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Big Road Blues Discussion Forums 2005-05-04T14:50:38+00:00 2005-05-04T14:50:38+00:00 <![CDATA[RE: ''Spann's Boogie '' sheetmusic]]>
So much great advice has already been posted on this topic. I am an old piano player still gigging steadily, playing and singing the blues. I took about 1 1/2 years of piano lessons between the ages of 6 and 8 and then my parents couldn't afford the 25 cents the 1/2 lessons cost anymore. I first heard Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" on the radio at age 8 and learned it by ear, it is the first record I ever bought with my own money.

I am 53 now and am very willing to help anyway I can with teaching anyone blues piano. I am not a good sight reader, I know the notes on the staff but mainly play by chord charts or ear. I cannot stress enough how important I think it is to learn to play by ear. You learn the subtleties and nuances of the players you study. You learn how the music is played from the heart and with soul. This does not translate well to sheet music.

I think it is important for each player to figure the music out as best they can and post what they know and questions about passages, chords or anything else. I am here to do what I can to help.

Statistics: Posted by doc williamson — Wed May 04, 2005 2:50 pm

2005-04-28T18:51:04+00:00 <![CDATA[RE: ''Spann's Boogie '' sheetmusic]]>
Chug - chunka chunka chunk chunka - how would you describe that left hand boogie thing? I called it a chug. Don't know what else to call it. As in choo choo. Like a good blues harp player can get going. Makes you want to move..

Bars - blues is sometimes played in bars. Lots of times played in the parlour, porch and backyard with friends. 12 Bar blues - drunk. 16 Bar blues - falling down drunk.

Swingin' triplets - the swing feel that jazz/blues players do naturally and classical players have a hard time understanding. It can't be notated accurately.

And I couldn't even tell you why I tried to describe a "walking octave bass line". And E = MC squared makes atomic bombs. Wha?

In a nutshell - its pointless to describe what is more easily seen and heard. So, pay no mind to my babble. Play your music and be happy.

Statistics: Posted by bno — Thu Apr 28, 2005 6:51 pm

2005-04-26T16:15:37+00:00 <![CDATA[RE: ''Spann's Boogie '' sheetmusic]]> Statistics: Posted by jeffl — Tue Apr 26, 2005 4:15 pm

2005-04-26T15:14:20+00:00 <![CDATA[RE: ''Spann's Boogie '' sheetmusic]]>
I agree with you that's it's great to have some more folks on here. but for the life of me, I didn't understand one thing from bno's post. Talking about scales, chugs, triplets, and bars - man, I get lost with all those fancy terms and technical stuff.

I'm sure I've got equivalent terms for these, but I'll be damned if I know what they are. Oh well, it's fun reading, anyway.

Welcome to the group, guys!!!


Statistics: Posted by meilankev — Tue Apr 26, 2005 3:14 pm

2005-04-20T15:36:24+00:00 <![CDATA[RE: ''Spann's Boogie '' sheetmusic]]> Statistics: Posted by jeffl — Wed Apr 20, 2005 3:36 pm

2005-04-20T15:14:49+00:00 <![CDATA[RE: ''Spann's Boogie '' sheetmusic]]>
I think the transcription is pretty accurate, but it's really not terribly "readable" -- I think it was a mistake to notate those dotted eighth-note + sixteenth notes to give a shuffle feel, rather than just use eighth notes and, if necessary (??) write out at the top "swing feel" or something like that.

Since the whole piece isn't transcribed in the book, it would probably be pretty easy to complete the transcription on one's own...

Whoops -- just realized the thread was about "Spann's Boogie," not "Spann's Stomp." Easy to get confused, I suppose. Anyway, I'd be willing to help with the transcription here, or one could check in with yahoogroup's "Boogiewoogiesheetmusic" (where I've also given some transcriptions of Rebennack's stuff) but definitely check's archives for some validation and theory behind doing the ear-training/learning method for jazz (hint: also works for blues!)

Statistics: Posted by j_tour — Wed Apr 20, 2005 3:14 pm

2005-04-18T16:25:58+00:00 <![CDATA[RE: ''Spann's Boogie '' sheetmusic]]>
Then to boogie. Basically its built on rocking the left hand in octaves - 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 6, 5, 3, 1 (and variations). You have to roll that thumb/pinky octave until that fleshy muscle on the pinky side of your palm starts to cramp and hurt; it takes time to build some stamina. Listen to swing jazz bass players because a boogie piano player is basically walking a bass line. Listen to ragtime and stride players, too.

You might want to check out

I've used the Guitar Master classes and they are well done. Pretty good bang for the buck.


