Delta blues

The Delta blues is one of the earliest styles of blues music. The name refers to the Mississippi Delta region, an alluvial plain which stretches from near Memphis, Tennessee south to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and whose east-west boundaries are the Mississippi River to the west and the Yazoo River to the east. Delta blues was first recorded in the late 1920s. Slide guitars and harmonicas dominated the music, while the vocals were passionate and fiery. Recorded Delta blues consists mostly of one person singing and playing instruments, though the use of a band was more common during live performances. Delta blues spread out across the country, giving rise to a host of regional variations, including Chicago and Detroit blues.

"Delta blues" is something of an amorphous category; Skip James is often cited as a Delta blues artist, although he was from Bentonia, Mississippi, which is a scant twenty-five miles outside the Mississippi Delta proper. Elmore James is another artist whose music might well be termed Delta blues, and he grew up near Jackson, also not in the Delta. These performers, and many others, not only traveled through the Mississippi Delta but also made their way through the geographically and culturally similar regions of southeastern Arkansas and southwestern Tennessee, yet no one refers to "Southeastern Arkansas Blues" or "Southwestern Tennessee Blues" (although Memphis, a large city whose music has been influenced by blues, R&B, jazz, gospel and country music, can be said to possess a distinctive style of playing blues music). Scholars disagree as to whether there is a substantial, musicological difference between blues that originated in this region and in other parts of the country. The defining characteristic of Delta blues would seem to be instrumentation and an emphasis on rhythm; the basic harmonic structure is not substantially different from that of blues performed elsewhere. And because the Mississippi Delta was essentially feudal in the 1920s, and the plantation system oppressive, there existed a subculture of blues artists who were refugees from that system. Thus Delta blues can refer to one of the first pop-music subcultures as well as to a performing style. A better term might well be "blues played by people from Mississippi."

List of artists

[Trail of the Hellhound - Delta Blues in the lower Mississippi Valley (]

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Blues | Blues genres
Classic female blues - Country blues - Delta blues - Jazz blues - Jump blues - Piano blues
Blues-rock - Soul blues
African blues - British blues - Chicago blues - Detroit blues - Kansas City blues - Louisiana blues - Memphis blues - Piedmont blues - St. Louis blues - Swamp blues - Texas blues - West Coast blues
Styles of American folk music
Appalachian | Blues (Ragtime) | Cajun and Creole (Zydeco) | Country (Honky tonk and Bluegrass) | Jazz | Native American | Spirituals and Gospel | Tejano


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