Blues is a vocal and instrumental form of music based on the use of the blue notes. It emerged in African-American communities of the United States from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The use of blue notes and the prominence of call-and-response patterns in the music and lyrics are indicative of African influence. The blues influenced later American and Western popular music, as it became the roots of jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, bluegrass, hip-hop, and other popular music forms.
EtymologyThe phrase "the blues" is a reference to the the blue devils, meaning 'down' spirits, depression and sadness. An early reference to "the blues" can be found in George Colman's farce Blue devils, a farce in one act (1798). Later during the 19th century, the phrase was used as a euphemism for delirium tremens and the police, and was not uncommon in letters from homesick Civil War soldiers.
Though the use of the phrase in African American music may be older, it has been attested to since 1912, when Hart Wand's "Dallas Blues" became the first copyrighted Blues composition. In lyrics the phrase is often used to describe a depressed mood.
Stylistic and cultural originsThere are few characteristics common to all blues, because the genre takes its shape from the idiosyncrasies of individual performances. However, there are some characteristics that were present long before the creation of the modern blues.
An early form of blues-like music were call-and-response shouts, which were a "functional expression... style without accompaniment or harmony and unbounded by the formality of any particular musical structure." A form of this pre-blues was heard in slave field shouts and hollers, expanded into "simple solo songs laden with emotional content". The blues, as it is now known, can be seen as a musical style based on both European harmonic structure and the African call-and-response tradition, transformed into an interplay of voice and guitar.
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 Diddley bow, a homemade one-stringed instrument found in parts of the American South in the early twentieth century, and the banjo, are African-derived instruments that may have helped in the transfer of African performance techniques into the early blues instrumental vocabulary.
The lyrics generally end on the last beat of the tenth bar or the first beat of the eleventh bar, and the final two bars are given to the instrumentalist as a break; the harmony of this two-bar break, the turnaround, can be extremely complex, sometimes consisting of single notes that defy analysis in terms of chords. The final beat, however, is almost always strongly grounded in the dominant seventh (V7), to provide tension for the next verse.
Melodically, blues is marked by the use of the flatted third, fifth and seventh (the so-called blue or bent notes) of the associated major scale. These scale tones can replace the natural scale tones or be added to the scale, as in the case of the minor pentatonic blues scale, where the flatted third replaces the natural third, the flatted seventh replaces the natural seventh and the flatted fifth is added in between the natural fourth and natural fifth. While the twelve-bar harmonic progression had been intermittently used for centuries, the revolutionary aspect of blues was the frequent use of the flatted third, flatted seventh, and even flatted fifth in the melody, together with crushing—playing directly adjacent notes at the same time, i.e., diminished second—and sliding—similar to using grace notes.
The blue notes allow for key moments of expression particularly during the cadences, melodies, and embellishments of the blues. Where the three line verses end, for example, there is a falling cadence that approaches just shy of the tonic, merely suggesting it, and combining the falling of a speaking voice with the shape of the blues scale in a unique, expressive way. This melodic fall, placed at the turnaround (end of the verse), is employed most clearly in the modern, Chicago blues sound. A similar sound occurs in gospel and R&B but not to the same effect, where it is usually termed a melisma.
Whereas a classical musician will generally play a grace note distinctly, a blues singer or harmonica player will glissando, "crushing" the two notes and then releasing the grace note. In blues chord progressions, the tonic, subdominant and dominant chords are often played as harmonic seventh chords, the harmonic seventh being an important component of the blues scale. (NB: While the harmonic seventh may be voiced easily, on equally tempered instruments like the guitar, it is approximated by means of a minor seventh, which is a third of a semitone higher.) Blues is also occasionally played in a minor key, such as in the style of Paul Butterfield. The scale differs little from the traditional minor, except for the occasional use of a flatted fifth in the tonic, often sung or played by the singer or lead instrument with the perfect fifth in the harmony.
- Janis Joplin's rendition of "Ball and Chain", accompanied by Big Brother and the Holding Company, provides an example of this technique.
- Minor-key blues is often structured in sixteen bars rather than twelve, in the style of gospel music, as in "St. James Infirmary Blues" and Trixie Smith's "My Man Rocks Me."
Blues shuffles reinforce the trance-like rhythm and call-and-response, and form a repetitive effect called a "groove". The simplest shuffles commonly used in many postwar electric blues, rock-and-rolls, or early bebops were a three-note riff on the bass strings of the guitar. When this riff was played over the bass and the drums, the groove "feel" is created. The walking bass is another device that helps to create a "groove" . The last bar of the chord progression is usually accompanied by a turnaround that makes the transition to the beginning of the next progression.
