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.