So you want to play the blues piano, but you are not sure where to start?
Blues is instrumental and vocal music that is based on playing and singing “blues notes.” It originated in the African-American communities of the United States in the Deep South from work songs, spirituals, shouts and chants, field hollers, and simple narrative rhymed ballards.
Leon Redbone would say, “The blues ain’t nothing but a good man feelin’ bad.”
Clint Eastwood states: “The blues has always been part of my musical life and the piano has a special place, beginning when my mother brought home all of Fats Waller’s records. Also, the music has always played a part in my movies. A piano blues documentary gives me a chance to make a film that is more directly connected to the subject of the music than the features that I have been doing throughout my career.”
It became the roots of bluegrass and jazz music. In the 60s and 70s blue rock which was a hybrid form of blues was born by combining blues and rock and roll.
The 12 bar blues and 3 primary chords is the most common form of blues. So, if you want to learn to play blues piano then you will need to learn the blues scale and the 12 bar blues chord progression along with the 1st, 4th and 5th chord.
The 12 bar blues gets its name from the length of the music which is twelve bars that fits with typical Blues lyrics.
To play blues on the piano there is one technique that must learned. The technique is sliding a finger off of a black key onto the next white key. To become a real Blues musician you will have to learn to slide off a black key with any right hand finger. Once you learn to slide with your right thumb and index finger your will increase the smoothness and range of your Blues riffs.
For example, when playing a C major Chord you will slide the finger from Eb onto E Natural.
So if you desire to improvise your music then learning blues is a great way to make it happen. Knowing which notes to play and how to add rhythms to the notes you will be ready to improvise over the 12-bar blues forms.
In addition, you will have to learn all about riffs which are mini tunes played when small groups of notes are played together. Learn blues piano improvisation with chords by playing different chords with different rhythms.
Good luck and have fun!