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#1140901 - 11/29/05 12:31 AM How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
What do you suggest for learning to play the Blues? I have a Basic Blues Keyboard book with a cd. I also have a book of scales, chords, arpeggios. Is there anything essential that I need?
Thanks

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Piano & Music Accessories
#1140902 - 11/29/05 02:21 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Wombat66 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/31/05
Posts: 262
Loc: Cornwall UK
I dont know exactly what level of achievement you're at. I'm at level "fairly hopeless", and working towards grade "not too crap", having gained a distinction in Grade "utterly crap", as awarded by my family.
Three years ago I went out and bought Tim Richards book "improvising blues piano" and have worked my way through the vast majority of it (all the bits I like on the CD)over 3 years. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I've also got "The Ultimate Blues Collection" (with a silver grey cover). I suspect that for a complete beginner this would be too difficult and end up gathering dust.
If you can find a teacher who is also interested in Blues I think you'd find that invaluable - you'd learn quicker, probably practice harder, because a good teacher will constantly set achievable goals to motivate you and you will pick up more than you could from a book, as well as having a sympathetic ear when you're finding those cross rhythms and coordination too difficult.
Everyone always says listen, listen, listen to bands, radio CDs & other recordings...but how much time have you got?
My apologies if you're already a highly accomplished pianist but I get the imression you're where I was 3 years ago
Good luck

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#1140903 - 11/29/05 03:34 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
nickd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 146
Loc: France
Tim Richards is good for all the basics - I've lent my copy to someone who finds it very useful.

A suggestion for someone to listen to is Chris Stainton. He appears on numerous albums, but I particularly recommend Clapton's "From the Cradle" as he manages to use just about every known blues cliché.

nick

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#1140904 - 11/29/05 10:33 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
wombat thanks for the laughs this early in the morning. I've been playing for a little over a year now.I've gone through 3 teachers so far and now I'm just doing my thing. The teacher I just had loves the blues but said I neededd to know my scales, chords yatta....so with him I was just taking a professor longhair sheetmusic to him and we'd spend an hour on that. I listen to the blues all the time and I watch live bands but I still can't sit in front of the piano and bust out some blues...there must be a formula.

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#1140905 - 11/29/05 11:24 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"but said I neededd to know my scales, chords yatta"

Find another teacher! You only need to know one scale and three or four basic chords to get started. Jeesh. These old-school teachers really get my goat.

If you really want to make rapid progress, find a teacher who wants to get you started playing blues from the get-go. They should be able to show you how to play a simple blues tune at the first session.

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#1140906 - 11/29/05 01:03 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Hobie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 475
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Keytops

That is such a huge question I did not post right away because I didn't know where to begin. Then I read your second post about playing Professor Longhair and listening to blues all the time. That is essential for you to understand what you are trying to play, after all, there are so many styles and ideas in the broad term "blues"

For some concrete advice...2 books. One is John Brimhall's Dance Rhythms book. I know it's obscure but it has about 20 pages of blues and boogie styles with exercises to go with. It outlines some basic structure of blues/rock/boogie songs and gets you started with many different left hand patterns. As you know, many piano blues songs are based around a left-hand "backbeat" This book is full of that stuff. Second book...from Cherry Lane Pub. "Blues Riffs for the Piano". This is primarily for development of right hand stuff. It has a CD, and lots of examples of commonly-heard riffs...including Prof. Longhair's styles. It is a pretty advanced book, but you sound as if this is what you are seeking. Plus it starts with the easier stuff and gets harder as it goes. You can also use the cd to really let your ear hear what you are trying to do...so many crushed notes, grace notes, sliding notes, that musical notation makes it seem like it is harder than it really is. Prof. Longhair is one of my favorites.

Listening is crucial. Now that it is getting towards Christmas, why don't you take the melody to a Christmas tune and play a blues style in your LH? So many of these tunes are just blues and jazz turnarounds anyway. Try "Jingle-bell Rock", "Winter Wonderland", "Oh Christmas Tree", or whatever you want. You'll be the hit of the party and it's a good way to avoid doing dishes!
_________________________
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx

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#1140907 - 11/29/05 03:54 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Wombat66

I base my blues playing on the St Louis Blues, as it is often heard in other blues, as the theme. I find it hard to explain as I'm a pianist that has always played by ear (70 years!)and the blues is very easy to improvise. The feeling is in the ear/brain and subconscious mind, try and copy the blues theme from cds of your favourite artists.

