Welcome to Blues Rhythms 101.

The purpose of this TrueFire Lesson Plan is to teach the basics of playing
backup guitar over standard blues progressions. Blues Rhythms 101 offers the lowdown on shuffles, bass
patterns and the chords that are typically used in blues songs. At the end of this lesson plan, you will be able to
play a steady accompaniment in a 12-bar blues with several different feels. You will also understand the basic
theory behind what makes the blues sound like the blues.

Required Experience: You should be able to tune your guitar, know some open position and barre chords and
feel comfortable strumming basic patterns.

Companion Lesson Plans: Blues Solos 101

Practice Regimen: This lesson plan is optimized for a practice regimen equal to a minimum of 1 hour a day, 5 days a week,
for 10 weeks.

Lesson Plan Material: Material is packaged in weekly installments and may include video lessons, text, standard notation,
tab, practice rhythm tracks and Power Tab files when and if applicable.

TrueFire Lesson Player: You'll work with the material using TrueFire's TV’s video lesson player. Please familiarize yourself
with all of the controls and functions especially; full screen, looping, rewind, forward, playlist and keyboard controls. Please
also note the buttons for Chart (a PDF file), J AM (practice rhythm tracks) and P-Tab (Power Tab files – see below!).

System Requirements: TrueFire TV and the Video Lesson Player are Windows and Mac compatible. Please upgrade to the
latest version of Flash for optimal video! You'll also need a PDF reader and Power Tab installed on your computer (Windows

Power Tab & Guitar Pro: These two programs allow you to "see" and "hear" the tab and notation played out, at any tempo,
without a change in pitch. This is an extraordinary learning tool as you will be required to slow examples down so that you can
practice them at a comfortable tempo. We produce and include Power Tab material with our lessons because the software is
very good, relatively easy to work with and distributed free. Mac users (and anyone who prefers to work with Guitar Pro 5.1 or
higher) can simply save the Power Tab files to their desktop and import the file into Guitar Pro.
Week one of Blues Rhythms 101 begins with plenty of theory, but bear with us. Luckily, the amount
of theory needed to play blues is manageable. Matthieu Brandt takes us through these basic elements
using material pulled from his J ump Blues TrueFire course.

Note: If you have difficulty playing along with the video performance or jam track, try using Power
Tab to slow the progression down to a comfortable tempo.

Section 1: Before beginning to build some serious blues rhythm chops, let’s first take a look at the musical elements that make
blues sound like the blues.

What we nowadays distinguish as being “blues” consists of a number of musical elements, many of which you will already
know. Let’s start by taking a look at basic blues structure. We recognize a blues tune through one or more of the following

1) A 12-bar progression
2) A specific chord structure
3) The use of dominant 7th chords
4) The use of minor pentatonic scales
5) Interspersing “blue” notes within the above scale
6) Shuffle feels
7) Call-and-response motifs

While this may seem a little overwhelming, we can easily break these elements down further. Let’s see what this all means.
1) A “progression” is nothing more than a list of chords played from beginning to end. Each chord is played for a specified
number of beats, typically four. Four beats equals one measure within a 4/4 time signature, also called a “bar.” Therefore, a 12-
bar progression repeats four beats 12 times. In a blues format, this 12-bar segment is then repeated throughout the tune.
2) Most blues songs utilize only three chords, played in a certain order. As you will soon see, this is something you most likely
understand already, even if you don’t realize it. If the first chord of a blues progression is an E, the other two are A and B. If
the first one is an A, the other two are D and E. This is due to their numeric relationship – the distance between these chords is
always the same. We’ll discuss this relationship in greater detail later on.
3) Generally, dominant 7th chords are used in blues progressions. This means playing an E7 rather than a standard E, so a blues
in E would use the following chords: E7, A7 and B7. These 7th chords create tension through their unresolved sound.
4) When singing a melody or playing a solo, we use scales, which are nothing more than a succession of notes in a specific
order. The most common scale is the major scale and it contains seven notes. The major scale is inherently happy sounding.
The blues typically has a sadder sound due to the use of the minor pentatonic scale. The pentatonic uses five steps as opposed
to seven for the major scale. Penta is the Greek word for five, so pentatonic means five steps between tonics, or an octave.
5) Notes can also be added to these five steps to add even more of a bluesy feel. These notes are appropriately called “blue”
6) Most blues are played with a shuffle. This is a rhythmic feel explained in the next section.
7) Call-and-response is one of the more popular motifs within a blues format. It consists of one melodic element – the call –
answered by another – the response. These calls and responses are typically played between two different instruments, or by a
guitar responding to a vocalists call.

