See jam formats immediately after this article.
Blues guitar lessons are the perfect way to find out how to express yourself using music as a language. One unique aspect of blues is that one can go back and forth from happy (when playing the major third) to sad (when playing the minor third). There are very few musical situations where this can take place and none so free and dynamic as when exploited by blues guitar. Guitar is an especially expressive blues instrument because you can bend in between the notes to play demi tones or notes "in between the notes". There are ten demi tones in between a whole step, so there are plenty of additional tones to work with that one could not recreate on the piano. Blues gives your improvisation amazing support which many times surprises even the guitar pros and that is because blues is a system of music all to itself. That’s why blues musicians refer to the key as the "blues key" when playing blues.
The seventh chord includes the tritone sound, known during the Renaissance as the "Devil’s Interval". In those days composers knew not to musically linger on it, and since the seventh chord or "dominant 7th" chord only takes place on the 5 chord, it is the perfect situation to quickly resolve back to the 1 before losing the Kings favor. In the guitar battle of good and evil in the movie "Crossroads", when Steve Vai played the last chord of what he thought was his winning jam, he ended with a tritone, which lingered on with it’s go nowhere ominous sound as the devil laughed. That movie was very hip and the idea of selling your soul to the devil at the crossroads in order to get the secret of blues music is based on the Robert Johnson legend. The secret of blues guitar, and the lesson to learn is that the standard blues uses the tri-tone sound on every chord in order to keep the tension and interest going over a repeating and therefore supportive musical structure. As soon as you think the blues is going to resolve, that 7th chord offers the invitation to keep moving.
In the early part of he last century many blues guitarists began a system of music taking the 1 chord and the 4 chord and turning them into 7th chords by adding a min.7th to the major chord, then including the naturally occurring 7th chord on the 5. So in a sense the music is always looking to resolve which leaves the rhythm track foundation in a state of flux. That flux is perfect for including tons of great scales. The blues scale, which is a minor pentatonic with a flat 5 or "blues note" added, is the beginning point. From there after taking some more blues lessons, the mixolydian altered 9th is added. Then we get to the sweet spot, the relative minor. Going back and forth from the blues scale down three frets to the relative minor is a primary function of blues lead. B.B. King loves relative minor and it’s usually relative minor when people make comments like, "Tasteful lead." The blues scale, minor pentatonic and the mixolydian altered 9th create more of an aggressive rock and roll sound, whereas the relative minor is a nurturing tonality meant to console and give a happier feeling.
Just as pro blues lead guitarists go from mixolydian altered 9th to relative minor, they are also aware of going back and forth stressing the major third and then the minor third at exactly the right time in the 12 bar blues structure. As the progression begins on the 1chord major or happy rules. Then as the 4 chord comes up in the 5th bar, the focus tends to go minor or sad. Then on the 7th bar back to major until the 9th bar where minor is stressed until the 11th bar, before throwing the minor back in on the 12th bar in order to lead back to the 1 where again the mood is to be happy with the major third and it starts all over again. This tonal structure is implied even when not stressed so it’s very important to have that structure deeply embedded in your mind so you can pick and choose when and how to make your blues lead guitar really tasteful.
Blues guitar lessons include learning about life and finding a way to deeply express feelings in a unique and universally understood way. It is understood universally because people get feelings from certain sound vibrations and intervals. There are physical laws at work which are easy to conquer when you open yourself to taking more lessons. For example, there are 12 notes in music, just like 12 months in a year. Sure there you can repeat the notes again as you go higher just like we repeat the months again going into the next year, but the structure of music fits with the basic universal structure. Another example is that to be in a key means that you are choosing 7 out of the 12 notes, so then we are dealing with seven tones just like seven days in the week or the seven basic colors. There is an order to nature and also to blues guitar. Learn the perfect natural order to the 12 bar blues, and you will always sound expressive and tasteful.
Sequential fixed phrasing is when you play the same series of notes over and over again while the changing chords automatically change the role of what you are playing as the musical landscape changes. This is how a blues guitar player can let the music do the work. Sometimes staying on the same note while patiently waiting for the chords to give it different meanings, then adding some unique vibrato and making a face gives the impression that you are doing all the work when actually you are still playing the same note and letting the music do the work. That is a big secret that awards the most fun because even though you never know exactly what is going to happen, if you use what you learned from your blues guitar lessons then whatever you play, it will sound like you meant to do it. It’s very magical.
Paul Harrison began his musical career at age 7 performing in the New York Philharmonic. He went on to become a soloist in the American Boychoir School before taking up guitar at fifteen and playing his first rock gig at the Café Wha? in the Village. He began teaching right away, went on to become a recording engineer and producer at the Musicians Exchange where he later started his own music school "Fame Institute." All the teachers had to have played with nationally known acts and he made them all give him guitar lessons. Most of the great blues players performed at the club and Paul had an unbelievable opportunity to learn from the greats in person. Bluesguitarlessons.webs.com is his gift to musicians who want to learn the real deal blues from the "total 1st time picking up the guitar beginner", to the highest level of improvisation. Paul has also included uniquely interactive jams and the attached lessons for free.
There are four jams formats:
1. Practice jam: Each Riff is repeated twice, play along in unison the second time it is played. Notice the numbers to reference the lesson for that riff below. Pause the jam anytime you like, then scroll down to the lesson on that riff, and after studying, then scroll up and go back to the jam to apply what you have learned.
2. Game jam: Copy the riff for real time video reference
3. Contest jam: Respond to each riff with your own
4. Jam Out: Play to backup track
Below the jams are all lessons for practice jam riffs
So far we have only published a southern Rock Jam ala "All Summer Long" or Sweet Home Alabama" and practice jam for slow bliues. There will be 5 complete jams with their lessons uploaded soon.