Composing in blues is fascinating and never ends, either until your wife busrts in and tells you dinner's ready or you fall asleep. Just when your in your own world,

Enjoy and practice as you will never regret it.

Alan

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#1140908 - 11/29/05 04:04 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
nickd Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 146
Loc: France
I think scales are very valid, especialy once you get beyond a certain point. The kid I'm helping with "jazz" has some basic technical problems that stop him playing what he wants to play. So it's back to basics, including all the major and minor scales and variations on Hannon - but not so as to learn the scales, just to get the fingers doing what they need to do AND at the same time do it consistently and under full control.

Scales etc are great for this.

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#1140909 - 11/29/05 07:34 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
"Scales etc are great for this."

Absolutely. But...

"especialy once you get beyond a certain point"

That's the key point. To insist that a student have all the scales and chords memorized before even beginning on the Blues, Jazz, or whatever is completely ridiculous! :-/

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#1140910 - 11/29/05 08:59 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
Hobie, thanks for the information. I thought I was the only one who has heard of 'Fess'.
I searched for Dance Rhythms and had no success, is it under a diferent name?
Thanks again

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#1140911 - 11/30/05 02:08 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Hobie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 475
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Keytops...I'll get the complete name tomorrow for you, it's at my studio. I think it's something like "John Brimhall's Complete book of Dance Rhythms" but I'll get all the info to you tomorrow. Professor Longhair!! What an amazing player. He had such a great feel and all of those rolled chord, triplet figures, lightning fast and so funky!! I love it!
_________________________
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx

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#1140912 - 11/30/05 01:36 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Clint Eastwood did a whole TV program (on uk TV) about blues and it was over 1 hour long. He interviewed many famous blues players.Jay McShan for one. They had a piano there and it was like a master class. I do not know wether it's available in some form.

Anybody like Ray Charles' style ? he also has done a TV broadcast quite recently. Used a keyboard mostly.

Blues is a wide ranging style isn't it?

Alan

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#1140913 - 11/30/05 06:25 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
swingal, I have that on dvd!
Hobie, thanks again. I just finished reading a book on DR.JOHN. He used to hang out and jam with Fess. He definately seemed like an interesting person -wish I could have met him. You know he couldnt read sheet music to save his live, funny, it seems to be that way for all the greats. Are you familular with Dr. John? Im trying to figure out Quarter Parrish.

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#1140914 - 11/30/05 06:43 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
boomboom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 1
Loc: botell, wa
I'll offer my insight.

I've been playing the blues a little bit over the last few years. I've sat in at blues clubs (an excellent way to learn by the way) and have gotten decent feedback.

The first thing to do is internalize the 12 bar blues progression. 95 % of all blues songs use this same chord progression. Im7(4) IVm7(2) Im7(2) Vm7 IVm7 Im7(2) You hear it everywhere if you listen for it. It's very prevalent in rock (Tush-ZZ Top, Rock'n Roll-Led Zepplin, HoundDawg-Elvis), Country (Folsom Prison Blue-Johny Cash, God Blessed Texas-Little Texas) and Jazz (All Blues, Blue Bossa, Freddie the FreeLoader). Listen for it and count along and lock into it whnever you hear it. I suspect that this chord progression is primal to the human species. Once you feel it you'll always know exactly where you are in the progression.

The other big thing is the blues scale. It is 1, flat 3, 4, flat 5, 5, and flat 7. So for C it is C, E flat, F, G flat, G, and B flat. Stick to these notes primarily when soloing and you'll sound like one blue dude/dudette.

Hopefully this helps and was not too basic.

http://boomboom.dork.com
_________________________
"It is not difficult to compose, but what is enormously
hard is to leave the superfluous notes under the table."
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

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#1140915 - 12/01/05 09:02 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
I agree with boomboom. Once you have got the key scales and progressions under your fingers, improvising blues is quite easy.