With the above information in mind, we can make the following observations about blues music:
1) The blues relies on major chords, but incorporates minor scales.
2) Scales typically use seven steps – or notes – between octaves, but the blues uses five.
3) Dominant 7th chords are the norm.
In folk music, 7th chords typically resolve quickly and are used briefly to signal a chord change because of the tension they
introduce. In the blues, they are relied on heavily. When a dominant 7th chord resolves in the blues, it tends to resolve to
another dominant 7th chord, creating even more tension.

Another form of tension in the blues is created through the use of “blue” notes, or notes technically outside of the key, created
by using a minor scale over a major chord progression. Because the blues is so ingrained in modern pop and rock music, our
ears have become accustomed to this tension. The more the minor pentatonic scale is accentuated, the more “down home” the
tune sounds – think Delta blues.

Taken together, all of these aspects create a lot of tension and release, a hallmark of the blues.
Section 2: Here Matt digs into the easiest way of accompanying in a blues progression: playing the same thing as the bass
player. Depending on the feel, the chord progression and the tempo, the bass player will play specific patterns. By copying this
bass part exactly, you lay down a solid backup for a vocalist or a solo.
The chord progression from the video is a standard 12-bar blues in the key of G:
G7 G7 G7 G7
C7 C7 G7 G7
D7 C7 G7 D7

The way that these chords relate to each other is typically the same in a blues progression. The root of the chord (also called the
tonic) can be found on the third fret of the sixth string; the chord is a G7 so its tonic is G.

Locating the other two tonics in this blues is easy: move down one string while remaining at the third fret – you’re fretting a C,
the root for the C7. Now, move two frets up the neck, staying on the fifth string. You are now fretting a D note, the tonic of the

This way of locating the chord tonics in a blues progression is always the same: locate the tonic of the first chord on the sixth
string, then you can find the other two tonics in the manner described above. The bass lines available in a blues format come
from two different scales – the blues scale and the Mixolydian scale. Both will be explained later in greater detail. For now,
play the bass lines as written in the chart.

Practice Regimen For Week 1
Day 1: The jam track to this lesson is a medium tempo shuffle blues in the key of G: G7, C7 and D7. Go over it several times,
listening for where the chords change. Also, listen for when the progression is repeated.

This week’s lesson is a shuffle. Tap your foot through the tune while listening, then try to clap your hands on every note the
bass plays. The rhythm you are clapping in verses two, three and four should give you a better understanding of a shuffle feel.
Once this part of the exercise feels comfortable, sing the bass part. It may not be easy, but we are laying the foundation for
your rhythm playing.

Also, not all blues tunes have a shuffle feel. Listen to a B.B. King CD, then try to distinguish between the different feels. Tap
your foot along with the songs; do any of them have the same groove as our example this week? We look more closely into
how to recognize different feels later on. For now, let your ears do the talking.

Day 2: Listen to the jam track again and try to strum the chords of the progression on the first beat of every bar – ONE-two-
three-four, TWO-two-three-four. Once that is together, come up with your own rhythm pattern. Strum the chords up and down
and be aware of the chord changes. If the changes are coming at you too quickly, leave some space at the end of the bar – quit
strumming and let the chord ring out.

Day 3: - Look over the bass patterns in video two. Watch the different fingerings carefully – they are played very economically
on the video. Begin looking at the fingerboard and what is being played in terms of “patterns.” Play these patterns slowly at
first without the jam track. If you have a metronome, set it to 60 beats per minute and play one of the patterns. Tap your foot on
every beat.

Day 4: Play the jam track and select one bass pattern to play throughout the track even though it may not fit in completely with
what you hear in the background. This will help develop steadiness. Repeat this exercise with all four patterns to become
familiarized with their fingerings.

Day 5: Listen to a blues CD from a favorite guitarist. Focus on the lines the bassist plays. Next, take one of the songs and try to
locate the key of the song; which note is the tonic? Search for it by playing notes on the sixth string until one feels like “home.”
Typically, the first and last note the bass player plays are the tonic. Finding that note can be a bit of a challenge; this exercise
will help train your ears to eventually make this task easier.

Once you have the three tonics located, copy the bass lines from video two of this lesson and play them as a backup to the
song. If you have difficulty finding the key of the song, don’t worry. It takes time to train your ear.
For week two of Blues Rhythm 101 we’ll get into some standard blues rhythms played using intervals
– two notes played at the same time. Instead of just copying the bass, we will play our own part on
top of the bass lines. We will also take a look at two different blues feels – shuffle and straight
Section 1: Dave Rubin is our guide as he takes us through one of the most common blues
progression: a blues in E. This video segment is from his Big Book of Blues TrueFire course.

Here is the chord progression:
E7 A7 E7 E7
A7 A7 E7 E7
B7 A7 E7 B7

Over the E chord, Dave plays an open string together with a fretted note, forming an interval. The note is located on the fifth
string. In fact, over each E7 chord he plays two different notes on the fifth string, alternating between the second and fourth
frets. Each note is played twice ina shuffle feel. The same groove is then played over the A7, located one string down using the
open A string.

