Boogie Woogie music has been around for almost a century but it wasn’t until the 1930s and 1940s that it became a big hit.
Boogie Woogie is a kind of blues played on a piano but where blues is typically associated with music that has plenty of emotions, boogie Woogie is meant to be danced to. You will find that the lyrics of early boogie woogie songs contained instructions for listeners on how to dance to the tune.
History of Boogie Woogie
Researchers have yet to identify the origins of Boogie Woogie but there are many who claim that the term itself was coined from four African terms such as Boog, Booga, Bogi and Mbuki Mvuki. All of these terms are referring to the same things and these are dancing, percussiveness and behaviors that are totally uninhibited. These terms show that the Boogie Woogie may had originated from Africa and was brought to the United States by African-Americans.
Main Pianists of Boogie Woogie
There are more than a dozen musicians who tried their hand in playing Boogie Woogie. History shows that Albert Ammons was one of the many who had a big influence to this kind of piano playing with his hit “Boogie Woogie Stomp”. There were two more pianists who made a name for themselves alongside Ammons and these are Pete Johnson and Meade Lewis.
Before these heavyweitghts came into the spotlight, the Boogie Woogie piano music was on the shoulders of ‘Pine Top’ Smith and Jimmy Yancey. Nowadays, Boogie Woogie piano music is being played by artists such as Silvan Zingg, Rob Rio and Axel Zwingenberger. These artists are also considered to be among the best contemporary artists of their time.
How to Play Boogie Woogie Piano Music
Anyone can play boogie woogie piano music as long as they are familiar with how to play the piano and is learned in the art of reading music chords. For first timers, playing boogie woogie may be a bit challenging that is why it is best that you listen first to some of the best boogie woogie songs out there such as those played by Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson. Also, you should look for a music teacher who is familiar with Boogie Woogie piano music so they can teach you properly.
While you are on your own you should keep on practicing the basslines for boogie woogie as well as the two-bar figures. Try practicing the turnaround as well as the pickup-putdown method then combine them with two-bar figures and bassline and you have a good boogie woogie piano music.
As you can see, anyone who knows how to play the piano can learn how to play boogie woogie music on their own. Of course, learning it can be quite challenging but this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to learn it all. You just need to put a lot of heart and effort into playing boogie woogie and for sure, you will be able to play it with ease.
Although boogie woogie music didn’t become popular until the 1930s, its origins were laid in the 19th century.
The main inspiration for the pumping left-hand patterns were the steam locomotives and railroads that opened up the United States, offering hope and opportunities to the newly anticipated Afro-Americans.
According to Dr. John Tennison, a historian and an accomplished musician himself, the geographical center of boogie woogie music was most likely the city of Marshall in Texas.
The first real boogie woogie hit was Pinetop Boogie Woogie, recorded in 1928 by Pinetop Smith. This commercial success was soon to be followed by Honky Tonk Train Blues, a hit recorded by Meade Lux Lewis.
Even in the 21st century, boogie woogie music is kept alive by exiting, talented piano players.
On a regular basis, I interview these pianists. I ask them how their first encounter with boogie woogie was, how they managed to become a professional pianist and whether they have tips and suggestions for us.
Whether you’re looking to play at family gatherings, in your local bar or at bigger stages, these interviews with boogie woogie stars from the USA and Europe will definitely hold your interest. So go check them out!