Learning the solos of your favourite players is one of the best ways of developing your musical repertoire.
It will help you build a vocabulary of ‘go-to’ licks that you can use in your solos and improvisations, and develop your lead guitar technique.
When you study the solos of iconic blues guitarists, you can see how they craft individual ideas and connect them together over the course of a solo.
Over time, you can then adapt and develop these ideas and make them your own. In this way, you can learn from your favourite blues guitarists, whilst retaining your own musical voice.
There is an almost unlimited number of blues songs out there that you could potentially learn to develop your musical vocabulary.
However, one that I think is useful for players of all levels, is Eric Clapton’s beautiful blues pop ballad ‘Wonderful Tonight’.
The song appeared on Clapton’s 1977 solo album Slowhand and was dedicated to his then wife Pattie Boyd. Boyd had previously been married to George Harrison, and interestingl inspired a whole range of iconic songs, including:
- Something – The Beatles
- Layla – Derek & The Dominos
- Bell Bottom Blues – Derek & The Dominos
- Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton wrote and recorded the Derek & The Dominos album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs when Boyd was still married to Harrison. He did so partly (or largely!) as a way of convincing Boyd to leave Harrison and start a relationship with him.
Long story short, we have Pattie Boyd to thank for some wonderful blues music! 😁
At first site, Wonderful Tonight might not seem like an obvious choice for study. It is not a conventional blues song by any stretch of the imagination, and Clapton has certainly crafted more exciting guitar parts over the course of his career.
However, it is partly for this reason that the song makes such an effective choice. No matter what level you are, the song illustrates the power of adopting a restrained approach in your playing.
Clapton also highlights how you can take a simple idea and turn it into a very memorable piece of guitar playing through phrasing, nuance and technique.
Beyond these broader points, Wonderful Tonight offers specific benefits, depending on your playing level.
If you are at the beginning of your playing journey, working through Wonderful Tonight will develop your bending accuracy and use of dynamics.
If you are an intermediate, you can use the starting framework that Clapton provides to work on creating your own motifs and improvising with simple note groupings. You can also work on developing confidence moving laterally up and down the fretboard when soloing.
Finally, if you are an advanced player, you can use Wonderful Tonight to explore major scale and relative minor scale soloing. You can also practice soloing with restraint and work on using every technique in your repertoire to create vocal and expressive lines.
Put another way, don’t let the initial simplicity of the guitar part put you off. There is something in this song for everyone 😁
In this course you will learn:
- How to play the main solo motif in Wonderful Tonight
- The musical context over which Eric Clapton is playing, and how this impacts the scales and ideas he uses in his playing
- How to recreate Clapton’s beautiful clean guitar tone
- Ways that Clapton modifies the motif when playing live
- How you can improvise and create musical ideas in the same style
So with that in mind, let’s get into it!
When you are ready to do so, head over to the first lesson of the course. There we will be looking at the musical context of the song and the chords over which Eric Clapton is soloing.
This will help you to understand how the song is constructed and how it connects with the ideas that Clapton uses in his lead guitar playing. See you over there! 😁