Resources: Genres and Performers: BluesThe blues are a body of music with roots in the music of slaves who were transported to the United States in the 1700s. Blues music is based on songs with the following characteristics: 4-4 time, three-line stanzas (an initial lyric line, a second line repeats the first, and a third line of lyrics that is different) in 12 bars of 3 four-bar phrases (that correspond to the lyric stanzas). The musical phrases have a typical chord pattern (the 1st prase remains in I throughout the four bars; the 2nd phrase usually contains 2 bars of IV followed by 2 bars of I; the 3rd phrase generally contains 2 bars of V chord followed by 2 bars of I; sometimes IV replaces the second V in the third phrase).
Blues use the call-response of African traditional music by alternating lyric stanzas and instrumental improvisation over the chord progression. The III, V, and VII notes of the blues scale are a half step below those of the major scale. The sound created by these changes to the scale underscores the themes of hardship, sadness, loss, and love-gone-wrong that are prevailent in blues.