Shuffle rhythm is often vocalized as "dow, da dow, da dow, da" or "dump, da dump, da dump, da" as it consists of uneven, or "swung", eighth notes. On a guitar this may be done as a simple steady bass or may add to that stepwise quarter note motion from the fifth to the sixth of the chord and back. An example is provided by the following guitar tablature for the first four bars of a blues progression in E:
E7 E7 A7 A7 E |-------------------|-------------------|-------------------|---------------------| B |-------------------|-------------------|-------------------|---------------------| G |-------------------|-------------------|-------------------|---------------------| D |-------------------|-------------------|---2-2--4-4--2-2--4|4--2-2--4-2--5-2--4-2| A |2--2-4--4-2--2-4--4|2--2--4--2--5--2--4|2--0-0--0-0--0-0--0|0--0-0--0-0--0-0--0-0| E |0--0-0--0-0--0-0--0|0--0--0--0--0--0--0|0------------------|---------------------|
Blues in jazz is much different from blues in other types of music (such as Rock, R&B, Soul, Funk, and Blues in its own category). Jazz blues normally stays on the V chord through bars 9 and 10, emphasizing the dominant - tonic resolution over the subdominant - tonic structure of traditional blues. This final V-I cadence lends itself to many variations, the most basic of which is the ii-V-I progression in bars 9, 10 and 11. From that point, both the dominant approach (ii-V) and the resolution (I) can be altered and "substituted" nearly endlessly, including, for instance, doing away with the I chord altogether (bars 9–12: ii | V | iii, vi | ii, V |) In this case, bars 11 and 12 function as an extended turn-around to the next chorus.
History of the blues genres
OriginsBlues has evolved from an unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of African-American slaves and rural blacks into a wide variety of styles and subgenres, with regional variations across the United States and, later, Europe and Africa. The musical forms and styles that are now considered the "blues" as well as modern "country music" arose in the same regions during the nineteenth century in the southern United States. Recorded blues and country can be found from as far back as the 1920s, when the popular record industry developed and created marketing categories called "race music" and "hillbilly music" to sell music by blacks for blacks and by whites for whites, respectively.
At the time, there was no clear musical division between "blues" and "country," except for the ethnicity of the performer, and even that sometimes was documented incorrectly by record companies. Studies have situated the origin of black spirituals inside slaves' exposure to their white Hebridean-originated gospels. African-American economist and historian Thomas Sowell also notes that the southern, black, ex-slave population was acculturated to a considerable degree by and among their Scots-Irish "redneck" neighbours. However, the findings of Kubik and others also clearly attest to the essential Africanness of many essential aspects of blues expression.
The social and economic reasons for the appearance of the blues are not fully known. The first appearance of the blues is not well defined and is often dated between 1870 and 1900, a period that coincides with Emancipation and the transition from slavery to sharecropping, small-scale agricultural production and the expansion of railroads in the southern United States.
Several scholars characterize the early 1900s development of blues music as a move from group performances to a more individualized style. They argue that the development of the blues is associated with the newly acquired freedom of the enslaved people. According to Lawrence Levine, "there was a direct relationship between the national ideological emphasis upon the individual, the popularity of Booker T. Washington's teachings, and the rise of the blues." Levine states that "psychologically, socially, and economically, Negroes were being acculturated in a way that would have been impossible during slavery, and it is hardly surprising that their secular music reflected this as much as their religious music did."
The American sheet music publishing industry produced a great deal of ragtime music. By 1912, the sheet music industry published three popular blues-like compositions, precipitating the Tin Pan Alley adoption of blues elements: "Baby Seals' Blues" by "Baby" F. Seals (arranged by Artie Matthews), "Dallas Blues" by Hart Wand and "The Memphis Blues" by W. C. Handy.
Handy was a formally trained musician, composer and arranger who helped to popularize the blues by transcribing and orchestrating blues in an almost symphonic style, with bands and singers. He became a popular and prolific composer, and billed himself as the "Father of the Blues"; however, his compositions can be described as a fusion of blues with ragtime and jazz, a merger facilitated using the Cuban habanera rhythm that had long been a part of ragtime; The first blues recordings from the 1920s were in two categories: a traditional, rural country blues and more polished 'city' or urban blues.
