The Blues Language

Few people have said that this is one of the most useful and important lessons on my whole website and they might be right!

View the full lesson at The Blues Language | JustinGuitar

Thank you Justin. these is the best explanation i have heared on what is blues. So, blues is wonderful musical language with which we express what is going on within our souls.


Check this supplementary topic for additional guidance and support on learning and using blues licks to play lead improvisation: First Steps in Blues Improvisation using Minor Pentatonic Scale Pattern 1
Cheers :+1:
| Richard_close2u |

If I’ve understood so far: there’s an ‘alphabet’ of notes and using the notes we can form ‘words’. So what is a riff. A ‘sentence’?

1 Like

I found this post a couple of weeks ago (thanks Richard) and have pretty much stopped all other practice (apart from the F barre chord changes, which I can’t get above the high twenties at the moment) to concentrate on the. Working my way through the 3 and 4 in a line patterns, which I can just about do slowly. Had a go at the licks but they will need some work :slight_smile:

1 Like

There are some grey areas and some confusing thoughts on the terminology John.
My take is that licks are sentences, exclamations, comments, words strung together to make expression and tell a story of some kind with a beginning, middle and end, with maybe some highs and lows etc.

Riffs are repeating motifs that form the rhythmic / melodic basis of a song and its structure.

Here is a riff:

Here are two licks (taken from a longer solo):

1 Like

Hi, I’m really liking the Blues section of Grade 2 and would like to focus a bit more on Blues. The Blues language course is Course 4 and on this thread it is Intermediate 5. If I wait to get rhough Grade 3 it may be another year. Can I move on to this Blues Language course or is that not recomended?


Hi Roch, @sticktothemuse
If you would like to get into the blues I would start with it,…blood creeps where it can’t go :sunglasses:… but I would definitely spend some time ( every time to start with or end a day) on grade 3, because there is a lot to learn there which will also help you with the blues. .an advantage is also that you know where to look if you get stuck during your blues tour and you will find blues there to :smiley:…that learning the blues is really going to take much longer than a year so I would add it…the best of two worlds and more :sunglasses:

Grade 3 is definitely another very important foundational course :smiley:

Have and keep the fun :sunglasses:

The 1st lesson in the Blues Lead 1 module (Grade 4) is called “The Blues Language”, is that what you are referring to? If so, I think this is too advanced for somebody in Grade 2. You could check out “Solo Blues 1, Lick-in’ Riff” in Grade 3, Module 18. If you’re still wanting more, you could check out the module called “Blues Guitar Studies”. It’s also Grade 4, but more approachable than “Blues Lead 1” imo. You can learn a lot about blues guitar with those 4 studies.

BTW, I would agree with @roger_holland that you should continue your path through Grades 2 and 3 and check out the blues stuff in addition to that.

Hey Roch,

Nothing wrong with casually checking it out mate.
I’d just be mindful that the Level 4 and above Blues stuff will assume prior knowledge and skills that you may not yet have been exposed to, or are still developing.
Again though, if you have a keen interest, no need to treat it like a lesson; more like a preview.

Cheers, Shane

Thanks all, good direction, much appreciated.

I know I’m getting ahead of myself but the Blues module 13 in Grade 2 has really peaked my interest. It’s put the history of rock and roll in proper focus. Now I can understand how it all came about. From America to the UK and back out to the world!

I took a classical guitar course and a theory course a local community college this winter in addition to working on grade 2. I mostly put Grade 2 on pause during that period but the classical guitar class tied in nicely to Justin’s finger picking module in Grade 2 and Justin’s theory class really helped with with the theory class at the college (Cato method :)). The professor had a doctorate in music but was way too smart to teach. He spoke a language that hardly anyone in the class could understand.

Having said all that I feel taking the two courses in conjuction with Justin’s course really turbo charged my journey. There is something to be said about being in a group setting and playing and discussing music! It was a lot of work though. I’m going to spend the summer playing the guitar and not working the guitar like I have been doing the past several months.

I will stick with Jusin’t program and continue with Grade 3 although at a much slower pace. I have not done the module 14 consolidation yet. As the saying goes it’s the journey not the destination.

At my age I know I will never get to be an accomplished musician but I am dedicated to making music a big part of my life for as long as I can.

Again, thanks for the recomendations. I will stick with the plan but “peak” at some of the Blues stuff in the other courses.

The analogy to grammar can become a bit shaky as you examine longer structures. I don’t think there’s a musical analogy to a sentence in the sense of a coherent / logical statement, subordination, etc.

I think riffs are more akin to catchphrases or shorter utterances you often hear from someone (their idiolect).