Dynamics are essential to music, therefore essential to our playing. Dynamics is the change of volume in a note or section of music. A great comparison is in the way we speak, we raise and lower the volume of our voices in regular conversation without thinking about it as should good music. We can well imagine how monotonous a conversation could be without dynamics, just think of Ben Stein’s character in Ferris Buller’s Day Off. I think we get the point. If we listen to any master musician of any genre we will hear dynamics in their playing, any group, symphony, soloist, etc. If it’s good, we will hear dynamics.

It is easy to overlook dynamics at first, we get so involved in scales, licks, and technique that the finer points of music get lost. This is common so if you haven’t given them much thought, don’t sweat it. Like everything in music, it is a life long pursuit.

We can start practicing dynamics by playing a blues like I do in the video, a regular old boogie woogie pattern. What I suggest is to accent the downbeats of each measure, you will hear a difference immediately. I also suggest the you try overdoing it, for example, play as softly as you can, then as hard as you can, this will help you to gain control over your dynamics. I will bring up those words intent and control again. By practicing with intent we gain control over the instrument, and control is everything.

Tighten Up Your Blues is a weekly video guitar lesson series by longtime TrueFire educator Jeff McErlain. In this series, Jeff will focus on nuance and all the finer points of touch, feel, and inflection in blues guitar playing. Be sure to subscribe!

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