Statistics: Posted by bno — Mon Apr 18, 2005 4:25 pm

2005-04-17T18:33:52+00:00 <![CDATA[RE: ''Spann's Boogie '' sheetmusic]]> >Let him find the groove in his ears, head and heart. This
>will drive him to get the blues/boogie down real good. It
>may take some time, so start on easy tunes (if there is such
>a thing !!). Learn him to play a single tune, but with
>different "feels" / timing / tempos, to get a sense of how
>many ways you can play the same tune. I believe it is
>important to do this, to learn how to play it your own way -
>ie improvising.

I'd like to second this advice -- this is really great, sound advice. Philosophical, even. I'm coming in from the place of someone who began playing blues piano at around 14-15-16, switching from guitar, transcribing whatever I could from the records themselves. I think some of the things I was working out at the time were one of Ray Charles's early Atlantic piano solos in Db (!), Ray's "The Genius After Hours" track (blues in C), John Mayall's accompaniment to Clapton on the Robert Johnson tune on "Bluesbreakers," and boogie stuff from Mac Rebennack.

After a few years or perhaps more of playing, transcribing, and listening, I've concluded that to learn how to improvise like the great musicians is to do the work oneself -- reading is useful for evaluating the accuracy of your own transcriptions, or for studying methods of notating rhythm others employ, or so forth, but reading alone just doesn't seem to cause the lessons to sink in the same way as transcribing accurately on one's own.

You don't need to be talented or have any equipment other than a sharp pencil, some staff paper, preferably some equipment which allows you to slow down fast runs, and lots of patience. I'd recommend checking's forum archives for the basic "philosophy" of transcribing jazz which I've found helpful for reference's sake -- I hope it's not against the rules to link to an outside site (if so, I'll erase the reference, of course) --

I only know of two half-way decent sources of Spann transcriptions out there -- one's by Eric Kriss in one of his books (which contains *a* boogie by Spann -- I don't remember which one) and the other is by ... drawing a blank on his name -- British author of a series of slim transcriptions by a bunch of diverse jazz/blues guys and chicks, I think called _Jazz Piano_ v. 6, of "Spann's Blues" (the shuffle in A on one of the Candid recordings). The problem is, just like someone said earlier, how do *you* know these are accurate? Why bother to learn the material from the page if it isn't something Spann would have played -- or, worse, isn't really playable? Not to mention that the blues is an aural tradition -- like any improvised music, the ears are going to be guiding you at whatever you're playing at.

I just did two Spann numbers about a month ago --one, "Nobody Knows My Troubles" (first solo) from Chicago, 1965 solo recording, and the second, "Tin Pan Alley," Chicago ca 1968/69 with Sammy Lawhorn, Pee Wee Madison, Calvin Jones, and Francis Clay. I could post the first one, with the proviso that it's not very accurate, probably, although it's reasonably so. The second example is a perfect illustration of why Spann's so tricky to accurately get down on paper -- I didn't even attempt to notate the rhythm. It's as difficult as anything I've transcribed, including the fastest boogie numbers, Hammond organ bebop at 300 bpm, anything, for just that reason. And it's the slowest of the slow blues -- killer low-register Spann solo, though!

I'd think that if your son wanted to make his own attempt to transcribe some Spann and possibly post the results here, he'd find a lot of help from people who own the recording and probably some offers to help complete the transcription/enter it into Finale or another notation software. I'd probably be interested in writing out a chorus, for example, and I imagine others who know standard notation might be willing to carve out some time to do so as well.

Not to stress the necessity of writing everything down -- it's just I personally got into the habit of doing that, helps with remembering and figuring out different ways of looking at the rhythms. I'd bet the vast majority of really great blues players -- hell, plenty of the greatest *jazz* musicians couldn't read -- didn't bother with that step -- but it *can* help to keep your focus on "one note at a time" on some tricky thing.

Good luck,


Statistics: Posted by j_tour — Sun Apr 17, 2005 6:33 pm

2005-04-15T20:21:33+00:00 <![CDATA[RE: ''Spann's Boogie '' sheetmusic]]>
Hey "lurks" !

My advice, from someone, now 34 years old, but started to learn blues piano /boogies by myself, when I was around 15 years old.

Let your boy pick it up for himself (without sheet music). Let him find the groove in his ears, head and heart. This will drive him to get the blues/boogie down real good. It may take some time, so start on easy tunes (if there is such a thing !!). Learn him to play a single tune, but with different "feels" / timing / tempos, to get a sense of how many ways you can play the same tune. I believe it is important to do this, to learn how to play it your own way - ie improvising.

Find a tune he can play already, and find different ways to play the tune to make it sound a little different.

Then let him have another stab at the Otis tunes and I bet he will suss out the tune better and play it with more feel.

Statistics: Posted by snakehips — Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:21 pm

2005-04-13T12:05:21+00:00 <![CDATA[RE: ''Spann's Boogie '' sheetmusic]]> >tricks, as there are fewer of these guys as well.

Welcome to the board, and you may well be in the right place. If there are any old blues guys about, they are likely to be found here.

Statistics: Posted by david — Wed Apr 13, 2005 12:05 pm