While there are various theories about the reasons for the birth of the blues, very few music historians would disagree with the ‘where’ of the birth of blues music. It’s an interesting genre in that it also lyrically draws the listener in to a mood few could understand at the time it evolved. That mood would be what we call a ‘blue mood,’ a sadness that permeates your being. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the origins of this American genre.
The Where and Why
Blues actually originated in the American South and was predominantly an African American music form. Born in the days of the oppression of a people, they had no political voice. They literally had to accept their place in society, their plight, and the only way they could express their emotions was through the singing of songs as they worked. Some music historians have felt that blues music was so emotionally charged that it began to bring about an awareness of what they were suffering – to the point where abolition gained support and momentum. It was the raw emotion expressed lyrically in the songs rather than the words they were singing that captivated listeners.
A Lack of Entertainment
Perhaps it’s easier to understand the evolution of blues in terms of the times in which Southern African Americans lived. Bear in mind that the slavery and servitude of a people was accepted in the South, and it was the North that contested the practice of ‘owning’ human beings. In the North, African Americans were free men and could easily find entertainment to enjoy. In the South where blues music originated, it was often the only form of entertainment they could enjoy after a long day working. They couldn’t hit a local bar and they certainly couldn’t play at the casinos scattered through the South. Today we can go online and enjoy a game of pokies or two at sites like luckynuggetcasino.com. Obviously, they didn’t have the internet, but the point is there. If the internet was around back then, maybe we wouldn’t have blues today! Think about that for a moment and appreciate the things we take for granted.
Children of the Blues
Blues became so popular, in fact, that many of the elements of style began to influence other genres. These would be rock and roll, country music and jazz. Blues evolved into a genre now called rhythm and blues and all are predominantly American genres. Even European trendsetters back in the 60s such as the Beatles openly expressed their fascination with blues and drew from the musical style in their early days. They, in fact, created covers of many rhythm and blues songs which gained them popularity with American audiences.
There is much more to the origins of blues music, but this overview gives you an idea of just how important emotions are in artform. As a matter of fact, it could even be said that emo music is directly related to blues in that it is a purely emotional sub-genre of punk rock. Had it not been for blues music, maybe this expression of emotion wouldn’t be as acceptable as it is today.