This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Delta Blues "
The Delta blues is one of the earliest styles of blues music. It originated in the Mississippi Delta, a region of the United States that stretches from Memphis, Tennessee in the north to Vicksburg, Mississippi in the south, the Mississippi River on the west to the Yazoo River on the east. Guitar and harmonica dominate the instruments used. The vocals range from introspective and soulful to passionate and fiery.
Delta blues music was first recorded in the late 1920s. The early recordings consist mostly of one person singing and playing an instrument, though the use of a band was more common during live performances. The recording of early Delta blues (as well as other genres) owes much to John Lomax, who criss-crossed the Southern US recording music played and sung by ordinary people. His recordings number in the thousands, and now reside in the Smithsonian Institution.
"Delta blues" is a style as much as a geographical appellation: Skip James and Elmore James, who were not born in the Delta, were considered Delta blues musicians. Performers traveled throughout the Mississippi Delta Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee. Eventually, Delta blues spread out across the country, giving rise to a host of regional variations, including Chicago and Detroit blues.
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.
Because the Mississippi Delta was essentially feudal in the 1920s and earlier, and the plantation system was oppressive, there existed a subculture of blues artists who were refugees from that system.
The Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman Farm was an important influence on several blues musicians who were imprisoned there, and was referenced in songs such as Bukka White's 'Parchman Farm Blues' and Leadbelly's 'Midnight Special'. Thus Delta blues can refer to one of the first pop-music subcultures as well as to a performing style.
Important Delta Blues Artists