Hailed as a classic in music studies when it was first published in 1977, Early Downhome Blues is a detailed look at traditional country blues artists and their work.
Combining musical analysis and cultural history approaches, Titon examines the origins of downhome blues in African American society. He also explores what happened to the art form when the blues were commercially recorded and became part of the larger American culture. From forty-seven musical transcriptions, Titon derives a grammar of early downhome blues melody. His book is enriched with the recollections of blues performers, audience members, and those working in the recording industry.
In a new afterword, Titon reflects on the genesis of this book in the blues revival of the 1960s and the politics of tourism in the current revival under way.