Did you know there are 35 different sub-genres of blues music? From country blues to Chicago blues to Louisiana swamp blues, the genre has evolved and branched out in fascinating ways. If you’re a fan of the blues or just curious to learn more about it, this blog post is for you.
Here are some main sub-genres of blues music:
1. Acoustic Blues
2. African Blues
3. Blues Rock
4. British Blues
5. Chicago Blues
6. Electric Blues
7. Country Blues
8. Detroit Blues
9. Delta Blues
10. Memphis Blues
We’ll take a closer look at each of the 35 sub-genres, and we’ll also explore some of the most famous artists who play within those genres. So get ready to dive into the world of the blues!
1. Acoustic Blues
Acoustic blues is a style of blues music that may be played on a non-electric instrument.
The Acoustic Blues style is a wide range of guitar and music. It includes folk, traditional music, slide, fingerpicking, ragtime, and all of the region’s different types of music that happened during the early years of the Acoustic Blues style.
Acoustic blues refers to a wide range of music, including both electric and acoustic genres. The term “acoustic” implies that instruments such as the mandolin, banjo, piano, harmonica, jar, and other non-electric instruments are all forms of acoustic music.
2. African Blues
The term “West African blues” refers to a style of music created in West Africa. The use of electric guitars is common in this genre. The phrase might also indicate the trip that traditional African music made from its origin to the United States before returning home.
Some historians and ethnologists think that the blues came from African music. During and after slavery, this music was kept by African-Americans.
The blues is an important type of American popular music. But many people do not know that the blues came from rural, African-American origins. The blues are also related to African instrumental traditions.
African music has had a big impact on modern music. Work songs that have a calling and response structure come from Africa. Plantation employees used these songs often. The blues is another example of how African music has been influential in modern music. This type of singing came from sharecroppers who were very free in their singing.
3. Blues Rock
The term “blues-rock” was first used in the late 1960s to describe a type of music that focused on traditional three-chord blues songs and improvisation. Traditional three-chord blues songs are characteristic of this genre.
Cream combined the idea of rock & roll with the blues to create a new type of music that was louder and had more instruments. These groups, like Cream, attempted to play lengthy, unstructured songs similar to those played by jazz musicians.
This combination was successful. Bands that followed it was louder and played more music with guitar riffs. Heavy metal and Southern rock developed due to this point of view.
In the early 1970s, many musicians blended blues-rock and hard rock. They were using techniques that made their music sound like album-rock. This was done to make their music sound more mainstream and to hide their blues influence.
However, blues-rock departed from hard rock and took a distinct direction. Several artists continued to perform (and rewrite) blues standards in the same fashion for a while.
In the 1980s and 1990s, blues-rock was more reliant on the blues than it had been in the 1960s and 1970s. Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Fabulous Thunderbirds tried to transform it into popular rock music, yet by the ’80s, blues rock had firmly established itself as a distinct genre.
4. Blues Shouter
The term “Blues Shouter” implies more than just the singer’s volume or singing style. Although many Blues Shouters scream loudly and without much care for vocal nuances, this is not always the case.
To be considered a “live vocalist,” an artist must inject passion and energy into their performance. This means that they get completely caught up in their performance and allow the song’s power to overwhelm them. It doesn’t mean that they can’t sing quietly but instead implies that they are very passionate about their performance.
In the early 1930s, when America’s economy suffered, people stopped buying record players and records. This was due to a lack of funds.
In contrast, live music was largely unaffected by the Depression. Many large bands were touring the highways and filling dance halls all over the country with energetic “swing” music that compelled people to get up and dance.
5. British Blues
The London Scene, which started in the mid-to-late 1960s and lasted until the early 1970s, had a big impact on the development of rock music. Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies were two of the people who started it when they joined Blues Incorporated. Then new artists took over. Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf were some of their favorite performers.
The Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones were two groups that became popular with their type of blues rock. However, other bands went in a more serious direction. John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac are two examples of such bands. They imitate famous guitarists like B.B. King, Albert King, and Freddie King (who all had the same last name but were not relatives).
Jimi Hendrix inspired the local musicians to play American-style blues. Afterward, traditional blues music lost favor. However, its influence persisted. This can be seen in the heavy metal movement, which is known for its louder and more distorted guitar sounds.
6. Canadian Blues
Canada’s blues refers to a style of music called ” Canadian blues” (e.g., blues rock) made by Canadian Musicians.
