Recently, performers like Eric Clapton have been returning to their acoustic
origins and have started once again to play in a blues style. The screaming guitar
sounds of the electric blues have become an indelible part of our music. Before
that, there was the quieter though no less powerful blues of the acoustic guitar,
played on front porches and at backwoods gatherings by itinerant musicians for whom
sung lyrics were just as important as their inventive guitar parts.
The blues began as a folkloric music in rural African-American communities in
the last decades of the nineteenth century. By the twenties, the style was perfected
by specialized singer-songwriterguitarists. But blues was also performed by songsters
like Leadbelly and Henry Thomas, who also sang story songs, children’s songs, comic
songs, and even spirituals. The blues was also quickly assimilated by early jazz
and rural dance bands and even Tin Pan Alley.
This chapter teaches you the basics of the blues: from the fundamental underlying
12-bar pattern that fits thousands of songs, to learning blues chords, and then
finally mastering a blues instrumental.