Blues piano practice straight-talk? What does that mean? Well, in this article you're in for a little treat. In this article we're going to reveal some blunt thoughts and tips for playing and practicing the piano - some "straight talk" if you will. As educators, we have a love and fondness for the material we teach, the students who seek to improve their skills, and the masters who set the bar high. But we also see some very common and recurring mistakes and deficiencies among students. We try to find encouraging, positive ways to critique these errors and re-focus the student. But some students prefer the straight talk, the "don't beat around the bush, give it to me straight" kind of talk. In the spirit of fun, that's what we're presenting here.

Blues Piano Practice: Digital Diarrhea

Sounds gross, right? It's a colorful expression to say something simple. "Digital" refers to "digits," as in "fingers." And "diarrhea," well... I think we all know what that means. It's a musician term that refers to someone (usually pianists and guitarists) whose fingers won't stop running. Have you ever heard a player who plays too much? Maybe they're even a really good player, but they simply play endless runs of notes and licks, without taking any rests or pauses? "Hey man, that guy has a bad case of digital diarrhea." Don't let that be you.

Blues Piano Practice: Sweat the Technique

Ok, as much as digital diarrhea is a bad thing, there is still some value in being able to play an endless, run-on cascade of notes. The tip here is that you have to be able to play a whole bunch of nothing. Translation: In order to be able to play some cool jazz and blues solos, you first have to have the technical ability to simply play your scales without messing up. Once you can play some scales fluidly it will be much easier to insert rhythmic and syncopated ideas.

Blues Piano Practice: Comping "Do's and Don'ts"

Comping is unique to pianists and guitarists. As a pianist you want to make sure that you're a sensitive comper, not an obnoxious comper. What's the difference? A good comper listens and responds to the soloist and rhythm section, leaves space for the soloist, plays with dynamics that are appropriate, and plays in a register of the piano that accentuates the soloist. A bad comper plays louder than the soloist, ignores the idea of "economy of notes," and plays too much and too intrusively over the soloist.

Blues Piano Practice: Learn the Melody

Too often on blues tunes the piano player doesn't know the melody. Some think "why bother? The chords are all the same anyway? And the singer/guitarist/singer/etc. plays the melody, so why should I care?" The truth is you can probably get away with not learning many of the blues melodies. But in the jazz world the piano player often is relied upon to play the melody, and sometimes those melodies are tricky. So be sure to practice those tricky right-hand melodies - don't be lazy.

Blues piano improvisation is an essential skill for a blues piano player. One simple form and yet the blues is played in jazz, rock, pop, country, and, well... the blues. We're not gonna talk a lot of theory here. Instead we're gonna offer some practical advice and tips to help you focus on some essential blues piano improvisation practice.

Blues Piano Improvisation - The Blues Scale

Ok, ok - one scale, then no more theory. You've probably heard us say this many times before. You MUST learn and be able to play the blues scale if you're going to be a blues piano player. The pentatonic scale is also a must-know scale. It's such an essential tool of blues playing that you HAVE to learn it. Even though we've devoted lots of time on the site to the blues scale, for obvious reasons it needed to be included on this list.

blues piano improvisation 1

Blues Piano Improvisation - Licks

Licks are an excellent starting point for improvisation. They give you a specific thing that you can play to help get your creative juices flowing or help you in the event of brain-freeze in the middle of a solo. We suggest you have a handful of licks (at least 5) that you have down cold. Also, be able to play them in at least 3 different keys.

Here's a freebie to help get you started. This one works great in a driving blues or funky-rock setting (although you can use blues licks almost anywhere):

blues piano improvisation 2

Blues Piano Improvisation - Transcribing

Most students are very nervous about transcribing. They think it is too advanced a skill for their ability level, too difficult for them, or too time-consuming. And for these reasons they never get started. That's too bad, because transcription is NOT too advanced for any musician and is INCREDIBLY helpful. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. You don't have to transcribe entire solos. Just figuring out a lick or two from your favorite solo is worth gold.
  2. You don't have to do it all by ear. Sometimes having a lead sheet to show you the changes helps you figure things out more quickly.
  3. The value of the skill is the ear-training. The more of it you do, the better you will be at listening to nuances in the music. And this will help you when playing with other players.
  4. Be able to play what you transcribe. Don't just write it down - play along with the recording! (hey, that's the fun part anyway).

Blues Piano Improvisation - Check Out THIS SOLO!