Country blues performers often improvised, either without accompaniment or with only a banjo or guitar. There were many regional styles of country blues in the early 20th century. The (Mississippi) Delta blues was a rootsy sparse style with passionate vocals accompanied by slide guitar. Robert Johnson, who was little-recorded, combined elements of both urban and rural blues. Along with Robert Johnson, influential performers of this style were his predecessors Charley Patton and Son House. Singers such as Blind Willie McTell and Blind Boy Fuller performed in the southeastern "delicate and lyrical" Piedmont blues tradition, which used an elaborate fingerpicking guitar technique. Georgia also had an early slide tradition.
The lively Memphis blues style, which developed in the 1920s and 1930s around Memphis, Tennessee, was influenced by jug bands, such as the Memphis Jug Band or the Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers. Performers such as Frank Stokes, Blind Old Tom Anderson, Sleepy John Estes, Robert Wilkins, Big Boy Brazier, Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie used a variety of unusual instruments such as washboard, fiddle, kazoo or mandolin. Memphis Minnie was famous for her virtuoso guitar style. Pianist Memphis Slim began his career in Memphis, but his quite distinct style was smoother and contained some swing elements. Many blues musicians based in Memphis moved to Chicago in the late 1930s or early 1940s and became part of the urban blues movement which blended country music and electric blues.
City or urban blues styles were more codified and elaborate. Classic female urban or vaudeville blues singers were popular in the 1920s, among them Mamie Smith, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Victoria Spivey. Mamie Smith, more a vaudeville performer than a blues artist, was the first African- American to record a blues in 1920; her "Crazy Blues" sold 75,000 copies in its first month.
Ma Rainey, called the "Mother of Blues", and Bessie Smith sang "... each song around centre tones, perhaps in order to project her voice more easily to the back of a room." Smith would "...sing a song in an unusual key, and her artistry in bending and stretching notes with her beautiful, powerful contralto to accommodate her own interpretation was unsurpassed". Urban male performers included popular black musicians of the era, such Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and Leroy Carr. Before WWII, Tampa Red was sometimes referred to as "The Guitar Wizard." Carr made the then-unusual choice of accompanying himself on the piano. The smooth Louisiana style of Professor Longhair and, more recently, Dr. John blends classic rhythm and blues with blues styles.
Early postwar blues
After World War II and in the 1950s, new styles of electric blues music became popular in cities such as Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis. Electric blues used amplified electric guitars, electric bass, drums, and harmonica. Chicago became a center for electric blues in the early 1950s. Chicago blues is influenced to a large extent by the Mississippi blues style, because many performers had migrated from the Mississippi region. Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Jimmy Reed were all born in Mississippi and moved to Chicago during the Great Migration. Their style is characterized by the use of electric guitar, sometimes slide guitar, harmonica, and a rhythm section of bass and drums. J. T. Brown who played in Elmore James's or J. B. Lenoir's bands, also used saxophones, but these were used more as "backing" or rhythmic support than as solo instruments.
Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) are well known harmonica (called "harp" by blues musicians) players of the early Chicago blues scene. Other harp players such as Big Walter Horton were also influential. Muddy Waters and Elmore James were known for their innovative use of slide electric guitar. B. B. King and Freddie King (no relation), who did not use slide guitar, were influential guitarists of the Electric blues style, even though they weren't from Chicago. Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters were known for their deep, "gravelly" voices.
Bassist and composer Willie Dixon played a major role on the Chicago blues scene. He composed and wrote many standard blues songs of the period, such as "Hoochie Coochie Man", "I Just Want to Make Love to You" (both penned for Muddy Waters) and, "Wang Dang Doodle" and "Back Door Man" for Howlin' Wolf. Most artists of the Chicago blues style recorded for the Chicago-based Chess Records label. Other prominent blues labels of this era included J.O.B. Records and Vee-Jay Records.
In the 1950s, blues had a huge influence on mainstream American popular music and in particular on the development of rockabilly. While popular musicians like Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry were influenced by the Chicago blues, their enthusiastic playing styles departed from the melancholy aspects of blues. Diddley and Berry's approach to performance was one of the factors that influenced the transition from the blues to rock 'n' roll. Elvis Presley and Bill Haley were more influenced by the jump blues and boogie-woogie styles. They popularized rock and roll within the white segment of the population. Chicago blues also influenced Louisiana's zydeco music, with Clifton Chenier using blues accents. Zydeco musicians used electric solo guitar and cajun arrangements of blues standards.