Dave is playing what is called a “quick change;” the second bar – or group of four beats – does not remain on the E7 chord, but
changes to an A7. Bars three and four go back to the E7 chord again. For the B7 chord we have a problem, Houston; there is no
open B string that can function as a bass note. The open B we have is too high. This means we have to move up the neck to be
able to play a low enough B note. You can do this by playing the sixth string at the seventh fret with your index finger. The
interval pattern on the string below is now played on the ninth and 11th fret. Refer to the video for the exact fingering. If this is
too difficult right now, substitute a B7 chord in the progression.

The A7 chord that’s being played right after the B7 can be played in two different ways, either like the B7 groove up the neck,
with your index on the fifth fret of the sixth string and the bass line on the fifth string or exactly like before, using the open

In the final two measures, Dave plays what is called a “turnaround” or a short sequence of notes – a riff – that is played at the
end of a blues progression to musically return to the beginning. After the turnaround, the entire progression is repeated.

Section2: Brad Carlton shares a segment of his Bluesology course which covers different rhythmic aspects of playing the

The stretching bass progression Dave Rubin uses in the previous section is used here as a basis. The tonic is now on the A note
at the fifth fret of the sixth string.

Try to play these stretches using the same fingering as Brad. This might feel uncomfortable starting out because of the five fret
span. Keep your thumb behind the neck and position it a bit to the right of your index finger. This way, you can support your
fingers and put some pressure on the strings. The chords Brad chooses for the second part of the video are jazzed-up – a G13
and a C9. Learn these fingerings if you like the way they sound.
Practice Regimen For Week 2
Day 1: Take some time to review the bass patterns played in video two of week one. These patterns can also be played on the
blues progression of this week. The tonic of the E7 chord can be found at the 12th fret of the sixth string. The tonic of the A7 is
on the same fret one string lower and the B7 tonic can be found two frets up from the A. Although this is an awkward position
to play bass lines, it demonstrates that the patterns can be played on many spots of the fingerboard. Once you take a chord out
of open position and play it only with “closed” or fretted notes, you can move the chords to any position.There is also an E
located on the seventh fret of the fifth string – see if you can find a similar pattern here.
Day 2: Work through video one’s groove from this week’s lesson, then play it slowly. Follow the chord progression as listed
above and incorporate the same fingerings Dave uses. If you have trouble playing the B7 groove up the neck, replace it by
strumming a B7 chord.
Day 3: Study video two of this week’s lesson and take note of the two different feels played here – straight eighths and a
shuffle. Listen to some various blues tunes and try to distinguish if they have a shuffle feel or a straight eighths feel. Next, play
the shuffle feel with the stretched fingering Brad uses, tapping your foot for rhythm.
If you can, count out loud while you play. The shuffle feel is based on triplets, which you might sing like this: 1 trip-let 2 trip-
let 3 trip-let 4 trip-let, 1 ….
The guitar part you play in a shuffle has that feel, but with silent “trip”s: 1 -let 2 -let 3 -let 4 let, 1 -let 2 -let 3 -let 4…
Day 4: Today, play the bass patterns from week one with a straight eighths feel.
Day 5: Repeat day five’s exercise from week one. Then, if you’ve sussed out a song in the key of E, try playing the
accompaniment from section one on top of it.
This lesson covers some very important concepts which will be useful when approaching all of the
material in this series as well as when playing the blues in a live situation. Here, we discuss bass
lines, guide tones, fifth and sixth string roots and locations of chord’s tonics. We’ve covered having
the tonic of the first chord on the sixth string. Brad demonstrates how to also play the tonic on the
fifth string and locating the tonics of the two other chords on the sixth string. These three chords of a
blues are often referred to using roman numerals based on their distance using scale tones from the
key center of the song.

In a G blues, the chords are:
G7 G7 G7 G7
C7 C7 G7 G7
D7 C7 G7 D7

Here, the I chord is G7, the IV chord is C7 and the V chord is D7. These number come from walking up a G major scale,
assigning the numeral I to the G.
G = I
A = II
D = IV
E = V
F?= VI
Here is an E blues progression:
E7 E7 E7 E7
A7 A7 E7 E7
B7 A7 E7 B7

Using the example in G from above, the E7 is the I chord, making the A7 the IV chord and B7 the V – E, F?, G?, A, B, C?, D?.
Brad also discusses the concept of guide tones – the major 3rd and the b7th of a dominant 7 chord. These are the most
important notes in these chords after the tonic. When playing backup in a band situation, you’ll need to be able to play these
guide tones on top of a tonic or over a bass line. The two shapes shown here are the basic positions to play the guide tones. The
first is derived from an A7 barre chord with the two guide tones – the tritone interval – on the third and fourth strings. The
major 3rd of the A7 chord is on the sixth fret of the third string. The b7th is located on the fourth string at the fifth fret.

