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1950s and earlier

Only 471 pages left on your journey to becoming a rock star!

Blues and Jazz

If you don’t know the blues... there’s no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock ’n’ roll or any other form of popular music.
–Keith Richards

The blues is the building block of all popular music, and if you want to write great music, then you should start listening to blues music right away.

Blues is a genre and musical form that originated in African-American communities in the “Deep South” of the United States around the end of the 19th century. The genre developed from a fusion of traditional African music and European folk music, that incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. The blue notes (or “worried notes”) which are often thirds or fifths which are flatter in pitch than in other music styles, are also an important part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect called a groove. – Wikipedia

Blues music is mostly based on a quite simple I - IV - V chord progression, which subsequently found its way into rock ’n’ roll, and which still serves as a building block for most of today’s popular songs, from dance music to heavy metal. What makes the blues special is its melancholic feeling, which is partly also achieved using blue notes, something that was still widely common in the 1960s and 70s, but that has mostly been lost in today’s popular music. Maybe it’s time to bring some of that back.

The blues is instilled in every musical cell that floats around your body.
–Nick Cave

If you want to learn about the roots of rock ’n’ roll and popular music, then you should listen to artists like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, and John Lee Hooker for example. All of them already made music before rock ’n’ roll emerged, and unfortunately they’re all gone by now (B.B. King died in 2015). But there are also younger artists that are (or have been) blues masters, such as Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, or Joe Bonamassa for example.

The blues was like that problem child that you may have had in the family. You was a little bit ashamed to let anybody see him, but you loved him. You just didn’t know how other people would take it.
–B.B. King

Some records of the 1960s and 70s also feature a lot of blues elements, as artists had been heavily influenced by that music. Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, and others are great examples.

The blues is at the origin of all of today's music, so if you want to become a great artist, then please start LISTENING TO THE BLUES.

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Chapter 3.1   •   Page 3 of 9

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