I was raised on loud speakers and blues music.I would watch blues guitarists such as Stevie Ray Vaughn,B.B. King and Buddy Guy. I would buy an album or concert DVD every chance I got. Blues & Classic Rock music flowed through my blood, and it still does today!As a guitar instructor I believe that blues music is an essential genre for guitar players to learn. Blues has a fundamental structure that is very useful for any guitar player.Knowing the basics of the blues will help any one who has a passion for songwriting.
1,4,5 is the most popular chord progression in music. It is used in all genres of music and you can play hundreds of songs with just these 3 chords. This set of chords is the foundation for the blues.
How do you find a 1,4,5 progression in the key that you are playing in? First, spell out the key you are in. We will use the key of G Major to demonstrate.
Key of G Major:
G A B C D E F#
All you do is select the 1st note(G) in the key of G Major. Then you will select the 4th note (C) and finally the 5th note (D).
Another benefit of learning blues guitar is the available scale patters that you will have access to. The scale used in blues ( and popular music today) is called a pentatonic scale. It is a 5 note scale that can be played over any chord progression .
“Penta” means 5 note and “tonic” means the first note in the given key. The reason this scale pattern sounds so good in blues music is because the 4th and the 7th scale degrees are omitted from a major scale, turning it into a 5 note scale. Pentatonic scales also allow a guitar player the play “blue notes”
Blue notes give the pentatonic scale its bluesy sound quality. The blue note is chromatic note in between the 2nd and 3rd degrees.Let’s look at the structure of the pentatonic scale in the key of G Major:
G A B D E ( Pentatonic scale notes)
1 2 3 5 6
With the “blue note”:
G A Bb B D E
The Blues is a very important genre to understand for any musician. Learning and applying the basics of the Blues will help you become a better songwriter. Listen to blues greats such as B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Joe Bonamassa they can help you expand your knowledge of the fret board.