Boogie-Woogie Riffs & Licks
Welcome to lesson 5 in this course on boogie-woogie piano. In the previous lessons, we have explored the history, style, basslines, voicings, rhythms, & turnarounds.
In this lesson, we will examine the right-hand riffs and licks that make the boogie-woogie style so infectious.
Boogie-Woogie Scales & Improvisation
Besides the standard major and minor scales, there are two scales that are more common to playing blues and boogie-woogie; the blues scale and the pentatonic scale.
Within a particular boogie-woogie piano piece, you will find yourself using elements from both of these scales. Although in boogie-woogie, the pentatonic scale more is more widely used.
Using The ‘Blue Note’
If we take the basic major pentatonic scale, we have the following notes of the related major scale: 1-2-3-4-5-6
We can extend this basic major pentatonic scale to include the ‘blue notes’. The blue notes are minor 3rd, and the flat 5, and this give it that kind of hard, gritty, bluesy sound.
In boogie-woogie, the blue notes in the blues scale are used, but they are used more as chromatic passing tones when moving to primary chord tones which we aim for as ‘landing points’.
The Pentatonic Scale & The I6 Chord Voicing
You will notice that the major pentatonic scale contains the primary notes of the I6 chord voicing we have explored in previous lessons. This means that many of the same principles can be applied to right-hand licks.
In particular, we can utilise the chromatic element when we move the notes up or down a half step to achieve interesting tension and release.
Licks Using 3rd & 6th Intervals
In boogie-woogie music, the RH licks are often made up of 3rds and 6ths intervals moving chromatically up or down the keyboard. This is a characteristic sound of the music and one that you will hear in countless recordings.
Boogie-Woogie Slurs & Slide-Offs
One stylistic device that gets used a lot is a quick slur through a number of notes, often outlining the shape of an arpeggio. We already explored this concept in the turnarounds examples in the previous lesson. We will now look at more specific examples and demonstrations.
The slide-off is a similar concept to the slur, and the demonstrations in this lesson will help you to understand this concept and its use in boogie-woogie music.
Trills get used all over the place in boogie-woogie music. They can be used in intros like in the intro to Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie. They also get used very often within the verses, like in the verse from The “Boogie-Woogie Prayer” that will will arrange later in this course.
Boogie Woogie Riffs & Licks File Type: pdf