Applying Roots to the Blues

Applying Bass Patterns to the Blues Form

This is where things start to sound right and like you’re actually playing the blues!

In the next few lessons in this blues bass lesson category I will show you how common patterns and actual basslines are created and applied to the skeleton of the 12-bar blues form. There are countless possibilities using varied rhythms and note patterns. You are only limited by your technique and imagination.

Ideally you should be able to apply these patterns in any of the 12 keys anywhere on the fretboard.

Playing Roots on the Blues

You should get comfortable playing roots with various rhythms on the blues. No matter what rhythm you play — quarter notes, 8th notes, or combinations — you can’t lose your place in the blues form. You always have to know what the current chord is and what the next one is.

Rhythms on the Blues

Blues is most commonly played with an 8th-note shuffle feel. Playing a straight 8th-note feel is also very common. Make sure you look through the rhythm lessons if you're unsure of the difference between straight 8ths and shuffle 8ths. Playing them either way shouldn’t trip you up.

Roots on the Blues Exercises

On the exercises page you’ll find the A blues with a shuffle 8th note pattern where we simply apply root notes.

The second example applies roots to the C blues with a common rhythm called a Bossa Nova rhythm. It’s a Brazilian dance rhythm that can be found in many styles of music.

Practicing to a metronome, create your own rhythmic pattern and apply it to the blues playing nothing but root notes. Try it in every key. Work on it in all areas of the fretboard.

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