The second example is derived from a D7 chord, where the two guide tones are on the same set of strings. The b7 of the chord
is now on the third string at the fifth fret while the major 3rd is on the third string at the fourth fret. Major 3rd and b7 both refer
to the distance these notes have from the tonic. A major 3rd is four frets up from the tonic (a B note with a G tonic). A b7 is ten
frets up from the tonic – an F in the key of G.

Section 2: Video two this week is taken from the J ump Blues TrueFire course and takes Brad’s approach of playing tritones a
step further. We’re moving to the key of G with G7 being the I chord, C7 the IV chord and D7 the V.

An accompaniment comprised entirely of tritones is one of the most effective backups in blues; the rhythm and harmony of the
chords is clearly stated while leaving plenty of space for the bass and from the upper range, occupied by the vocals and solo
instruments. The second part of the video incorporates the tritone intervals on top of a bass line.

Practice Regimen For Week 3
Day 1: Play Dave Rubin’s groove in E from week three’s lesson slowly, then gradually increase the speed. Be mindful of your
location within the progression. Repeat the same groove, but this time use G as your tonic at the third fret, sixth string. This
position includes some healthy finger stretches – be sure to rest your left hand between the beats. Relaxing your hand also
dampens the strings, which is needed to make the groove work – a win-win situation.
Day 2: Watch video one from this week’s lesson a few times. There is a lot of theoretical information in this segment; allow it
to soak in. Next, try to find all of the tonics of a blues progression in a particular key. For instance, if the key is D and the tonic
is on the fifth string, where would the IV and V tonics reside? Is there more than one position where these tonics can be
Day 3: Watch Matt’s video on tritones and study the examples. Play them at a slow pace without the backing track.
Day 4: Today, play the tritone examples from video two with the backing track. Echo Matt’s fingering choices from the video.
Day 5: Repeat the exercise from day five of week one – find a song you like and establish the tonic. Once you’re sure you have
it, find the tonics of the IV and V chords and play the stretched fingers groove. Next, find the guide tones of the chords that are
used and play these on over the entire tune.
Week four is all about rhythms, and covers a lot of ground: straight eighths, boogies, four to a bar
(Freddie Green-style), “long style,” 12/8ths and comp style. Brad Carlton introduces some variations
to these grooves, all taken from his extensive Bluesology course from TrueFire. Each of these
different feels is perfectly at home on top of a blues progression, creating countless variations of this
seemingly simple style.

Section 1: In this video, Brad demonstrates the different types of backup styles in a blues setting.
Watch the video closely and try to play along with each of these grooves.

Section 2: We’re building a groove within a progression from the ground up. Each time you’re playing a blues you need to
locate the tonics of the chords, choose a feel or groove and select the chords/chord forms you intend to play – the intervals.
At a jam session, you typically only have a few seconds to do this, just before the song starts – you need to get these principles
under your belt. Brad also discusses playing boogie-woogie patterns, three note chords and guide tones.

Practice Regimen For Week 4
Day 1: Review the principles from week three and play the accompaniment patterns (both the tritone and bass lines) on top of
the jam track of this week’s lesson. You’ll notice that the key is now A. Find the bass notes for the IV and V chord using the
technique covered in week three.

Day 2: Watch video one in its entirety. Then, watch it again and then stop the video at each different feel. Sit down with a
metronome and copy that feel using one chord. Finally, play your favorite blues CD, and listen to each song to establish which
of the feels is being used.

Day 3: Watch video one again. Stop the video after each feel and then play that feel throughout a complete 12-bar progression
using the I, IV, and V chords.

Day 4: Watch video segment two and check out how Brad constructs these blues grooves in A. Play these grooves slowly at
first. Once you have them down, play them along with the video.

Day 5: Repeat the exercise of day five of week one, like last week. This time around you have additional grooves at your
disposal. Fit them over the song. Most of the time there is more than one groove that fits. Which of these fit best?
Welcome to week five of Blues Rhythms 101. This week’s lesson shows how to play a “quick
change.” It also details how chords are built and how to name the different notes within a chord.
We’ll add some different functions to the chords and discuss the building blocks of dominant chords
– three note voicings. In the second video section taken from the J ump Blues course, Matt explains
why you should avoid barre chords in this style, which chords sound good here and how to play in a
“laid back” style.