Many singers play the blues on different instruments. These include guitarists (acoustic and electric), harmonica players (also known as “blues harp”), pianists (instrumental), Hammond organists, bass players, and drummers. Songwriters and music producers are also important for creating blues music.
There are many different types of blues artists. For example, Steve Marriner is a vocalist, harmonica player, guitarist, songwriter, and record producer from Canada.
7. Chicago Blues
The Chicago blues style of music is a form that originated in Chicago, Illinois. It is based on Delta blues but takes place in an urban setting. During the early part of the twentieth century, it coincided with the Migration from the South. This type of blues music became popular in Chicago and other northern cities because it reflected the experiences of African Americans who had migrated north.
Chicago blues music differs from other blues styles because it often uses electric guitars and electronic effects like distortion and overdrive.
8. Detroit Blues
Delta bluesmen traveled north to Detroit from the Mississippi Delta and Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1920s and 1930s to work in industrial plants.
The typical style of Detroit blues is similar to Chicago blues. They both make use of electrically amplified instruments. The bass guitar and piano are two ways in which the Detroit blues style distinguishes itself.
The Detroit blues scene was centered around Black Bottom and Hastings Street. John Lee Hooker was the only known Detroit blues musician. Because the record labels and promoters preferred to concentrate on the more popular Chicago blues, he gained fame.
9. Electric Blues
The electric guitar is the lead instrument in this type of music. It is called electric blues. The electric guitar can be made louder with an amplifier, so the other instruments, like the bass guitar and drums, can be heard better.
The blues is a type of music that originated in Chicago in the 1930s and 1940s. Blues music spread to other parts of the United States, and each area developed its own unique take on the style. By the 1950s, blues music had fully evolved into its own genre.
The electric blues style was crucial in the invention of amplified, distorted power chords and string bending on the electric guitar, as well as bringing harsh guitar tones into popular music. It was a key element of rock music since it provided dense texture, electric guitar techniques, and basic blues band instrumentation that was later adopted by rock.
10. Country Blues
One type of blues music is called rural or country blues. This type of blues music is vocal-only with acoustic fingerstyle guitar accompaniment. This type of blues music emerged in the Southern United States during the early 20th century.
Blind Lemon Jefferson (Texas), Charley Patton (Mississippi), and Blind Willie McTell (Georgia) were among the first to record blues songs in the 1920s. In the cities, country music played alongside urban music.
11. Gospel Blues
Gospel blues is a type of gospel music that incorporates the sound of the blues with spiritual or Christian lyrics.
Some blues singers, like Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, and Skip James sang gospel-tinged blues songs. They sang about religious topics as well as other topics. They did this while also playing professionally as blues singers.
Others, such as the Reverend Gary Davis, only performed Gospel blues since they considered traditional blues to be demonic. In these instances, it was usually a question of the lyrical subject rather than a musical form.
Gospel blues singers, on the other hand, avoid dance-oriented blues genres such as 12-bar shuffles-beat songs and boogie-woogie dance tunes.
12. Harmonica Blues
Harmonica Blues is a type of blues music that features the harmonica prominently. This style became popular in the 1950s when people like Big Walter Horton, Little Walter, and Junior Wells started using microphones to make the harmonica sound louder. Chicago blues music, in particular, is known for its heavy use of the harmonica.
13. Hill Country Blues
The hill country blues (a type of blues) is known for its strong focus on rhythm and percussion, constant guitar riffs, minor chord changes, creative song structures, and “groove.” The groove has been defined as the “hypnotic boogie.”
The hill country is a part of northern Mississippi. It is located on the North Hilly Plain (Red Clay Hills or North Central Hills), Loess Plains, and Bluff Hills ecoregions. The hill country contains Desoto, Marshall, Panola, Tate, Tippah, and Lafayette counties.
The hills have a lot of rocky soil and forested areas. This is why there are not many farms, but the timber industry is strong. People who live in the hills often listen to music that is associated with this area, such as Holly Springs and Oxford, Mississippi.
The music is distinct from that of the Mississippi Delta, which lies to the west. An annual picnic is held in celebration of the region and its music.
