Blues guitar brilliance comes from many sources
Blues guitar brilliance may emerge from note choice, technical ability or the sound of your instrument. But it also can come from strong harmonic transitions. Your tasty licks and sweet sounds may be the gravy, but the underlying chord structure can be the meat and potatoes of your blues guitar brilliance.
Sure, there are a million guys out there playing the guitar, but you can step out of the crowd and achieve blues guitar brilliance when you use strong chord transitions. So how do we do it?
Let's start with the basics. The blues is all about telling a story. And let's face it, the blues is usually an expression of something that happens to every one of us at one time or another, things go south. A break-up, losing a job or putting your money on the wrong horse at the races, they're all worthy of a good blues story.
Blues guitar brilliance by supporting the story
One way to achieve blues guitar brilliance is to have a chord progression that supports the story you are telling. In my song, The Breakfast Blues, I use some interesting chord substitutions that challenge the listener's ear. But these robust chords serve another purpose, they support the story that is being told in the song.
The Breakfast Blues tells a story about a guy with a lot of problems The lyrics that explain his story are supported by the underlying chord progression. The story and the lyrics are punctuated when we play the transition to the "IV", or the sub-dominant cadence - or simply put - the part that sets up the chorus.
The Breakfast Blues is in the key of E, so when we go to the IV or the A Dominant chord, instead of just playing an E7 to set it up, I substitute a B-7, Bb7, E9, Eb13 sequence that really spices things up. Later I use a B11, Bb7b5, E9, Eb7#5b9 sequence!
These symbols make look intimidating, but don't let them scare you. I explain all of these and go through each one of them, step by step in my lessons. If you can learn them in this song, you will be able to apply these chords to many other songs and they will soon become part of your blues guitar brilliance.