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St Louis Blues - A Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

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The video with un-blurred virtual fretboard can be downloaded from a link at the top of the TAB

St Louis Blues - The lesson explained.

St Louis Blues is another of those tunes I already knew before I entered the world. My dad loved his music and listened to it loud. Written by W.C. Handy over a century ago, it makes you wonder whether Gershwin had this running through his head when he came up with Summertime.

It's an usual tune because it's in both a major and a minor key. I did my version in A, so it's starts in Am, switches to A major, then back to Am. Very cool. The other unusual thing about it is that it changes feel as it changes key. I kept this oddity to a minimum in my version, but if you listen to some of the countless versions out there, you'll see what I mean. Many are distinctly tango in the minor verses, swing in the major verses. The version I heard as a kid, Benny Goodman's, is a march! I hint at a swing in the major part that starts at bar 18 and keep it going from then on, but it's not a full-on swinging feel. I sort of blend staring feel with swing feel, a sort of hybrid feel. If you listen to the Guitar Pro file, however, you'll hear that I was unable to capture my feel in that program. It's either straight or full 'dotted eight note' feel.

The Am bit: Nothing too tricky here other than switching between those chords in the harmonized melody at bar 3, 11 and 43. I kept the tempo nice and slow to make that easier but it's still a bit challenging to keep it all smooth and flowing. Other than that, all the moves and grips are fairly straight forward. The section repeats from bar 10, pretty much identical.

At bar 18, we switch to A major and a swingier feel, and it becomes a 12 bar blues. There are so many versions of this that I never really did learn what the actual melody is. They're all different, so I sort of averaged it out and added my own passing chords. I think I came fairly close.

You may find the middle section, the major part, a little more challenging. It's also a set of repeats, 12 bars each. I changed the second one slightly. You might prefer one to the other and repeat it.

I go back to the minor section for the end, but this time retain a bit of the swing feel from the major part.

There are countless ways to play this tune, being a 12 bar; this is the version that I wound up with. Feel totally free to change it any old way you want.