Other blues artists, such as T-Bone Walker, Michael Walton and John Lee Hooker, had influences not directly related to the Chicago style. Dallas-born T-Bone Walker is often associated with the California blues style, which is smoother than Chicago blues and is a transition between the Chicago blues, the jump blues and swing with some jazz-guitar influence. John Lee Hooker's blues is more "personal", based on Hooker's deep rough voice accompanied by a single electric guitar. Though not directly influenced by boogie woogie, his "groovy" style is sometimes called "guitar boogie". His first hit "Boogie Chillen" reached #1 on the R&B charts in 1949.
By the late 1950s, the swamp blues genre developed near Baton Rouge, with performers such as Slim Harpo, Sam Myers and Jerry McCain. Swamp blues has a slower pace and a simpler use of the harmonica than the Chicago blues style performers such as Little Walter or Muddy Waters. Songs from this genre include "Scratch my Back", "She's Tough" and "I'm a King Bee".
Blues in the 1960s and 1970sBy the beginning of the 1960s, genres influenced by African American music such as rock and roll and soul were part of mainstream popular music. White performers had brought African-American music to new audiences, both within the US and abroad. In the UK, bands emulated US blues legends, and UK blues-rock-based bands had an influential role throughout the 1960s.
Blues performers such as John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters continued to perform to enthusiastic audiences, inspiring new artists steeped in traditional blues, such as New York-born Taj Mahal. John Lee Hooker blended his blues style with rock elements and playing with younger white musicians, creating a musical style that can be heard on the 1971 album Endless Boogie. B. B. King's virtuoso guitar technique earned him the eponymous title "king of the blues". In contrast to the Chicago style, King's band used strong brass support from a saxophone, trumpet, and trombone, instead of using slide guitar or harp. Tennessee-born Bobby "Blue" Bland, like B. B. King, also straddled the blues and R&B genres. During this period, Freddie King and Albert King often played with rock and soul musicians (Eric Clapton, Booker T & the MGs)and had a major influence on those styles of music that has carried through to the present.
The music of the Civil Rights and Free Speech movements in the US prompted a resurgence of interest in American roots music and early African American music. As well as Jimmi Bass Music festivals such as the Newport Folk Festival brought traditional blues to a new audience, which helped to revive interest in prewar acoustic blues and performers such as Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, and Reverend Gary Davis. Many compilations of classic prewar blues were republished by the Yazoo Records. J. B. Lenoir from the Chicago blues movement in the 1950s recorded several LPs using acoustic guitar, sometimes accompanied by Willie Dixon on the acoustic bass or drums. His songs commented on political issues such as racism or Vietnam War issues, which was unusual for this period. His Alabama Blues recording had a song that stated:
I never will go back to Alabama, that is not the place for me (2x) You know they killed my sister and my brother, and the whole world let them peoples go down there free
White audiences' interest in the blues during the 1960s increased due to the Chicago-based Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the British blues movement. The style of British blues developed in the UK, when bands such as Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, and Cream performed classic blues songs from the Delta or Chicago blues traditions.
The British blues musicians of the early 1960s inspired a number of American blues-rock fusion performers, including Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, The J. Geils Band, Ry Cooder and The Allman Brothers Band. Many of Led Zeppelin's earlier hits were renditions of traditional blues songs. One blues-rock performer, Jimi Hendrix, was a rarity in his field at the time: a black man who played psychedelic rock. Hendrix was a skilled guitarist, and a pioneer in the innovative use of distortion and feedback in his music. Through these artists and others, blues music influenced the development of rock music.
In the late 1960s, the West Side style blues emerged in Chicago with Magic Sam, Magic Slim and Otis Rush. West Side style has strong rhythmic support from a rhythm guitar, bass electric guitar, and drums. Albert King, Buddy Guy, and Luther Allison had a West Side style that was dominated by amplified electric lead guitar.
Since the early 1970s, The Texas rock-blues style emerged which used guitars in both solo and rhythm roles. In contrast with the West Side blues, the Texas style is strongly influenced by the British rock-blues movement. Major artists of the Texas style are Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and ZZ Top. These artists all began their musical journey in the 1970s, but they wouldn't achieve major international success until the next decade.
Blues from the 1980s to the present
Since the 1980s, there has been a resurgence of interest in the blues among a certain part of the African-American population, particularly around Jackson, MS and other deep South regions. Often termed "soul blues" or "Southern Soul," the music at the heart of this movement was given new life by the unexpected success of two particular recordings on the Jackson-based Malaco label: Z. Z. Hill's Down Home Blues (1982) and Little Milton's The Blues is Alright (1984). Contemporary African-American performers who work this vein of the blues include Bobby Rush, Denise LaSalle, Sir Charles Jones, Bettye LaVette, Marvin Sease and Peggy Scott-Adams.
