Blues

Article

May 19, 2022

Blues (short for blue devils - melancholy, boredom) - a genre of vocal and instrumental music, which belongs mainly to jazz. Blues originated in the southern United States around the 1860s, based on African musical traditions and African-American working songs.

Features

A characteristic feature of the blues is the use of the blues system, which includes reduced V and VII steps (so-called "blues notes"). Often music is built on the structure of "question - answer", expressed both in the lyrical content of the composition, and in the musical, often built on the dialogue of instruments with each other. Blues is an improvisational form of the music genre, where compositions often use only the basic supporting "framework", which is played by solo instruments. The original blues theme is based on the sensual social component of the life of the African American population, its difficulties and obstacles that arise in the way of every black person. Blues as a genre is characterized by its lyrics, bass lines and instruments. Early traditional blues poems consisted of one line repeated four times. Only in the first decades of the 20th century did the most common current structure become standard: the AAB pattern, consisting of a line sung over the first four bars, repeated over the next four, and then a longer final line in the last bars. Early blues often took the form of a free story, often associated with racial discrimination and other issues faced by African Americans.

Form

The blues form is a cyclic musical form in which the repeated progression of chords reflects the pattern of calls and answers that is commonly found in African and African-American music. In the first decades of the 20th century, blues music was not clearly defined in terms of some chord progress. With the popularity of artists such as Bessie Smith, the use of twelve-stroke blues spread in the music industry in the 20s and 30s. Other chord progressions, such as 8-bar forms, are still considered blues. There are also 16-stroke blues, such as Ray Charles' Sweet 16 Bars and the Watermelon by Herbie Hancock.