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How to Choose Blues Notes

Welcome to the eighth lesson of the Blues Guitar Quick-Start Series. In this lesson, we’re going to get a little creative and learn how to choose the notes you play from the blues scale. This is important since it can be easy to get stuck just playing through a scale shape and not actually playing music.

We’ll start off by looking back at the 1 chord, 4 chord, and 5 chord from our 12-bar blues progression. We’re going to locate the root notes of each of these chords within our blues scale. A good place to begin with choosing notes is simply playing the root notes of each chord as they pass by. The key is to still play other notes as well, but have the emphasis on the root notes of the chord you’re playing over.

There are 2 root notes for each of the three chords within your blues scale shape. Take the time to locate and memorize the root note locations for each chord. These will sort of act as your home base when you’re creating licks and solos. There are two example licks you can learn from the video that will show you exactly what all this means.

Once you’ve mastered these licks, you’ll want to pull up the jam track and try playing along to it. If you feel a bit overwhelmed trying to apply these licks along to the jam track, you can simplify things and just work on playing the root notes of each chord as it passes by. Eventually, you can start adding the licks to your playing.

One thing to remember, is that blues is all about feelings, emotions, and guts. It’s about letting whatever wants to come out of you come out. So don’t get too bogged down in the theory side of all this. As long as you have a bit of theory knowledge, you can let your heart do the rest.

In the next video, we’re going to take things a step further and look at how to take your self-expression playing the blues to the next level. We’ll be talking about things like phrasing, bending, sliding, and vibrato so you can add these elements to your blues guitar playing.