A great song consists of more than just notes and rhythms. Here’s how to put the pieces together to create that extra sonic magic.

Chops: Beginner
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Create simple and meaningful blues phrases in the style of B.B. King.
• Understand how to emphasize chord tones over a blues progression.
• Learn how to use repetition to build tension in your solos.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

It’s not about you. Don’t worry, though, it’s not about the bass player, keyboardist, drummer, or the singer either. It’s about all of you, and most importantly, it’s about the song. A fellow bandmate said to me recently that being in a band is the ultimate form of socialism, and I’d have to agree. I’ve been a “band guy” my whole life and it’s the place I feel most comfortable making music. When everyone checks their ego at the door, walks into rehearsal or a gig, and plays for each other and for the song, it’s truly transcendental. Since I started playing guitar, I’ve always been interested in arranging and orchestrating within the context of a band. The way the pieces fit together fascinates me and being the guitarist and singer in the bands I’ve performed with has taught me a great deal about the art of an ensemble.

Less Is More
You’ve heard this one ad nauseam. Our instrument—especially electric guitars—can take up a lot of aural real estate, so lay back. Don’t hit every note in that chord you’re about to play. Play a partial chord, an inversion, a countermelody, or double the bass line. Or here’s a novel idea: Don’t play anything. To illustrate, I’ll give you an eight-bar progression (Ex. 1) that pays homage to the Beatles. If the rest of the band is driving and filling up space harmonically and rhythmically, you don’t necessarily have to as well.

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