In recent years blues backing tracks have become a key practice tool. Combined with an iPod and a harmonica, you have a portable studio, with a world of practice opportunities in your pocket.
Blues has many styles, familiar to all good players. Below are twenty (mostly) blues styles. They will keep you occupied. Some styles are slow, some medium, some quick. It is good to be across all of them.
Common blues keys are G, A, C, D, E and F, each (usually) needing a different harmonica key. It is worth practising with a variety of harmonica keys, as each one requires different techniques. Each of the 20 backing track styles is provided in the 6 keys listed here. Become familiar with these keys, the experience will help your live performances.
Each track lasts about 4 minutes, or around 8 to 10 choruses. A blues solo is usually 2 choruses only. So rather than playing continuously, try two choruses then rest for one, and think about what to play next time you come in. This matches a live performance, and reduces the risk of playing the same solo over and over.
The tracks are particularly good for recording. You will improve rapidly if you record youself. The results most probably won't sound how you want them at first, but not to worry. Harmonica Academy is a place for learning, hearing yourself will help a lot. A free computer based recording package and tip for using it are here.
The backing tracks have been made with Band in a Box, which now uses real music tracks with excellent results. Listen to these tracks and judge for yourself. Above all, enjoy.
Here are the 20 different styles.