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Jazz, Blues, and Popular Music: Home


What's "Blues"?

Derived from African-American worksongs and field hollers, the blues is distinguished by certain structural elements such as the 12-bar form, the "blues progression," and "blue notes" (lowered tones). Blues had a wide-ranging influence on many other forms of popular music, including jazz, country, and rock.

What's "Jazz"?

With diverse early influences from blues to ragtime, jazz is primarily distinguished by its use of improvisation.

What's "Popular Music"?

The Library of Congress classes under this term such genres as rock, country, bluegrass, disco, contemporary Christian, big band and swing, ragtime, world music; African-American forms such as blues, gospel, soul, rap; Latin and Caribbean forms such as salsa, calypso, reggae; and others.

See entries for "Blues," "Jazz," and "Popular Music" in Oxford Music Online (available on our “Databases” page).




See the tabs above for research tips and resources.

For further reading

After you've consulted this research guide, the following books will give you further details on research strategies, and additional resources to consult. Look them up in the Library's catalog:

  • Gottlieb, Jane. Music Library and Research Skills.
  • Bayne, Pauline Shaw. A Guide to Library Research in Music.
  • Wingell, Richard J. Writing about Music: an Introductory Guide.
  • Crabtree, Phillip D. Sourcebook for Research in Music
  • Irvine, Demar. Writing about Music. Call number:

Subject Guide

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