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The Influence of the Blues Guitar on Modern Music Today

Anybody interested in modern music sooner or later asks the question, “Where did it begin?” Well, if you leave blues guitar music out, you will not have much of an answer. So let us look at where the blues came from, where it went and who it met on the way. We will also take a look at the “blues guitar sound” and how it has its unique effect on our feelings.

The blues as a musical phenomenon began around 1911 when W.C. Handy published popular songs, notably “Memphis Blues” and “St Louis Blues”, which affected the hearts and souls of the black people. By the nineteen twenties the general population were beginning to hear this new music through its influence on jazz. Early blues singers like Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday sang with jazz bands while others played with “jug bands” accompanied by fiddle, kazoo and washboard.

Of course to people like W. C. Handy who were brought up singing in church, the piano was the natural instrumental accompaniment to their songs. But the guitar is portable and always was popular so it had to have a place in blues and jazz. Blues guitar players like twelve string guitarist Leadbelly and future electric guitar player B.B. King were making sure the guitar would be an integral part of the blues. Other blues guitarists made their living in smoky saloons playing slide guitar using a bottle neck or the blade of a knife to fret the notes.

After the Second World War young artists like Elvis Presley and Bill Haley were wrapping the blues in a new package called “rock’n’roll” and the players of the electric blues guitar like B.B. King were heralding the arrival of the lead guitar, soon to be a great attraction for both musicians and audiences. Throughout the evolution of the blues the guitar had always taken its turn for solos in jazz bands but now it competed with the singer for the attention of the audience.

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Blues guitar can be played in any key that takes your fancy and comes in three basic forms: eight bars, for example “Heartbreak Hotel”, sixteen bars like “Saint James Infirmary” and twelve bars like “St. Louis Blues”. For some reason the twelve bar blues form is way more singer-friendly and popular with audiences than the other two, and it is the basis of many great songs outside the blues idiom.

If you go poking around the internet you will find that the blues scales are just your garden variety major and minor scales except that the third, fifth and seventh notes are played flat. However, you may be astonished to learn that blues players managed for centuries without knowing about European musical theory. They learnt to sing and play from their families and friends just as many of the young white blues players of the nineteen sixties learnt from imitating the artists they heard on records.

And this is where the blues takes another direction. After years of imitating their idols something odd happened to the white blues guitar players in Britain and the USA. They developed their own authentic, original styles. The older blues players even began using the new arrangements of classic songs and adopting some of the unbluesy musical innovations introduced by young white guitarists like Eric Clapton. So the beat goes on. A foreign culture influences American popular music and in turn gets fresh input from a new generation of guitar players from all over the world.

This is the Best Acoustic Guitar Tuner

Tuning your acoustic guitar is the first step in your guitar playing career. Whether by skill, talent or technology, you must be able to get your guitar into tune. One common obstacle to learning to tune a guitar is a certain natural resistance to aquiring new knowledge. This reluctance is present in everybody to some degree. The prospect of learning to tune a guitar by ear can fill some people with a sense of dread.

Before we start to tackle the job of tuning, we need to get straight which string is which. The first string is the narrow string nearest your knee as you sit with the guitar in playing position. The sixth string is the widest string, and it is closest to your chin.

And the tuning goes like this:

1st string is “E”

2nd string is “B”

3rd string is “G”

4th string is “D”

5th string is “A”

6th string is “E”

The guitar pitch pipe plays the notes when you blow into it so you can compare the sounds with your guitar. A tuning fork, when you bang it on your knee and hold it on the body of your guitar, sounds the note you get when you play the harmonic at the fifth fret of the fifth string. Once you get this note right, you tune the rest of the strings to the fifth string.

If you have tried the methods of tuning guitars using a pitch pipe or tuning fork, and still feel less than confident in your guitar tuning abilities, then you could think about acquiring a guitar tuner that has a visual aid to tuning. You can always test your skill from time to time by tuning your guitar without the tuner, and seeing how accurate you have become.

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You can also use a keyboard instrument to tune your guitar to. Start by finding on the keyboard the E note below Middle C. Then GO DOWN ANOTHER OCTAVE to tune the sixth string on the guitar. This is because the guitar’s music is written an octave higher than it actually sounds compared to a piano!

The electronic guitar tuner is the simplest way of tuning your acoustic guitar. You pluck your guitar string and watch the indicator on the tuner to see how close you are to the correct note. There are also guitar tuners you can get for free on the internet that work the same way. Online Guitar Tuners often play the notes to you, and you use your ear to see if your guitar is in tune