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The Big Licks Project , how to play better blues piano. 14 pages plus audio


A vast part of what you hear in Blues piano is done with a small number of central elements, the „big licks“, plus scale to connect them. It doesn’t even matter if you take New Orleans piano or Chicago Blues, Otis Spann or James Booker.

Sure, each of them have a little extra on board, but the main difference lies in different phrasing, rhythmic treatment or melodic vocabulary- of the same basic material, which especially in blues is quite limited!

If you are in doubt, take any of my transcriptions of original solos and count the elements that you have not seen before in one way or the other!

As you can squeeze thousands of great melodies out of the 6-step Blues scale. you can create very different styles and sounds from the main central licks.

On the one side this is great . „Ah, no hidden secrets that only a few chosen ones will ever get so see!“ Or as we say in Germany, the Greats also cook with water!

But here is also where the trouble starts. To play interesting with few basic ingredients is much harder than to bluff your way with 12 scales, 20 chords and many more possible combinations, like in Jazz!

Here is, where my big licks project comes in!

I want to make you familiar, as in many of my tutorials, with the skill to vary licks. Cause as I tried to explain, that’s where good blues piano starts.

I would like to encourage you to leave your favorite versions of a lick. To leave the comfort zone and to start playing— blues piano!

My experience is, that it cannot be expected of you to do that out of nothing. You need as I call it „input“. You need someone who shows you 50 times how that works. And at one point you are going to say: 

Wait, let me! I want to do some on my own now!

Here is the input for you from me!

PS: Take fingerings very serious! Having to think about the fingering each time will let you stumble each time. This way it will always remain a stop-and-go performance.

The right fingering used similarly in all similar situations will grant you flow.