How Electronic Dance Music is Influenced by the Blues Genre

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Many people don’t know this, but a lot of electronic dance music is actually influenced by the blues genre. In this blog post, we’ll explore how the two genres are similar and how they differ.

The History of the Blues

The blues is a genre of music that originated in the African-American communities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The blues has been a major influence on many other genres of music, including electronic dance music (EDM). In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of the blues and how it has influenced EDM.

Where the blues began

The term “the blues” was first used in print by W.C. Handy in his 1903 publication, “Blues: An Afro-American Folksong.” He described the music as “the spiritual expression of the pained soul of man.” The blues has been a major influence on almost all popular music genres since its humble beginnings in the late 19th century.

The earliest forms of the blues were largely influenced by African musical traditions, including work songs and spirituals. One of the most important early blues musicians was Blind Lemon Jefferson, a Texas-born singer and guitar player who recorded dozens of songs in the 1920s. His fingerpicking style influenced many subsequent guitarists, including T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters.

The blues reached its Golden Age in the 1920s and 1930s, with artists like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Louis Armstrong achieving widespread popularity. These years also saw the rise of jazz, another genre with strong roots in the blues. In the 1940s and 1950s, electric guitars and amplification became more common in blues music, giving birth to electric blues and rock and roll. Chicago became a major center for blues talent during this time, with legendary musicians like Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon recording some of their most famous work there.

The influence of the blues can be heard in traditional folk music, country music, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, hip hop, and even electronic dance music. It is truly one of America’s greatest gifts to global popular culture.

The spread of the blues

The blues began to spread out of the American South in the early 1900s, when musicians began touring the country playing a new style of music that had developed from work songs, spirituals, and other music rooted in African American culture. The popularity of the blues grew quickly, and by the 1920s, musicians were performing the blues in cities all over America.

One of the most important things that happened to the blues in the early 20th century was the introduction of electric instruments and amplifiers. Before this time, most blues music was played on acoustic instruments such as guitars, banjos, and harmonicas. But with the introduction of electric guitars, basses, and keyboards, musicians were able to create a much fuller sound that could be amplified to reach larger audiences.

This new sound was perfect for dancing, and soon there were clubs all over America where people could go to hear live blues music and dance the night away. The electric blues sound would go on to have a significant impact on many other genres of music, including rock & roll, soul, R&B, funk, and hip hop.

The Elements of the Blues

The blues is a genre of music that is often considered the root of various other genres, including rock and roll and electronic dance music. The blues is characterized by its use of blue notes, which are minor third intervals that are played in a major key. The blues also often uses a 12-bar chorus, which is a repeating chord progression that lasts for 12 bars.

The 12-bar blues

The 12-bar blues is the most common blues chord progression. It’s used in countless songs in nearly every genre, including rock, pop, jazz, and country. The basic idea is to repeat a 12-bar chord progression over and over again for the duration of the song. This chord progression consists of three different chords: the tonic (I), the subdominant (IV), and the dominant (V). Each chord is played for four bars before moving on to the next chord. This gives the progression its name: “12-bar blues.”

The tonic chord (I) is usually played for the first four bars of the 12-bar blues. This sets up the “home base” or “tonal center” of the song. The subdominant chord (IV) is typically played for the next four bars. This chord provides a stability and helps to create a sense of forward momentum. The final four bars of the 12-bar blues are spent on the dominant chord (V). This is where things start to get interesting! The dominant chord creates a sense of tension that needs to be resolved. This tension is often released by resolving back to the tonic chord at the end of the 12-bar progression.

The 12-bar blues has been around for a long time and has been used in countless songs. It’s a simple yet effective way to create a feeling of tension and release in your music. If you’re interested in learning more about this important musical form, check out our course on How to Play Blues Guitar

The blues scale

Most electronic dance music is based on the blues scale, which consists of the following notes: root, flat third, fourth, flat fifth, fifth and flat seventh. This scale can be played on any instrument, but is most commonly heard on the piano or guitar. The blues scale is also used in jazz and rock music.

