Category Archives for "arts and entertainment"

LOOKING BEHIND TO MOVE FORWARD: THE RICH HISTORY OF BLUES

The music genre of Blues is fully rich in history and struggle. Join us as we take a closer look at the relevant beginnings, emphatic struggles, and the continuing endurance of this beautiful art. It is universally acknowledged that the Blues originated from the Deep South. It is even argued that this art form started from the heart of plantations.

It was the suffering public of slaves and their descendants that created and kept the Blues alive. African-Americans prided themselves with their work tunes, worship songs, their hymns, and even drum music. These all somehow transitioned into what we know to be the Blues. This music is so popular that it often ends up being used by wedding DJs in Philadelphia for dancing.

According to music scholars, the first appearance of actual dated Blues occurred after the Emancipation Act of 1863. This enabled people of color to establish what are known as “Juke Joints” or even a “barrelhouse”. These were places where people of color gathered after work or during their free time. These were the places wherein they listened to organic music, danced, or interacted in a free social setting. While informal in its setting, Juke Joints played an integral part in the development and cultivation of Blues. It was in these places where talented musicians practiced their craft and had immediate feedback from their peers.

It wasn’t until early 1908 where blues sheet music first hit publication. It is sad that while blues had a great start, not much is documented. This is entirely because of the racial discrimination that was the norm around this time. What was also odd around this time was that there was no clear division in the category for Blues and Country. So they were often sold together—much to the artists’ confusion. The primary way in which you can differentiate Blues and Country from each other was through the ethnicity of the performer. At the time, even this was often done poorly as record labels did not really prioritize proper information regarding artists who weren’t white.

A hindrance to Blues as an art was the influence of religious communities of both colors. At the time, it was generally believed that Blues was the “Devil’s Music”. It didn’t particularly help that there was significant lore about Blues players having supernatural ties. The lyrics of their songs were also hinting to supernatural ties. So if you were a guitarist at the time, you could fall into two particular categories: guitar preachers or songsters. If you had vocals to accompany your Blues chords, you would either be a gospel singer or a blues singer.

However, when the recording of Blues became more commonplace around 1920, it was noted that both “gospel” and “Blues” shared quite similar techniques. Blues was often associated with its call-and-response style pattern. It seemed that “holy” music also took this style for their pieces.

Regardless of the divide, Blues continued to persist through the years. It eventually came to be intrinsically tied to the African-American culture as a whole. The offshoots and hybrids of Blues grew in popularity as time went on. All of these led to what we know Blues to be today.

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Infographic by: musikalessons.com

STRUMMING ALONG: THE BEST BLUES SONGS FOR GUITAR BEGINNERS

The Blues has always enjoyed a significant amount of budding artists, year after year. As we are dedicated to providing artists with a helpful resource, we’ve compiled the best songs that guitar beginners can learn.

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

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We would be honestly surprised if you were to say that you aren’t familiar with this song. “Sweet Home Alabama” is a proven American classic. It has enjoyed a lot of screen time over the years, especially in romantic comedies.

This song is effectively one of the simplest songs to play on the guitar (not counting the solo). The simplistic intro and consistent simplistic chords is a great way to test the retention of the player. As soon as you’ve mastered the chords, it’ll be time to keep practicing until you’re comfortable with tackling the solo. Don’t worry; the chords are still generally the same, just a bit higher in its tempo.

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

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Another established classic, this song was released in 1988. It won a Grammy Award in the category of Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. This song is a great starter song as the chords are mostly repetitive in nature. It’s a good way to test your memory and strumming until you’re ready for the faster set.

It’s a Long Way – Seasick Steve

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A simple 3 chord song by nature, it is a classic pick up and play, Blues song. It’s fairly short but it’s a great way to shake up your budding library of knowledge.

That’s All Right – “Big Boy” Cruddup

This song has four chords and is a good way to really familiarize yourself with the method of stretching notes as you sing the words.

Cotton Fields – Leadbelly

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This song is a common favorite for beginners. It has four chords and it’s a good way to shake up any repetitive songs that you’ve been favoring. We always endeavor to progress the repertoire of budding artists out there all the while keeping the challenge simple.

Sweet Home Chicago – Blues Brothers

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While a bit tricky as the chords change per line, it’s a great way to slowly upgrade your playing style without having to feel frustrated at the progress.  It will definitely take a bit of practice before you master this one. However, once you do you’ll find that your fingers and your mind will be more attuned to changing it up.

Some Tips for the Beginner

Do adequate research

There are a lot of great blues songs out there. However, you shouldn’t be deceived at how simple sounding they may be. The best blues songs are often have simplistic styling yet have killer chord progression. Make use of good websites that already did the legwork and categorized blues songs per difficulty.

Be consistent with practice

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You can’t hope to become good if you don’t keep up with your practice. We understand that it may be challenging. However, if things were so easy to attain, they wouldn’t be worth having.

Happy chording and keep at it!