Section 1: A quick change in a blues progression means that you move to the IV chord on the second measure of a 12-bar. So
instead of playing the first four bars of a blues in A like this:

A7 A7 A7 A7

You instead throw in the IV chord – D7 – in bar two, giving us:

A7 D7 A7 A7

This is done because playing 16 beats of A7 can get boring!

Brad also discusses mapping three note dominant chords on the fretboard. These need to be memorized in order to access them
quickly in a blues song. To do this effectively, you need to know the locations of the tonics of the chords on the both the fifth
and sixth strings. Additionally, be sure to check out all of the different rhythm grooves that are played on the video.

Section 2: Blues has many styles, jump blues being one of the more popular today. The shuffle feel played in this style is often
played in a laid back fashion. Matt describes which techniques you can use to get this chill groove together.

This laid back timing can be practiced by making big circles with the picking hand, keeping it parallel with the strings. Hit the
strings near the neck of the guitar with down strokes and play near the bridge when playing the up strokes. Once you get
comfortable with the feel, you can make the circles smaller. Make it sound like you're always just a smidge too late. Feel the
beat and experiment with your timing.

Damping is also an important part of jump blues rhythm. Because we don't usually play full barre chords, we can't dampen by
just lifting our left hand. For certain chords we'll dampen the open strings with the side of our fingers. Other times we'll have to
dampen with the right hand. Use your palm to stop the strings from ringing immediately after you play a stroke. Varying these
damping patterns will give you different feels. In swing and jump music, barre chords are avoided unless they serve a very
specific function. This is because barre chords tend to sound thick and cover a range usually covered by the bass as well as
other instruments. The thicker you play, the more you're in the way. Use a steady motion of down strokes on the beat and up
strokes in between to make it sound relaxed, almost lazy, with a swing feel.

In the example from the video, every chord on the one is preceded by a guiding chord one fret below. The 9th chords in the last
bar can also be played in a form that doesn't have the tonic on the bottom, but the 5th of the chord. Some swing players prefer
these forms, since there is a bass player playing the tonics. If your hands are big enough, try playing the tonic of the Bb9 chord
with your thumb.

Practice Regimen For Week 5
Day 1: Listen to the different grooves in the video segments from last week’s section one. Stop the segment at one of the
grooves and play it over the jam track of this week’s lesson. Experiment with the different grooves. Switch up between using
all down strokes and alternate picking.
Day 2: Watch video segment one from this week and watch the different fingerings Brad uses closely, then utilize these chord
shapes over your favorite blues song. Throw in the tritone accompaniment and bass lines from week three’s lesson.
Day 3: Watch video two and experiment with the shuffle groove by making large rotating movements with the right hand.
Mimic the right hand movement on the video and use the jam track to keep the groove steady. Incorporate the two different 9th
chord shapes – tonic on sixth string and tonic on the fifth. Notice how some shapes of the 9th chord have a tonic that is not
played – the bass player takes care of these.
Day 4: Play over the jam track, throwing all of the different techniques we’ve covered so far: bass lines, tritone interval, triads
and 9th chords. Then, experiment with the different grooves from week four.
Day 5: Repeat the exercises of day four, but today, focus on different ways of dampening the strings, such as lifting the fretting
fingers from the fretboard, placing the palm of your right hand on the strings near the bridge and playing the chords loudly with
a rotating movement and dampening them with your right hand on the up-stroke.
Week six takes a look at the use of 9th chords as well as other tips and tricks for adding interest and
movement to your grooves courtesy of “Slo Blues” from David Hamburger’s Blues Alchemy True
Fire course.

Video one from this week’s lesson features the performance of “Slo Blues” in the key of C. Be sure
to get a good look at David’s hands and fingerings of the 9th chords. Notice how he skips the tonic of
the C9th chord. David uses chromatic chord movements to move to a specific chord, often
approaching these target chords from one fret below or above, T-Bone Walker style!

This week’s chord progression is a bit different than we’ve seen so far:
C9 F9 C9 C9
F9 F9 C9 C9
G9 F9 C9 F9 C9 G9

Note: The above chart does not include chromatic chord movements – watch the video and experiment with different
approaches David uses to get a handle on the technique.

Section 1: David explains the example in video one. Notice his use of different rhythms to fill up the accompaniment. By
playing closer to the bridge, David demonstrates how make the chords ring cleanly, while picking nearer the neck produces a
warmer sound. He also shows us a chromatic approach to the turnaround at the end of the progression, moving from G9 to F?9
to F9.

Also, notice the way David integrates percussive effects by dampening the strings in between the chords. Another great effect
reminiscent of T-Bone Walker can be achieved by sounding the top tonic of the C9th chord with an upstroke. You need to use
your pinky for that. Check out the video to see how David makes this happen.

