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Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Classical_Thump, Feb 13, 2005.

  1. Classical_Thump


    Jan 26, 2005
    Alright, I'm probably going to be playing a few blues gigs in the next couple weeks and I was just wondering what I should learn/practice so I can be equal to the rest of the band. I know standard I-IV-V's and such, but what scales, forms, chord changes, songs, etc. are MUST know for a blues player? I just want to make sure I have a good knowledge of the stuff so that I can be professional, and play a good gig. So anything you think a blues player should know please share. Thanks a lot
  2. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    We have had many lengthy and highly informative threads at TalkBass which answer your very questions. If you do a search you will find some of those discussions.

    If you will be doing some blues gigs, ask the group what their set list usually is and have them tell you the names of songs they commonly play. The list of commonly played blues songs is quite lengthy, but luckily for you, we have run many such lists here at TalkBass also...everything from "Stormy Monday" to "The Thrill Is Gone."

    What you might be playing may depend on the style of blues your band plays, traditional Mississippi blues, Chicago blues, blues-rock, Texas swing, St Louis, originals or covers, whatever. Also, know the difference between a minor and major blues.

    As for scales, you absolutely must be familiar with the blues scale. You should also know the mixolydian scale, minor pentatonic scale and, of course, the major scale.

    You should also know the most common blues grooves, such as the all important 12/8 shuffle, but also the straight eighth feel, quarter-note feel and eighth- note feel, and know how to "walk."

    You say you know the I, IV, V thing, (I assume you also mean the 12-bar blues progression) but do you know about turnarounds, and can you play credible intros, fills and exits? By credible, I mean something that is appropriate for the style and groove of blues your band is playing.

    Blues gigs are great fun. Personally I love blues music and I hope you will develop an equal affinity for the blues. Meantime, do a TalkBass search so that you can find much more complete answers to your questions.
  3. mbeall


    Jun 25, 2003
    If your really in a hurry and don't have time to do the listening for the sets go get a copy of Roscoe Beck's Blue Bass Basics. It shouldn't take more than an afternoon to get through and it gives a pretty good high level overview of the different styles that get called on a blues gig.
    The best advice I can give is K.I.S.S. Those gigs are all about pocket for the bass player. The walking lines can be and most often should be much simpler than what you will find in a "jazz blues".
    As far as changes almost everything will be I-IV-V. Stormy Monday is an exception to the rule and there are a couple of songs that will substitute the VIm for the the IV but the leader should let you know about any variations from the I-IV-V before the downbeat if it's similar the the blues gigs I've played here in Texas.

    Good luck.

  4. Yes K.I.S.S. is vital here but don't feel obliged to stay in one position. Intertwine registers to avoid sounding mundane.
  5. Classical_Thump


    Jan 26, 2005
    Alright thanks a lot guys, I appreciate the help.