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Beyond Classic Blues
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Blues Guitar Lessons: Call and Response with Chord and Melody

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Now as we go forward in the advanced
section here of the curriculum,
we're getting more and
more into specialties and
combinations of techniques.
We've covered most of the basic skills,
the basic concepts.
Certainly for three chord blues.
Certainly for the shuffle.
We've got tons and tons of ideas.
So, now we're gonna look
at ways of combining and
sort of reworking those ideas, and
using different aspects of them to
bring out different colors and
flavors in your playing.
I think of it this way.
You got this big buffet of blues and
you got the main courses over there,
the meat and the potatoes, and
that's your shuffle rhythm and
your blues tonality and
the essential phrasing ideas.
And then over on the other side,
you've got the desserts and
you've got the spices and
the sauces and all that.
And, a lot of the stuff that we're doing
here is getting into the extras and
some of these ideas might
resonate with you right away.
You say, yes that's an idea I can use now.
It might be something, on the other hand,
that you log away and use later.
But these are all ideas that
you'll hear in blues recordings,
in the playing of players that
are known and respected as influences.
And so, once you understand how they work,
my goal is that you'll be able to
listen to any classic blues record, and
even if you can't do what the guy does on
the record, and that's almost a given.
I mean, there's no way you
can sound just like B.B.
King, but you can be inspired by it and
you can say, I know what he's doing,
I know where he's going,
I know what he's thinking.
I'll take that idea and
do it in my own way.
And that's what we're all after right
here is take these ideas, twist them and
turn them and make them our own.
So, here is one of those ideas.
We know how to play over a three
chord shuffle and we got tons and
tons of ideas from doing that.
So, what we're gonna do now is take two
concepts that we learned separately and
put them together.
And that's the idea of horn section riffs,
the accompaniment style, and
then our basic call and response phrasing,
the breathing, the short phrases.
And they really go together like peanut
butter, jelly because they're so
natural and when you hear them,
you say well, yeah, obviously, duh.
But it's one of those things that
if you don't think about it,
it can pass you by and you don't really
recognize it because it's so intuitive.
So, here's the idea.
We started out many moons ago
talking about horn section riffs.
Let's say we're in B flat,
one of my personal favorite keys.
[SOUND] And I wanna play,
we've got our 12 bar blues here,
and I wanna play sort of
a flavorful accompaniment, and
it might go something like this.
Here's the IV chord.
Now, the phrasing of that horn
riff is designed to create this
texture behind the lead voice,
which might be a singer, or
it might be a guitar player taking a solo,
saxophone, right.
But the idea is that you're creating
this background that kind of encourages
the phrasing of the lead voice by giving
him this texture and these openings.
This kind of conversational
quality where the voice and
background interact with each other.
If I use that idea in
the context of a solo,
I can have that conversation with myself,
and it sounds pretty cool.
Before I talk about it too much more,
let's just do it.
I'll play it for you so
you know what I'm saying, and
then we can break it
down into its details.
Here we go.
that was
a little
bit of variety
there in
the concept,
and that's
what I
wanted to
kind of
get to.
You can do it in a very strict way,
in other words, using the same, exact call
and response flavor each time around,
which I did the first chorus, pretty much.
Now, the specific licks,
that's just the way you play.
There's nothing magic
about those exact phrases.
But what I'm thinking is,
wanna play something that's short and
to the point, and
then I wanna answer myself with my
own horn section rhythm,
so [SOUND] Take a breath.
So I am kinda talking to myself here,
having two, a conversation in two voices.
My tenor voice,
And then my kinda,
My baritone voice.
My authoritative answer there.
So the idea is that instead of
playing single notes all the time and
filling all that space with licks and
with melodies, scales,
whatever you got, you're breaking
up the texture a little bit there.
And it makes the phrasing of
the solo sound intuitive and
it also gives you more mileage because
instead of playing licks all the time,
you're really only playing
your phrases half the time.
And the other half you're using the chords
to kinda support the phrases, so
it takes what you got and kinda stretches
it out to makes it last longer.
Now, in the second chorus,
I didn't stay with that same mold.
I started a solo in a more continuous way.
I don't remember exactly what I played.
So, what I did
there was use the chords
more as transitions.
When I knew the I chord was going to the
IV chord, I'm soloing, soloing, soloing.
Here comes that IV chord, and
then I use the chord as I would in
a rhythm part to set up the next change.
Use the half-step move and
then resolve into the next chord.
And it makes that new chord
sound authoritative and
now I've got a good foundation
to start my next phrase.
So, this idea of call and response with
yourself or using alternating horn riffs
and melodic phrases, is one that you hear
players use in their own playing,
and then you also hear
it in the old recordings, where the singer
had a horn section, like B.B. King.
You know, he's got a horn sections that's
playing those riffs in the background
there, and you can hear that he's having
that back and forth conversation with
the horn section, and from an audience
perspective it's really exciting,
cuz you feel like the whole
band is working together.
And you can create that excitement even
if you don't have anybody backing you up,
by just thinking conversationally.
So, nothing new there
in terms of techniques,
we already know how to
do both of those things.
The horn section and
the melodic phrasing, but
by putting them together in a new way,
suddenly you've got a new sound,
a new flavor, a new approach,
so have some fun with that.