Monday, December 5, 2011

The Blues - get you some!!

Copyright All rights reserved by bastet in the sky with diamonds

This post was written in response to a thread on one of the forums I frequent. The topic was that the Blues are harder than some players think. I COMPLETELY agree with this. Below is my post and I thought it came out pretty succinctly. So I thought I would share with y'all:

As a youngin I grew up in the birthplace and blossoming of shred - late 70's early eighties and beyond was where my awareness of guitar was born. So I spent most of my formative years learning to shred with EVH and Randy Rhoads, Vai, Malsteen, Satch, Gilbert, Eric Johnson - and grew VERY technically proficient fast. I remember listening to the blues and thinking ... "pffft! That's way too simple, it's boring".

Before long... actually it was quite long, but in the grand scheme, not really... I uncovered the link between it (blues) and most of the hard rock I was playing... I learned that it was the father and grandfather of all these genres that I loved. Players like SRV, who could shred in their own right, drew me in to investigate more. The more I learned the more I realized that is a DEEP genre filled with subtlety and really a different brand of "shred".

Today I have a GREAT respect for it. Not because I am older and sentimental but because I now truly understand it's complexities. It makes me laugh when I hear youngins or player says "I hate the blues" meanwhile MOST of the stuff they play was born there. So I am glad to hear when players start 'getting it'. They are going through the awakening I had.

Learning the Blues was a HUGE leap forward in my rock playing abilities. More-so, learning to respect it and study it opened my eyes to a great many things. It is NOT a simple genre just cause you can play the notes. Playing it well is an art form and few bands really have it down. Sure they THINK they do - just as I thought I did.

I really believe if you want to learn to solo well, you need to spend some quality time getting the blues under your fingers. Not just the cliche licks, but the whole trip - MOSTLY the harmonic understanding (chords, substitutions, turnarounds, forms, Major(dominant) and minor, scale forms and strong resolve points). This stuff gets into your playing in the larger picture.

Above all else subtlety, dynamics and learning how to express yourself in an emotional way. THIS forms a bond with an audience - they can feel it... they may not know what it is, but they respond to it when you really dig deeper emotionally. THIS you can take back to your genre and instantly improve it.

"I don't really like the blues" huh? Dislike taxes, or government or the dentist or something. But the blues??? Hell we all owe those boys and girls a debt of gratitude. Ya gotta investigate deeper to know if this is true or not... least I did


  1. man i gotta say, i've been reading through your posts and it really did strike a chord within me, knowing that indeed the blues is where it all started. I grew up in the early 90's where boy bands and grunge were the rage, and yeah it really makes sense that growing up, listening to the music that was popular during my time, i've been somewhat influenced by the "easiness" of playing music from that era, now that i've grown older, like yourself, and i realised that for one, or at least me, that for me to improve and be able to play the music that i now appreciate, i've gotta go back to the roots of rock, where it all started, the Blues! thanks for the post dude =)

  2. Glad they are helping you out! Yup, any learning you do on the roots stuff informs your playing in ways you may not comprehend presently. Don't just dabble either. Spend some time, listen to it lots for a while, buy some books on it. Really get into it... even if just for a bit. It's like a new country. You gotta spend enough time there to get past the obvious. It was a big thing for me.