What do you think ‘the Blues’ is?
It’s a style of music, for sure. You could even call it a mode of expression.
I was always drawn to music that sounded ‘Bluesy,’ but I didn’t know what ‘the BLUES’ was ‘til I started playing the harp and hanging out with bass players and guitarists.
That’s when I learned that the power of Blues comes from the simplicity of the underlying form: a repeating pattern of 12 measures with a predictable – but infinitely variable – chord sequence.
I play Blues in every show I do – whether it’s on a solo stage or with symphony orchestra, like my next concert April 22 with Symphony Tacoma. In fact not only will I play Blues with the symphony, I’ll have a dozen harp players on stage with me playing Blues at one point!
So what IS the Blues???
It’s like Sentence Structure
When I say the Blues is ‘simple,’ I mean it in the way that sentence structure is simple: someone can explain the structure in about 10 seconds. Subject, verb, object: Dog bites Man. I like coffee.
Once you know it, you can spend a lifetime exploring and expressing yourself with it, no limits to the depth, beauty or nuance of expression that simple form offers. You don’t have to do it ‘correctly’ to express yourself.
A professional grammarian would probably even tell me I have that structure wrong, or explain why it’s not as simple as that – but the fact is: that works for me and I can express myself without limit knowing only that about how sentence structure works. The rest is experiential.
You don’t even have to know that much about how it works if you’re able to internalize it. You just use it. The more you use it, the richer it gets.
Blues is like that.
You get the basics. You play it, and play it, and play it – and it starts to open up the world to you – both the world inside you and outside.
You find you can just sit down and play – anywhere, anytime – without having to carry around a notebook full of music to sit and read from. You start playing about things in your life, in your mind, in your heart. You discover you can play with others – just by saying “Let’s play a Blues in D.” You notice there are things you want to say with the music. You learn you can play Blues with your FAMILY and friends … even if they haven’t studied music. You realize you can just point out the notes they can play and when — and suddenly, you’re playing music together.
Because Blues is a language. And anyone can learn it.
So let’s get started!
If you play the harp, I have two free training you can sign up for now!
Sign up for either or both of these FREE Blues trainings to start – or enhance – your blues journey.
1. “BLUES-HARP RIFF-of-the-DAY” Micro-Training join this for FREE for 6 days of mini-riffs you can start playing right away with the MP3 that’s included in the micro-course.
2. BLUES for MEDITATION is an experiential playalong webinar where you and your instrument do a guided meditation while playing to internalize Blues structure, for freedom of expression. Registration includes a replay so sign up even if it’s already over and you’ll get the link.
What if you don’t play harp???
You are more than welcome to join me in either of these if you don’t play harp. I’ve done most of my own Blues training in classes for other instruments (not harp), and it’s FUN to try to figure out how to make that kind of thing work on your own instrument.
Do you play an instrument that’s not the harp? Have you studied Blues on line? Share that below in the comments — and then the next time you meet a harp player say “Hey, wanna play a Blues in D?” (it’s a good key for us) – and then start a musical conversation about life, love, music – and the Blues.
Harp Players! Get Creative.
Free Creativity Training
from Deborah Henson-Conant
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Deborah Henson-Conant's "Hip Harp Academy" online learning community is open for self-paced learning yearlong. DHC personal guides each class in the Academy once a year. Access to each guided class is limited to students who register before the 2nd week of class. Registration for the Fall Guided course, "HIp Harp TOOLKIT" is currently closed.