Listening to all kinds of blues solos is invaluable. When the pros give masterclasses, they always offer this advice: "Listen to the music." That seems obvious, but critical listening means listening like a musician. Asking yourself while listening, "what's the meter? tempo? key signature or tonality? form? chords? what scale is he/she playing? what's that lick?" And then finding the answer at the piano.

Have you heard Don Grolnick's solo on James Taylor's tune "Steamroller Blues"? Oh man! Simple and effective right before a blistering guitar solo (begins at the 2:10 mark).

In this article we'll be featuring some piano licks from "Jessica" by the Allman Brothers, one of the greatest rock piano tunes - and rock piano solos - of all-time. One of the things that makes this solo so popular and copied by piano players is simply the way it sounds - it's got that classic, bluesy-rock sound and feel. Why is that? What gives this solo that particular sound? Is there something specific (a scale, a lick, a rhythmic figure, a chord structure) that Chuck Leavell (the pianist on the recording) was thinking about when he was playing? We'll answer all of those questions here and get you on your way to learning this famous solo.

Piano Licks from "Jessica": The Original and the Groove

First things first - check out the original recording and piano solo here.

The groove is really the first place to start because the underlying groove is not only the foundation of the whole song, but a big part of the piano solo, too. In fact, your left hand will be outlining the groove while the right hand plays the solo.

Here's the original groove which is first heard at the intro to the song:

Piano Licks from "Jessica" 1

Piano Licks from "Jessica": The Chords and the Chord Scales

One of the great things about rock music is that the chords are often fairly simple, so it's the rhythmic intensity of the song that creates the energy. Such is the case in "Jessica" as well. The chords during the piano solo are quite simple and there are only two - A major and D major (often played as a slash chord, D/A, with D major being played over an A in the bass).

So what was Chuck Leavell thinking about, musically, when he played this solo. Well, in a nutshell, he was thinking about the A pentatonic scale mostly, as well as a little bit of the F# minor blues scale (which in this case is sometimes referred to as the "A major blues scale").

Most of the solo is based off the 5 notes of the A major pentatonic scale:

Piano Licks from "Jessica" 2

The pentatonic scale is a must-know scale for rock soloing, so practice playing it in a bunch of other keys in order to become more familiar with it.

The F# minor blues scale can be used because, as the relative minor to A major, it shares most of the notes in common with the pentatonic scale above, with the addition of one extra "bluesy" note - the C natural. This scale is sometimes referred to as the major blues scale:

Piano Licks from "Jessica" 3

Piano Licks from "Jessica": A Couple Licks

Ok, as promised let's get to a couple of these great licks from the piano solo. If you're interested in learning a bunch MORE licks from this great solo, be sure to check out our complete video lesson on this topic.

Here's the first lick:

Piano Licks from "Jessica" 4

Notice that it's almost entirely based on the notes from the A pentatonic scale (with the only exceptions being the brief use of D# and D-natural).

Here's the second, also almost entirely based on the A pentatonic scale:

Piano Licks from "Jessica" 5

Blues piano comping is the topic of this article, in which we'll be discussing 10 "do's and don'ts." Of course, these 10 tips can easily apply to comping in any genre - blues, jazz, rock, pop, etc. Being able to implement these tips in your playing is usually the difference between inexperienced players and true veterans.

1. Blues Piano Comping DO: Be Rhythmic and Build the Groove

Comping is about "accompanying" the featured soloist. As the pianist, you're basically responsible for providing the beautiful background upon which the soloist can paint an eye-popping subject. Be rhythmically responsive and complimentary to what the soloist plays. Many young players are afraid of playing the same comping rhythm over and over again. But sometimes that's exactly what you should do. That's how you build a groove.

2. Blues Piano Comping DON'T: Playing That Is "Too Busy"

Although you want to be responsive to the soloist, remember that when you're comping you are NOT the soloist. Some pianists try to stand out with a sort of "look at me and all the things I can play" approach to comping. That is not what is best for the soloist, so it's usually not what's best for the music either.

3. Blues Piano Comping DO: Use Dynamics

Sometimes the easiest thing to play can be hugely effective and make a big difference to the listening audience. Dynamics are one such thing. Simply by playing with very stark "louds" and "softs" you can affect a LOT within the music and the other players. This doesn't require a ton of chops or advanced solo skills, and it is a great way to control aspects of the music.

4. Blues Piano Comping DON'T: Using Extreme Registers

Sometimes the use of extreme piano registers (high and low) can be very effective and powerful. So the advice is to use it sparingly. The meat-and-potatoes of the majority of comping tasks is right in the mid-range of the piano.

