• Lesson

Beginning Blues Review

Another major topic we've covered is the blues and the blues form. I hope I've driven home my point how essential the blues is. Remember:

  • Many songs are simply the 12-bar blues progression.
  • The blues sound is an important sound in virtually every style of music to which we listen.
  • The blues is a great workout for the essential I, IV and V chords.

Please don't ignore the importance of the blues in your musical development.

12-Bar Blues Forms

You must have the 12-bar blues form memorized. You should be able to play it just to a metronome without getting lost.

Daily Blues Practice

Every day you should attempt to make up a new (to you) blues bassline. This will increase your catalog of musical ideas, keep various note patterns fresh in your mind and hands, and keep you from forgetting the 12-bar blues form.

Try inventing blues basslines applying these note patterns:

Roots & 5ths
The root-5th-6th pattern
The root-5th-b7 pattern
Major triads
Dominant 7ths
The major pentatonic scale

That's a lot of material to work with!

You can't know the blues too well. Incorporate it into your daily practice. Even one time through every day will yield great benefits.

Don't forget to play it in different keys.

I Can't Make Anything Up!

When asked to, I rarely have a beginning student who doesn't say, "I can't create a bassline!"

Yes, you can! Often the problem is you want it to be awesome from the very beginning. That never happens. You're going to have to work a lot to get to the good ones.

Don't start out aiming for the best bassline ever written. Aim for a useful, functional bassline first. Once those come naturally, you can focus on improving them.

A simple beginning formula for creating a bassline is this:

  1. Play the root note of the chord on beat 1 of each bar. This is the skeleton of your bassline.
  2. Applying the above patterns, create ideas in-between the root notes and keep a steady pulse. It is nearly impossible to play bad notes on the blues with the above patterns.

If you follow this, anything bad that comes out will most likely be due to rhythm (or a lack of it). As long as you hit the root on one and it has a definite rhythm to it, you will make a strong and useful bassline.

Don't be scared. Do it! Failing is part of the learning process.

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