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Learn Blues Guitar - Me and The Devil (Cover) - Robert Johnson

9 years ago1.3K views


Jim Bruce

Learn Blues Guitar

Playing blues guitar in a modern world is a strange thing to try. Even the very poorest of us in the Western world are so much more well off than the old legends who eventually created the musicthat was the basis of all pop, jazz and rock music of today. Even using blues guitar tabs, it's hard for us to grab that spirit. The basic rhythms obviously from African roots, but present day African music is broader in rhythmic variation and complexity, so what happened to it? It seems that the first 'guitars' were elementary single stringed instruments made with a cigar box, or something like that. It wasn't feasible to make music of a really intricate nature, and probably created a musical 'thunk', with hardly any variation in melody.

For some time in the Southern states of America, drums were made illegal, as was anything else that raised the hopes of the negro slaves and encouraged ideas of bravery or freedom. Maybe the pulsating tempo of the blues became more drum like, which could explain why the monotonous thumb strike way of playingwas prevalent. In this style of picking guitar, the rhythm was less complex and the thumb strike sounded like a drum beat. In those wretched times, a proficient player would pick a monotonous bass line which just happened to be at the same tempo as the human heart. This meant that the music would have an emotional appeal and didn't have to be thought about, or be musically complicated.

Another possibility relates to the labor that the slaves were forced to do. Many kinds of hard labor implied rhythmic repeated actions, like scything down hay, turning the earth with a hoe, striking with an axe or easing over steel train rail. One can see examples of the latter in old film archives, when a group of men with long pinch bars sing a rhythmic work song and synchronize their movements in such a way that the heavy steel rail is nudged over a fraction of an inch at the finish of every line or chorus. Often the work song or field holler was split into a request and a response performed by several groups in the work party. This interaction of
call and response was used in subsequent blues songs when performed by a duo, and was also very common in gospel music.

Although modern music has evolved with complex structures and danceable variations, the fundamental rhythms are still detected - the basic guitar boogie is obvious in a
huge number of rock songs over the past 60 years. The more complicated sound of ragtime blues guitar was the foundation of early jazz.

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