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Lesson 90: Roots

Finding the Source

Especially when it comes to musical genres/ styles with deep and strong roots, like:

  • blues
  • bossa nova/ samba
  • gypsy jazz
  • reggae
  • soul
it's important to go to the source.

Find the source/ the mother lode/ the roots and immerse yourself in the whole thing - not just

  • the feel
  • the sound
but also
  • the look
  • the smell
  • the taste
of it - I'm talking about the whole culture/ the life/ the place in the world it stems from and belongs to.

Example: the Blues

If you're going to play the blues, you have to know what the blues is and where it comes from. The blues is not sophisticated, it's not about a decent middle/ upper-class living with a good job, a good life, a happy family, good health...

The blues is down-to-earth, low-down, it's about having hit the bottom, having bitten the dust and knowing the taste of it. The blues is

  • smelly - the smell of sweat, tobacco, alcohol, oil, gasoline, smoke, dirt, mud and shit
  • bad-tasting - the taste of blood as well as most of the things mentioned above...
  • about feeling bad - the feeling of your lover cheating on you or leaving you, or of "not getting any at all"
  • about being mistreated - by other people or by society in general
  • very much ( let's face it!) about black people's sufferings through history - slavery, prejudice...
I'm not saying that blues is desperate, sad music. It's not - there's a lot of hope and comfort in the blues and that's really what it's about and for...

2006 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.