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Blues Guitar Lessons: Soul/Funk Blues

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Now as we wander down the various
pathways of blues styles,
blues related styles.
I think of them as the hyphen styles.
Latin blues, you know,
urban blues, rural blues,
they're all versions of the same thing.
Now we come to this style that
I think of as soul funk blues.
You could also probably make a case for
calling it Memphis style blues.
But Memphis is a pretty deep name there,
so we'll call it soul funk.
It's one aspect of the Memphis sound.
Now, last time we looked at Latin blues.
And I told you about Albert King,
and how he played cross cut saw,
when he was recording on the Stax label
in Memphis with the house rhythm section.
Which was Booker T and the MG's.
And they came up with arrangement,
the Latin blues.
It was very cool.
And Albert just tore it up.
Well he cut a bunch of songs in
Memphis with the Stax rhythm section.
And, that band itself, apart from Albert
King, they had a big impact on American
music, and on rhythm and blues, which is
sort of encompassing aspects of blues.
And that is, they really defined
the soul funk style you might call it.
Back then,
it was just called southern soul.
It was a style of music that
was mainly being recorded
in Memphis and related geographical areas.
Muscle Shoals was another famous studio in
Alabama, just down the river a little bit.
And it was defined by
a different style of rhythm.
So the traditional blues artist from
T-Bone Walker through B.B. King.
All the way through the 50s into the 60s,
the traditional blues feel, of course, was
the shuffle, played in one form or
another, swing, with different little
colors added and whatnot, but
essentially that shuffle rhythm.
By the 60s, popular music began this
big kinda, turn, like an oceanliner.
Turning gradually, and it turned away
from the shuffling from swing and
toured straight 8th notes and 16th notes.
And in the sort of white popular music,
you had The Beatles.
All the British bands, and
it was all strum, strum, strum.
[NOISE] Instead of [SOUND].
That style was fading out.
In soul music it was [SOUND].
So the shuffle [SOUND],
that was disappearing,
and it was replaced by a funky,
syncopated beat.
That was technically, based on dividing
the beat into equal parts two or four.
One and two and [SOUND] or [SOUND].
And then when you put the kick drum on
different parts of the beat, [SOUND].
You get these kind of funky
grooves where the beat seems
to shift a little bit,
makes you dance differently,
became the resurgence of soul
music from rhythm and blues.
It was kind of reborn as a new sound.
And from that came James Brown and
the rest is history.
So Albert King recording in Memphis in the
mid-60s, he was influenced by that sound.
As was Freddy King even recording
a little bit earlier up in Cincinnati.
And BB King, you know they all had to pay
attention because they saw the audience
was turning away.
And they had to turn with the audience or
risk losing them.
So, Booker T and
the MGs were like the hippest rhythm
section in America at the time.
Everybody wanted to play with Booker T and
the MGs, still true today.
And so, if we sort of
come up with a dead center
version of what that sound was,
it shows you a different pattern on
which you can build a blues style.
And you'll hear lots of examples among
blues artists of how they took this
new rhythm and
interpreted it for themselves.
So let me show you this
little taste of it here.
I'll play it for
you then I'll break it down.
No doubt you've heard music that
has that sort of feel to it.
Now, this would have been something
you'd hear on Booker T and
the MGs had a record called Hip Hugger.
That was the groove, where you get
Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, Tramp.
Another famous soul record.
Freddie King had a record called
San Jose and it was somewhat similar.
That pattern
works perfectly
under that instrumental.
That's a good one to learn, by the way.
San Jose by Freddie King.
In any case what we've got is a straight
groove, straight eighth note, so
no shuffle, and we've got this bang-a-dank
kind of a groove where its a big
accent on the back beats.
So instead of all of our
traditional shuffle parts,
we sort of come up with
a specialized rhythm.
Now knowing what the base pattern is,
this is a generic base pattern,
it could be anything.
But in this case.
Starts on
the fifth of the chord.
We're in the key of C.
Walks up into the root and then just
a little accented pattern on the root.
Same thing on the four chord and
the five chord.
As far as just a straight up rhythm part,
you could emphasize the last part
of the bass pattern so three, four.
Half seven.
the chord voicing that I'm using there
is one that we learned ages ago.
Dominant seventh chord with the root on
the fifth string.
And this voicing is real
popular in the stock because
it has sort of a built in
dissonance between the seventh and
the octave, that makes it sound,
kind of, down home and gritty.
So, that's a good one there.
Now, as we did in the Latin blues,
you can combine the bass pattern,
if it's convenient, with the chord and
be two guitar players in one.
Now i'm doing a sort of
an abbreviated version of slapping there.
i'm actually hitting the strings
pretty hard with the pick,
i'm not going all the way across.
But I'm taking a bite out of it, so
I have to mute
As I play those bass notes so
that I can have the freedom
in the right hand and
control the notes in the left hand.
I'm getting loose with it and sorta
adding in little scratches and so on.
Just helps spiff up
the style a little bit.
Now there's another rhythm part that
you could lay over top of that.
It's a really common part.
We saw it In the New Orleans style,
and it's playing the back beats.
It's the chics.
And in this case you get
two, three, and four.
One, two, and, three, and four.
One, two.
Here's the four chord [SOUND] F7 and
back to C7.
[SOUND] And then we could go up to the G7.
You can hear how it sort
of fits on top there.
So playing with the snare drum back beats.
And that's a typical part, and it sort of
beefs up, sort of harmonizes the drum set.
So between the bass pattern,
the chord, syncopations,
combining the base in the chords,
playing the chics, you got plenty you can
do rhythmically on a groove like this.
So if there are two guitar players,
you have no trouble kind
of dividing your roles.
Now, as far as soloing, it's the blues,
nothing really unusual about it,
it's all dominate chords.
The groove is different.
Just as a stylistic note, this is a great
opportunity to use your chicken
picking because it is southern soul.
And southern soul is associated with
that chicken picking kind of vibe.
So if you use that technique in
your solo on a groove like this,
it sort of stamps you with
somebody who kind of gets it.
You're picking up on the overall vibe.
So let me play along with the track.
And I'll play a chorus of the rhythm part,
then I'll break into a solo and
we'll talk after.
the chicks.
See how nice that fits in there?
All right.
Snapping, popping every which a way.
So in the groove there,
you can hear how nice and
fat it sounds when you double
that bass pattern, bang-a-dank.
Rock solid.
That's a really nice groove.
And then the chicks, just ride up on top,
plenty of space in there.
Very, very effective stuff.
Now solo wise, I just stayed in
the key of C, fourth pattern there,
pattern number four.
And I use both techniques
of chicken picking that we
discussed; one is the,
you mute [SOUND] pick, pluck
And I also use the style where you
press the note down sorta half way.
And then using the fingernail
to get up under the note.
[SOUND] And snap it,
give it a little bit of extra high end.
So these are all classic,
kinda down-home phrases.
[SOUND] There's nothing about
the note vocabulary, the technique,
other than chicken picking,
is just straight up blues.
If you listen to practically any
electric guitar player who made records
from the mid-60s on, they all played
over this type of groove because
it was just part of
the repertoire at that point.
So you have lots of examples
of how people approach it.
In each case, of course, if somebody
has a style and they're well known for
their style,
they're gonna keep their style.
But some players styles really,
really thrive on this group.
Particularly, Albert Collins, is kind
of his meat and potatoes from where he
came from and, the kind of music that he
liked to play, he loved that funky beat.
So, listened to those guys for
inspiration, and mess around with that
grove, and if you come up with
something cool, I'd love to see it.
Send it to me, and give me a listen.
All right, see you next time.