Today we’re going to talk about a very simple blues lick. You can hear this in almost everything. Singers do it, saxophone players do it, piano players do it. It’s everywhere!
Be sure to download this free lesson pdf and backing track so you can play and follow along.
This lesson is a great introduction from my Blues Foundation Course. If you like this lesson and want more, you can purchase the course to unlock even more fantastic blues content.
Old as Dirt Blues Lick
So we’re going to be playing in the key of A. NOT a saxophone friendly key. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
For alto saxophone, when you’re playing in A this means that you’re going to want to know your F# blues scale. If you’re playing tenor, you’ll want to know your B blues scale.
This is what I like to call a “guitar key.” Guitar players love to play in this key, so if you’re in a band with guitar players, you’ll be playing in this key A LOT. A good way to get ready to play with guitar players is to really learn this trickier keys. Good luck!
So to play this particular lick you’re going to start on scale degree 4. It’ll go 4, up to flat 5, down to 4, flat 3, and 1.
Hit the backing track, and start playing it on beat 1. Go through this a few times until you can feel comfortable. Then start on beat 2, beat 3, and 4. Each starting point is going to give the lick a different feel and different sound.
Be sure to practice the lick starting on each beat of the measure in 8th notes. Then try starting on the upbeat of each beat, such as the and of 1, and of 2, and so on.
Once you get comfortable with that, you can move on the 16th notes, then and finally work on starting on each of the 16th note subdivisions. When you play 16ths you break it down into 1-e-+-a, 2-e-+-a, etc. So try playing on the e, +, and a of each beat.
When you feel really comfortable with all of these variations, try having a little fun with it. You can start improvising by just playing notes within the A blues scale. It’ll be easier than you think! Best of luck!
How’d it Go?
I hope this lesson was helpful and that you feel ready to tackle the blues. If you have any questions leave them in the comments below, and let me know how this lesson went!
Interested in more Blues content? Check out this “Blues Improvisation Lesson”