8 Bar Rhythm & Blues Ballad (part 1)

Over the next few lessons, we turn our attention to a classic 8-bar rhythm and blues song form.

Our backing track is based on the more intricately composed, gospel-inspired blues songwriting found in ballads such as Little Willie John’s “Need Your Love So Bad” Buddy Guy’s “My Love Is Real” and Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home For Christmas”, to name but a few.

Outside of the traditional 12 bar format, chord sequences similar to ours are very common in blues ballad songwriting and usually feature both diminished and augmented chords. However, soloing over these progressions need not be complicated, since we can work solely within our familiar blues tonality.

Fleetwood Mac’s version of the aforementioned “Need Your Love So Bad” has become a firm standard among blues artists and Peter Green’s beautifully soulful, B.B. King influenced playing is regarded as some of the most emotive blues lead breaks ever recorded. We will learn a two chorus solo that pays tribute to the guitar work of Peter Green and B.B. King, featuring phrases that suit both the mood of the song and the chord sequence.

We begin, however, by learning the two different, but equally useable rhythm guitar parts heard on our backing track. The first is an arpeggiated part with a distinct Stax feel, similar to a guitar line that Steve Cropper might have played on an Otis Redding track, such as “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember” or “You Don’t Miss Your Water”.

Our second, more minimalistic rhythm guitar part finds us playing percussive stabs along with the snare drum, playing fragments of each chord on the top three strings. Both parts work well individually, but sound great when played in a two-guitar ensemble.

Backing Tracks

Lesson Sheets

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