In unit 1, our focus is the funky blues! This has a big John Mayer Trio vibe and is all about developing incredible right and left-hand coordination and understanding. We learn how to maintain a consistent 16th note strum whilst only playing single notes on the neck. This gives us that chunky, aggressive, bluesy tone, much like classic SRV! The riff itself continues to develop our understanding of the dominant 7th and 9th chords and how we can use the major and minor pentatonic crossover to great effect! Check out the first video to get started!
Before we properly dive into the track, we need to lay the groundwork for mastering the 16th note funky strum. The main concept here is to be able to strum all 6 strings (not always 6, sometimes 5 or 4, but let's aim for all 6 to be as good at this technique as possible!) whilst only hearing single notes or a small grouping of notes from a chord.
This technique creates that thick, rich and more aggressive bluestone that we love to listen to!
In this lesson, we can start practising the opening first half of the riff. First up, get used to strumming all 6 strings whilst muting them, alongside a 16th note count.
Now let's tackle the first part of our riff, which is based around the B7 chord. Once again, as well as using the tab, it is important to also learn the strumming pattern involved, so you get the real feel for the track.
So this is your first task to get together before the next lesson. Don't focus on perfection, just work on the groove and gradually clean up the sound of the notes as best you can!
Let's now use these new skills to work on the rest of the main riff. In terms of the theory, we are based around the key of B blues, and starting off using our B7 chord for the riff. Alongside this, we are using the B minor pentatonic scale to help us form this aggressive and very cool sounding riff!
To help get the tab bang on, I think it's very important to get the strumming pattern correct, as it's essentially a rhythm we are trying to master, not a lead part. Here is that groove.
For the second part of the riff, we start exactly the same, AND the rhythm is exactly the same. So, all we have to do is add a different lick in the final part of the bar, based on octave shapes of the pentatonic scale. The octave shapes are very fun to play but do require you to mute the strings around them, so once again practice the idea of "chunky strumming" SRV style! The octaves are all based around one shape:
Finally, as we hit the last chord, we add the 13th to the b3, which gives us a cool vibe to end the riff! It's a little dissonant as a pairing, which I love as it pulls us back neatly to the start of the riff again. Focus on getting this loop bang on with the rhythm and chunky strumming before tackling the next lesson!
As we move into the B section we turn to the IV and V chords in the blues. Now, here is the first point at which we really move away from that 12 bar structure. We are using the two chords you would expect to see, but in a totally different setting to the usual 12 bar structure. We work with E9 and F#9 but repetitively move between the two with some very cool riffs in between! Here is the chord pattern for the B section:
As for the groove, we really mix it up here, interlaced with some cool pentatonic licks to add that new spice! The rhythm looks like this:
So your first task is getting this repetitive groove nailed in! It repeats this three times round, and only on the fourth time around do we go to the G9 and F#9 chord right at the end of the bar, like this:
So, your first task is to get the chords sounding as good as possible, and we can add all the licks in the next lesson!
We can now start to add the licks to the B section and there are three to get together! Each of them is based around the B minor pentatonic scale, using shapes 5 and 1. We also throw in some cool blues note slurs to help the vibe, which is always welcome!
Whenever you are working with licks within a rhythm piece, it is important to absolutely nail the rhythm over everything else. For me, the ideal learning routine is to count where the lick starts within the bar, and then play the lick from there based on the sound and groove. So, licks 1 and 3 start on the "3 e AND", as shown here:
Then, lick 2 starts on the "4" beat, which gives it a slightly different feel, like this:
The final lick of the track starts on the 3rd beat of the bar, like this:
I think it's super important to acknowledge and notice that by starting licks on different beats of the bar, we create unique and different sounds. This is something that can be applied to your own improvisations and create songwriting.
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