Improvisational blues is not easy to learn, let alone master, as it requires a great deal of knowledge regarding music theory and various blues techniques. Without this knowledge, someone attempting to play improvisational blues would end up playing a piece that sounds like a repetitive loop.
For improvisational blues to sound original and continually exciting, learning existing techniques while also experimenting with new styles is important. Here are some tips to follow that will help you master improvisational blues.
Find a music college that teaches blues
If you wish to master improvisational blues, there’s no better than a music college to learn and specialize. Since blues is an important part of the culture of the US, plenty of colleges provide quality classes where students can master blues.
Find one that is most convenient for you and will teach you well enough for you to be able to play improvisational blues. These colleges show how music influences students and teach students ways to produce music that brings out similar emotions. Take your time to go through the curriculums of various music colleges to see if you will learn what you wish to learn.
Learn the pentatonic and hexatonic scale
In order to play improvisational blues, you must fully understand the hexatonic scale. Music colleges that teach blues would stress on students to first study and learn the pentatonic scale and then learn the hexatonic scale. The pentatonic scale sets the foundation for a variety of music, while the hexatonic is prevalent mostly in blues. Once you learn these two scales, creating the tones of blues would require lesser effort and provide more refined results.
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Start slow and small
For a student of music, regular practice is essential to create music on the spot. Improvisational blues can be mastered over time, but the first step must be to play a simple looped chord progression. It’s better to practice improvising on the piano with a song that is easy to bend and shape rather than taking a song that is complex and overwhelming.
The chords in the progression can be limited to 4-5 without much movement over the board (for example, a G7-C7-D7 progression). Over time, you can increase the complexity and improvise more complex songs.
Try different techniques
Improvisational blues is all about making original music but there are ways to improve your skill as an improvisational player. This can be done by practicing various techniques. A popular method is to play descending or walk-down progressions.
The rhythm of these progressions is found in most blues songs and provides a lot of room for improvisational Each note can be played earlier or later than usual while adding a completely new chord at the end of the last bar.
Another popular method is to play the same chord progression on different scales. This helps in building greater flexibility and will help in moving from one end of the keyboard to another with greater ease.
Practice popular riffs
There are so many iconic blues songs to choose from, each worthy of teaching something new to the listener. You can listen to the riffs of these songs and try to replicate them.
While replicating them, you can try changing the chord progression or tweaking the melody itself. This is great practice for those who wish to play improvisational blues, as the riffs can be great foundations for experimentation.
You can also learn different blues riffs that are commonly used and incorporate them into your own improvisational blues. If, for instance, you plan on improvising with an existing song, you can include these riffs to make it sound original and new. You’ll find plenty of riffs and blues templates to learn and incorporate into your music.
Now that you know these five tips to do better as an improvisational blues player try experimenting with various techniques, riffs, and templates. Remember that mastery of this style requires practicing both existing music and experimentation with new styles and techniques. By learning more about blues techniques, you can make countless combinations that complement each other and sound interesting and original.
Brandon Kryeger works as a story writer for a comic book company and has been the main person behind the high-selling books across the US and UK. He’s also a gig worker and takes up essays and research papers from an academic writing portal. Besides his work, he loves boating, gardening and reading mystery novels.