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It is commonly believed, that the Blues started in the Mississippi Delta of the Southern states of the USA, in the second half of the 19th century.

Blues doesn’t have direct precursors from Europe or Afrika. But when the African slaves were deported to America, they also brought their musical heritage with them. It was marked by its strong rhythmic feeling and the use of blue notes in the songs.

The blue notes are based in African tone scales. They don’t fit into the European tonal system, and they are strongly oriented at the so-called natural tone scale. The blue notes are used to create melodies, and they characterize Blues melodies.

The Europeans had brought their music into the USA as well, such as marches, polkas, diverse folk music forms and classical music.

In the beginning, the slaves were denied the right to keep their religion, their religions were even banned. Also their instruments, such as drums, were forbidden, since they could be used to transmit informations. In Africa, the music has a different meaning than in Europe, it is part of rituals and also a form of expression for otherwise non-communicable content.

Later, the slaves were allowed to attend church services, they were christianized. In their services, there was a lot of singing, providing mental support for the believers. From these church songs, the African American Spirituals developped, which contained stories from the bible. Besides that, there were also profane songs, like "Field Hollers" (shouts to communicate during field work), „Worksongs“ (songs which were sung at work in general) and "Ballads" (songs in which stories were told).

But Blues wasn’t created just by that. There are also elements of European and Caribbean music. This can be explained by history, since the slavery in the Americas started in the Spanish colonies on the Caribbean islands. The first slaves to land in North America arrived in 1619, when a slave traders’ ship was deviated from its original destination, the West Indies, to the North by a storm. The European influences in Blues originated from the music which was brought to America by white slave owners.

From these roots, Blues developped into its own, independent form of music.

Blues tells stories about real or fictive experiences. The lyrics often deal with betrayal, crime, unfaithfulness, resignation, love in vain, unemployment, hunger, need, home sickness or loneliness. Often the singers use phrased lyrics, which they adjust to the song’s content.

Blues is not only sad music. The majority of the tunes swings and is danceable. Their themes are equally dealing with negative or positive themes and emotions. The cliché of the Blues as plainly sad music developped in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Blues was "re-discovered" by white audiences, and this cliché sticks ever since.

The term Blues came into the general language around 1910, deriving from the description "I feel blue" or "I’ve got the blues". In 1912, the word was used for the first time for a piece of music, "Dallas Blues" by Hart Wand.

Mamie Smith is considered the first African American singer to record Blues in 1920: "Crazy Blues", which became a best seller, and "That Thing Called Love" for the Okeh label.

Blues was popularized by the African American composer W. C. Handy, who issued "Memphis Blues" in 1912 and 2St. Louis Blues" in 1914. After 1920, so called "race records" were produced for black customers, which enhanced Blues’ success and popularity.

After World War I, the Blues expanded into the North of the U. S., since a lot of African American labourforce moved there in search for work. From the 1920s on, through the 1930s and 1940s, Blues and its musicians became increasingly influenced by the cultural life in the cities.

Since the 1950s, the Blues increased in popularity in the American big cities. The use of electric amplifiers changed its sound, the electric guitar became the main instrument. The combination with the rolling Boogie Woogie beat resulted in Rhythm & Blues. When Country & Western elements were integrated, Rock’n’Roll was born. In the 1960s, more and more white musicians became aware of the Blues, copying its elements into their Rock music. Like this, Rock and also Blues-Rock emerged from Blues.