“Lingua Franca ~ ˌliNGɡwə ˈfraNGkə/ ~ a language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different.”
That’s what you get, as a musician, when you know how to play the Blues. Even without speaking, you can launch into a Blues progression and musicians all over the world know how to join in.
When I had the chance to play duets with cartoonist Gary Larsen, we started out with Blues – because it’s something we both knew we would know. When I need to ‘play out’ the end of the TV or radio interview, I often turn to the Blues.
It’s an unexpected sound on the harp, and can be surprisingly easy to play on this instrument once you know the basic rules – and once you do, it opens up a whole new world of improvisation and ensemble playing. That’s why I give a 6-Week “Blues HarpStyle” course every year at HipHarpAcademy.com — a course that teaches harpists the basic game of the Blues – and how to take it as far as they want.
If you play the harp, join HipHarpAcademy.com now and jump into the Blues HarpStyle program with more than 100 other harp players of all levels from around the world. It’s incredibly fun to learn with other people who play the same instrument as you, musicians willing to ask the questions you think you shouldn’t ask yourself, colleagues who cheer you on when doubt yourself. And I’m there leading the class, and answering questions.
So what IS the Blues???
It depends on who you are how you see the Blues. If you’re purely a listener, or someone who’s drawn to style, it’s a genre of music.
But if you’re a composer – like I am – or an instrumentalist whose training is primarily classical — or anyone who wants to PLAY the Blues – it’s a specific 12-Bar harmonic progression with a range of characteristics that include the swing rhythm (a way of ‘skipping’ the beat instead of ‘walking’ it), bent notes and dominant 7th chords. And you don’t have to know what any of that means in order to start having fun playing the Blues.