Practice Regimen For Week 6
Day 1: Listen to some blues CDs and try to distinguish which grooves are being used. Then, focus your attention on the bass
line. Next up, listen to some jump blues: T-Bone Walker, Duke Robillard, Little Charlie and the Nightcats, Rod Piazza and the
Mighty Fliers, etc. Spend this time gaining an understanding of that idioms laid-back feel.

Day 2: Watch videos one and two of David Hamburger’s “Slo Blues.” Notice how the I chord excludes the tonic from its
voicing, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook – you still need to know the location of the root at all times. Finally, play
along with the video and begin incorporating David’s chromatic moves.

Day 3: Listen to some slow blues; B.B. King is a great place to start. His “Sweet Little Angel” and “How Blue Can You Get”
are perfect examples of this style. Listen to the band’s rhythmic and dynamic variations.

Day 4: Incorporate all you’ve learned by playing backup on this week’s jam track. Experiment with different chromatic walk-
ups and walk-downs. Try connecting the chords in more than one way.

Day 5: Today, throw in all the different ways of accompanying – bass lines, tritones, triads and 9th chords. Use the jam track
and vary the backup as much as possible. Also, focus on dynamics – experiment on where to play softer and louder in the
Week seven of Blues Rhythms 101 looks at Chuck Berry and dissects his style of playing backup.
Brad Carlton duck-walks us through the Berry-inspired progressions and grooves. He addresses the
various positions on the fretboard where these licks reside and offers up the low down on some of
Berry’s turnarounds. These turnarounds can be played using different techniques; with a pick or by
using “hybrid picking.” Hybrid picking incorporates both the pick and fingers from the right hand.

Point your browser to http://www.chuckberry.com to learn more about the man.

Section 1: Video one features Brad’s performance using the “stretched fingering” accompaniment. Playing in the key of A, he
stretches from the sixth string, fifth fret (where his index finger is located) to the eighth fret of the fifth string, played with his
pinkie. At the end of the blues-based progression, he plays a turnaround on the low E string.

The progression incorporates a quick change as follows:
A7 D7 A7 A7
D7 D7 A7 D7
E7 D7 (A7 E7)

The turnaround Brad demonstrates is played over top of the last two bars of the progression, ending on an E note; the tonic of
the V chord. You may have previously experienced some difficulty when using these wide stretches on the low strings – Brad
shows us in detail tips to make it work.

Section 2: This video segment covers alternate positions for the Chuck Berry-boogie groove. By using the stretched fingering,
we can easily move up and down the neck to different keys. Brad plays different variations of the boogie pattern; some cycling
through one bar, some stretching across two or even four bars. The rhythm guitarist often gets called upon to also play the
turnaround. While signaling the beginning of the next chorus, some of these turnarounds can be very elaborate and complex.
Brad shows us a simple variation in the key of A.

Practice Regimen For Week 7
Day 1: Review the material from week six and play the backup of a slow blues in a few different keys. Do this without backing
track, keeping the groove nailed down on your own. Take care to follow the progression. If necessary, look at the chart while
you play. If you become lost, start over from the beginning. The blues progression needs to be ingrained into your playing.
Never lose sight of your location within the progression and when necessary, count out loud.

Day 2: Watch video one from this week’s lesson and pick up on all the variations Brad plays. If the six-fret stretch is too great,
stick to the grooves that utilize five-fret stretches. Play along with the video to get the correct timing of the turnaround.

Day 3: The trickiest parts of video two are the various turnarounds, particularly those that use hybrid picking. Watch this
segment several times then attempt one of these turnarounds slowly. Next, play a complete progression by yourself, adding the
turnaround at the end.

Day 4: Repeat day three’s exercises, this time using the backing track from this week. If the stretches or turnaround are too
difficult at this tempo, stop and play the progression slowly without the jam track until it is up to speed. Finish the day by
listening to some Chuck Berry – he played some great slow blues in addition to the up tempo stuff we all know.

Day 5: Find an example of a slow blues in the key of A – “Hoochie Coochie Man” by Muddy Waters is a great one, as is
“Love in Vain” by either Robert J ohnson or The Rolling Stones. Use all the tricks – including the turnarounds – you’ve learned
in this lesson as a backup on these tunes. Be sure to listen to what the guitar player is doing on these recordings as well.
For week eight of Blues Rhythms 101, we switch to a more rocking groove with material hand-
picked from J oe Deloro’s Blues Rock Road Trip TrueFire course.

Being able to play backup in different styles is a must in order to survive the sometimes brutal pace at
jam sessions. In this situation, chord progressions aren’t typically limited to a 12-bar format and the
feel is often in a more choppy, rock n’ roll style.

J oe explains dominant 7th chords and how to use the individual chord notes in backing riffs. He also explains how to
incorporate a “pickup,” a note or chord that precedes the change. He introduces the b3rd as a passing tone into backing riffs as
a variation to give them a bluesier feel. He also demonstrates the use of pedal tones.

