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Join me as I take a look into some practical tips and advice about mastering blues guitar. We'll be analysing what the fundamentals of blues are as well as the importance of improvisation, and the benefits of rehearsing with guitar backing tracks.
Blues guitar is one of the most artistically expressive forms of guitar that exists today. Not many guitarists know this but the blues is the foundation for a variety of different genres that are extremely popular today, including rock, hard rock, metal, and even some hip hop music. There is a lot involved in completely mastering blues guitar playing, and it takes a lot of time and dedication to be able to pull it off.
In order to be able to master blues guitar you have to be very familiar with the basic principle of blues music itself. Blues music is one of the only styles of music to actually have a scale named after it. Learning and dominating the blues scale is one of the first key steps to completely mastering blues guitar playing. The blues scale is used in more than blues music. There is a lot of rock music that uses this scale too. So whether you plan on being a blues guitarist or not, this scale is definitely very beneficial to learn and master.
So What Is The 12 Bar Blues?
The 12-bar blues progression is the main foundation and cornerstone of the vast majority of blues tunes out there. As such, to start playing blues, you will need to understand what a 12-bar blues progression is.
The underlying concept of the 12-bar blues is the I-IV-V progression, where I, IV and V represent the chords or notes that you will be using. To this, you will no doubt have two questions that spring to mind immediately, "what is I-IV-V," and how do I use it?"
Let me explain what I-IV-V is all about When you play a blues progression, you will only be required to use 3 chords. The main principle of I-IV-V let you know what are the chords to use, as follows: a slightly oversimplified approach, which happens to work for the keys of A,C,D,E and G, which is enough for right now, is to simply count out the letters of the alphabet starting with the key you're playing in. The first, fourth and fifth letter you count represent the chords that you will be using in your blues progression.
For the key of A we count: A-b-c-D-E-f-g
Thus, for the key of A, we will be using A-D-E as our I-IV-V progression. Similarly if you count out starting with E, you will find that for the key of E we will use E-A-B as our I-IV-V.
Music theory students refer to the I as the "tonic", the IV as the "subdominant", and the V as the "dominant". I will not use these terms in this lesson, but knowing that may help you understand what other people are talking about sometimes.
Chords and Progressions
Another key element to blues is to learn the chords and chord progressions that are commonly used in blues guitar. Learning these will help you to create your own blues progressions and melodies. It’s important to remember that not all blues music is played at fast speeds. Some blues music is played slowly and soulfully. It’s as if you can see inside of the guitarist’s soul as he tells a story with his music. Accuracy is the foundation of playing solid, soul-bearing blues music, and not just raw speed.
An integral part of playing and mastering blues guitar is learning how to improvise. After you master the scales and chords, it’s time to put them into practice. Improvising is where your creativity and knowledge come together to create passionate blues music. There are a variety of different improvisation techniques that you should practice along with learning your chords and scales.
One of the best ways to fully master blues music is to practice with guitar backing tracks. These backing tracks can improve the productivity of your practice time immensely. It’s like practicing with an entire blues band, which will help you develop your improvisation as you put to use your knowledge and solo over the backing tracks. These will produce good, solid structure and timing as you learn to play along with other musicians, and learn to play over key changes. Guitar backing tracks are the secret to success in mastering blues guitar.
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