Learn Blues Guitar – Putting The Rhythm on The Blues

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At the end of the 19th century, one particular style of music emerged from the African-American communities belonging in the Deep South of the United States. It was usually performed by prisoners and slaves.  These were derived from field hollers, work songs, even chants and shouts. This musical style is called Blues. One legend says that William Christopher Handy, a cornet player and bandleader, wrote the first Blues song which was both printed and documented in the year 1912. The song was entitled Yellow Dog Blues.

The Blues musical genre has garnered popularity throughout the years and in different nations around the world, capturing the hearts of many people of all ages, making a lot of music lovers want to try and learn blues guitar. Blues and guitar are like bread and butter to each other.  They work well together.  An acoustic or an electric guitar would be a great instrument to have if you want to play the Blues. Thicker strings may help in getting better tones and sustainability while nylon strings are not recommended.

The majority of Blues songs are played following the 12 bar.  The 12 bar Blues simply means that the song is divided into 12 “bars” or “patterns” with a given chord sequence. If one is really interested in learning blues guitar then one should start by learning this basic beat – which also happens to be the easiest one too. When playing, this form is repeated over and over for every verse of the song until the song ends. While practicing this, it is recommended that it should be started with a single down strum for each beat, until one becomes familiar and comfortable with it before trying to elaborate each strum and trying other variations.

Blues, in most cases, is major in chord structure but there are also different scales that can be used in order to create or add a colorful tone associated with Blues.  Some of these scales are major pentatonic, minor pentatonic, dorian, and mixolydian.  These can be used individually or in combination with each other. 

To better learn blues guitar, it is essential to practice the three (3) rhythm feels that are used in Blues, namely, straight feel, shuffle feel, and twelve/eight feel.

In the straight feel, the eighth note rhythm is usually used and are spaced equally apart while the shuffle feel follow a long-short scheme (the second note is placed in every pair of eighth notes.)  The twelve/eight rhythm has twelve beats per bar and each eighth note obtains one beat.

Techniques are also vital in playing Blues on the guitar and one of these is the Vibrato.  It is a musical effect that is created when the pitch of a note is slightly changed to a higher pitch and then back to its original pitch by changing the tension of the string.

In order to fill the chords with melodic figures, turnarounds, intros, and endings – riffs are used.  Turnarounds are usually played on the last two bars, making the solo complete and points the song back to its beginning.  Some turnarounds even make wonderful and interesting intros and endings of songs.

To fully learn blues guitar, there is no one trick, way, method or procedure to master it.  Learning the Blues takes constant and accurate practice.  No matter what the sellers of books, ebooks, and videos promise, nothing beats perseverance and dedication.


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