History of Blues Music and How it Began

History of Blues Music and How it Began

History of Blues Music and How it Began

The rhythm of blues music is quite different from other music, such as pop music. Maybe that’s why some people sometimes question the instrument used to play blues music. But the musical instruments used in blues music are not much different from the musical instruments used in other types of music.

History of Blues Music and How it Began
Electric guitar player on a stage with colorful blue and purple scenic illumination

Like almost all other types of music, the guitar, originally a traditional Spanish musical instrument, is one of the mandatory musical instruments in blues music. In addition, the harmonica, which is a traditional Chinese musical instrument, is also often used in playing blues music. The three most vital elements of blues music are guitar, harmonica, and vocals.

In addition to the two musical instruments above, blues music is often played using other devices such as trumpet, saxophone, trombone, piano, and drums. In modern blues music is also often used electric musical instruments. Before we continue, I want to talk about the blues.


Blues music was originally spiritual and often sung by African Americans in the 19th century. For me, the exciting thing about the history of blues music is that it has its roots in Muslim traditions. This is a little hard to believe. The public knows that blues music is that music comes from spiritual music and praises sung by formerly enslaved people in America.

However, Sylviane Diouf, a scientist, researcher, and writer at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, has proven the connection of blues music with Muslim traditions. Historians say that at least 30% of enslaved Africans forced into slave labor in America were Muslim. The black Muslim community also influences Caucasian music related to the musical instruments played.

History of Blues Music and How it Began

In the days of slavery in America, enslaved Black people were forbidden to beat the drums because it was feared that it would arouse the spirit of resistance from the enslaved people. However, they are still allowed to use a stringed instrument that Muslims from Africa usually play because it is considered to resemble a violin. So now, let’s go back to the use of blues instruments.

Although current technological advances allow computers to produce sounds like musical instruments, of course, the existence of musical instruments cannot be replaced by computers. The same is true for blues music. For the use of musical instruments in blues music itself, sometimes the instrument played also depends on the number of people playing it.


One player : usually uses guitar and harmonica

Two players: usually equal to 1 person, but usually there is an additional bass, drums, a second guitar, or maybe a piano.

History of Blues Music and How it Began

Three players: same as two players, but with some additional tools

Four players: a combination of all of the above instruments; maybe a trumpet / saxophone may be added

blues instrument

One of the blues musicians is Shorty Ferguson, who is a musician from New Orleans. Some people refer to his music as jazz music, but the music he plays can also be categorized as blues music. In addition, he plays the trumpet and has his own band.

The line of Blues bands consists of:

Muddy Waters: guitar and vocals

Walter Jacobs: harmonica

Jimmy Rogers: guitar

Otis Spann: piano

Elgin Evans: drums

The bass player (Willie Dixon on many studio recordings)

When players come in and out (many, like Little Walter, who left to form his own band), the point is he keeps this line-up. So while you don’t need all of these elements, this formation is the most standard. Trumpet player, or trumpet with three parts, it’s a choice. The belief in a larger trumpet section with an orchestral section began to take it from the heart of electric blues music (see band BB King, Stax Albert King records, or Elmore James).

Generally, no distinction is made between rhythm and lead guitar, as blues guitar players expect both. However, many vocalists (Muddy, BB, Albert, Freddie King) only play lead guitar, as opposed to rock music, where the guitarist/vocalist tends to play rhythm guitar. Any other instrument is said to be non-standard but may be acceptable in context (Gatemouth Brown violin, additional percussion such as washboard, Hammond organ).


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