Heatwave Blues - A Guitar Lesson.
This lesson explained
Here is a quick 8 bar blues for you, a fairly challenging little piece. Should keep you out of trouble for a while. We've been sweltering in body temperature heat the last week or so down here in Eastern Australia, hence the title.
It's in the key of A and makes good use of a fairly familiar sounding lick. That lick is the first thing you hear and it is repeated over and over again.
I was noodling around, trying variations on the lick when decided to slide down into the line from above. I liked it. Then I added an extra note to the downward slide-in and immediately loved it. It's such a fleeting, momentary subtlety, but once I heard it I knew I had to quickly record it before I forgot it. The iPhone comes in very handy for that.
The line starts on the 5 of an A chord, slides down to the 4 via the flat 5. That flat 5 is a very bluesy note and it's on that note that the harmony comes in, ever so fleetingly. It's a flat 7 sliding down to a 6. In effect I'm playing fragments of a D# to D chord there, the root and the third. So you can see it as going from A to D (via D#) for one beat and back to A.
(I quite enjoy analysing these things but of course you don't need to know any of that stuff, you can just play it. The good thing about analysing, though, is that once you know what it is, you can go looking for the same vibe in other positions and configurations. If you can see the fretboard as one long chord, it's easy to see all the other possibilities for any ear-catching stuff you stumble upon when noodling around. When I think "A7", I can literally see the whole fretboard as "A7", and the same with D# and D ... the same with all chords. So I can instantly see at a glance all the other places I can go from A to D via D#. This is what my PlaneTalk Package teaches.)
So ... that lick introduces a sort of rhythm part where I play a low, muted A chord/bass line rhythm part, and that also repeats. You'll notice that lick ends differently each time. I use a bend up from the #9* to a 3 first, then a slide in to the 3 from the #9 to the 3 next two times. The resolve note is the root A, but the second time I use the octave above... just to keep it interesting.
The fourth time I resolve to an E, which I slide up to, and now the chord is E. I hit a quick E7#9, then back to A, then D, where I play a low bass line that uses the major third (a first inversion of D), back to A half a bar, E half a bar, back to A and out.
You'll find, as I did, that once you can hear the whole thing in your head, it gets easier to piece it all together. As always, the challenge is to assemble all the parts into one seamless, musical, flowing piece of blues music.
Take your time and stick at. You'll find it a very addictive little piece once you know it and it's open to all kinds of variations. I'll posting more of the ones I found in coming weeks.
*In these blues pieces I will be using the term "sharp 9" (#9) instead of "flat 3" (b3) when mentioning that note that is one semitone lower than a major third. It makes more sense. Flat 3 infers minor, but in a major blues such as this you can't really have it both ways -- major and minor. #9 is a good way around this dilemma. It removes the 'minor' connotation.
Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
As well as putting together these fingerstyle guitar lessons, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.