Bernard Whitefield's Beginner's Boogie Woogie

Express To The Music Links

Bernard Whitefield

An interesting collection for beginners.

Boogie Woogie is one of the oldest forms of popular music having developed along in the lower reaches of the Mississippi River about half a century ago. From there it gradually spread northwards and then to the East, pausing along the way at Kansas City and Chicago where it received new impetus and also gave birth to other popular forms. Today Boogie Woogie is returning in all its glory and "pristine purity".

The distinguishing feature of Boogie Woogie is the driving eight beat rhythm carried by the left hand. This must never stop but surges on as a foundation for counter rhythms in the right hand. Swing, however, lies in the right hand, which concerns itself with playing "around the melody"; the left hand usually carrying a simple accompaniment.

In Boogie Woogie the structure of the bass patterns is built up from the tones of chords based on the Tonic, Subdominant and Dominant and their inversions. In the right hand Boogie Woogie seems to have a preference for major seventh and ninth chords, the minors being reserved for "blue notes".

It will be noticed that there are many seeming dissonances in Boogie Woogie: for example a D sharp in the left hand against a D natural in the right hand. This is not a deliberate harmonization but rather a by-product, albeit a common one, of the rhythm. This rhythm being due, of course to the constant repetition of groups of 4 quarter notes (occasionally) or 8 eighth notes (characteristic) to the measure, the right hand moving about meanwhile. Thus, the dissonances are really frequent passing tones.

Boogie Woogie is never played "slow". It ranges in tempo from medium to fast. So also with dynamics - it is seldom, if ever played "soft", but varies from medium-soft to loud. Thus nuances and tempi are seldom marked in this form of music. Now don't go to extremes and race away and pound the keys. Use a good firm touch and keep it moving.

Syncopation almost always occurs in the right hand against a regular beat in the left hand in popular music. The essence of syncopation is the accent on a weak beat. Now all rhythm has normally strong and weak beats. March time - 4-4 time - has the accent on the first and third beats, thus - ONE, two, THREE, four, - LEFT, right, LEFT, right. This is similar to Fox-trot rhythm. (Waltz time is ONE, two three, etc.) If the beats are divided into eighth notes, it is counted ONE and Two and THREE and Four and, etc. the numbers being stronger than the "ands". But if we put the strength or accent on the two and four - one, TWO, three, FOUR, - or on the "ands" - one AND two AND three AND four AND - we then have syncopation. Observe carefully all TIED NOTES. TIES are one of the commonest ways of getting a strong effect on a weak beat.

True Boogie Woogie is not easy. Its playing requires a high degree of technical training. However, there are many "fans" who do not have this technical equipment, or who are in the course of acquiring it. Therefore, this volume is dedicated to the multitude of Boogie Woogie devotees who are learners, from the ages of 6 to 60.

Bernard Whitefield
"An interesting collection for beginners"
is available in printed form, .pdf, midi, recorded on cassette or CD

To order anything click here

For a somewhat out of date and incomplete list of midi files click here

Why midi and mp3 files? Midi files contain information, not sound. This information is sent to your sound card or synth. What you hear is the result of your hardware, not neccesarily what I hear.
I have recorded many, not all of my midi files, using my synths. The mp3 files allow you to hear what I intended not what your hardware defines.
Mp3 files are compressed sound files, not quite as good as original .wav files. If you order the cd - you will get the best sound as I intended it to be.

Music Links

midi Araboogie

mp3 Araboogie (my synths)

midi Big Chief Boogie Woogie

mp3 Big Chief Boogie Woogie
(my synths)

midi Blue Stomp

mp3 Blue Stomp
(my synths)

midi Boogie Woogie Choo Choo

mp3 Boogie Woogie Choo Choo (my synths)

midi Catching Flies

mp3 Catching Flies (my synths)

midi Cleopatra

mp3 Cleopatra (my synths)

midi Dig It Brother!

mp3 Dig It Brother! (my synths)

midi Hiccups

mp3 Hiccups (my synths)

midi High Hat Boogie

mp3 High Hat Boogie (my synths)

midi Highland Blues

mp3 Highland Blues (my synths)

midi Hopscotch Blues

mp3 Hopscotch Blues (my synths)

midi Jungle Boogie

mp3 Jungle Boogie (my synths)

midi Milkshake

mp3 Milkshake (my synths)

midi Scooter Ride

mp3 Scooter Ride (my synths)

midi Sleigh Ride

mp3 Sleigh Ride (my synths)

midi Taking A Walk

mp3 Taking A Walk (my synths)

midi Taxicab Honks

mp3 Taxicab Honks (my synths)

midi Walking The Dog

mp3 Walking The Dog (my synths)

midi Walking The Kerb

mp3 Walking The Kerb (my synths)

midi Window Shopping

mp3 Window Shopping
(my synths)

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