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{08/28/2008}   The Blues

My favourite colour. My favourite mood…

And as one of the Jazz piano teachers I met told me, THE BASIS for learning jazz.
I’m not going to make a speech about how the Blues was born. It’s such a long story.

Here is the basic advice I got:
– learn the pentatonic scale in all harmonies
– learn some blues riffs (e.g. Oscar Peterson riffs)
– try some blues standards
– watch „The Blues” series
– learn some history


Ten Things to Help You Become a Better Blues Musician, by Don Mock

Blues Recordings
Gather a large collection and spend lots of time listening to them.
A Willingness and Desire to Hang Out Late in Clubs
Spend time listening to good blues musicians play live — and be ready to „sit in” with the band if possible.
Patience is a virtue in blues soloing. A strong player with lots of chops patiently building a solo, „teasing” the audience, comes off much better than a player „showing his hand” in the first 12 bars. The phrase „less is more” is usually the key to blues playing.
Players with flashy soloing chops who neglect their rhythm playing will lose out every time to the guy who plays great rhythm parts and average solos. In blues, supporting the singer or other instrumentalists and making them sound better is as important or more so than big solos.
Being able to make the connection from the brain to the fingerboard to communicate emotions is key. Anger, fear, love, feeling blue, joy and even sexual tension are great to express in the blues.
Music Theory
Though not a style of music known for necessitating a lot of theory, blues can still benefit from a player who knows his stuff when it comes to theory.
A Good Ear
The best teachers are the musicians on recordings. And the best way to learn what they’re doing is to copy and emulate them. A good ear makes learning from recordings much easier. But having a good ear is equally important on stage. Listening to the other musicians and playing off each other is what live playing is all about. Not listening and not paying close attention on stage is a quick way to find yourself band-less.
Singing is blues, and is a goldmine for learning about phrasing, comping and fills around the melody. Learn the lyrics of a few blues tunes, even if you are a terrible singer. When no one’s around, pretend you’re B.B. King and sing a tune and add the fills in the correct places. On the gig, sing one if you’re brave enough, or simply let someone else sing it—either way you’ll gain a much better feel and connection to the music.

Year of the Blues 2003

For more about the blues, go here


et cetera