Happy March Piano Peeps!
I have a remedy for your poor frozen fingers! Playing The Blues should give them a good thaw!
If you are a more experienced player, you might be curious about playing The Blues. One Blues style is Boogie-Woogie, and it is primarily a piano genre featuring a repeating percussive bass part. I wanted to give you a little lesson in Boogie-Woogie Blues because it sounds SO great. Though it’s difficult to learn, it is also a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. The structure is a 12 measure repeating pattern. Boogie is all about the bass, and I’ll show you that the way you play the bass eighth notes will determine whether it will sound like Rock and Roll, or a traditional Blues. You will notice this sign in the bass staff:
It simply means to repeat the (bass) notes from the previous measure.
NOTE: Less experienced piano players can play just the downbeats, which means beats 1, 2, 3 and 4. Leave off the upbeats, or the “ands” (the second eighth note of each eighth note couplet) for a simpler, but still Boogie Blues piano bass.
Here is the sheet music on my website:
⇧This sheet music will only be available for a year, until February 2024, so print today!⇧
When you play the Boogie left hand eighth notes evenly, it sounds like Rock and Roll; think Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry. Here is a demonstration of Blues #1 in a Roll and Roll style, first slowly, then faster.
Blues #1 in the Rock and Roll style
I’m going to play you Blues #1 again, this time in a “Swing” rhythm, in which the eighth notes are played long-short, long-short. All the eighth notes played ON the beat (beats 1, 2, 3, and 4 which are also called the downbeats) are long, and the second eighth note of each couplet (the “ands” which are also called the upbeats) are played short. This gives it the lazy, long-short sound we associate with traditional blues. Think Muddy Waters, Albert Ammons and Billie Holiday.
Blues #1 with a traditional Swing rhythm
Here is Blues #2 in a medium tempo with the even eighth notes Rock and Roll style.
Blues #2 in the Rock and Roll style
Now listen to Blues #2 with the traditional long-short Swing rhythm.
Blues #2 played with the traditional swing rhythm
Which style of The Blues do you prefer? The driving even eighth notes of Rock and Roll? Or the slow, lazy sound of traditional blues? Both feature a boogie-woogie bass, but the rhythm you choose changes the “feel” dramatically!
I hope you are staying warm and dry wherever you are. In just a few weeks it will be the SPRING EQUINOX, a time for restoring balance in our lives and at the piano. This is a great month to review my Dynamic Balance Exercises. Dynamic Balance is the ability to play one hand softer or louder than the other. This exercise is also a skill for more experienced piano players.
Beginners: did you know that I am offering free video piano lessons to take you through Upper Hands Piano BOOK 1, on the Sixty and Me community platform? So far I have posted my Introduction and Lessons 1, 2, 3 and 4. To get started, visit the FREE LESSONS tab on my website, then subscribe to Sixty and Me to continue getting my lesson posts. These lessons are created especially for Adults over 50. You can join any time and go at your own pace. I hope you enjoy!
Stay warm and cozy, and start learning The Blues this month! Most everyone loves listening to The Blues – it is such an elemental African-American music form. I have many more Blues pages to offer you in the future (always free), so get started!
With love and music, Gaili