VIDEO: A Study in Blues Piano – Lick #1: “Energy” | Blues Piano Tutorial

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Welcome to Lesson One of  ‘A Study in Blues Piano – Focusing on 12-Licks

Hello from Kent!

Welcome to the first lesson of my class, ‘A Study in Blues Piano-Focusing on 12 Licks!’

Lick Number One, which I’m calling “Energy,” uses the first five notes of the famous ‘Minor Blues Scale,’ with the right hand in a fixed position.

The powerful repeating triplet* aspects of this lick can be used with any 3-note pattern that comes from the ‘Minor Blues Scale.’ (The ‘Minor Blues Scale’ is reviewed in this lesson, not to worry!)  These simple, driving exclamations, potentially full of emotion, like a Blues singer’s emotion-repeating many times, very deliberately, and usually very fast-these can build a rising sense of excitement that your listeners really respond to (‘listeners’ includes when it’s just you, when I say that; myself, I always love to play solo piano – alone, with an undistracted mind –truly a piano solo, right?).

*Fear not, musical triplets are explained in this lesson too!

*All of the above is why I decided to call this one ‘Energy‘!

As with all videos in this collection, there are detailed instructions for transposing Lick #1 into the key of your choice–along with special fingering tips, for a couple of keys whose unique keyboard-hand shapes could use one or two simple adjustments, for easier play.

There’s also a very short, but still valuable example near the end, demonstrating Lick #1 in a ‘Minor Blues’ setting.  In ‘mainstream’ jazz and blues (aka ‘classic’), minor-key tunes are a little less common than their major key-based cousins, but there are still millions of great ones.

Since this ‘minor blues’ part of the video is very short, I thought I’d flesh things out here a bit, with just a few examples, regarding “minor blues” and “minor jazz.”

One famous example of a minor jazz and blues standard is Summertime, from the musical Porgy and Bess (music by George Gershwin), which has been covered, arranged, jammed upon, and recorded by many famous artists since the 1930’s, when it first hit Broadway.  (This is the tune that you hear very briefly in the video, as a lead-in.)

Another famous example of minor jazz/blues is the jazz standard ‘Autumn Leaves,‘ one of the most popular vehicles for jazz improvisation of all time. The G-minor Blues Scale, (which matches the same universal ‘Minor Blues Scale’ pattern that we use throughout this course), can and often does find a place in this tune, along with the Bb major and G-minor scales).

Last but not least, and back to Classic Blues: The entire first section of the original ‘St. Louis Blues,’ by none other than W.C. Handy–way, way back, in turn-of-the-century New Orleans, when jazz was literally just starting out–is in G Minor. This last one is an especially great example, because it drops right into traditional Blues in G (with G7, C7, D7 chords), in the very next section, which sounds very, very cool indeed!

Video lesson:


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