The Nuances of the Blues Style



WHAT IS FEEL?When you hear a player refer to someone who plays with "a lot of feel," technically what they're telling you is that there are many subtleties, or nuances in their playing that make what they play sound very expressive. You would contrast that to someone who plays very mechanically, i.e., whack out the notes with no concept of feeling.

If you're going to satisfy the blues lover with your playing, you have to play with feeling. So, if you're having trouble convincing people that you're a blues player, you're probably concentrating on the notes rather than how you're playing them.WHAT IS A PRE-STRETCH?Lick 1 and 4 of this lesson call for you to execute what we refer to as a pre-stretch. The notation symbol used for a pre-stretch is a straight, upward arrow directly above the note you should pre-stretch. A pre-stretch can almost be thought of as a reverse-order stretch. You execute a normal string stretch by plucking the string followed by a stretch. The pre-stretch is executed by stretching the string prior to plucking the note and then releasing the stretch to the note indicated in the TAB/Notation. Refer to the example below.

How far you stretch the string is determined by the indicator to the right of the arrow. In the first example you should pre-stretch the string to sound the same pitch as the "Eb" note which is one fret (1/2-step) higher than the "D" note (3rd string 7th fret.) In the second example the pre-stretch is a full step (2 frets higher) above the "D" note. THE TRICKY PART...When you do a normal stretch, you have the benefit of hearing the note as it stretches to the appropriate pitch. In other-words, you know when to stop stretching because you can listen and tell when the note has been stretched to the right pitch. A pre-stretch doesn't allow that convenience. You have to practice the pre-stretch until you have a good "feel" for where the stretch should start depending on whether or not it is a 1/2 or full step stretch.

One redeeming thing about this is the fact that most of the time the pitch is not as critical as a normal stretch because the stretched note normally resolves pretty quickly to the unstretched position. However, you should practice doing pre-stretches and see how close you can come to having the string stretched to the right pitch before you pluck it.WATCH THE VIDEOThis lesson is all about learning the nuances of playing and injecting your playing with more feeling. One of the best ways to discover how to do very subtle things that add color and feeling to your playing is to watch a player that knows how to do this. We've provided video examples of the 4 licks in this lesson. If you don't already have it, you should download the most recent version of the Quicktime Player and watch these videos. Click the HANDS button in the main tutorial window and you'll see a list of the 4 videos. When you click one of those links you'll be prompted to download the newest version if it's not currently on your computer.

Be sure to jump at the opportunity to watch good blues players whenever you can. You'll be amazed at the subtle things you'll pick up by studying them. Don't just watch them for their entertainment value, really study their playing.


No audio files available for this lesson.