Section 1: J oe plays the basic groove in the key of E, but he doesn’t start on the E like we’ve done in all the other progressions.
He starts on the IV chord, an A7 here, a trick often used in rock n’ roll. The riff is basically a bass line played beneath
dominant 7th chords.

The first riff is based on an A7, using notes from the chord. An A7 contains A, C?, E and G. All of these notes are used in an
alternating picking style, including the open A. Take note J oe’s use of slides to get from the b3rd to the major 3rd of the chord.

Section 2: The second video of this week’s lesson contains some variations on the original groove. A pickup note is used to
drive the groove forward, which is another common rock n’ roll technique. J oe also shows us how to produce a snappier sound
by playing all down strokes.

Practice Regimen For Week 8
Day 1: Put some additional time into the stretching grooves from week seven’s lessons. It’s crucial that this groove is workable
in all of the different keys. Practice slowly and take a break if your hand becomes sore.

Day 2: Review video one from this week’s lesson. Play the groove slowly at first and incorporate the b3rd to major 3rd move.
When you have the riff down, play it at full speed with the backing track.

Day 3: Watch video two of J oe Deloro’s lesson. Take note on the different variations he uses and incorporate them into the
bass riffs – do this slowly and without the jam track. There are many variations available; a good backup player can switch
from one to the next seamlessly.

Day 4: Listen to some old rock n’ roll (Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly or Carl Perkins) and focus on the guitarist’s rhythm
work. In this style, the solo is typically very short – two to four measures is not uncommon – but the way these guys played
backup was almost like they were soloing all night. Strive to keep the groove together while varying the riffs.

Day 5: Experiment with different ways of dampening the strings. Next, play “staccato” – keeping the notes short and snappy.
Follow this with some “legato” phrases, where each note receives full measure and flows and sustains. Finally, mix them up
and work at gluing the different techniques together, following a smooth, flowing phrase with a lyrical, almost abrupt passage
while keeping the transition between the two as unnoticeable as possible.
Welcome to week nine of Blues Rhythms 101, featuring some down home blues stylings and early
blues-rock reminiscent of J ohn Mayall and Eric Clapton courtesy of Brad Carlton’s Blue’s Grooves
course. We also look into some bass line playing, using the minor pentatonic scale and incorporating
a funky feel.

In the “Down Home” segment, the tight rhythm section meshes to reinforce the Motown philosophy
of “groove is everything.” The rhythm structure allows plenty of space for the soloist to improvise
and lends itself nicely to the punctuated fills by the rhythm guitar player.

Week nine also covers the guitar doubling the bass pattern in the classic style of the early-sixties blues players. The tune here
showcases the influence blues had on rock-and-roll. The tone and feel of this rhythm is reminiscent of the pick-up of Led
Zeppelin’s Black Dog. It’s no secret that Zep guitarist J immy Page’s soloing style was very influenced by the blues.
Visit Pagey at http://www.jimmypageonline.com

Section 1: The first video covers the basic groove as well as laying out the bass line groove. The notes are all from the minor
pentatonic scale of each chord. The progression is a regular I–IV–V blues in C, foregoing both the quick change and the V
chord at the turnaround:

C7 C7 C7 C7
F7 F7 C7 C7
G7 F7 C7 C7

The minor pentatonic scale is the basis for blues soloing and can also be used for base lines, as we’ve seen in video two of
Blues Rhythms 101’s week four. The C minor pentatonic scale contains the following notes: C, Eb, F, G, Bb. These five notes
impart an edgy, minor sound with some tension when used in a riff. Each of the above chords has an associated minor
pentatonic scale that can be used to create a riff or bass line.

This example has a funky, sixteenth feel, which means that every beat is divided into four parts. The video demonstrates the
voicings of the chords that fit this groove. The more open sounding voicings often leave out the 3rd of the chord, which is the E
in a C7. These open sounding chords can be played as a second guitar part or added to the original base line groove.

Section 2: This is a classic groove where the guitar doubles the bass. The chord progression is in G and the lick targets the root
of each chord using a chromatic line. This line fits over a blues-rock tune using major chords or dominant chords, but it will
also work in a minor progression a la “Pretty Woman” by Albert King. Brad Carlton discusses ways to give these riffs more
sass by adding notes from the G minor pentatonic scale and using vibrato and double stops.

The G minor pentatonic scale consist of the notes G, Bb, C, D and F. You can also add the Db (also named a C?) to make it a G
blues scale.

Practice Regimen For Week 9
Day 1: Put on an Elvis CD, or something by any of the other great fifties rock n’ roll bands – Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran
to name just a few. Eighties revivalists like the Stray Cats or Robert Gordon will work, too. Play over your selected track and
see if you can incorporate the riffs from week eight while keeping them steady throughout the song. A lot of rock n’ roll songs
are in E or A, so the riffs from J oe Deloro’s course should fit like a glove.