5. Blues Piano Comping DO: Work With the Drummer and Bass Player

Assuming you have one or both of these players, remember that you are all members of the RHYTHM section. You're like a group within a group, responsible for a great deal of the propulsion of the music. That means the drummer or bass player may also introduce ideas which affect the groove. Listen to them closely as you do the soloist, and respond in a way that compliments the ideas they communicate.

6. Blues Piano Comping DON'T: Afraid to Use Chord Substitutions?

Don't be. Chord substitutions (like tritone subs or inserted ii-Vs) can be very helpful in a number of ways: they create variety within the rhythm section, which provides the basis for new ideas for the soloist, and interest to the ears of the listeners. Sticking to the primary chords of the blues is cool, but there is a lot more harmony than can be breathed into the blues, so don't be afraid to try.

7. Blues Piano Comping DON'T: Chord Substitutions Not Catching On?

Sometimes pianists use some pretty gnarly chord substitutions. They can often sound great, if everyone else in the band can identify the chords and catches on. But I often marvel at pianists who repeatedly use chord substitutions when it's obvious that the soloist, bass player, or guitarist aren't hip to what they're playing. The result can sound like two conflicting things are being played. So the advice? Use chord substitutions. But if it's obvious that your chord substitution is not being received by the other players after a few chances, don't hang them out to dry.

 

We all aspire to be blues and jazz masters at the piano, but there are some easy blues piano tricks that every pianist should know which can instantly give your playing that authentic blues sound. The masters - pianists like Wynton Kelly, Oscar Peterson, Otis Spann, Dr. John, etc. - all knew how to use these easy blues piano tricks to perfection. The things about blues piano tricks is that they sound great when you sprinkle them in occasionally, but shouldn't be the basis for an entire solo. So use them sparingly and listen to lots of blues pianists and recordings so that you can get a sense of how and when they're played effectively.

Blues Piano Tricks #1: The Tremolo or "Roll"

What a lot of pianists call a "roll" is actually, in academic music-speak, referred to as a tremolo. A tremolo is a very quick repeat of a note or notes which produces a quivering or wavering sound effect. The symbol for a tremolo is a line or lines written horizontally through the stem of the notes which are meant to be rolled. Here's an example of a fairly classic two-handed use of the tremolo effect in a blues format. The right hand is "rolling" the melody notes in octaves while the left hand is "rolling" the rootless chord voicing. When played together, it produces a big, robust sound.

Blues Piano Tricks 1

Blues Piano Tricks #2: The Blues Scale

This might not seem like much of a blues piano trick, but being able to play some quick blues scale runs is an absolute-must for blues pianists. There have been some great, maybe even epic blues-rock guitar solos that use only notes from the blues scale (check out some Stevie Ray Vaughan or B.B. King for evidence of this). The same is true for piano players. You can always buy some time in your solo by ripping a blues scale run or two. So make sure you're able to play up and down the blues scale at a moderate to fast tempo.

Blues Piano Tricks 5

Blues Piano Tricks #3: THE Blues Lick

This is a blues lick that gets played ALL the time. Every blues piano player should know it because although it is played quite regularly it sounds awesome, not tired or overplayed. It's takes a little bit of practice to get under the fingers but not something that is difficult. It works great in the blues form, but especially great if you start it in measure 9 where the ii-V-I sequence begins.

Blues Piano Tricks 2

Blues Piano Tricks #4: Another "Roll" (Tremolo)

This is another very common bluesy piano sound. Again you'll be rolling (or playing a tremolo) across two notes in the right hand - the 5th and 7th of the chord. For example, if the chord is an F7 chord you would tremolo the 'C' and 'Eb.' If the chord is Bb7 you would tremolo the 'F' and 'Ab.'

Blues Piano Tricks 3

Blues Piano Tricks #5: A Fun "Outside" Chord

A great place to start experimenting with some "outside" playing is in measure 4 of the 12-bar blues form. Normally we would play the 'I' chord in measure 4, but by playing a tritone substitution in that measure you can get some advanced "outside" sounds. In our example in the key of F, we would play a B7 chord in measure 4. Experiment with comping and soloing in this measure using the tritone substitution.

Blues Piano Tricks 4

In this article we'll look at a very important blues piano tip - displacing the beat. Actually, this is not just a blues piano tip but a general piano tip because it can be applied to all types of music, as well as music composition. "Displacing the beat" refers to taking a musical lick or phrase and moving it around, starting it in different parts of the measure. This is an excellent thing to incorporate into your practice because it gets you thinking rhythmically and gets you focused on rhythmic precision. This is an excellent blues piano tip because a big part of blues playing revolves around using a simple melodic idea with various rhythmic treatments.

