Blues School: Vamps

A vamp is a repeating phrase, usually two or four bars in length that can perform three musical functions: to act as an introduction, to keep the groove going, to provide a background for improvisation. A vamp usually consists of a well-defined, two-fisted rhythmic pattern that is based on one or two chords.


Blues Vamp #1

The classic Muddy Waters vamp, good at slow tempos...

Blues Vamp

Reminder: Don't forget to "shuffle" the eighth notes.

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Blues Vamp #2

Walking bass with syncopated chords...

Blues Vamp

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Blues Vamp #3

Circular bass line with neighbor chords and minor-major mixture...

Blues Vamp

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Blues Vamp #4

Using all the blue notes: b3, b7, b5...

Blues Vamp

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Blues Vamp #5

Conjuring images of the swamp...

Blues Vamp

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Blues Vamp #6

Slow, very laid back minor vamp a la "Ain't No Sunshine" ...

Blues Vamp

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Blues Vamp #7

The classic "Hit the Road, Jack" vamp...

Blues Vamp

Transpose the patterns you like to all keys that you expect to play in.

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Blues Vamp #8

Heavy emphasis on the b5 in a triplet riff...

Blues Vamp

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Blues Vamp #9

Jazzy minor vamp using thick chords and octaves, syncopation, and emphasis on the b5...

Blues Vamp

Reminder: Don't simply "memorize" these vamps. Internalize the patterns.

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Blues Vamp #10

Think of this as a C power chord, then a Bb power chord over a C pedal point. Power chords provides a very beefy, tonally ambiguous (major or minor?) sound...

Blues Vamp

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