The Blues

Part 1: Definition of “Blues”. More than any of the other roots, the blues is central to rock and roll. Formulate a comprehensive definition of the blues that accounts for the enormous influence of the blues on rock and roll. You must address its origins; identify and explain various strains and traditions that eventually led to the establishment of rock and roll; and discuss the distinctive features including state of mind, form of lyrics and music, performance practices, instruments, and performers. Part 2: Evaluation. Evaluate Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues” and Muddy Waters’s “Got My Mojo Working” (both songs are available in the Spotify playlist for the module). In your evaluation, you should address the following questions: How do both songs conform to your definitions of the blues? In what ways do they deviate from your definition? Do the songs express the expected state of mind and both lyric and musical forms? How do you account for the differences in the two performances? What elements from each song do you see as essential for the emergence of rock and roll? For this assignment, please consult the following sources. You are also welcome to consult any others if you wish. The entry, “Blues”, in the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Volume 3: The United States and Canada (recommended) The entry, “Blues”, in Grove Music Online (recommended) The video “Delta Blues” from the American Roots Music DVD (required: see video in module) The video “Electric Bues” from the American Roots Music DVD (required: see video in module) The section on Blues in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock Music Volume 1: The Early Years (pdf) (recommended)


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