of the when blues really started was maybe due to the fact that many of these individuals who played the blues, moved from community to community, leaving little to no record of what music they played.

The first 12-bar-blues song was in 1904 a song called “One o’ Them Things” written by James Chapman and Leroy Smith. One of the first professional blues singers was Ma Rainy, who claimed to have coined the term ‘Blues’. Blues singers became popular in the 1920’s.

Some famous blues singers/bands:

  • Eric Clapton
  • BB King
  • Albert King

About Joe Sanchez Lawrance

I play guitar, I love rock n roll and I speak a little Portuguese.

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