As the traditions of the blues spread, various forms of blues styles began to emerge during the early 1900s: Mississippi Delta blues, Southeastern blues, Louisiana blues and East Texas blues. In general, each of the styles their own distinct musical interpretations and rhythms (i.e. aggressive or non-aggressive rhythms).
Mississippi Delta Blues
The Mississippi Blues uses the poly-rhythms found in African tradition. The people that have been traced back to playing and singing the Delta Blues were very poor and illiterate. They passed along their music by oral tradition. They tended to use simple three chord structures in a 12 or 8 bar blues. This blues style led to the Chicago blues.
This style was known for the use of a bottle-neck for sliding chords, strong rhythms, irregular phrasing, vocal fills and and thumbed bass-lines. The lyrics were conversational between the voice and the guitar creating the call and response form.
Charley Patton, Henry Sloan, Tommy Johnson, Willie Brown, Robert Johnson and Eddie “Son” House.
Charley Patton (Southern Delta region, Mississippi) “Pony Blues”
Tommy Johnson (from Drew, Mississippi) “Lonesome Home Blues” (1928)
Robert Johnson (from Tennessee) “Terraplane” (1936)
The Southeastern Blues was melody-oriented and generally used a ballad form. For example, the black ballads of the late 19th and early 20th century were set apart from the mixed black/white songs in their lyrical and rhythmic content. An example of this style is “Stackolee.”
The Louisiana blues style was known for its driving piano, strong vocals and boogie bass.
Key musicians: Huddie Ledbetter (a.k.a. “Leadbelly”)
East Texas Blues
The East Texas blues consisted of oral tradition and rhythmic melody lines. This style also began to incorporate the use of horn sections in the band. This style has been suggested as a forerunner to the California big bands.
Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker