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12 Bar Blues Harmony Line Lesson

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#1 Kirk Lorange

Kirk Lorange

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 01:38 AM

The TAB, GuitarPro file, midi files and notation that come with this lesson are now only available as part of the "Fingerstyle Lesson Pack" Details here.
A good way to to break down the complexity of the way music imposes itself on the fretboard is to break things down into smaller, more digestible, chunks. There are many ways to do that, but this lesson looks at just one, namely thinking "string pairs".

"Double stops" are "two notes played at once", and can be thought of as a "harmony". Harmony can have more notes that 2, so this is a "two note harmony line".

This harmony line figure is basically a 12 bar blues in A. You'll see that it consists almost entirely of just two different intervals, those being a minor third and a major third. If you're not sure what that means, don't worry about it. It's just detail. This is how those two intervals look on the 2nd and 3rd strings.

Posted Image<br><br>The first is the minor third, the second the major third. The first 8 bars of the figure use only these two fingerings. The tab below will show you exactly where to play them, and in which order. The only other fingering is over the E7 chord, and you can see that in the tab. Musically speaking, it's a "second". Once again, there's no need to know all this if you're just starting out. It's far more important to learn the positions and fingerings and then PLAY. You'll see that once you lock it into your muscle memory, it's a very enjoyable piece to play, and that even though it's only ever two notes at a time, there seems to be a whole lot of music wrapped up in them.

The movie shows how I play these double stops. It takes a while to get your hand to switch from one to the other smoothly and quickly, but as always, that's just a matter of practice. You'll also notice that I do a little slide into the first beat of each bar. Those repetitive little slides become an integral part of the line, an ear grabbing hook that the listener comes to rely on.

Musically speaking, there's a little more to it than the chord names imply, but it's basically a 12 bar bluesy jazz feel in the key of A. What's actually happening is that the harmony line is using bits of more extended chords that you find in this genre of music. The "A" section combines A major and A7; the "D" section combines D9 and D; the "E" section is more E7 and E9. However, if a second player were simply strumming A, D and E, it would sound fine as accompaniment.

Another important thing to realize is that this whole figure can be played up or down in pitch ... in other words you can start the whole thing two frets up, for example, keeping to the pattern, and you'll hear exactly the same thing in the key of B. These bits and pieces eventually will all merge into and emerge from the one master template that underlies the fretboard.<br><br><br>Posted Image<br><br><br><br>Have fun with this one. You can hear in the movie that I inject a little "swing" into the feel of it. Experiment with your own version of that "jazziness". "Feel" is difficult to describe, but it is the most important ingredient of all, when it come down to it. It's a measure of the human element of Music, something that's painfully missing in the midi files of the line. "Feel" is what makes you want to tap your foot along.


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