Backbeat, Back Beat, How to play backbeat
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Muddy Waters, Chicago Blues


Backbeat Blues Shuffles

Backbeat and blue notes are the essence of blues music. The accent on the two and four when playing a blues shuffle is the natural feeling.. so why is it SO DAMN HARD to play the blues or rock guitar with a backbeat feel to it? It's because when you are playing a guitar solo you DON'T PLAY the backbeat - YOU LISTEN FOR IT!!

The backbeat is played by the bass and drums and sometimes the kebboard - That's right! YOU listen for it and it takes practice to hear the back beat and to play your guitar licks off of it.. wait for it.. and to let it permeate your` guitar playing... once it does, you yourself will feel the difference in your playing.. it's what separated the boys from the men in blues music..

Who is a Backbeat Master?

Almost any well known blues or rock musician you admire is "master of the backbeat".. they just don't give prizes to nice guys that aint' got soul.. the beat comes from the soul.. from the church where people play music about GOD and for GOD.. remember it's not in the wrist .. it's in your ear.. listening to the two and four beat of the music and launching your blues / rock licks from the "and" of the beat... got it? If your not sure, ask your guitar teacher to help get this down. Here are a few backbeat guitar masters to check out...

Muddy Waters - Backbeat Master

If you got it flaunt it and Muddy waters flaunted it for all he was worth. The Muddy Water blues band had the backbeat down to a science... any blues band worth it's name plays Muddy Water songs almost note for note the way the were played by the master himself - Muddy Waters..

Listen to almost any song Muddy played and feel the backbeat - from his duo and trio to the full band.. listen to the different instruments - bass, drums, piano, lead guitar and crowd! Yes Muddy was also a master of playing the crowd.. Note the space MUddy leaves in his music.. it's not just the backbeat but the concept of leaving space in your music is well worth understanding on the band stand!

Chuck Berry - Backbeat Master

Chuck Berry felt the backbeat and knew how to play off of it.. notice I didn't say "play it" because it's the rhythm that plays the backbeat - not the soloist.. Listen to Chuck Berry play Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven", Mabelilne" and other songs.. it's like the guitar solo is running away from your ears and they are racing to catch up with the music! Now That's rock music and with drive with power, adrenalin, soul.. you name it.. learn some of Chuck Berry's solos... Why in his song "Rock Roll Music", he mentions the back beat, check it out..

"Just let me hear some of that Rock And Roll Music
Any old way you choose it
It's got a BACK BEAT, you can't lose it
Any old time you use it
It's gotta be Rock And Roll Music,
If you want to dance with me
If you want to dance with me

The backbeat or back beat is not something you play in a rock solo or blues solo.. it's something felt by the audience more than heard. or played by the soloist

The Beatles - Backbeat Masters

The Beatles were no dummy's, when they heard Chuck Berry, they knew they had a winner.. why the backbeat music was just the thing that turned them on and launched their incredible career.

White kids like me thought the Beatles invented rock and roll.. only later did we find out it was created by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly and other black musicians. .it wasn't long before every band in America jumped on the backbeat band wagon.. By the way, the blues shuffle comes from the shuffle beat rhythms of North Africa, Middle East and East African rhythms.. Well that's about it for now... I got the urge to play some rock N' Roll dammit.

By Johnny Mayer.

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