Step 1: The Lick

Let's take a very simple blues phrase that we will play with our right hand over a 12-bar blues in the key of F. Be sure that you can play it through the entire form in time with your metronome. (Playing with the metronome is a BIG piece of this type of practice, so make sure to use it).

Blues Piano Tip 1

Step 2: Move the Phrase to Beat 2

Now we're going to move this phrase - displace the beat - by one full beat. We're going to take the same right hand phrase and, instead of starting it on beat 1, we're going to start it on beat 2.

Blues Piano Tip 2

Again, be sure that you can play this with both hands at the same time and with your metronome. Don't move on to the next step until you've mastered each one. Also practice moving between starting the phrase on beat 1 and beat 2 until you are able to do so easily, without mistake, alternating between either one on command.

Step 3: Move the Phrase to Beat 3 and Beat 4

Using your metronome and playing through the entire blues form, now practice and master playing the phrase by starting on beat 3.

Blues Piano Tip 3

And now... ditto for beat 4:

Blues Piano Tip 4

Let's stop for one moment and recap this blues piano tip: in order to score an A+ on this idea of displacing the beat, you should be able to play through the entire form with two hands, with your metronome, and start the phrase on beat 1, beat 2, beat 3, or beat 4 at will. That is considered mastery.

And then, you're done, right? Well... not quite.

Step 4: The "Off" Beats

If you can start this phrase - or any phrase - on the downbeats (beats 1, 2, 3, and 4) then you can start the phrase on the off-beats (or upbeats), which is the "and" of beats 1, 2, 3, and 4. These should be practiced in the same way that you worked through the above steps. Remember to master one rhythmic figure before moving on to the next. Mastery means being able to move through each rhythmic figure at will, without mistake.

Blues Piano Tip 5

Wanna spice up your blues playing? Of course you do! Whether you’re into rock, jazz, blues, or funk, the 12-bar blues is a chord progression that you’re sure to encounter. In this article I’ll show you 3 ways to improve your blues playing, and they all start by gaining a deeper understanding of the harmony. That’s right, we’re talking chords here. Not licks, scales, or riffs. We’re digging deep into the harmony to learn a few ways to get some of those advanced, pro sounds that are so elusive.

Most of us know the basic chord changes to the 12-bar blues progression, which is based on three primary chords - the I, IV, and V chord (all dominant 7th chords) of a given key. Let’s take a quick look at the most basic form of the 12-bar blues progression in the key of F.

Spice Up Your Blues Playing 1

In each of the spice-enhancing tips below I’ll show you a chord (or chords) that can be substituted in order to create some more advanced harmonic options. You can use these new chords for both comping and improvisation ideas. We’ll use the F blues example throughout.

Tip #1 - Try playing a #IV diminished 7th chord in measure 6

Putting this chord in measure 6, immediately after the IV chord in measure 5, gives the progression a little bump that creates some more forward motion. Why do we use this chord and how does it work? It’s really just an extension of the IV chord from measure 5. The IV chord (Bb7 in measure 5) has the following chord tones: Bb, D, F, and Ab. The #IV diminished 7 chord (B dim.7 in measure 6) has the following chord tones - B, D, F, and Ab. Notice any similarities? They share most of the same chord tones. Think of the B diminished 7 chord as a Bb7(b9) chord (with a ‘B’ as its root). If you’re using the F blues scale for soloing, you can still use that same scale when soloing over the B diminished 7 chord.

Spice Up Your Blues Playing 2

Tip #2 - Insert a ii - V progression in measures 9 and 10

This simple chord substitution is quite common in jazz interpretations of the blues form. Inserting a “ii-V” progression means playing we will play a ii-7 chord (G-7) in measure 9 and a V7 chord (C7) in measure 10. Doing this again creates forward motion to the F7 chord in measure 11 (thus, a “ii-V-I” progression). When soloing you can play a G dorian scale in measure 9, a C mixolydian scale in measure 10, and an F mixolydian scale in measure 11. Or you can play the F blues scale through the entire progression.

Spice Up Your Blues Playing 3

 

Tip #3 - Put a V7/ii chord in measure 8

First off, what is a “V7/ii” chord (pronounced “Five seven of two”)? The “ii” chord refers to the G-7 chord we inserted in measure 9. So what we’re really trying to do is create some motion to the G-7 chord. What is the “V” of G-7? The answer is D7. So we insert a D7 chord in measure 8 which resolves to G-7. Many players will commonly use extensions on this chord, such as #9, b9, and b13. For soloing, use the F blues scale or try playing a G harmonic minor scale over D7.

