One of the pioneers of Chicago blues accompaniment is Robert Junior Lockwood, who recorded with Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Muddy Waters and a bunch of other Chicago greats. As you can see in the next examples, the guy deserves a statue himself.
These examples use intervals combined with melody / basslines.
This way of accompanying is pretty thick, so if you're using it, play behind the singer or soloist, meaning soft.
Accompaniment Riff Ex 1 - CD 20 (mp3 click here : )
TAB Acompaniment Riff Ex 01
The riff that R.J. Lockwood built his career on uses notes from the mixolydian scale and harmonizes them (2 or more notes played at the same time). The flatted third is used as a guiding tone to the major third. Keep your middle finger on the sixth fret (the major third of the scale). If you're playing through a blues progression, just follow the chords and move the pattern up the neck to the IV and V chord. Keep a good eye on where the tonic of the chord is and you'll know where to start the riff. Use the tonic on the D string as a marker.
The riff on the IV and V chord can also be played at the same position as the I chord riff.
Accompaniment Riff 2 - CD 21 (mp3 click here : )
TAB Acompaniment Riff Ex 02
Just move this riff up the neck two frets and you'll have the V
You can also play each note separately in triplets. Here it becomes so thick it can easily be "mistaken" as a solo.
Accompaniment Riff 3 - CD 22
TAB Acompaniment Riff Ex 03
Note the little alteration in beats 2 and 6 of the riff. This creates tension and releases it. Play this riff slow at first. The right hand technique can be pretty tricky. Use alternating picking where possible.
These riffs can all be harmonized by adding another note
from the mixolydian scale to the top note of the riff.
The note you're adding is a (major or minor) third above this top note. Remember to always use the mixolydian scale that goes with the chord you're playing on.
Accompaniment riff 4 - CD 23
TAB Acompaniment Riff Ex 04
In example 4 another R.J. Lockwood position is introduced.
Examples 1-3 can all be played in this position.
The tonic you're using as a marker is on the A string and is one string up and one fret up from the note you're sliding into.
Note: all these riffs lead INTO a chord. Always use the beginning of the riff that goes with the chord you're leading into. So skip the triplet on the last beat and start playing the next riff.
This way of anticipating a chord in a progression is used a lot in Swing. It creates tension that is then released when you get to the actual chord. Be sure to use the right riff there or you'll send your fellow musicians up a creek.
The last accompaniment examples were all quite intense. Because of their nature, you can use them as part of your solo or as a "special chorus".
These can also form a very exciting part of playing swing and jump blues when mixed in with chord riffs and solo breaks. You will find more of these examples in the CHORD chapters.
Swing Blues Guitar Lessons Home Page