Learn How To Do Genre Blending

Characteristics of Genres

Blues

The first genre to look at is blues. Blues is one of the oldest genres in popular music, and therefore has very simple traits. The twelve-bar blues is a chord progression that most everyone is familiar with.

I-I-I-I
IV-IV-I-I
V-IV-I-I

In the key of C this would be:

C-C-C-C
F-F-C-C
G-F-C-C

Commonly, each chord is played for four beats each, and each chord is a dominant seventh. The dominant seventh chord in itself is very bluesy.

Country

Modern country music is a derivative of folk, bluegrass, and blues. As such, it shares many similar characteristics. A skill essential for country guitar playing is finger-picking. There are a variety of picking styles, but one of the most common is Travis picking. The thumb plays a simple alternating bassline on the E and A strings, while the remaining fingers fill in the melody.

p mi p am p mi p ai

e-------------3----------------3-----|
B-----0--------0------0---------0----|
G-------0---------------0------------|
D------------------------------------|
A----------2---------------2---------|
E--3--------------3------------------|

The pattern above is a typical Travis picking style riff. The thumb plays the G and B on the E and A strings, and the index, middle and ring fingers fill in the chord on the G, B, and e strings.

Rock

Rock 'n' roll is one of the most versatile genres, with a wide web of inclusion. One feature that most sub-genres of rock have is the power chord. A power chord is simply a perfect fifth interval. This interval is loved in rock because it has an almost universal shape on the guitar neck, so that it can be used anywhere; the lack of a third gives the music an indeterminate sound, not major nor minor; and the distortion commonly used in rock makes full chords sound messy, but not the power chord.

D--5--| B--6--| e--6--|
A--5--| G--5--| B--6--|
E--3--| D--3--| G--3--|

Funk

Funk is a study all itself, with a composition that takes years to fully understand. On any instrument in funk, the key is syncopation: moving the beat out of place. On guitar, you can use sixteenth-note riffs with very jazzy chords to achieve a funk sound. Instead of accenting the downbeats, try delaying a note for one beat.

e----------------------------------------| 
B--7-x-x-x---7-x-x-x---x-7-x-x---7-x-x-x-|
G--7-x-x-x---7-x-x-x---x-7-x-x---7-x-x-x-|
D--6-x-x-x---6-x-x-x---x-6-x-x---6-x-x-x-|
A--7-x-x-x---7-x-x-x---x-7-x-x---7-x-x-x-|
E----------------------------------------|

In the above example I use an E9 chord and move the beat on "3" to "e".

Blending Genres

As an example, let's create a funk-rock blend. We can start with choosing a power chord (F, for instance), then build a rhythm around it.

D--3-x-x-3-x-x-3-x-|--x-3-x-3-x-x-3-x-|
A--3-x-x-3-x-x-3-x-|--x-3-x-3-x-x-3-x-|
E--1-x-x-1-x-x-1-x-|--x-1-x-1-x-x-1-x-|

We have an F power chord played In a 3-3-2 rhythm for the first bar. Then, on the second bar, we change the first beat to the "&" of 1. This creates an interesting riff that can be used Ina number of locations.

One more example, this time will choose country and blues.

G--------------------------------|-------------------------------|
D-----0------0-----0-------0-----|----0------0-----0-------0-----|
A---------2-------------2--------|-------2-------------2---------|
E--3------------3----------------|-3------------3----------------|

G-----0-----0----0------0---|-------------------------|
D---------2----------2------|----0-----0----0------0--|
A--3-----------3------------|-------2-----------2-----|
E---------------------------|--3-----------3----------|

G----0-----0------0------0-----|-----------------------------|
D--------4-------------2-------|----0-----0------0-------0---|
A--5------------3--------------|--------2-------------2------|
E------------------------------|--3------------3-------------|

We use a vaguely Travis picking style, with a twelve-bar blues progression. This is a common blend of genres, as country was originally influenced by blues.

Thank you for reading. I hope this lesson was informative and useful. Watch for more lessons by me.


Ashutosh Pande
Ashutosh Pande

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