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I have been playing classical piano reading sheet music, and I want to begin blues by similarly learning some pieces from score. What would be some good books/sites I can use for this?

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How did you get the classical scores? This one amused me, and I found it with an image search for blues piano sheet music. blogfiles.wfmu.org/DP/2007/07/images/202_img_01.jpg –  cornbread ninja Feb 22 '12 at 17:24
    
@cornbreadninja: I have a list of pieces I want to learn of Chopin, Mozart, etc and I search the net and download. But as I am new to blues, I really don't know what to look for! Thanks for your 'No money down blues' but how exactly do u play the LH of it? –  gigahari Feb 23 '12 at 7:24
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Are there blues piano players that you enjoy listening to, or particular blues tunes that you really like? I would recommend using that as a starting point. With the names of a few tunes, you could then search for piano scores of those tunes. If you don't have any particular artists or tunes that you're interested in or you don't know who to listen to, a better question to ask might be something like "Recommend some blues piano players or recordings for me to listen to." –  vjones Feb 24 '12 at 4:30

2 Answers 2

This question comes across as a shopping recommendation, but since we don't do those on Music.se I'm going to stop short of recommending specific books.

Blues is a broad genre of music -- for example the Chicago Blues of Howlin' Wolf is quite different from the Delta Blues of Leadbelly or the Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan. We don't know which of those you're interested in sounding like.

You probably have a specific piano sound in mind, so find a book containing a score of a song in that style.

I searched for "blues sheet music" in Amazon and there were plenty to choose from.

Note that blues musicians rarely use sheet music (my guess is that most can't even read it) - it is an improvisational tradition. There are books on improvising blues piano too. Amazon's search reveals them just as easily. Use the reviews, and the contents listings, to decide which book covers the kind of sound you aspire to.


With blues and jazz, there's really not the concept of a "standard repertoire" of the kind recognised by classical music students. This isn't really because the form is young (it's had 100 years or so, and developed from folk, after all) but because it's so broad and varied and, as I've said, improvisational.

There is the concept of the "blues standard" and the "jazz standard". A jazz soloist can show up at a club and tell the house band "Rainbow in A", and they'll play "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (without sheet music) for him to solo over.

However that's just a melody and a chord progression; not an arrangement.

For an example of this, search YouTube for "Mojo Workin" and watch a few of the videos of Muddy Waters performing it. Notice this is the same band leader, and in many cases the same backing musicians, but no two performances are the same. Different tempos, parts assigned to different instruments, different grooves; and it's likely these arose organically at each performance.

... then look at other people performing the same song, and see how their versions are completely different too.

You don't really learn a blues piece. You learn a collection of blues patterns. You learn how to improvise your own in a similar style. You assemble these into a performance of a song; you do it differently each time.

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I wanted to believe that it wasn't a shopping question, which is why I commented. +1 for another great answer. –  cornbread ninja Feb 23 '12 at 16:30
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I liked your answer, but firmly believe that my question does not ask for shopping recommendation. In Classical music, we hear of a 'standard repertoire' and that contains seminal works that define and form the path for any student's progress. You may say this is a matter of opinion, but the different opinions converge largely on the works of a few masters. My question tries to identify a counterpart for this in blues. I ask if there is a standard as against seeking a personal recommendation. –  gigahari Feb 27 '12 at 11:57
    
Apparently, this is yet to be established in this genre partly because, as you say, it is very improvisational in nature and partly because the genre itself is much younger. –  gigahari Feb 27 '12 at 11:57
    
@gigahari I'm going to extend my answer to deal with your comments. –  slim Feb 27 '12 at 12:00

Blues is rarely played or or written using scores, at least for a complete song. The chord structure and common scales are quite simple and there is typically a lot of improvisation on top of it. This makes "Blues jams" so popular, you can easily sit in with people you have never played with and songs you may have never heard. So while it's a perfectly good start to learn and play transcribed scores, you may not actually get fully into it unless you move without scores. It's most of the fun anyway.

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