Day 2: Watch video one and play the bass line riffs slowly, preferably with a metronome. Stamp your foot on every beat to be
at one with the tempo while working toward a sixteenth feel. If you have any difficulty, slow it down and practice the sixteenth
feel by playing down, up, down, up on every single beat. Count out the following: ONE-two-three-four TWO-two-three-four
THREE-two-three-four FOUR-two-three-four, acknowledging that the capitalized numbers are the beats. Continue to
incorporate the alternate picking until you feel the funk. This technique can be used with both single note lines and chords.
Play over jam track of this segment once the riff is down solidly.

Day 3: Watch video two and carefully study the G blues scale Brad uses in this riff. Notice how every part of the riff targets
the root of the chord you’re moving to. The line’s strongest note is on the one of a new bar and this note is always the tonic of
the chord you are on.

Here is the chord progression:
The featured riffs all use anticipation: a large portion of the riff is played while you’re still over the preceding chord. Through
working towards the next chord, you can create tension because it can be a different chord than the one you are currently over.

For example, the riff in bar four is over a G chord, but uses the notes belonging to the C – the riff is working towards the C
chord in the next measure. The tension you create is released the moment you change to that chord. Also, note the chromatic
walkup in the riff; another great way to propel the tune forward. Utilize the jam track of this section once you feel you’ve got

Day 4: Practice both lines is several different keys. Use a metronome and tap your foot. If you’ve got both lines of videos one
and two steady, increase the tempo but keep it funky. Focus on your right hand technique, keeping the pick securely between
thumb and index finger while not using too much force, otherwise the notes will sound harsh and staccato. Experiment by
using less force and playing a little more legato – gluing the notes together and with less space in between them.

Day 5: Make you own funky lick using the principles of both video segments. Find a funky blues tune with the same type of
groove – two words: Albert King – and plant the riff on top of it. Also, the bass line of the particular song doesn’t have to be
the same as the riff you’re playing.
Welcome to the final week of Blues Rhythms 101, the TrueFire Lesson Plan designed to give you a
jump start in playing rhythm guitar in all kinds of blues grooves. Our last week focuses on a minor
blues groove which resembles Booker T and the MG’s “Green Onions” riff, incorporating the same
edgy feel as its inspiration. This lesson is pulled from TrueFire’s Blue Grooves course by Brad

Visit Booker T at http://www.bookert.com .

Section 1: Video one looks at the bass riff at the heart of this Em groove. Brad Carlton explains different rhythmic approaches
and the use of palm muting to vary the vibe of the riff.

Section 2: Video two plumps up the groove by adding power chords and offers a few tips on how to keep the groove open,
allowing space for the soloist or vocalist. One way this can be achieved is by punctuating the chords or playing the bare bones
of a chord, leaving select strings out of the equation. Mixing the different parts up is also encouraged; play the riff and add a

Practice Regimen For Week 10
Day 1: Review last week’s funky lesson and create your own bass line groove over each of the two jam tracks.

Day 2: Watch video one and play the riff over the three chords until it is solid. Experiment with different accents to change the
feel of the riff. Also play the riff using palm mutes. Next, play the riff over the jam track and closely copy Brad fingerings. The
less movement your hand makes, the more efficient you become and the better it sounds – plus, it will help with speed on down
the road.

Day 3: Check out the second video and study the different approaches Brad is using; play just the bass riff, punctuate some
chords and mix things up. Use the jam track and try a different approach each time through.

Day 4: Go back and review the first five lessons of Blues Rhythm 101. Do you feel solid in each of the different rhythmic
approaches? Take a random blues song and try to fit one of the grooves on over it. Be sure you are in the right key – you may
have to invest a little time finding it.

Day 5: Review the second half of Blues Rhythms 101. Can you come up with some variations of these grooves? The single
line grooves in the last three videos can easily be mixed around to create your own riffs. Throwing in chords is a bit more
difficult, but can definitely add spice to the accompaniments.

Conclusion: Congratulations! By completing Blues Rhythms 101, you now have a large stock of backup moves in many
different blues styles. Having these grooves in the pocket and the ability to play them in various keys means you’re ready for
the Monday night jam at the corner bar. Don’t be shy; get up on stage and play. Remember to always keep your ears open and
listen closely to what the bass player and drummer are doing.

When you’re not jamming, listen to what the other guitar slingers are playing and always watch their hands. There’s a lot to be
learned from just watching other players and listening to their approach. Watch and listen whenever you have the chance.

And when you’re ready for more, come back and check out Solid Blues Grooves, another Lesson Plan in the series from

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