a short history of the blues

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A Short HistoryOf the Blues : 

A Short HistoryOf the Blues

How did the Blues Begin? : 

How did the Blues Begin? The blues is a style of music that formed from the music brought to the United States by slaves. The slaves would sing to each other in the fields to make the work go faster. They would often sing about topics such as love, the unfairness of their situations, and other troubles they all shared and wanted to express. Later, African-American sharecroppers in the South would sing to express their feelings about many of the same topics their ancestors did. The blues style became a combination of field hollers, church music and work songs. Sharecroppers picking cotton

The Mississippi Delta Blues : 

The Mississippi Delta Blues Where is the Mississippi Delta? What are the Delta Blues? The Delta Blues are thought to be the first kind of formalized blues. These songs were not written down but were passed along by word-of-mouth. Other musicians would change the words and some of the chords to make it their own. Typically, acoustic guitar and harmonica were the main instruments used. Most songs were 12 measures in length and followed an AAB lyric pattern. The Mississippi Delta stretches from Memphis, Tennessee to Vicksburg, Mississippi. It is bordered by the Mississippi River and Highway 61 which is the same Highway 61 that we travel on in Missouri.

W.C. Handy“Father of the Blues” : 

W.C. Handy“Father of the Blues” Video clip explaining why Handy is considered the “Father of the Blues” Composer Born: November 16, 1873 Died: March 29, 1958 W.C. Handy Compositions Yellow Dog Blues-1912 Beale Street Blues-1916 In 1905,W.C Handy was waiting for a train in Mississippi. He fell asleep on a bench and when he woke up, he heard a man playing a strange style of music. The man used a knife against the guitar strings to make a slurred, moaning kind of sound. Handy thought this sounded strange but he also wanted to know more about it. He didn’t invent the blues but he brought attention to the style.

Important Delta Blues Artists : 

Important Delta Blues Artists Charley Patton Robert Johnson Son House Blind Lemon Jefferson Muddy Waters These are just SOME of the great Delta Blues singers. There were many more who played in the Delta Blues style.

Charley Patton : 

Charley Patton Because of his strong singing voice and the fast complex rhythms he was known for producing he was a popular performer at many plantation parties. Charley Patton lived on the Dockery Plantation and spent his time with the musicians that would come in and out. His father disapproved but he learned the guitar and traveled around to other plantations to perform. Patton mentored and inspired many young Delta blues singers who worked at Dockery’s. Many of these singers copied his style.

Robert Johnson : 

Robert Johnson Robert Johnson is one of the most mysterious blues singers we will study. Some say he is the most important Delta blues singer who ever lived. Historians think Robert was born in 1911 and died around 1938 after being poisoned by a woman’s jealous husband. There is a legend surrounding Robert Johnson that says he went to the crossroads and sold his soul to the devil in order to become a better musician. He traveled a lot. He didn’t like to stick around one place and he didn’t like to travel much with other people. He always dressed neatly and his audiences were drawn to him and the way he used emotions in his music. Notable Robert Johnson Songs: “Crossroad Blues” “Sweet Home Chicago” “Love In Vain”

Muddy Waters : 

Muddy Waters Muddy Waters is unique because he began as a Delta blues singer but later moved to Chicago and became an important part of the Chicago blues movement. He went from farmer to big city musician and recording artist. He inspired many Rock and Roll musicians.

Women and the Blues : 

Women and the Blues African-American women had even fewer rights than African-American men during the Blues era. However, women needed a creative outlet to express their feelings as well. The women you see below sang songs about problem they faced in their lives that other African-American women could identify with. In turn, these women were able to earn money and fame for performing their music. Bessie Smith Ma Rainey Memphis Minnie Alberta Hunter

The Great Migration and the Blues : 

The Great Migration and the Blues Many African-Americans were tired of the lack of opportunities being offered to them in the South. During the Great Migration, huge numbers of African-Americans traveled to the north. Many Delta blues singers ended up in Chicago where they began to record their music. The blues style began to change. More instruments were added to songs, including the new electric guitar. The blues were introduced to a whole new group of people who hadn’t heard this type of music before. Electric guitar changed the blues.

The Blues Today : 

The Blues Today Many of the greatest blues songs have been and are still currently being performed by modern artists. The blues is an art form that is still entertaining people around the world. The blues serve as a musical look into the history of the development of the United States during a very hard time. The blues was created as a style of music to express emotion and that is still what the blues accomplish today. Here are some contemporary groups who perform the blues. The Rolling Stones Eric Clapton John Mayer

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