The blues chord progression

The blues chord progression has a distinctive form in tonal music, called the twelve-bar blues. Chords typically use the I, IV and V notes from the diatonic scale; in C major, that would be C, F and G. (In blues guitar, these are sometimes called “the 3”, “the 5” and “the 7”.) The following table shows a typical twelve-bar blues chord progression in C major. TheRoman numerals refer to the scale degree of each chord root; for example, IV means the fourth note of the C major scale (F).

| I | I | I | I |
| IV| IV| I | I |
| V |IV | V| V ||I |I |V ||

In its simplest form, this progression can be represented as follows:

I–IV–V–I– –IV–V–I– –V–I– –IV–V–I

How the Blues Influenced Electronic Dance Music

The blues is a genre that has influenced many other genres of music, including electronic dance music. The blues is characterized by its use of blue notes, which are notes that are played at a slightly lower pitch than the major scale. This gives the music a sad, mournful sound. The blues also often uses a call-and-response pattern, where one instrument plays a phrase and another instrument responds to it. This back-and-forth pattern is a characteristic of many electronic dance music tracks.

The early days of EDM

The origins of electronic dance music can be traced back to the early days of the genre, when producers would sample and loop sections of existing songs to create new tracks. This approach was used by producers like Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, who created some of the first electronic dance tracks in the 1970s.

In the 1980s, as electronic music began to gain popularity, a number of subgenres emerged, including house and techno. These genres were inspired by a wide range of sources, including disco, soul, and pop music. However, one of the most important influences on early house and techno was the blues.

The blues is a genre that originated in African American communities in the southern United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The style is characterized by its emphasis on rhythm and groove, as well as its use of blue notes (notes that are slightly flattened or extended).

While the blues might not seem like an obvious influence on electronic dance music, there are a number of ways in which the two genres are connected. First, many early house and techno producers came from Chicago, a city with a strong tradition of blues music. second, the throbbing 4/4 beat that is characteristic of many electronic dance tracks is similar to the pulse-like rhythms often found in blues songs. Finally, many early house and techno tracks featured samples of classic blues tracks, which helped to introduce the genre to a new audience.

While the influence of the blues can beheard in a wide range of electronic dance music subgenres, it is particularly pronounced in deep house. This style emerged in Chicago in the late 1980s and is characterized by its use of slower tempos, atmospheric melodies, and samples from gospel and soul music. Many deep house tracks also feature prominently played keyboards or piano lines, another element that can be traced back to the blues.

The birth of house music

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a new type of music was born in the city of Chicago. This new style of music was called house music. House music was a combination of many different types of music, but it was most influenced by the blues.

The blues is a type of music that originated in the American South in the late 1800s. It is characterized by its simple, repetitive melodies and its emotional lyrics. The blues became very popular in the 1920s and 1930s, when it was played by such famous musicians as B.B. King and Muddy Waters.

House music shares many of the same characteristics as the blues. Like the blues, house music has simple melodies and often contains samples of other songs. House music is also very emotional, with many songs dealing with themes such as love, loss, and heartbreak.

The influence of the blues can be heard in many of today’s popular electronic dance songs. Many DJs and producers have cited the blues as an influence on their work. The genre has also been credited with helping to popularize electronic dance music around the world.

The rise of techno

In the 1980s, electronic dance music began to emerge as a distinct genre, with early pioneers such as Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder blending elements of the blues with electronic music. This fusion of styles laid the groundwork for the development of techno, house and other electronic dance genres that would emerge in the following decades.

While electronic dance music has its roots in the blues, it has also been influenced by a variety of other genres, including disco, rock and pop. As the genre has evolved, so too have its innovations, with producers constantly experimenting with new sounds and technologies.

Today, electronic dance music is enjoyed by millions of people around the world, with festivals and nightclubs dedicated to this ever-evolving genre.

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