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#1130513 - 12/09/08 06:27 PM Blues scales
Oneless Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/09/08
Posts: 6
Loc: UK
I’m confused about blues scales and would appreciate some help.

I’ve seen the list of blues scales at Michael Furstner’s Jazclass site; let’s imagine I’m playing a straight 12-bar blues in, say, C. In this case, it seems OK to improvise on the C blues scale in the C, F or G sections. Similarly, if I’m playing a blues in G, it seems OK to improvise on the G blues scale in the G, C and D sections.

Are the above ‘major blues scales’? And are there also ‘minor blues scales’? If so, what are they?

“St James’ Infirmary”, goes:

Em/B7/Em
Am/B7
Em/B7/Em
C7/B7/Em

Is this a blues in Em? If so, what is the scale upon which I can improvise? Would it be the same scale throughout the whole of the above?

Sorry if the above are stupid questions!

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#1130514 - 12/09/08 07:23 PM Re: Blues scales
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
The typical blues scale is with a b3rd and the b7th. Blues players always sharp the 4th.In a minor blues, one can flat the 6th in that the IV chord is minor. Blues scales are played modally throughout the entire progression. Your solos can become fairly humdrum if you rely on this scale. A jazz player playing blues will play againest the changes along with incorporating the blues scale modally. It's all in what you want to do or sound like. Listen to jazz players with roots in the blues like Oscar Peterson,Ray Bryant,Gene Harris,Monty Alexander,Jimmy Smith and others to get a feel for jazz players playing the blues. Good luck!
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#1130515 - 12/09/08 10:05 PM Re: Blues scales
squid808 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/16/08
Posts: 4
it's weird... not many scales involve a major and a minor third as tones - as in, actual tones that you can use, not just as passing tones (I hope that made sense)

In a blues I usually use both. Here's the possible tones I use when I solo (example in C)

C
D
Eb
E
F
F#
G
A
Bb

Your best bet is to infer things from the melody lines, if a melody does not involve both maj/min thirds, then pick one or the other. Example tunes could be: Billy's Bounce (uses both) or, Blues in the Closet (only uses maj).

General rule: what sounds good, IS good ;\) \:D

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#1130516 - 12/10/08 01:59 AM Re: Blues scales
Jazz+ Offline
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Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
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There are two C Blues scales. Players improvise back and forth within each of them and combine them. B.B. King has spent his whole career playing combinations and subsets of these two scales on his tunes.

C Blues Scale (minor, most common, "greasy")

C Eb F F# G Bb

C "Happy" Blues Scale (major, same as A minor blues scale)

C D D# E G A
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#1130517 - 12/10/08 03:46 AM Re: Blues scales
pianobroker Offline
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Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Whats BB King and KFC have in common? There both greasy \:D Finger licking blues riffs!
You're not suppose to be "happy" playing the blues
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#1130518 - 12/10/08 04:15 AM Re: Blues scales
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11801
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
C Blues Scale (most common, "greasy")

C Eb F F# G Bb

C "Happy" Blues Scale

C D D# E G A
Yesterday I was fooling around with the first one, which I only know from my theory book. They stiffly say that intervals are "min3 maj2 those 3 half steps, maj2 min3 (to the next C)"
So I was noticing that if you play only black keys for a Pentatonic scale, Eb Gb Ab Bb Db Eb, and if you stick a white key between Ab and Bb, you get that blues scale: Eb Gb Ab Anat Bb Db Eb. It's like you have these two black keys, and you start on the second one, play the rest of the black keys but stick in a white key for a chromatic bit once you hit Ab. Easy as pie.

So this "Happy blues", if I do the same thing, but start and end on Gb, I get the happy blues. It's the same notes starting elsewhere :Gb Ab Anat Bb Db Eb. - black keys, sticking in a white A. So going back to theory land, are these blues: maj2 (3 chromatic notes) min3 maj2 min3 ?

In Squid's example, I see 9 notes (like extra notes) - Do people stick in extra half steps like chromatic runs when it sounds right? Is the blues scale sort of "fluid" in that way?

 Quote:
not many scales involve a major and a minor third as tones
I don't see major thirds, though. I'm seeing major seconds and minor thirds. I'm trying to understand rather than being critical since the blues scale is new to me.

