Playing guitar in the blues style is attractive to new guitarists in many instances because of the basic elements of the songs. The chords are often very basic. The matching scales are also very basic so they are easy to play, even for beginning guitar players. The theory behind the chord construction of standard blues songs does not really get too far into the complicated realms of music theory, so blues guitar can be pretty easy to understand from the standpoint of a musician. However, the real beauty of blues music is in the emotion infused into the songs by the musician playing the song. This is something which is arguably not so easy to teach.
The Power of Blues Guitar
Putting emotion into your playing as a guitarist does not require a huge amount of technical prowess, and this can be an appealing aspect of the blues for players of all levels. If you know some of the basics then you can learn to play blues guitar songs which utilize the easy I, V, IV chord progression. It still helps to understand the basic theoretical premise behind why the chords work together as well as they do, yet it is definitely not a requirement. If you can put real feelings into your playing, then those listening will have little concern with regards to how technical your playing is. This is not what blues aficionados are really interested in usually, they are more interested in where the music takes them. The simplicity of blues guitar makes it good for almost anyone interested in relating to it, both musically and lyrically. However when a guitarist has the ability to combine this with advanced technical skills then it is definitely a treat for the listener.
The songs in blues are commonly more about things that may have gone wrong as opposed to how great things are. This is sort of like the expression people refer to as “having the blues”. This basically indicates the overall mood as well as the message of the song. This is also an attraction of this style of music. People like songs which can make them feel something, an emotion.
Playing Blues Guitar Music
Blues guitar music is very commonly based upon the first, fourth and fifth chords from the Major scale. This chord formula will apply to any key that the song happens to be in. For instance if you have a blues song in the key of “E” and the chord progression is “I, IV, V” then the chords will be “E, A, B”. Determining which chords will work is as easy as applying this to any key and you can find them using this method too when you know what the root is.
The twelve bar blues chord progression involves these chords in addition to a turnaround section in the song pattern. One common form of a blues turnaround lick can be as simple as using a chromatic walk-up in half steps from the “IV” to the “V” chord. In the key of “E” this would be the A chord, to the A# chord, to the B chord. You could also simply use the single string notes of the same name. In this instance they are derived from the E minor pentatonic scale.
It is extremely common for beginner guitarists to start learning in the blues style whether directly or indirectly. What this means is that using these types of chords and scales is applicable to rock and roll music, country music, pop music and many more examples. The versatility of the E minor pentatonic scale for instance crosses countless musical boundaries. This is where the technical aspects of playing blues on the guitar come into the picture. The fundamentals of the way that the chords and scales are selected are the same across musical genres, yet the way that they are played is what differentiates them from one style to another. Since the blues include the structure as well as the opportunity to infuse emotion into the music, it makes it a great style for guitarists to learn from, practice and perform when they can really feel it.