Blues History

Blues music is a truly American form of music that has its origins in a collection of styles that are uniquely American, representing a melding of cultures.  Its origins are mostly rooted in the gospel spirituals and field hollers of African Americans in the old South.  This rhythm-based music evoked the hardships of life and offered relief through a shared struggle.


The Blues are characterized by a call-and-response pattern, the blues scale, and specific chord progressions ("12-bar" blues).  Shuffle rhythm patterns, a strong backbeat and a walking bass line form a solid groove that identify Blues music.


Originally, blues music was played by a single player on the banjo.  The acoustic guitar eventually supplanted the banjo, while harmonica, mandolin, piano and other instruments and more players were added.  The blues started to become a group-oriented form of music, and the electric guitar has become the dominate instrument of the genre.  

Other SCI Blues Education information:



Blues History Timeline

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