Are the pentatonic scale and blues related somehow? Just curious.

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#1130519 - 12/10/08 07:56 AM Re: Blues scales
Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/07
Posts: 290
Loc: Massachusetts
The "blues scale" is a minor pentatonic scale with the flat-5 added.

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#1130520 - 12/10/08 08:13 AM Re: Blues scales
Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/07
Posts: 290
Loc: Massachusetts
I've told this anecdote before, although I'm sure it is long forgotten. It represents an epiphany for me (under the guidance of a teacher).

I approached my piano teacher with this statement: I am having trouble making sense out of the blues scale.

He said: that's because it's not about playing the blues scale, it's about playing the blues.

Then he gave me an assignment for the next week: memorize ten blues heads (melodies).

So I did that, I scoured everything I knew and scraped together ten and learned them.

At my next lesson, I played all ten for him. Then he said, learn ten more for the next week.

In the middle of the week, I started to understand what he meant. Great blues melodies aren't constructed out of the blues scale. It is more like the blues scale was extracted by people out of these great melodies. What makes sense are the bluesy patterns that make up these melodies, which can or can't be represented by a single all-purpose scale. It doesn't work like that.

So I got out of the trap of practicing and playing the blues scale (you know what, offhand I can't think of any recorded example I've ever heard where the "blues scale" was used in a monotonically ascending manner, at least other than a two- or three-note pattern -- on the other hand, I can think of more than a few examples of monotonically descending -- "Sonnymoon for Two" for example).

After I left the blues scale baggage behind, I started to transcribe and think more about "blues licks" (patterns), which are a much more telling way of playing the blues.

Put it this way: there are tons of idiomatic blues patterns, even cliches, however none of them really involve the blues scale in a scalar form, unless you're talking the descending pattern.

Side note: along the way, I figure out all sorts of things, tendencies and otherwise. On a forum called "Sax on the Web" there is a great primer on the blues scale, and it talks about some basic ideas, like the b3 really isn't the b3, it is really shaded differently than that.

You usually don't hear performers hammering on the b3 against a dominant chord, because it clashes against the 3, right? In fact, it is rather cool to have a solo make the transition from 3 to b3, as the tune is making the change from the I to the IV chord.

So, my thought is, don't hammer on the b3 all the time. But then I am working on transcribing a solo from a trombonist (Bennie Green, "Say Jack") where he does exactly that...he plays almost an entire chorus on the b3, and he makes it work, and it sounds great. A classic solo of his.

So every times rules are made, rules are broken. It just doesn't work in a formulaic manner.

So, please...listen to some blues. Memorize some heads. Transcribe licks from great solos. Play some blues. Just don't play the blues scale.

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#1130521 - 12/10/08 08:42 AM Re: Blues scales
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11801
Loc: Canada
Guy, that makes a lot of sense and I think I've been slowly heading in that direction even if I have a "classical bent". I spent half a century playing by instinct and "reading" music, for the life of me I don't quite know how, "knowing" nothing. Then along come lessons, formal knowledge, and it all seems like magic - like an illiterate must feel when they learn the alphabet. But the illiterate has also experienced life so those read words mean something. So the theoretical things were a bit like that. But then you go a bit further and think if you stay on that tack alone, you're missing the boat.

Um: feeling foolish as I write it: "What is a lick"? I've heard this for decades and never dared to ask.

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#1130522 - 12/10/08 10:22 AM Re: Blues scales
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3171
Keystring, a lick is a short phrase of notes...for example, BB King typically starts his slow blues with (key of C) the following:

Eb, E, G, A, C....(LH plays the C major chord (or C major dominant 7th) as you play the C)

That is a blues lick.

If you want to learn to play blues, you must listen to blues music, lots of it, and get the feeling of it inside you. Then, learn the chord progressions and the licks, and go from there.

In many ways, it is opposite to learning classical or any written music in that you internalize the music, then play it without written notes.

As such, it requires a completely different way of thinking and learning, a way that can be described as non-intellectual.

