Texas Blues Licks. Episode I

author: Dmaj7 date: 08/18/2011 category: music styles
rating: 8.7 / votes: 7 
There are many things that make blues have that "Texas Vibe." But it's not just the tone and the way you play.. There are certain licks and certain ways of phrasing certain notes that gives it a kind of tension that adds a little country flavor to any type of Blues or Jazz. In this lesson I will share some licks I have in my arsenal that I have learned from many SRV songs such as "Texas Flood" and "Couldn't Stand the Weather." All tabs will be played the key of A major even though some notes that will be used may have you fooled that it could be a minor key. But that's just what gives this kind of music that sound. It will sound good over a 12 bar blues in A backing track, so thats what I would look at when playing this. 7th chords will work as well. For the tonal characteristics, I would suggest to dial in your tone to be warm and trebly, and really punchy. If you have a presence knob, you should turn it up a bit. Now on to the licks. All tabs will be available on my Ultimate-Guitar profile as mp3s so you can give them a listen. This one works really well if you can time it right. Pretty much exactly from "Texas Flood", just a whole step up.
e|-------5-----------7-5h6p5----5---8b9-5-----------------------------|
B|----5-----8b9--5-----------8------------5------------------------5~-|
G|-7----------------------------------------7b-5-----5----------7--6~-|
D|-----------------------------------------------7-7---7--------6--7~-|
A|-------------------------------------------------------5-6-7--------|
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
As you can see, the 4th note played bends the Minor (or flat) 7th (G), to a major 7th (G#), which gives it a bluesy context. The 7th note played is a hammer-on from the tonic (A) to half step up (A#), then back down (A). It kinda gives it some jazzy tension but it is one of the phrasing used to sound like Texas Blues. Then about halfway through, on the 8b9, is a bend that bends the minor 3rd (C), to the major 3rd (C#), bridging the gap between minor and major, making it bluesy. At the very end you see a E7, followed by an A chord, to end the run. This next one is a little jazzy, but the concept is from "Couldn't Stand the Weather" by Stevie Ray Vaughn. I like to use this on the last 2 notes of the 12 bar blues turnaround. It will be used in the last section where the bass notes are V(E), IV(D), I(A), V(E). I will put the notes above the tab and also there is an mp3 on my profile named "Texas Blues Episode 1: Lick 2 (Traditional)" and "Texas Blues Episode 1: Lick 2 (Different Way)" As you can see, the 2nd tab is a bit crammed. They are the same tab, just in different spots. The first is more traditional way of playing.
  V(E) IV(D) I(A)                                  V(E)
e|------------------------------------------------------|
B|-------------------------5-----------------------8~---|
G|-----------------5/6-6b7---7/9-7-----5h7p5-5-----7~---|
D|-----------------4/5-------------7-7-------------6~---|
A|---------------------------------------------5h6/7~---|
E|-------------5-5--------------------------------------|
 
  V(E) IV(D) I(A)                                               V(E)   
e|---------------------------------------------------------------15~--|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------15~--|
G|----------------------------9----------------------------------13~--|
D|----------------10/11-11b12---12/14-12-------10h12p10-10-12h13/14~--|
A|-----------12-12-9/10------------------12-12------------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
The first sign of a jazz feel in this tab is the slide from a D7 (4th) to a D#7 (Flatted 5th/Sharped 4th) chord. While the tonic of the chords aren't present, the Major 3rds and Flat 7ths are, which are a major key in the structure of blues. Next, we see a bend from C# (maj 3rd) to D (4th). Then to finish it off right before the final E(V), there is a hammer-on and slide from the 4th, to the #4th (Blue Note) and then finally the 5th, but in the version of the legendary Dominant 7#9 chord, or "Hendrix Chord", made famous by Hendrix himself and widely used by SRV. IF you don't like the use of the Hendrix Chord, you can simply subsitute it for an E7 chord. I just like the way it sounds. Let me give you some theory on the chord.
    E7#9 (E Dominant 7th Sharp 9)
e|--------------------------|    
B|---8-Sharp-9th/Minor-3rd--|
G|---7-Dominant/Minor-7th---|
D|---6-Major-3rd------------|
A|---7-Root-----------------|
E|--------------------------|
 
or
 
 E7#9 (E Dominant 7th Sharp 9)
e|--------------------------|
B|---15-Sharp-9th/Minor-3rd-|
G|---15-Dominant/Minor-7th--|
D|---13-Major-3rd-----------|
A|---14-Root----------------|
E|--------------------------|
While it is called an E7#9, the #9th is nothing more than a minor 3rd. It is only called that because of chord notation, the way chords are named. Anyways 'nough talk, here's some info. So what makes this note sound so smooth and blues sounding is the use of the major AND minor 3rd. That is usually unheard of but is a huge part in the theory of blues, which is a mixture of major and minor keys. And then to tie it all off this chord contains the Dominant, or Minor 7th, making it Bluer than any Crayola can only hope to be. And there you have it, The Hendrix Chord. Here is the same chord in A because we are about to use it on the final lick of the first episode of this series!
    A7#9 
e|--------------------------|    
B|---13-Sharp-9th/Minor-3rd-|
G|---12-Dominant/Minor-7th--|
D|---11-Major-3rd-----------|
A|---12-Root----------------|
E|--------------------------|
Lick 3: I didn't already have a lick that started with this chord but I really wanted to utilize it. So I just made this up
e|-------------7br8-5---5-8-------------|
B|----------13-------8------5h7p5h7p5---|
G|----------12--------------------------|
D|----------11--------------------------|  2x
A|--0--0-0--12--------------------------|
E|--------------------------------------|
Nothing super special here. Just a 2nd to minor 3rd bend and a repeated 5th to major 6th hammer-on. And here's something to end your free form Texas Blues, 20 minute jam with.
e|-------------------------------------------------------|
B|-------5~-------------7~--------------------13~--------|
G|-------5~-------------5~--------------------12~--------|
D|----6--6~-------------7~--------------------11~--------|
A|--7----7~--7--6--5-55-5~---5---4----0--0-0--12~--------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------|
On that very last A7#9 chord, it sounds good to use a slight whammy effect. I don't have tremelo bar because I play a tele, so I like to put my hand behind the nut and push the strings down. Enjoy! Keep in mind that I did write all of these licks while playing fingerstyle, so the tab might not be exactly how you would play it, but it is close enough. If you aren't sure how it is supposed to sound, give my mp3s a look on my profile. Well this was my first lesson on the Texas Blues, stay tuned to see more Texas Blues in the future! Hope I helped! Good luck! :)
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