Blues | Gullah Music - Episode 5


After the Civil War and emancipation, freed men and women struggled to find work and make a new life for their families. The songs about these difficult times were called the blues, a musical style that grew out of the work songs and spirituals that Africans sang on plantations. The blues used a new call-and-response form known as the A, A, B pattern--the first verse (A) and second verse (A) are the same and the final verse (B) is different. The words to the song, also known as the lyrics, are accompanied by basic chords.

People are able to improvise with their lyrics, voices and instruments like the piano, banjo, guitar and harmonica. The blue note on the blues scale is sung or played flat. People used the same basic model to create many blues styles. Music historians trace the early blues to the Mississippi Delta region but South Carolina was also a part of the southern blues tradition. As African Americans migrated north, the blues became popular in cities like Chicago.