How to Play the Blues

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A 3-part video series by Dr. Victor Ezquerra

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Blues, Part 1: In this premiere lesson, Dr. Victor Ezquerra introduces the blues and its most prevalent form—the 12-bar blues. Dr. Ezquerra teaches beginning players the three bar chords needed to play 12-bar blues in the key of E, as well as the minor pentatonic scale in E. The chords help students learn the overall form, and the scale allows students to engage the blues through expression, improvisation and creativity. This lesson includes demonstrations, as well as tips for soloing, and highlights the downhome/delta blues.

Blues, Part 2: In his second lesson, Dr. Ezquerra goes more in-depth to show students how to transpose the 12-bar form (chords and minor pentatonic scale) into any key. He demonstrates with power chords how to identify and play the I, IV and V chords used in the 12-bar blues. This lesson covers technique and basic theory of playing the minor pentatonic scale, and highlights the urban/Chicago blues.

Blues, Part 3: In the final video of the series, Dr. Ezquerra introduces lyric form to the 12-bar blues learned in the previous lessons. He offers examples of lyrics, as well as demonstrating how the lyric form fits in with the chord structure. Students are shown how to write their own blues song. This lesson highlights the blues revival of the 1960s.

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