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David's Tip of the Day: 8 Bar Blues - Key to the Highway, Part 4 (Accompaniment)

David Barrett Admin's picture

In a standard 12 Bar Blues, with our most common vocal AAB rhyme scheme, fills are found on the last two bars of each four-bar line (of which there are three). These fills happen on the I (one) chord. This makes fills generally easy to play due to there being no chord considerations to be made.

In a non-12 Bar Blues progression this may not be the case, and this is true for "Key to the Highway."

Play fills to Little Walter's recording in the following manner...

"I got the key"... you do short fill... "to the highway"... fill... "feel out and bound to go"... fill... "I'm gonna leave here runnin' because"... fill... "walking is most too slow"... fill (turnaround in this case).

This generally works, but not after "to the highway," the last note of your fill wants to go to a strong chord tone of that V Chord, so try playing your fill and having it finish with the 1 or 4 draw D (Root note of the V Chord). Wow, big difference!

And then after "feel out and bound to go" the 2 draw works fine (it's the 5th of the IV Chord), but experiment with 1+ or 4+ C (Root note of the IV Chord) or any other note of the chord, like 3', which is the flat-7th of that IV Chord. Again, what a difference!

By throwing in fills irrespective of chord change you can hear that it sounds awkward, but with simple modifications to the last note that you play, it sounds much more musical. Experiment with adding more chord tones into the fill itself, this is time well spent.