Spice Up Your Blues Playing 4

In this article we'll explore some of the more advanced blues chords that are used by the pros. These advanced blues chords will help you achieve those classic blues, jazz, and funk sounds that you may have heard on various recordings by some of your favorite players. All of these advanced blues chords can be used in various genres of music, but in order to offer a clear presentation here we'll categorize them into three categories. These three examples - jazz, blues, and funk - represent some of the most common instances where you'll find (and perhaps use) these advanced blues chords. Remember that "the blues" is not just a style of music, but also a "form" of music (such as the 12-bar blues form). It's quite common to encounter the blues form used in a rock, jazz, or funk setting (and sometimes you'll even see these cross-categorized labels - i.e., blues/rock, jazz/blues, blues/funk).

Advanced Blues Chords #1: Jazzy Quartal Voicings

This voicing really gets at the heart of many of those classic jazz blues voicings and can be found throughout the jazz language. "Quartal" voicings refers to chords constructed in 4ths, basically stacking 4ths (either perfect 4ths or augmented 4ths) on top of each other.

This is a dense, full-sounding two-handed chord (6 notes in total). We'll construct it from the bottom up - (left hand) flat-7th, 3rd, 13th, (right hand) 9th, 5th, and root. Plugging this into an example using F7, we get Eb, A, D, G, C, F.

Advanced blues chords 2

Advanced Blues Chords #2: Bluesy #11 Voicing

This chord is admittedly more of a "specific situation" kind of chord. It's probably not a chord you would use extensively throughout a tune. But used appropriately it's a powerfully potent chord that sounds killer. My advice - it's most effective when used in bar 4 of a 12-bar blues form, right before going to the IV chord, either as the "I" chord or tritone sub of the "I" chord.

From the bottom up we would build this chord - (left hand) root, 5th, (right hand) 7th, 9th, 3rd, #11th. Using an F7(#11) chord and B7(#11) chord (the tritone sub of F7) as examples we get the following:

Advanced blues chords 3

Advanced Blues Chords #3: Funky Sharp-9 Voicings

If you're going to cover any of those bluesy James Brown, the Meters, or Soulive-style tunes, you'll want to know this advanced blues chord. But you'll also encounter this voicing in rock settings with artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Average White Band, and of course, Jimi Hendrix.

We'll construct this voicing from the bottom up. It basically consists of three notes - 3rd, 7th, and #9th of a dominant 7 chord. Using an F7#9 chord as an example, it would be spelled: A, Eb, G#. For pianists, depending on the situation and context we can often add a fourth tone - the root of the chord. Often simply playing the top three notes in a rhythmic fashion is all you need. Sometimes (depending on range considerations), you can double the 3-note voicing in both hands. This sharp-9 voicing also works and sounds great when played on organ (or wurli or rhodes).

Advanced blues chords 1

 

For piano players, the boogie woogie left hand is the unsung hero of the boogie woogie and blues solo piano style of playing. While the left hand is perhaps not the flashiest or sexiest part of what the listener hears (that's usually reserved for the right hand), the left hand has an incredibly important and challenging role to play. It creates the canvas upon which all the right hand pyrotechnics are boldly painted. In this article we'll build a challenging boogie woogie left hand accompaniment in phases which will allow you to practice in a step-by-step manner and master this left hand style. All examples are shown over a C7 harmony, but remember to work these bass lines through all 3 chords (I, IV, V) of the 12-bar blues form.

STEP 1: Simple Quarter Notes

The real essence of the boogie woogie left hand is its consistency and steadiness. While notes and the occasional syncopated rhythm are important, the real success of the boogie woogie left hand is being able to keep it going in a steady, in-the-groove, driving pulse. So we start with quarter notes which primarily outline the chord tones. The focus in practicing this should be to maintain rhythmic accuracy as much as possible - which means use your metronome!

boogie woogie left hand 1

 

STEP 2: Adding Some 8th Notes

Since we're working towards a boogie woogie left hand bass line consisting entirely of 8th notes, this step aims to add in some of those 8th note rhythms. Make sure you're using the fingering indicated, or at least a fingering that works for you and will be used each time you play the bass line. And continue to use your metronome!

boogie woogie left hand 2

 

