~ Blues / start ~

'our own indigenous artform, capture your heartfelt empathy, express and share your hopes to make a better world, in 12 bars ... '

In a nutshell. Playing the blues is a part of all we do as Americana artists. It's stripe is wide in our Americana fabrics of music. For there's always room for some tasteful 'blue hue' in all of styles. The hue becomes a 'rub' as we steep deeper in the blues, its origins and meaning. And we can find the 12 bar blues form in a wide spectrum of styles. From traditional blues into folk, rock and country, through pop and off to jazz. The form and blue notes are Americana mainstays. So these next ideas are some key blue components, mixed together to form a start point into the music and it's magics. Super rote learn these licks here if need be, and take them on down whatever road you go.

... just two good choruses ... So this idea just might be more for the jazz stylings, but I've heard this idea a few times over the decades from some very deep players. That ... '.

'Muddy' walkdown. This first idea is very common in the blues music. Named for blues artist Muddy Waters, it'll work every time in lots of different spots to keep things humming along. Learn it here if need be. Thinking 'G' blues. Example 1.

wiki ~ Muddy Waters

Cool? Lot of direction in the line, pretty definite where its going eh ? Want some chords to back it up? Once under your fingers, learn it in a couple of more keys; 'E, A, C', are common. Flat keys for working with horn players usually. Also, find this pattern in 'G' blues in a few spots on the neck. It'll get you riding on the blues elevator to coolness.

Reverse 'Muddy' walkup. In this next idea we reverse the direction of the line and it still works fine. Again, thinking blues in 'G.' Example 2.

Getting down to bottom of things here pitch wise, this idea, actually both the descending and ascending, make great bass lines too. So share them with your pals and turn up some blues ! The closing 'D'9 chord is a common blues, jazz and funk chordal color.

12 bar blues. Of all of the musical forms we inherit today, the four bar phrase is the core of it all. In the 12 bar blues, we simply create an idea of four measures, we then repeat it three times to make a song. In the following chorus, we'll just root pitch the One, Four and Five chords and jazz it up with a fast four. Example 3.

Sound familiar? Scoots right along huh ? Yep, it's at 180 beats per minute. Dig the turnaround in the 12 bar? We've been hearing this sort of line for near seven decades now in our Americana musics. The 'Batman' theme comes to mind. Here's an arpeggiated version of the triads. Just rockin' around the clock. Example 3a.

Master this last 12 bars and string a few choruses together. Internalize the sounds and form, own them forevermore on the global platform. Once under your fingers, add the 7th colortone for each triad to jazz it all up and bring a deeper blues hue to your cool.

The 'muddy' lick through 12 bars. This next idea, for beginning blues leaning artists, is a game changer. Here we take the 'muddy' licks from above and create a 12 bar blues form / song. Master this 12 bar song, even in just the one key, and a 'ton' of musical skills will begin to fall in place. Run it through a couple of keys and begin to knit this puzzle together over the fingerboard. Ex. 4.

Learning some four string bass too along with six string guitar? Mastering this last idea might just get you some gigs. For now you've a musical form to work with and cool lines to connect up the dots. A song's form is what gets the band on the same page together, and keep them there as the stories unfold.

Find your mojo lick. Here we go back to the basics. Every blues artist need their own mojo lick, a lick they can blast into the mix with a moments hesitation. It's just super solid under your fingers because, you invented it, it's yours. And chances are you'll go back to it time and time again. Just something we all players do.

So the trick is to find it. One way is to run this scale shape's pitches ascending and descending till your muse shakes loose your lines. Stop anywhere along in the pitches and search if you hear some coolness. Find it. And in the meantime, as we run these pitches / scale shape up and down, we also are rote learning the original, core of it all, 'box' scale shape.

Here in blues in 'A', run this blues scale shape up and down the pitches, in position, and find yourself a mojo lick or two along the way. Example 5.

Find something? Cool. And is this the one scale shape we all use? From the brightest stars on the scene over all the decades? Yep. This one shape yields bushel baskets full of great ideas every day. And has for the last couple of hundred years or so, for countless blues leaning artists with every sort of genre. Rockers, country, even jazz.

Every Americana blues leaning guitarist will know something of this shape and its pitches. A totally movable form and shape, begin to learn it here and now if need be, master it and its yours too forevermore :)

A first diminished chord lick. History and theory combine to define that so much of what we do in mixing up the blue colors and its hues, and blending them into all of our Americana musics, revolves around the tritone interval. Encapsulated in V7, we easily can further build up the tritone colors into diminished triads and chords. And while a rare color indeed in the folk toward pop musics, in the blues and especially jazz, the diminished colors opens the Giant's doors into new realms of creativity and explorations. Know this sound yet ? Example 6.

A first diminished chord lick. History and theory combine to define that so much of what we do in mixing up the blue colors and its hues, and blending them into all of our Americana musics, revolves around the tritone interval. Encapsulated in V7, we easily can further build up the tritone colors into diminished triads and chords. And while a rare color indeed in the folk toward pop musics, in the blues and especially jazz, the diminished colors opens the Giant's doors into new realms of creativity and explorations. Know this sound yet ? Example 6.

Write a blues song. Well did you shake loose a mojo idea from the scale shape and it's pitches? Find some words to express an idea for a song? Maybe a hook shook loose with the pitches and lick you found ? Cool. Can you make it all into a four bar phrase? Even cooler then, let's write us a 12 bar blues song. Just take your four bar idea and repeat it three times over the form and chords of a regular old, 12 bar blues song and viola ... your song is born.

Still searching for the coolness within? Need an idea? A bluesy, testify, I know this story too, took a piece of my heart now ... blues hued and feels good too ... ? Easy. Borrow one of mine. Here's some of my words for a hook / chorus for your song, ones that everyone in the band can sing too.

"The truth is ... ya just don't love me no more."

"The truth is ... ya just don't love me no more."

"The truth is ... ya just don't love me no more."

Here's the pitches. Example 6.

Three's a charm eh ?

My first verse starts ... 'There was a time ... "

What U got ? Have some blues rhymes ?

Think you can now write a four bar phrase into a 12 bar blues form? A super theory game changer for certain :)

Review. So, have a few licks under your fingers with our blues colors now? Each of the ideas presented above create ways to play the blues. Team any up with Franz, and let your strengthening begin anew. For in time is where we measure all of the above.

"I'd love to knock an audience cold with one note, but what do you do for the rest of the evening?"
wiki ~ Eric Clapton