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David's Tip of the Day: Value of Repetition, Part 18 (Themes)

David Barrett Admin's picture

The theme in “Gary’s Blues” is presented in the first two notes, the 3+ eighth notes. This eighth note figure is restated throughout the song. You see this at the end of the first line, with the 4+ 3 played in the same eighth note rhythm. The second chorus starts with these 3+ eighth notes and you see them again in the third bar of Chorus 3… and at the end of Bar 4. This repeats in other places, but I think you get the idea. This type of thematic element is not commonly noticed, but it’s no doubt part of what makes a song cohesive.

In “Gary’s Blues,” and many songs, themes (songs commonly have multiple themes) are subtle, but if you would like to see a theme taken to its full potential, check out Improvising Study 11 ( where the entire song is based on the first lick presented.

I’m off to visit my son in Japan. I’ll see you in about ten days where we’ll move on to another subject. Have a great weekend!