For this article a handful of ideas of what you can do to create a 12 bar blues.
Blues has been, throughout the years, a great vehicle to experiment with: You can change the feel of the idea, you can make changes to the melody you play, you can add any riffs you like to enhance the chords with. Best of all, a blues is easy to adapt to your own style of playing, that is one of the main reasons why blues has been so popular throughout the years.
To get started you need to set up a chord sequence which has the sound and feel of a blues. The most popular device is the 12 bar blues: You take any three chords and divide them across 12 bars. Not sure how to do this?
Okay here is an example in the key of C:
C C C C7
F F F F7
C C C C7
G7 F7 C G7
Have a listen to some popular blues songs to get an idea of how you can strum those chords. Experiment with different strums. An effective way to get the right feel is to use a shuffle, it is not the only possibility but it works well. Another way is to have a listen to some Rock ‘n’ Roll and try to strum the chords with an energetic 50s vibe.
Once your chord sequence starts to sound like a real blues you may want to add some more spice to those chords. One way to do this is to add some riffs in between the chords. Again, have a listen to some of your favourite blues players to see what kind of melodies and riffs they play and see if you can copy some of their ideas. Once you have a simple riff just put it in between those chords. The main thing is to keep the feel of your strums smooth while you add in those notes of the riff.
Being able to play melodic ideas in between your chords is a real challenge but it will help push your playing up to the next level. Just keep at it.
Over the next few weeks I will create more blogs with specific ideas for Ukulele.
Stay tuned and hope to catch you soon again.