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Beyond Classic Blues
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Blues Guitar Lessons: Introduction To Beyond Classic Blues

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Classic blues, which is what most of
the curriculum in this
school concentrates on,
is the set of techniques and styles and
interpretations that basically developed.
And I'm talking electric blues between
T-Bone Walker and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
That was sort of the epitome of the style.
About a 50 year period between when
T-Bone made his first record and
Stevie passed away.
So a lot going on in that time period.
But it wasn't like, the music stopped or
that even during that period the music
didn't evolve in a huge number of ways.
One of the ways that blues survives and
actually even thrives outside
of the classic blues realm,
is the way in which it interacts
with other musical styles.
And in listening to a lot of different
styles of music, especially in America,
you know American music, what we hear
is that blues is kind of the constant
thread that holds a lot
of other styles together.
And when you talk about,
is it this style or is it that style?
It's almost nonsense, because they're
all based on the same raw materials.
Style is really a matter of rhythm.
How do we know what rock and
roll sounds like?
Because you can imagine a rock and
roll band,
and the beat of a rock and roll band.
As opposed to what
a Latin band sounds like.
Yeah, that's a different beat.
You might be playing the same instruments,
playing the same chord progressions, so
it's really about that rhythmic context.
That's what we call style.
And blues is an element in
almost every popular style
that evolved during T-Bone's lifetime and
even today.
So, in this section we're going to look
beyond classic blues, what are the styles
that fed on blues, that evolved out
of blues, that borrowed from blues?
What did blues musicians do when they
wanted to expand their own boundaries?
You can't play shuffles all day long.
So a few styles we'll look at
in detail are rock and roll.
And rock and roll, as we'll discover, is
really kind of a derivative of jump blues.
And a lot of what we learn
applies directly.
It applies directly to the sound of what
Chuck Berry and all of his
contemporaries were doing in the 50s.
The difference was they sang about
stuff that young people were into,
driving around and going on dates and what
not, as opposed to what the blues guys
were singing about,
which was sort of heavier topics.
So a lot of crossover there, I mean you
really have a hard time separating them.
Same thing with rockabilly.
Rockabilly is not really a distinct style.
It's so blended around the edges.
There were black musicians in
Memphis playing what was in every
sense of the word, rockabilly,
except the name, before Elvis.
And there were white musicians
playing blues in Memphis that sounded
really down home.
And they were playing country and
they all ran into each other and boom!
The next thing you know,
we call it rockabilly.
Rockabilly was sort of
a commercial name for
a style that really only lasted
commercially for about a year or two.
I mean, it really happened quick.
But it persists as an image and a fashion.
Rockabilly is a blend of blues elements,
the jump blues
together with
the style of playing that's known as
Travis picking, which we think,
that's country.
Put the two together, boom, rockabilly.
We'll look in some detail at
the techniques involved in playing that.
New Orleans, is that the home of jazz?
Yeah, but it's also a great rock and roll
town, and a great rhythm and blues town.
And, different styles of rhythm and
blues came out of New Orleans, rock and
roll, that effected the rest of
the sound of American music,
and they were essentially Rhythm and
blues, and the two beat.
Now the two beat is characteristic
of both country music,
that boom chick, but also Latin music.
Tick, tick, tick, tick,
tick the mambo, the bolero,
the cha cha, these are all
styles that came out of Cuba.
And they were absorbed into New Orleans,
and processed, and
came out the other end as rock and
roll and rhythm and blues.
You get into some of
the corners of American music.
Swamp blues, what was that?
Music made in the backwoods of Louisiana
and just interesting unique sounds.
Bo Diddley, who was he?
He was this guy from Chicago that took
this sort of church slash Latin rhythm and
evolved a whole style out of it that was
copied widely and is still around today.
Latin blues,
what do you mean by Latin blues?
Well it's mostly traditional
blues players, who their meat and
potatoes would be the shuffle, but
they're playing over a Latin groove.
And it mixes up the set, and it gives
people something different to dance to.
It's a fresh sound.
Soul blues, what's that?
Well, as music changed in the 60s and
the beats were different,
younger people were dancing to stuff
that became to be called soul music.
And, they weren't so
interested in shuffles.
So, musicians saw that the audiences
were moving this way, so,
they had better catch up.
So, they started playing blues
over top of a funky beat.
Very cool style, but
it's a lot of familiar stuff.
Smooth blues, well,
that's not really a style, but
it's an attitude of playing blues
over a smooth-sounding background.
And the best example of that is
The Thrill is Gone by B.B. King.
A very commercial record, but
at its heart it's stone cold blues.
And then rhythm and blues ballads,
what about, you know, like
These songs that have lots of chord
changes and yet, when people sing them and
play over them, it sounds so
down home and so relaxed and comfortable.
How do you do that?
What's the technique for
handling changes and sounding convincing?
Really, we're gonna cover a lot of ground
in this section, but it's a lot of fun.
And you get the chance to take everything
that you've learned so far and
use it in different contexts, and you'd
be surprised how much you already know.
So, I'll see you at the next lesson.