During the 1980s, blues also continued in both traditional and new forms. In 1982, the album Strong Persuader revealed Robert Cray as a major blues artist. The first Stevie Ray Vaughan recording Texas Flood was released in 1983, and the Texas based guitarist exploded onto the international stage. 1989 saw a revival of John Lee Hooker's popularity with the album The Healer. Eric Clapton known for his performances with the Blues Breakers and Cream, made a comeback in the 1990s with his album Unplugged, in which he played some standard blues numbers on acoustic guitar.
In the 1980s and 1990s, blues publications such as Living Blues and Blues Revue began to be distributed, major cities began forming blues societies, outdoor blues festivals became more common, and more nightclubs and venues for blues emerged.
In the 1990s, blues performers explored a range of musical genres, as can be seen, for example, from the broad array of nominees of the yearly Blues Music Awards, previously named W. C. Handy Awards or of the Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary and Traditional Blues Album. Contemporary blues music is nurtured by several blues labels such as: Alligator Records, Ruf Records, Chess Records (MCA), Delmark Records, NorthernBlues Music, and Vanguard Records (Artemis Records). Some labels are famous for their rediscovering and remastering of blues rarities such as Arhoolie Records, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (heir of Folkways Records) and Yazoo Records (Shanachie Records).
Young blues artists today are exploring all aspects of the blues, from classic delta to more rock-oriented blues, artists born after 1970 like Sean Costello,John Mayer, Anthony Gomes, Shemekia Copeland, Jonny Lang, Corey Harris, Susan Tedeschi,Joe Bonamassa,The White Stripes, North Mississippi Allstars, The Black Keys, Bob Log III, Jose P and Hillstomp developing their own styles.
In another cotton-producing community, Memphis, Texas, not Memphis, Tennessee, William Daniel McFalls, or Blues Boy Willie, is attempting to revive the past popularity of blues to contemporary society.
Blues musical styles, forms (12-bar blues), melodies, and the blues scale have influenced many other genres of music, such as rock and roll, jazz, and popular music. Prominent jazz, folk or rock performers, such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan and the White Stripes have performed significant blues recordings. The blues scale is often used in popular songs like Harold Arlen's "Blues in the Night", blues ballads like "Since I Fell for You" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love", and even in orchestral works such as George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Concerto in F".
The blues scale is ubiquitous in modern popular music and informs many modal frames, especially the ladder of thirds used in rock music (e.g., in "A Hard Day's Night"). Blues forms are used in the theme to the televised Batman, teen idol Fabian's hit, "Turn Me Loose", country music star Jimmie Rodgers' music, and guitarist/vocalist Tracy Chapman's hit "Give Me One Reason".
R&B music can be traced back to spirituals and blues. Musically, spirituals were a descendant of New England choral traditions, and in particular of Isaac Watts's hymns, mixed with African rhythms and call-and-response forms. Spirituals or religious chants in the African-American community are much better documented than the "low-down" blues. Spiritual singing developed because African-American communities could gather for mass or worship gatherings, which were called camp meetings.
Early country bluesmen such as Skip James, Charley Patton, Georgia Tom Dorsey played country and urban blues and had influences from spiritual singing. Dorsey helped to popularize Gospel music. Gospel music developed in the 1930s, with the Golden Gate Quartet. In the 1950s, soul music by Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and James Brown used gospel and blues music elements. In the 1960s and 1970s, gospel and blues were these merged in soul blues music. Funk music of the 1970s was influenced by soul; funk can be seen as an antecedent of hip-hop and contemporary R&B.
Before World War II, the boundaries between blues and jazz were less clear. Usually jazz had harmonic structures stemming from brass bands, whereas blues had blues forms such as the 12-bar blues. However, the jump blues of the 1940s mixed both styles. After WWII, blues had a substantial influence on jazz. Bebop classics, such as Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time", used the blues form with the pentatonic scale and blue notes.
Bebop marked a major shift in the role of jazz, from a popular style of music for dancing, to a "high-art," less-accessible, cerebral "musician's music". The audience for both blues and jazz split, and the border between blues and jazz became the more defined. Artists straddling the boundary between jazz and blues are categorized into the jazz-blues sub-genre.
