Normally, a blues band includes one guitarist, a drummer, a bass player and a vocalist. Sometimes there is no separate vocalist. Voice is given by one of the people playing the instruments. The rhythm section may need an extra guitar player. The lead guitarst may either play finger-style or with a pick. A glass or metal slide may be used to fret the guitar in order to get a different feeling to the sound. Even a dishwasher can make amazing sounds that give music some dimension. Amplifiers, especially tube amplifiers are important for the guitar to sound better. So, the three instruments that blues must have are:
Guitar is an essential instrument in playing blues. Some of the guitars that are used to play blues are: Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Gibson ES 335, Gibson Les Paul, National Steel Resonator Guitar, etc.
Blues cannot be played without drums. Some drummers just use a bass drum, whereas, others use more. There might be some other drumming instruments like cow bell, wash board, and tambourine. These instruments are used by the horn player or the vocalist.
Basses are also a mandatory part of the blues music. You cannot play blues without it. The common models of basses used are Fender Precision Bass and Double String Bass.
If the band is bigger, then you need some additional musicians, like a keyboardist, horn player or violin player. Some bands only use violin to perform solo. The vocalists sometimes have to play harmonica to fill out the sound of blues.
Blues had been a very popular style of music. Many albums were extremely popular and people still hear them. Here are top 3 blues albums of all time.
Jimmy Reed – Jimmy Reed At Carnegie Hall (1961)
Although the title of the album mentions ‘Carnegie Hall’, the album was not recorded at Carnegie Hall. May be the title was there to expect people to think that Reed played at that famous concert venue. This was such a great album! Many people might think that it’s just the three-chord things. But what’s amazing is the complexity that took place between Jimmy Reed and his co-guitarist Eddie Taylor. The blend is so natural that it’s hard to tell who is playing what. This album influenced many guitarists.
Albert King – Born Under A Bad Sign (1967)
He was one of the greatest guitarists. It’s a surprising fact that he used to be a drummer. He was actually left-handed. Nonetheless, he played right-handed models flipped upside-down several times. He started off by releasing singles. But he will be remembered for his sensational recordings for Stax in the 60’s. Songs like Born Under a Bad Sign, The Hunter, and Crosscut Saw were very famous during that time. This album is used for practicing one-of-a-kind tone by many guitarists.
Freddy King – Freddy King Goes Surfing (1963)
Though the title says, the album is not at all about surfing. The ‘surfing’ part was added probably to highlight the Beach Boys and the West Coast craze. He was a well known vocalist and guitarist. His album truly reflects his creativity and talent. He was one of the best guitarists ever. He can play between the lead lines and the small rhythm lines. He could find all the right notes.
These albums will always be loved and looked upon by musicians for many more generations to come. The audiences will never forget the great tunes they had created.
The blues is a musical style that was formed in response to the sufferings that the African American people endured for many generations. It was created in the rural Mississippi Delta region during the early 20th century. Blues has a vocal narrative style which features solo voice accompanied by instruments. Blues has influenced the formation of other music styles such as rock music, jazz, western and country music.
In 1920s, the blues style evolved into a harmonic structure and melodic shape. The lyrics of blues contain some three-line rhymed stanzas. Each stanza has a line of verse that is repeated and then completed with a final line. The repeating blues chord progression is the basis of harmony. It uses three major chords of a scale. Vocals are the focus of blues style music.
This is the earliest form of blues. It was developed in the 19th century Southern rural experience. Singers from one community went to other communities singing about freedom, love, sorrows, etc. Son House, Robert Johnson and Charlie Patton were among the early blues musicians.
When the rural African Americans migrated to urban areas like New Orleans and Memphis looking for jobs, the blues became more urbanized. This classic or urban blues featured a male or a female singer, along with a piano or jazz combo. The urban blues became very famous. Compositions like ‘St. Louis Blues’ by W.C. Handy in 1914 became so popular that ordinary songs added the word ‘blues’ to make them popular. Now blues were not popular among African American audiences; the Americans also started loving it. Blues could be heard in parties, small dance halls and any other events.
After World War II, the blues moved to cities like Chicago. Musicians like Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters increased the sound by amplifying guitars and emphasizing the drums. The white musicians adapted this style in the 1950s. Blues hits were recorded by musicians like Elvis Presley and Bill Haley who later transformed into rock and roll. After a decade British musicians like Rolling Stone and Eric Clapton adapted the blues styles and transformed t into hard rock style.
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Though most blues styles are now transformed into rock and roll, the original blues styles are still famous. People still listen to musicians like Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. Now you can find the rhythm of blues in contemporary ad jazz music as well. You will still find many fans of the blues throughout the world.