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Blues Guitar Lessons: Upbeats

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All right, now you've
got that Boogie Shuffle wired.
I know that.
And by the way, I want you to be
sending me videos of yourself playing
these things, especially that Shuffle.
It's so important that you nail the detail
and that you get the right sound,
because so
much is built on that foundation.
It's a tricky thing, it took me a long
time to really get the feel for it.
So I can give you some clues, if you're
having trouble getting the sound.
I can tell you things to listen to and
techniques and so forth.
So I look forward to seeing your,
your responses on that.
Now we're gonna build another layer
on top of the Boogey Shuffle.
And we know from counting
the Shuffle that it has two parts.
There's the downbeat and the upbeat.
And it's dot, dot, dot,
dot, dot, dot, dot.
And when you play that
that part there, you're playing both parts
of the Shuffle but,
you're also emphasizing the down beat.
It's sss, right?
So, the next rhythm we play is gonna put
the emphasis on the back side of the beat.
The up beat of the shuffle.
The third note of the triplet.
And this is a very, very common rhythm
that originated back in the era
of jump blues, which is when
the electric blues era really started.
The first electric blues era guitar player
to make a big splash was T-bone Walker.
And he made his first records in 1942.
And he showed people how to play blues
solos on the guitar, single note solos.
He kinda provided the model for B.B.
King and everybody else.
But he also showed a lot about rhythm.
And one of the things that you heard in
his records, was that the piano players
played bass patterns on the left hand and
they played upbeats on the right hand.
So you have [SOUND],
sounds like the drummer a little bit, but
it's split up between the two hands.
So we're gonna play the equivalent of the
right hand of the piano, that's upbeat.
Now, it might take a minute to
master the feel, because we're so
used to hitting that downbeat,
and thinking of one all the time.
But now we're going to be
hitting just on the upbeat.
I'll show you how to do it.
Okay, we're going to add a new chord
to the vocabulary here as well.
And this is called the ninth cord.
Now cord structure, I don't want to
get into a big lecture about that.
You can visit the theory workshop and
learn about how cords are built.
But, in a nutshell,
all the cords we are using,
so far seventh cords, contain four notes.
The root, the third,
the fifth and the seventh.
we arrange those four notes in a voicing
which can include
any number of different variations.
But those same four notes just
stacked up in different ways.
Now, a ninth chord contains those four
as well as,
the note a step above the octave.
Now, if we count the notes in the scale.
We go one, two, three,
four, five, six, seven,
eight is the octave, and one more, nine.
Okay, I get it, right?
that's a ninth chord octave.
It sounds a little bit jazzy, in fact.
Now, when we play the ninth
chord on the guitar.
We don't necessarily play all
of the notes and in fact,
in this case, we're gonna play
a chord that has no root in it.
It just has the other notes.
Seems weird.
But when you play in a band,
the bass player plays the root.
That's their job.
That's what they get paid for.
So let the bass player
handle that note and
we're going to pick up the other notes.
So the ninth chord shape that
I'm going to show you right now,
in the key of A
First finger on the fifth string,
fourth fret.
Third finger.
Second finger.
Fourth finger.
Just the inside strings.
Let your index finger mute the low string.
Let the side of your hand
mute the high string.
There's your ninth chord.
And again,
the bass comes from here.
Because there's no root in the chord
voicing, it's easy to get confused.
And you look at the lowest pitched note.
You say, that's a C sharp chord?
No, it's an A nine chord.
Think of it as the missing root is
right there opposite your third finger.
That's how you can tell
what key you're in, okay?
So that's A nine.
And the companion to that,
which we'll use in the same
rhythm pattern, is D nine.
this one has the proper root in the bass,
So root, then first finger, and
then lay your third finger
across the top three strings.
Now, sometimes it's hard to get that top
note to come out on the bar.
That's okay.
You can just play the inside
four strings on that one as well.
We'll worry about the top note later.
So there's A,
that's one cord in the key of A.
D, the four cord in the key of A.
Move it up two frets,
there's the five chord.
Now, we have the chords.
Let's talk about the rhythm.
