It is a well known fact that the blues music we know today originated as a part of African American culture. But, if you follow this history back even further, you’ll find that these traditions can be traced to influences from northern Africa. Soufi, Sharai, Gnawa, and several other sub-genres of African music make up the myriad of styles that influenced American blues.
In his course, 30 Desert Blues Licks You MUST Know, Jan Wouter Oostenrijk lets you in on guitar licks that come from these long-standing African musical styles.
Here are 6 free Desert Blues guitar lessons from the course. For the full course, check out Jan Wouter Oostenrijk’s 30 Desert Blues Licks You MUST Know on TrueFire!
Lick 4 is about sus-pentatonics, a scale that is used a lot in music from the western part of the Sahara, like desert blues and gnawa. It really differs from the minor and major pentatonics because it doesn’t have a third in the scale, like in sus chords.
The melody in this lick refers to an old gnawa traditional called “Soudani Manayou” usually played on a kind of bedouin bass guitar called guembri or sentir or hezjhouzj.
Sharq is the Arab word for “east”, and refers to bellydance culture known as Raqs Baladi. The rhythm I play here is called maqsoum, a pattern often played on the percussion instrument darbouka. It’s one of the basic rhythms patterns that we can hear a lot in Egyptian and Middle Eastern music, with all kinds of variations also in modern Oriental dance music.
As I mentioned before, Hegaz is the Arab name for the scale we know in the Western world as Phrygian dominant. The lick I play here is pretty much in the blues and rock tradition, but by using Hegaz instead of the usual pentatonic stuff, you’ll add an Oriental flavour, which is inspiring. The lick is usable as a solo part or as background to improvise on.
These upcoming licks are also in the Hegaz mode, but this time on a slow groove. The melody in the bass we can hear in traditional wedding parties on the moment the bride is presented. But here it’s used as a bassline that leaves a lot of space for the melody. If you like this stuff, you’ll find more of it on my album Sharqi Blues.
As a teenage guitar player, I was inspired by the song “Killing an Arab” of the band the Cure. Although the song title is controversial, especially nowadays, it’s still a nice example of integrating cultures and fun to play.
The Hendrix Essaouira groove is basically built up by 2 bars riffing the chord followed by 2 bars of melody. It’s nice to improvise these melodies and give them a little twist in every cycle. This way you stay in this modal trance vibe without getting bored. In the previous lick, we mainly focused on the lower part of the maqam Saba zamzam. Now we’ll expand and play it up to the octave.
Digging these free Desert Blues guitar lessons? Check out 30 Desert Blues Licks You MUST Know.