STEP 3: Using An All-8th-Note Bass Line

After working through steps 1 and 2 you should be starting to build up some muscle memory in your left hand for these bass lines. Although we're going to change the rhythmic subdivision in this step (from mostly quarter notes to all 8th notes), we're still building the bass line around the same notes - the chord tones. Now that we're using all 8th notes, it's important that you play them with that triplet-based, shuffle-feel that is characteristic of boogie woogie playing. So although the notation looks like this:

boogie woogie left hand 3

We're going to play it as if it were written like this:

boogie woogie left hand 4

STEP 4: The Classic Boogie Woogie Left Hand Bass Line

This is the grandaddy of boogie woogie bass lines and it is a challenging little bugger. Like so many things at the piano the first course of attack is to be able to play this with your left hand alone. Note that the fingering is challenging as your hand is constantly in a spread shape and moving up and down the chord tones. With the exceptions of some minor liberties, this is the fingering that most pianists end up using.

boogie woogie left hand 6

Although we do not want to sacrifice quality for speed, this is one of those iconic bass lines that sounds great when played fast, so start slowly with your metronome and gradually increase your tempo as you acquire mastery. Happy practicing!

 

 

 

As you learn more progressions, you also need to learn how to join these progressions together. In traditional music this is often achieved using passing chords.

In jazz, blues and gospel music circles you might hear the term "walk up" or "walk down" tossed around. Basically this is a progression of chord which walks up from one chord to another or walks down from one chord to another.

In my Slow Blues a la Stormy Monday Part 2 lesson, I cover this reall cool walkup from a C-7 chord up to a F7 chord.

blues-walkup

Something important that I wanted to share with you is how the bass motion is conceived. Notice that the bass notes are: C, D, Eb, E then F.

The C, D and Eb are all coming from the Bb Major scale. After all, the song is in the key of Bb...so that all makes sense.

What about the E diminished chord? Where does that come from?

That is the secret sauce right there my friends!

Without the E diminished chord, we would only have 3 chords: C-7, Bb/D and Eb7. Not only would this not give us a nice chord-every-beat rhythm, the Eb7 chord being a whole-step away from F7 is not a real strong resolution.

The addition of the E diminished chord adds motion on every beat while also creating a strong resolution to F7.

This is just one of the many blues piano walkup techniques you'll learn in Slow Blues a la Stormy Monday Part 2. In case you missed it, I also recorded Slow Blues a la Stormy Monday Part 1.

If you like that diminished sound, check out my Practical Diminished Harmony lesson.



 

A couple of weeks ago I taught Live-to-Library Slow Gospel Blues Progressions lesson. Students had a bunch of questions and we spent a lot of time on the 2 topics I'm going to discuss in today's article: dominant motion and bass motion (more specifically alternate bass motion).

Dominant Motion

Dominant motion happens when a dominant chord moves to it's resolution chord which is up a perfect 4th or down a perfect 5th.

What does this mean?

Well, after studying diatonic motion, you learned that there is only (1) dominant chord per key in music. This we call the V7 chord.

If we take a simple progression like...

Ex 1: C to Amin to Dmin to G7

and we precede each of these chords with their dominant 7th chord, we get example #2 below:

L2L-slow-gospel-ex1

This concept is covered in much more detail in the Live-to-Library Slow Gospel Progressions lesson.

Bass Motion

Bass motion is the motion of the bass note. This could be the root, or it might be another note (usually a chord tone).

In example #3 below, see how I chose a different note to play in the bass? This creates, what I think, is one of the coolest sounds when it comes to chord progressions. Just by messing around with the bass motion, I'm able to create dozens of NEW sounds while using the SAME chord progression! It's kind of like chord recycling!

If you're interested in hearing these examples or learning how to play them and many more, please check out my Live-to-Library Slow Gospel Progressions lesson.

Do me a favor and leave your comments or questions below, and be sure to share this article!

Blues Practice Tips

Once you can play the Blues in one key, try these tips:

  1. Start working on a new key. Start with an easy key first. So, if you originally learned the Blues in C, try a key like F or G next.
  2. Don’t forget the guitar keys! E, A and B are popular keys that guitar players learn the Blues in.
  3. Change the tempo. Try playing it slow and fast.
  4. Make a play-a-long track for yourself. Or, play-a-long with a Blues recording.
  5. Try creating a Blues “head”. A head is the melody of the song. Start by playing the same lick over the I and IV chords. When you get to the V chord, change it slightly. Repetition is important!
  6. Listen to great Blues pianists like Professor Long Hair, Jimmy Smith (Organ) and Johnnie Johnson.