And the rhythm is gonna be
just playing on the upbeat.
So, the count would be like one,
two, three, four.
One, and two, and three, and four,
one, and two, and three, and four.
Just like that.
If I'm tapping my foot, my foot hits the
floor and the chord hits on the way up.
There's D.
And so on.
Okay, now.
I'm exaggerating the circular thing.
That's not really the point
of the right hand.
But the idea is,
you wanna lay it back and relax.
And sometimes, when you take a big motion,
it helps to do that.
When I hit the chord,
I'm using an upstroke.
In other words, I'm imagining that I'm
playing the downstroke and the upstroke.
But I don't play the down stroke,
I just let my hand fall
and then,
pull it back up
the strings
and I kind of snap it a little bit with my
wrist to give it an extra punch.
I let the side of my hand hit the string
on the way down,
that helps me stay on time.
I feel that beat.
So I'm not losing the downbeat, I'm
just not playing it so you can hear it.
As soon as I hit the chord,
I release the pressure so
it cuts the note off.
Sort of fret hand muting.
So between that kind of
relaxed right hand motion,
rotating the wrist, cutting the note off,
I want it to lay right in there on
the upbeat, very metronomically.
Now, to play the turn around in
the ending using that rhythm
I'm going to use the ninth chord as my
basic sound there.
So I'll play in the key of A.
Here's my five chord E,
and back to A.
Here's my turn around.
Now, I hit the A.
I gave it a downbeat.
One, two, three, four.
To mark the downbeat of the last bar.
And then
the exact same rhythm for
the turn around that I've been using
before, but instead of the seventh chord.
I'm using a ninth chord.
What's the difference?
It's the ninth adds a little but
of extra texture,
which in blues terms, you call it uptown.
Sounds a little bit jazzy, you know?
And it became just one of the basic
sounds of blues in the 40's and
it stayed with us ever since.
Now to end the thing,
I would do the same idea.
Here's five, and go back to one.
Now end it.
I've got my one chord,
my four chord, and my five chord.
Now what if the root of the one chord is
on the fifth string?
And, say, in the key of E, for example.
My four chord
A, the root,
the imaginary root,
is on the sixth string.
And, B
same shape up two frets.
So when I play my turnaround in E.
There's my five chord,
half step into B.
And when I play the ending,
I just go up a half step and
resolve it back into the E and
I'm home free, all right?
Now let's put these ideas to
work over the rhythm track.
So first we're going to play
over the A rhythm track and
two choruses with the turnaround and
the ending.
And see how these patterns
fit together in tempo.
And I can hear the bass nice and clear.
Because we're leaving room open for
it, right?
Here's the four chord.
Really relaxed.
Back to one.
Turn around.
That pattern becomes very familiar.
Now we're gonna end the thing back to one.
Half step.
That's the kind of blues ending that
you hear all the time on recordings.
That ninth chord is a very common sound.
Makes you sound like you
know what you're doing,
as opposed to playing,
a big major chord or something.
Wrong, stylistically wrong.
Use the ninth chord.
Okay, now lets do the same
thing in the key of E.
12 bar shuffling, E, two choruses.
This time, my one chord is gonna
be based on the fifth string,
ninth chord on the fifth string.
My four chord, A,
the imaginary root on the sixth string,
and so forth and so forth.
You get the picture.
Okay, key of E.
Here comes
the four chord.
Back to one.
And five.
Back to one, here comes the turn around.
Make sure you hear
that bass nice and clear.
Lay it back.
Super relax.
Five, and here comes
the ending now, one.
Mm, mm, mm.
Now, I'd like you to send me a video
of yourself playing those rhythms
because sometimes it's hard to find that
spot, that upbeat and be consistent.
But once you get it,
it's a very relaxed motion.
Just let your wrists be loose.
Let it fall and then,
snap it back up, fall,
snap it back up, and find that pocket.
And when you do,
it's a very intuitive rhythm.
It's easy to play and it sounds great,
especially when you have two guitars.
One guitar plays the boogie,
the other one plays the upbeat.
All right, see you in a bit.