The blues' twelve-bar structure and the blues scale was a major influence on rock-and-roll music. Rock-and-roll has been called "blues with a back beat". Carl Perkins called rockabilly "blues with a country beat". Rockabillies were also said to be twelve-bar blues played with a bluegrass beat. "Hound Dog", with its unmodified twelve-bar structure (in both harmony and lyrics) and a melody centered on flatted third of the tonic (and flatted seventh of the subdominant), is a blues song transformed into a rock-and-roll song. Jerry Lee Lewis's style of rock 'n' roll was heavily influenced by the blues and its derivative boogie woogie. His style of music was not exactly rockabilly but it has been often called real rock 'n' roll (this is a label he shares with several African American rock 'n' roll singers).
Early country music has also been blues-soaked. Jimmie Rodgers, Moon Mullican, Bob Wills, Bill Monroe and Hank Williams have all described themselves as blues singers and their music has a blues feel that is different to the country pop of say Eddy Arnold. A lot of the later outlaw country music by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings also borrowed from the blues. When Jerry Lee Lewis returned to country after the decline of 1950s style rock 'n' roll, he sang his country with a blues feel and often included blues standards on his albums.Many early rock-and-roll songs are based on blues: "That's All Right Mama", "Johnny B. Goode", "Blue Suede Shoes", "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On", "Shake, Rattle, and Roll", and "Long Tall Sally". The early African American rock musicians retained the sexual themes and innuendos of blues music: "Got a gal named Sue, knows just what to do" ("Tutti Frutti", Little Richard) or "See the girl with the red dress on, She can do the Birdland all night long" ("What'd I Say", Ray Charles). Even the subject matter of "Hound Dog" contains well-hidden sexual double entendres.
More sanitized early "white" rock borrowed the structure and harmonics of blues, although there was less harmonic creativity and sexual frankness (e.g., Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock"). Many white musicians who performed black songs changed the words; Pat Boone's performance of "Tutti Frutti" changed the original lyrics ("Tutti frutti, loose booty . . . a wop bop a lu bop, a good Goddamn") to a tamer version.
In popular cultureLike jazz, rock and roll, heavy metal music, hip hop music, reggae, country music, and pop music, blues has been accused of being the "devil's music" and of inciting violence and other poor behavior. In the early 20th century, the blues was considered disreputable, especially as white audiences began listening to the blues during the 1920s. Almost 30 years later, Mahal wrote blues for, and performed a banjo composition, claw-hammer style, in, the 2001 movie release "Song Catcher," which focused on the story of the preservation of the roots music of Appalachia.
In 2003, Martin Scorsese made significant efforts to promote the blues to a larger audience. He asked several famous directors such as Clint Eastwood and Wim Wenders to participate in a series of documentary films for PBS called The Blues. He also participated in the rendition of compilations of major blues artists in a series of high-quality CDs.
Grammy-winning blues guitarist and vocalist Keb' Mo' performed his blues rendition of "America, the Beautiful" in 2006 to close out the final season of the popular television series "The West Wing."
- Bransford, Steve. "Blues in the Lower Chattahoochee Valley" Southern Spaces 2004
- The Rise and Fall of Popular Music
- Blues Singers: Biographies of 50 Legendary Artists of the Early 20th Century
- Panorama of American Popular Music
- America's Musical Landscape
- Rockin' Out: Popular Music in the USA
- The Latin Beat
- Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development
- The Music of Black Americans
- Brown, Luther. "Inside Poor Monkey's" Southern Spaces June 22 2006.
- The Devil's Music: a History of the Blues
- The Story Of The Blues
- Deep Blues
- Chicago Breakdown
- Early Downhome Blues: a Musical and Cultural Analysis
External linkssisterlinks Blues music
- The Blues Radio Series
- Your guide to the blues
- The Blue Shoe Project - Nationwide (U.S.) Blues Education Programming
- "The Blues", documentary series by Martin Scorsese, aired on PBS
- American Blues Network, a Blues and R&B radio service.
- The Blues Foundation
- The Memphis Blues Society
- The Delta Blues Museum
- The Florida Memory Project, Blues Music from the Florida Folklife Collection, available free for public use from the State Archives of Florida
- The Fort Smith Arkansas Riverfront Blues Society- Blues in the Schools, Barry Ratliff Memorial Scholarship
- Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola
- The Music in Poetry — Smithsonian Institution lesson plan on the blues, for teachers
- Los Angeles MusicAgency
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