Learn To Play Blues Guitar Licks Like Eric Clapton
It is not that easy to pull out a definition of blues. You can tell that Robert Johnsons’ Rambling on My Mind or B.B. King’s Everyday I Have the Blues is definitely blues, but what about van Halen, Al Di Meola or Pavarotti’s songs?
Of course, you could define the blues by the call-response structure, the dominant 7th chords, the shuffle rhythm, the I-IV-V progression and things like these, but the most accomplished definition is one that Eric Clapton himself gave to blues music in an interview in 1998:
My definition of Blues is that it’s a musical form which is very disciplined and structured coupled with a state of mind, and you are able to have either of those things but it’s the two collectively that make it what it is. And you need to be a student for one, and a human being for the other, but those things exclusively don’t do it.
(Eric Clapton, 1998)
What Are Blues Guitar Licks
Guitar tunings assign pitches to the open strings of guitars, including acoustic guitars, electric guitars and classical guitars, among others. Tunings can be used to create some described by the particular pitches that are denoted by notes in Western music. By convention, the notes are ordered from lowest-pitched string (i.e., the deepest bass note) to the highest-pitched (thickest string to the thinnest).
The phrase “guitar tuning” also refers to the adjusting of the string-pitches to their desired tuning to a reference pitch–often a note from a piano or Hammond organ and/or tuning the guitar strings so that the strings are in tune relative to each other. Tuning is described in how-to manuals for guitarists so they can replicate many blues guitar licks and riffs.
Standard tuning defines the string pitches as E, A, D, G, B, and E, from lowest (low E2) to highest (high E4). Standard tuning is used by most guitarists, and frequently used tunings can be understood as variations on standard tuning. “Nonstandard” tunings are also called “alternative” or “alternate”. Some tunings are used for particular songs by professional musicians, and may be called after the song’s title. There are hundreds of such tunings, which are often minor variants of established tunings. Communities of guitarists who share a musical tradition often use the same or similar tunings.
The hundreds of alternative tunings have been classified into a smaller number of categories: “open”, both major and minor (“crossnote”), and “modal”; “dropped” (in which the pitch of one or more strings is lowered); “instrumental” (based on other stringed instruments); and “regular”. Modal, dropped, and many other tunings are mentioned in the supplementary list of guitar tunings.
Joni Mitchell developed a shorthand descriptive method of noting guitar tuning wherein the first letter documents the note of the lowest string and is followed by the relative fret (half step) offsets required to obtain the pitch of the next [higher] string This scheme highlights pitch relationships and simplifies the process of comparing different tuning schemes.
The Blues History
There are many books on the story of the genre. It was born in the 20th century’s Mississippi Delta in the U.S., short after the Civil War. This music style was played by slaves and white people related to it as sorrow songs, plantation songs or workaday songs. The term was used for the first time around 1925.
It is thought that the band leader William Christopher Handy was the one to write the first songs in 1909, which was later published and documented. The song was initially called Memphis Blues and got the name of Mister Crump later. He got his aspiration from a blues song he heard in the Mississippi railway station six years earlier. W.C. Handy wrote other songs too, such as Beale Street Blues or St. Louis Blues and nowadays there’s a blues award named after him ñ the W.C. Handy Award.
What Do You Need To Learn To Play Blues Guitar?
In order to learn to play blues guitar licks, there are a couple of matters you need. First of all, you need to own an electric or acoustic guitar with strings made from other than nylon in standard tuning. You also need to know how to interpret tablature, as well as have some basic guitar knowledge and know how to play a few chords.
You also need some blues backing tracks as well as Eric Clapton CDs with classics, such as Blues Breakers, From the Cradle or Eric Clapton Unplugged and a good CD player with an auto-repeat shuffle. There’s also a plug-in for Winamp you can use to slow down music. A small chord book you can find in any guitar shop is also handy. But most importantly, in order to learn to play this style of guitar, you need some good ears.
If you already have some basic guitar knowledge, you can learn to play blues guitar on your own, with the aid of a simple chord book. However, finding a blues guitar teacher who is willing to help you learn to play blues guitar in your area is definitely a good thing. If you have the time and money to take up private lessons, this will probably help improving your guitar playing skills. Or you can learn blues guitar online with a program called Blues Jam Session.