blues

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blues:

see jazzjazz,
the most significant form of musical expression of African-American culture and arguably the most outstanding contribution the United States has made to the art of music. Origins of Jazz

Jazz developed in the latter part of the 19th cent.
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Blues

 

(English; abbreviation of “blue devils”—despondency, melancholy, sadness), solo lyrical song of American Negroes from the banks of the Mississippi.

The blues have been known since the late 19th century; they usually embody a lament for lost happiness. Themes of social protest began to appear in the blues early in the 20th century. To a large degree, the musical features of the blues were inherited from the music of the African peoples: syncopation (dislocation of rhythmic stresses), sliding, unfixed diminution of the modal scale (so-called blues modulations), and improvisation of execution (particularly in instrumental interludes). The form of the blues consists of variations.

The blues were initially performed to banjo accompaniment, and later, to guitars. The song St. Louis Blues (1914) by the Negro professional musician W. Handy began the broad spread of the blues in the Negro sections of cities. A number of the features of the blues were adopted by jazz music of the variety stage (estrada); in jazz music, the blues developed as instrumental dance pieces. The musical form and genre features of the blues have been utilized by many 20th-century composers—for example, G. Gershwin in the USA, M. Ravel in France, and E. Csenec in Austria.

S. P. PANKRATOV

blues

melancholy, bittersweet music born among American Negroes. [Am. Music: Scholes, 113]