Blues Headlines with Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett is on a mission to make you a better blues player – with full audio examples and backing tracks
THE DISTINCTION between ‘lead’ and ‘rhythm’ guitar has long been a very blurred line. In fact, guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and SRV have managed to pretty much obliterate that line on many occasions. Having the ability to bridge the gap between those two ostensibly different worlds can really open up the fretboard in a way that remains useful even when staying within strict rhythm or lead boundaries.
For this piece, I’ve used a harmonically sparse but relatively busy bass and drums backing. This allows me to sit back on a more chordal approach or venture into single-note territory with relative freedom, including whether I want to emphasise a major or minor feel, if you check out the whole solo. As an overall dynamic, I’ve tried to set up an expectation of E7-A7-B7, with a B7#9 being very hard to resist at the turnaround – so I didn’t!
Initially using a mixture of doublestops, chord inversions and pentatonic shapes, I then move further into single-note territory as the piece goes on, coming back to state a full chord or a doublestop phrase here and there. This is partly about balancing things to avoid sounding sparse, but equally where convenient shapes and licks present themselves. It’s always a good idea to have some ‘stock’ licks to work from – and to keep expanding that resource.
By the last few bars, I’m mostly playing single notes, though these lines could be said to contribute to the perceived harmonic content to an extent. If I had continued for another round, it might have been nice to drop down to some sparse chords and build up again, maybe using some more rhythmic patterns and space. Why not take these ideas as a template and use the backing track to develop further? Hope you enjoy and see you next time!