Chicago Blues Licks & Riffs
Welcome to this lesson on Chicago blues licks and riffs. This lesson will inspire you to build your own vocabulary that you can use to improvise when playing the 12 bar blues.
Hammered 8th notes
Perhaps the most used and common lick in the Chicago Blues style is the hammered 8th note. We can play this lick with either the 5th and the root, or the b7th and the root also works well.
This lick has an interesting rhythmic placement against the left hand. Our right hand is playing full triplets against the bass line where we omit the middle note of the triplet.
Easy Blues Licks
In the lesson on comping, we explored inner harmonic movement outlining the I and IV chords over static harmony.
This basic concept can be used to create some groovy right hand licks. We can incorporate the b7th to get some more interesting sounds and patterns.
Rolls, Slurs, & Slides
Many blues licks involve a lot of rolling, where we play a series of notes in quick succession.
Sliding off the individual b3 and b5 is also an effective device to add some crunch and dissonance to our right hand licks. This imitates the slurring that is commonly heard in vocals.
3rds & 6ths For A Bigger Sound
The 3rd and the 6th interval are very useful to create a bigger and fatter sound for any right hand lick.
Steve demonstrates this concept with chromatic movement and how effectibve this can be over the 12 bar blues.
All notation examples can be found in the sheet music download below.
Licks & Riffs Lesson Notation File Type: pdf
Blues is largely about improvisation and it’s essential to listen and learn from the masters.
Blues is about playing your own feelings, expressing your own life.
The riffs and licks you learn from listening to recordings and going to live shows are building blocks.
This gives you vocabulary, like learning new words that you can then use to express your own ideas.
This lesson will inspire you to build your own blues vocabulary that you can use to improvise and play your own way.