Personally I prefer to play blues on the electric guitar, mainly because tonal variation is a great deal more varied with string bending and other techniques which are not available to pianists.

Good luck

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


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#1140916 - 12/01/05 01:36 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
Wow,its really dificult getting both hands to do diferent things. It s funny, with fur elise or fever it's easy for my hands to do two diferent things(single notes). But it seems dificult to keep a steady beat with my left hand while playing a melody in my right.HAAAA!
PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

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#1140917 - 12/01/05 02:49 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
hgiles Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/05
Posts: 736
Loc: Charlottesville Virginia
Like this:
C C C C
F F C C
G F C C

I I I I
IV IV I I
V IV I I

BTW, BoomBoom, "Blue Bossa" is not a blues tune.
_________________________
Haywood
-------------

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#1140918 - 12/01/05 05:15 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
iconoclast Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 389
Loc: Ancramdale, NY
I think the only thing that's 'essential' is a love of the genre and a pair of good ears. It's an improvisational genre and so can be challenging to folks with a classical background who are more used to having a score as a roadmap. I just started by picking up interesting licks off of records by ear. These licks will form the 'words' of your improvisations. Then start stringing them together into phrases using the blues scale some of the other posters have provided . You'll like some of the phrases and absolutely abhor others. Don't worry - it's all part of the process. If you're lucky (or start to do it real lot) you'll stumble on phrases and licks of your own and that's when the fun starts. I've found that inntroducing other influences (scalar and chromatic things from classical etc.) and jamming with other people (esp. guitar players who really started this whole thing) hastens the whole process TREMENDOUSLY. That and beer.

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#1140919 - 12/01/05 07:03 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
i have an offer to sit in with a band but im just nervous and not confadent(dang,I think I spelled that wrong) in my playing. Plus people make me nervous but I want to play and sing too.

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#1140920 - 12/01/05 07:27 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
zorrodepiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/04
Posts: 24
Loc: Encinitas Ca
Learn your blues scale, if you are going to play with guitar players make sure you have E and A blues scales, its the only keys they know (lol)

Learn your 12 bar progression, then...

cheat on your girlfriend, she'll leave you, get drunk, get arrested, wake up drunk and hungover, etc

then you'll be ready

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#1140921 - 12/01/05 07:42 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
sheepdip Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 267
Loc: Oregon
Get a copy of the "Blues Hanon" from amazon.com
_________________________
I'm a fool for Chopin. The biggest mistake in my life......Thinking that fishing was more fun than Bach when I was younger.

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#1140922 - 12/01/05 08:20 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
zorrodepiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/04
Posts: 24
Loc: Encinitas Ca
The Blues Hanon is a good one, just showed it to a student today.
I also like the Jazz Keyboard Toolbox by Bill Cunliffe, it starts with the blues and takes it into jazz.

Z
www.upbeatmusicstudio.com

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#1140923 - 12/02/05 03:01 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
virtuosic1 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/05
Posts: 523
Loc: NY
 Quote:
Originally posted by keytops:
i have an offer to sit in with a band but im just nervous and not confadent(dang,I think I spelled that wrong) in my playing. Plus people make me nervous but I want to play and sing too. [/b]
PLAY and SING!! You strike me as someone who genuinely loves music and plays solely because you need to express yourself. You shouldn't be nervous about doing what you love. Some of what I considered to be the greatest musicians that I've heard had technique that left much to be desired, but the manner in which they played or sang, what they brought out of themselves in music, the spirit in which they imbued their music, made them far better musicians than many I've heard with 20 times the technical expertise. As an example, what do you think of Joe Cocker's voice? Not too pretty technically, is it? How about Michael MacDonald's voice? Monotonous, and all from the back of his throat. On a technical level, everything a singer shouldn't do, right?
What's the result when they sing with this flawed technique and inferior vocal instrument? The result is an incredible performance. They're not great singers based on their voices, but the manner in which they sing, thusly tremendous musicians!
Play and sing free from anxiety. Your music is what you bring to it. Enjoy what you love!
_________________________
My version of Lennie Tristano's "Scene and Variation":

http://d.turboupload.com/d/1410287/R1_0010.MP3.html

A downloadable file with examples of my jazz improvising (Accompaniament on Fender Rhodes, lead lines on Acoustic piano):