14. Hokum Blues
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, a popular type of Blues song in the United States was called ‘hokum.’ This type of Blues song was often quite explicit, referencing sexual practices, prostitution, and homosexuality. These songs often sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
The ‘Hokum’ craze emerged during the ‘Prohibition’ era when drinking alcohol was banned for much of the population. The permissive air surrounding anyone interested in nightlife extended to sexual activity, gambling, and other “illegal” and “sinful” activities. It wasn’t called “The Roaring Twenties” for nothing!
15. Jazz Blues
Jazz Blues is a type of blues music that uses more complex harmonies and rhythms. This type of blues is different than classic blues music because it is more complex. Jazz Blues can also be used to describe jazz music that is played with basic harmonies and rhythms. This type of jazz is more emotional and physical than intellectual or sophisticated.
The results may sound more like one side of the equation with a hint of the other, or they might be closer to R&B. In the first place, blues and jazz were based on the same African-American musical roots. They have always crossed enough that an absolute barrier has never been a viable (or even desired) option.
16. Jump Blues
The name of this blues form comes from the lyrics, which contain numerous references to jumping or leaping. It was popular in the 1940s and was a precursor to rhythm, blues, and rock and roll. Jump blues was rediscovered during the swing revival in the 1990s.
In the early 1940s, big bands like those of Lionel Hampton and Lucky Millinder pioneered the music that would later become known as jump blues. This type of music was characterized by its upbeat tempo and flashy brass instruments. Louis Jordan, Jack McVea, Earl Bostic, and Arnett Cobb are some examples of musicians who emerged from this period.
One of the most well-known jump blues stars was Louis Jordan. Other bands who performed this style include Amos Millburn and Joe Liggins, as well as Jack McVea, Big Jay McNeely, and Bullmoose Jackson. They all had songs like “Saturday Night Fish Fry” by Louis Jordan, “Good Rockin’ Tonight” by Roy Brown, and “Deacon’s Hop” by Big Jay McNeely.
17. Kansas City Blues
The blues style of playing the piano changed over time because the musician had to appeal to a wider audience. This was done by developing more complicated styles that could be played in different cities. Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Lucille Bogan were the most popular female blues singers in the 1920s.
The first black female blues artist, Mamie Smith, was the vaudeville entertainer who recorded “Crazy Blues” in 1920; her second record, “Crazy Blues,” sold 75,000 copies in its first month.
The “Mother of Blues” Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith sang around center tones to better project their voices in a big space. Smith’s ability to bend and compress notes with her gorgeous, powerful contralto while still maintaining her own interpretation was unrivaled.
18. Louisiana Blues
Louisiana blues music is a type of blues music that has evolved since the end of World War II. This type of blues music is usually divided into two major subgenres. Likewise, Lousiana Blues is based on the musical heritage of New Orleans and has a jazz influence. The other, swamp blues, incorporates elements from zydeco and Cajun music from around Baton Rouge.
Professor Longhair and Guitar Slim are two well-known artists from the New Orleans tradition. Swamp blues artists such as Slim Harpo and Lightnin’ Slim were popular in the 1960s, but their popularity decreased later in that decade. Interest in these genres has increased occasionally since the 1970s.
19. NY Blues
The New York blues was a type of blues music with more modern influences and a more urban feel than the country blues. It started in New York City in the early part of the 20th century and soon spread to other big cities. The New York blues was also listened to by more wealthy people than the rural country blues, which is distinctively agricultural in nature. Some famous musicians from this area include Lionel Hampton, Ethel Waters, and Joe Turner.
In New York, jazz was combined with stride (an advanced form of ragtime) and evolved considerably, notably in the works of James P. Johnson in the 1920s. Fletcher Henderson’s jazz orchestra, formed in 1923 and including Coleman Hawkins (and later Louis Armstrong), became extremely popular and helped shape swing music.
Henderson was one of the first major jazz musicians in New York. However, he could not change with the times as quickly as other contemporaries, such as Duke Ellington. When Ellington arrived in New York, he started a whole new trend of jazz performers, which then relocated the center of jazz’s development from Chicago to New York.
20. Piano Blues
Piano blues is a type of Blues music in which the piano is very important. The most famous kind of piano blues is boogie woogie, but barrelhouse, swing, R&B, rock and roll, and jazz are all very significant too.
21. Punk Blues
The Punk blues is a type of rock music that combines punk rock and blues. Punk blues musicians and bands often mix in elements of related styles, such as progen punk and blues rock. The style originated in the garage rock sound of the 1960s and 1970s.
