Still Got The Blues - A Guitar Lesson.
Still Got The Blues - The Lesson explained.
After member TenThumbs suggested a slow blues lesson and pointed me to a Gary Moore YouTube version of 'Still got the Blues', I had a bit of a fiddle 'round with the chord progression. Clancy came into my office and asked if I was playing Lionel Richie's 'Hello', and later a friend dropped around and said it sounded like the chords to Santana's 'Europa'. I decided that it would indeed make a good lesson and that I'd do a sort of Flamenco Blues version on the nylon string. Just as the I-IV-V chords of a 12 bar blues apply to thousands of songs, so do other progressions, such as this one.
They are indeed a great set of chords, in the key of Am. "Am?", you may well ask. Yes, even though it starts on the Dm and only really gets to the Am at the very end, it's all in Am. I've always loved tunes that don't start on the I (or on this case, i) chord, tunes that keep you hanging on for the resolve. This is a good example of that.
I've mentioned before that chord names are often interchangeable. I've used Dm/G and Dm/B as names for a couple of chords in this piece. They could have other names, but in this context, I felt it was better to keep them to related chords with odd bass notes. It makes it easier to form a mental picture of the the structure. This way of thinking comes in very handy when soloing over progressions like this, especially when thinking chords rather than scales as I do. By the way, the Dm/G in the movie should be Dm7/G ... that one slipped through. It's right in the tab. I won't bother with the Roman numerals for this one. It's always less clear in minor keys, but despite the weird looking names, it's all built around the i-iv-V chords of Am, namely Am-Dm-E7. There's that A7 that ends off the first half; it's what you could loosely call a 'majorized i chord' I guess, but what it's really doing is acting as a dominant 7th to the following Dm. That, and the Flamenco sounding bit after the Dm/B are details I injected into the progression.
You'll see in the video that the virtual fretboard is only there for the first half. That's because the second half is exactly the same and it's extremely finicky getting those dots to do what they do. The only difference is the very end bit, which you can see in the tab.
I've written the tab out in a very straight manner and, as a consequence, the midi sounds very stiff and nothing like the actual playing. I did try, but failed miserably, to capture the same vibe. It made the tab look very messy with triplets here and there and weird timing symbols.
You will see some upward pointing arrows in the tab below. They crudely denote the spots where my picking hand plays chords as a very fast arpeggio from the bass notes up. You'll see what I mean by comparing those spots with the movie. This is something well worth practicing, and it's not hard to do. You just grab a chord with all fingers, but pluck them off one at a time starting with the low notes, sort of rolling the finger tips off the strings in sequence rather than plucking them as a unit.
Other techniques to look out for in this video:
Vibrato: a couple of times I wobble a whole chord shape to inject a bit of (subtle) drama to the sound.
Muting: two or three times, you'll see my picking hand come down on the strings and momentarily mute the ringing. One good example is just before I start up the repeat half way through. This again is a way of adding dynamics to the overall sound and is second nature to me now after doing it all these years. It's worth practicing.
Other than that ... can't think of any other points worth mentioning. This one is very fun to play, I really do love the evocative progression and never get tired of hearing each chord lead to the next. I hope you like it as much as I do. If I remember, I'll come back to this progression for future lessons and treat it in different ways.
Click here to listen to a track I played some slide over a while back. Even though it doesn't start with it, you'll hear pretty much the same progression come in as a kind of chorus section. It's also in the key of Am, so you should be able to strum along using the chords in the tab.
Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
As well as putting together these free 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.