How The Blues Have Influenced Country And Western

The blues are one of seminal forms of world music. Descended directly from the fusion of African and European musical trends, the blues took the instruments of classical culture and stripped them down to their barest essentials. The guitar became the primary instrument of expression, especially when accompanied by the human voice. It is a storytelling type of music, and the essential themes of the blues are universal; good times and a woman gone bad.

The folk techniques of blues music underpin all of country and western music. The basic song patterns of the blues, from the verse-chorus-verse structure to the I-IV-V progressions that make up most simple and catchy music, have been adopted wholesale by country and western. More to the point, the instrumental stylings were translated directly into country. Although there are important modifications made, especially in the use of country instrumentation such as fiddles and harmonicas, country and western borrowed most of the musical hallmarks of the blues. From the twanging arpeggios over the 7th chord on a guitar, to the low bass growl of the lead singer, to the tendency to repeat the initial verse twice and then comment on it with a third verse, country and western music could be described as blues music with a cowboy hat.