The connection between punk and blues music is more apparent in the songwriting and vocal styles of these artists. Punk and blues musicians have a lot in common, including their rawness, simplicity, and emotionality. Singer/guitarist Chet Weise of the Immortal Lee County Killers says “Punk and blues are both real responses to life.” They’re just louder and faster.
22. Ragtime Blues
Ragtime Blues is a type of music that became popular in the early 1900s. It was often played on the piano, and featured a mix of styles including ragtime blues and Piedmont guitar style. Ragtime blues is a style that adapts piano techniques from ragtime jazz to the six-string guitar. Scott Joplin was a well-known performer of ragtime piano music.
This syncopated sensibility was the precursor to jazz. It eventually found its way into the hands of Southeastern blues guitarists. Piedmont traditionally prized faster tempos and “ragged” rhythms (hence, the “rag” of “ragtime”), unlike delta blues, which valued slower tempos and “clean” rhythms.
It’s a style that pushes the guitar to its limit rather than simply speaking through it, a test of a musician’s musicianship and technical ability while maintaining musicality.
23. Rhythm & Blues
The term “rhythm and blues,” often shortened to R&B or R’n’B, refers to a style of popular music that emerged in African-American communities in the 1940s.
The phrase “urban” comes from the word used by record companies to describe music popular with African Americans living in cities. This type of music usually has a strong beat and is based on jazz.
In the 1950s through the 1970s, bands generally consisted of piano, one or two guitars, bass, drums, one or more saxophones, and occasionally background vocalists.
R&B music is particularly notable for its poetic themes dealing with the African-American experience of pain, suffering, and freedom. The topics include love, relationships, money, and aspirations in a nuanced manner.
24. St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues is a type of music similar to Chicago-style blues and R&B. It is a solo vocal or piano performance usually accompanied by a small combo or big band. However, This type of blues has an urban feel to it, meaning it has less of the rural feeling common in country blues.
25. Swamp Blues
Swamp blues is a type of Louisiana blues that originated among the Black residents of Southwest Louisiana in the 1950s. It incorporates elements from several genres, including zydeco and Cajun music. Two of its most famous practitioners are Slim Harpo and Lightnin’ Slim, who had national rhythm and blues hits.
The classic blues form, which first emerged in the 1920s, was a precursor of female blues. The style is also referred to as vaudeville blues because it combines traditional folk blues and urban theater music. Female singers backed by pianists or small jazz ensembles sang classic blues, which were the first to be recorded. Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, and other artists in this category helped to popularize the genre.
Zydeco is a musical style that was formed in southwest Louisiana by French Creole speakers and blends blues, rhythm and blues, and music native to the Louisiana Creoles and Native Americans of the state. Although it has its own distinct roots in Cajun music in Louisiana, the two forms influenced one other, resulting in a bewilderingly diverse subgenre group.
28. Contemporary Blues
Contemporary Blues is a type of blues that has rock, pop, R&B, and/or folk influences. This makes it different from regular blues. It is usually electric, but sometimes people play it acoustically.
The sound is more polished and sometimes even genteel owing to its up-to-date manufacturing and quieter audience mindset; it’s still soulful but not as earthy or gritty as the music that came before it, and it’s less aggressive or combustible than contemporary electric blues from Chicago or Texas.
Contemporary blues is more likely to be accepted into pop, album rock, and adult contemporary radio formats since other genres of music influence it. Robert Cray, Keb’ Mo,’ and prodigies Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang are notable contemporary blues performers.
29. New Orleans Blues
New Orleans blues is a type of blues music that originated in and around New Orleans. This type of blues music is influenced by jazz and Caribbean music. It is usually played with a piano and saxophone, but there are also guitar bluesmen. Some famous examples of this type of music are Professor Longhair and Guitar Slim. They both have had hits on the national and international levels.
Some people say that jazz music began in New Orleans. The blues have received less attention as the place where jazz music started. But in reality, the city was home to several well-known 12-bar blues before most of the rest of the country. Buddy Bolden’s group was recognized for its mastery of the blues around 1906.
From 1908, the Original Dixieland Jass Band’s “Livery Stable Blues” is an early example of published blues sheet music. The Original Dixieland Jass Band’s “Livery Stable Blues,” generally regarded as the first jazz record, is in a fast blues style.
30. Delta Blues
The Delta blues is a regional style of music that originated in the early 20th century in the Delta region of northwestern Mississippi. The guitar and harmonica are the most common instruments used in this type of music, and slide playing is a distinctive feature.
Delta blues music features a variety of vocal styles, from introspective and soulful to passionate and fiery. In the 1920s and 1930s, creators of the style helped establish the market for traditional blues recordings. Later Delta-born guitarists contributed to the development of Chicago blues, electric blues, and folk blues in the post-World War II era.
31. Piedmont Blues
The Piedmont blues is a type of guitar music that is characterized by a fingerpicking technique. This means that a regular, alternating thumb bass string rhythmic pattern supports a syncopated melody utilizing the treble strings.
Because of the high range, it’s often called a “high-range” piano. It has been described as sounding like ragtime or stride piano. Folklorist Peter B. Lowry coined the term, with Bruce Bastin getting co-credit. The Piedmont style is distinguished from other kinds of music by its ragtime rhythms, according to jazz researcher Peter B. Lowry.
32. Texas Blues
The Texas blues is a style of blues music that originated in Texas. It is defined by its jazz and swing influences. Later examples are more likely to be classified as blue rock or Southern rock.
The Texas blues developed among African Americans who worked in oilfields, ranches, and lumber camps from the early 1900s. Blind Lemon Jefferson created the style in the 1920s by combining jazz-inspired improvisation and single-string accompaniment on a guitar; his impact and influence guided future artists.
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, many bluesmen migrated to cities like Galveston, San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas. It was from these urban areas that a new generation of popular performers emerged, including slide guitarist and gospel vocalist Blind Willie Johnson.
These developments influenced the bluesmen of the 1960s, such as Lightnin’ Hopkins, Lil’ Son Jackson, and T-Bone Walker. Robert Johnson was from Mississippi yet recorded in Texas.
33. Memphis Blues
The Memphis blues is a form of blues music that was developed in the 1910s through 1930s by musicians from Memphis, such as Frank Stokes, Sleepy John Estes, Furry Lewis, and Memphis Minnie.
The street style was popular in vaudeville and medicine shows, and it was linked with Beale Street, Memphis’ main entertainment strip. “The Memphis Blues” was written by W. C. Handy, the “Father of the Blues,” who is also known as “Memphis Minnie.” The term has been employed to describe a despondent mental state in lyrics.
Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers and the Memphis Jug Band, for example, were jug bands that played guitar-based blues. The jug band style emphasized danceable, syncopated rhythms of early jazz and various other folk genres.
The music was performed on simple, typically homemade instruments like harmonicas, violins, mandolins, banjos, and guitars with washboards, kazoos, guimbardes (guimbardo), and jugs blown to provide the bass.
34. West Coast Blues
The West Coast blues style emerged in the 1940s when Texas blues musicians migrated to California and integrated jazz and jump blues elements into their music. Smooth, honey-toned vocals are common in West Coast blues, which frequently ventures into rhythm and blues territory.
35. Soul Blues
The genre of blues music known as soul blues was established in the late 1960s and early 1970s and combines elements of soul music, R&B, and hip hop.
After WWII, electric blues was popularized by black singers and musicians such as Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and Elmore James. These artists were influenced by otherworldly performers like Otis Redding. Soul performers such as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Otis Redding combined the blues with soul music. Bobby Bland was one of the first practitioners of this genre.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Are The Ways To Promote Your Music?
There are numerous ways to promote your music:
- You can start by performing at local venues and open mics. This will help you get your name out there and give you the opportunity to build a following.
- You can also promote your music online through social media and streaming platforms.
- Make sure to post regularly and interact with your fans to keep them engaged.
- You can also submit your music to blogs and podcasts for exposure.
- Consider entering competitions and attending music festivals. These events can help you reach a wider audience and potentially land a record deal.
What Are Things To Consider Before Buying A New Bass Guitar?
The thing to consider is your budget. How much can you afford to spend on a new bass guitar? Some great guitars are available for under $200, but if you’re looking for something really high-end, the price tag could be well over $1,000.
The blues is a genre of music that has been around for centuries. It has evolved and changed over time, but the core elements remain the same. The blues is a type of music that is typically characterized by a feeling of sadness or despair. However, it can also be upbeat and happy. The blues is often associated with the African-American experience in the United States, but it is not limited to this group of people. Likewise, The blues is a universal genre of music that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, races, and cultures.