Don’t know a raga from ravioli? Here’s a place to start.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Gain insight into one of the world’s most intriguing guitar styles.
• Expand your awareness of melodic embellishment.
• Awaken to new musical possibilities. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Hindustani classical (North Indian raga) is one of the oldest and deepest ongoing musical traditions in the world. To the Western ear, tones of the sitar and tamboura may evoke impressions of a far-off landscape, or a place in the distance that stretches out beyond space and time. And with good reason, as the sounds of Indian raga have existed for thousands of years.

Within the arc of history, instruments like the sitar and sarod are relative newcomers, having existed in their current form for only several centuries. In this context, the guitar is a new and exciting addition to the raga landscape.

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Players like R.L. Burnside, “Mississippi” Fred McDowell, and Robert Belfour pushed aside norms and carved new paths with hypnotic riffs and big rhythms.



Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Cultivate an appreciation for this influential country blues subgenre.
• Develop the ability to simultaneously play rhythm and melody with and without slide.
• Expand your sound with alternate tunings. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

The area referred to as the North Mississippi hill country, which lies south of Memphis and east of the Delta, has produced some of the deepest blues ever heard. This region has a style and tradition all its own, characterized by hypnotic guitar riffs, driving rhythms, and howling vocals. In many cases, there are also open song structures that allow greater freedom of expression than the familiar 12-bar progression.

Due to its freer song forms and trance-inducing grooves, hill country blues may be considered by some to be a fringe element in the canon. However, it remains a vital and evolving art form that is beloved by both a local and worldwide audience. This is largely due to its raw immediacy and the highly personal styles of the genre’s most charismatic performers.

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Toss aside the rules and tune down your guitar.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Understand the basics of the Bentonia style.
• Learn about “Skip” James, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, and Jack Owens.
• Develop fluency in open Dm tuning. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Bentonia, Mississippi, has quietly produced one of the most unique and hauntingly expressive sounds in the Delta blues canon. Although this small rural town currently has only about 800 residents, it has influenced music all over the world through the dramatic minor tonality, ethereal chord voicings, and syncopated guitar motifs that are signatures of the region. Guitarist Henry Stuckey is said to be the originator of the tradition, but historically the most well-known proponent of the Bentonia sound may be Nehemiah “Skip” James, who produced some of the finest pre-war blues recordings for Paramount Records in 1931—long before Cream had a hit record with the James composition “I’m So Glad” in 1966.

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Skip James died in 1969 and the legacy of Bentonia blues was carried on by Jack Owens, who later passed the torch to Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, a deep blues guitarist and singer who remains active today as both a musician and as the owner of the Blue Front Cafe, which is the world’s oldest juke joint. While there is much more that can be said about the origin of the tradition and its evolution over the years, this lesson will focus on introducing essential elements of the Bentonia sound, including the tuning famously associated with the style, some common chord shapes, basic turnarounds and two characteristic licks that will get you familiar with the vibe. For more about Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and the music of Bentonia, check out “Ouija Board Blues: Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes.

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