Blues & Ragtime
By Dr. Mark Birnbaum

The blues was brought here a generation before ragtime; it probably made its first appearance in the 1860's. Music brought over from Africa by slaves blended with hymns and American folk songs and has thrived to this day. The blues is the basis of jazz and rock 'n roll, and its vocabulary has remained intact.

The blues is primarily a vocal music. Its earliest form was singing and hand clapping (voice and percussion): work songs, chain gang songs, field hollers. You sing the blues, or listen to it, to "get in touch with your pain;" to make life more bearable.

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