http://d.turboupload.com/d/229801/R1_0001.MP3.html

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#1140924 - 12/02/05 12:41 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
iconoclast Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/05
Posts: 389
Loc: Ancramdale, NY
 Quote:
Originally posted by keytops:
i have an offer to sit in with a band but im just nervous and not confadent(dang,I think I spelled that wrong) in my playing. Plus people make me nervous but I want to play and sing too. [/b]
that's where the beer part comes in! seriously, I know what you mean - I was terrified to take a solo the first couple of times I jammed with band. But beleive me - for someone who loves music as much as you obviously do the temptation to eventually jump in and try your hand at it will eventually win out. Relax - it's a jam not a recital.

Oh almost forgot - two books that were pretty good for me were John Novello's the Contemporary Keyboardist (a must-have book of which Blues is only a chapter or two) and Eric Kriss' Barrelhouse and Boogie piano (has some excellent transcriptions of alot of blues/boogiewoogie chestnuts, exercises and a good discussion of bent and crushed notes)

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#1140925 - 12/05/05 07:48 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Alias43 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/30/05
Posts: 2
Loc: Norway
Speaking of THE BLUES.....

Have you checked out the dvd`s that David Bennet Cohen and Dr. John have made?
Avaliable at http://www.homespuntapes.com/
All of them are really great if you are into THE BLUES!!

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#1140926 - 12/05/05 03:19 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
vituosic1- I LOVE music. Its the only thing that kept me sane growing up in my family. I love Professor Longhair. He sang off key alot but I feel that if you put your heart and soul behind what you do it will be great. I also listen to Rock Bottom. Nobody would sign him on a record deal for a long time because they didnt think he had a good singing voice. It's the blues baby it can be whatever and however you want.
Icon-I remember my first recital. My hands were shaking so bad I couldn't hit the right keys. The teacher made recitals nesessary so I quit going to her. I think that once I'm better at playing I wont be so nervous.
Alias43- I've got the Dr. John teaches New oRLEANS Piano, but it's to advanced for me right now. I love Dr. John but I think they could have done a better job explaining more things and they could have kept the camera on his hands a lot more then they did. But it did come with sheet music.
Thanks again for all of you guys' input.

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#1140927 - 12/06/05 04:56 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
I find it's also fun to play blues with a Boogie piano style. Even in the Latin-American Rhythm beat. Like I said, it's a far ranging style full of wonderful instant impro-themes.

Alan

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#1140928 - 12/07/05 06:19 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Alias43 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/30/05
Posts: 2
Loc: Norway
Hi keytops and others...I agree fully that it can be difficult to grasp what Dr.John is playing. You`ll just have to watch it over and over again. But its worth the effort. At least i think so.. The dvd`s from David B. Cohen i can absolutely recommend. He is a very good teacher and explains whats happening in a good way.

Generally there seems to be a lot of videos on instruction on how to play the guitar. But very little ( in my opinion that is )on how to play the piano. Or am i way wrong? Is there somewhere on the net where i havent been?

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#1140929 - 12/07/05 10:43 AM Re: How do you play the Blues?
Hobie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 475
Loc: Rocky Mountains
Keytops
Sorry for the delay...I've been really busy. The book is called John Brimhall's complete book of Dancing Rhythms. The reason I mention this book is because it has a lots of different LH boogie styles. Keep listening and imitating what you are hearing. The other book I mentioned "Blues riffs for piano" I think was by Eric Kriss...somebody else mentioned him. This book and others like it will spell out the more common turnarounds and riffs...at least enough to get you going with the basic concepts. That's the best I can do without actually sitting down at the piano with you. By the way...have you taken any lessons with someone proficient in this style of music? You would make quicker progress with a good teacher.
_________________________
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx

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#1140930 - 12/07/05 08:15 PM Re: How do you play the Blues?
keytops Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/05
Posts: 38
Loc: Florida
Hobie, Thanks again. I do have a teacher but for some reason I feel like I need to know some basic blues skills so that I don't waste my time having him teach them to me. I feel more comfortable that way. I also like to try things myself to see how I do instead of a teacher trying to get me to do the way they do. Does that make sence?

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