I have been teaching people how to play blues for a long time, and have found that some people simply cannot grasp the concept of learning by hearing rather than learning by reading sheet music. That is not a judgment of those folks, but rather an observation.
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#1130523 - 12/10/08 10:39 AM Re: Blues scales
Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/07
Posts: 290
Loc: Massachusetts
No need to feel foolish...a lick is a pattern. A melody fragment. There are lots of idiomatic and cliched ones (and you'd automatically know a bunch, e.g. "shave and a haircut -- two bits"), and publishers like Aebersold sell tons of books containing various patterns.

(and I've wasted far too much money on buying useless blues pattern books -- far better to extract them from recordings -- at least you know those licks are perfectly usable)

At the risk of sounding even more pedantic than I already have: I've always found, for me, the best "entry fee" into jazz has always been listening and transcribing. Classical players aren't like that, usually, and many piano teachers actively discourage listening to recordings of pieces being worked on. I think, and the little formal training I have says, that is exactly wrong.

Music is an aural art form, with a critical need to internalize, and the easiest way to internalize music is through your ears, not your eyes. Of course, piano teachers will talk about how listening to others may "pollute" (and I've heard exactly that word used) a student's interpretation.

I asked a friend studying piano what she was working on. She named a couple pieces that I didn't know, and then also added "Ode To Joy." I asked her which was her favorite, and she responded "Ode To Joy". I asked why, and she responded, "because I know how it goes!" Is there anyone here who can't sing Ode To Joy? Now that's something that has been internalized. Have trouble playing by ear? I'll bet anyone who can sing Ode To Joy can pick it out on a piano in less than 10 seconds.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with theoretical knowledge, and just like everyone else, I've been slowly working my way through various books. But sometimes that knowledge can get in the way of actually making music.

My frustration with my inability to make sense of the blues scale was a practical problem. I was having trouble, while gigging, playing blues solos that sounded hip. I approached my piano teacher and got practical advice, and I could tell it was making a difference on the bandstand. In fact, every time I transcribed something (and sometimes that might just be one particular lick from a recording) it made a difference in my playing. Sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.

I'll give a hint: playing something tentatively and weakly is a surefire way of sounding amateurish. Playing a strong melodic line, EVEN IF THE NOTES ARE COMPLETELY WRONG (I'm not shouting, I'm emphasizing!), is a much better way to sound like you know what you're doing.

My piano teacher had some specific suggestions for transcribing, and I recall working on Wynton Kelly's solo on "Freddie the Freeloader" (Miles Davis's Kind of Blue album) and "Kelly Blue" being "accessible" solos with which to start transcribing.

To pull it into your literacy analogy above -- toddlers learn speech by repetition. First they spout sounds and gibberish, and will even mimic being part of conversations. Eventually words and sentence fragments take shape. They seem to know how to express ideas long before they actually have the vocabulary in place to do so. And they do this long before they are introduced to ABCs.

They see shapes (letters) and they hear us say things in response, maybe reading from a toddler book to them ("A is for Apple."). They start to point to patterns that they recognize and say them (my oldest was about 18 months old when he started to notice sign patterns -- say "Stop" or "Exit" and he would say them back -- and most kids do the very same thing).

My kids were early readers (again, nothing unusual) but if you ask me how we did it, I'd say I don't know. All we really did was read to them for about 15 minutes a night, every night, before bed. They took it from there.

Imagine if each of us would have had a blues coach/teacher/mentor that would step us through particular recordings and have us listen to something, repeat it back, twist it around, play it a different way, in a different key, and then move on to the next snippet.

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#1130524 - 12/10/08 12:34 PM Re: Blues scales
gdguarino Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/07
Posts: 317
Loc: New York City
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jazz+:
There are two C Blues scales. Players improvise back and forth within each of them and combine them. B.B. King has spent his whole career playing combinations and subsets of these two scales on his tunes.

C Blues Scale (most common, "greasy")

C Eb F F# G Bb

C "Happy" Blues Scale

C D D# E G A [/b]
Have you noticed that your C "Happy" = A "Greasy"?

Back when my improvisational repertoire consisted of 5 blues scales (C, D, E, G and A) I somehow stumbled on the discovery that the "A" scale worked (mostly) over C Blues progressions as well. That was in 1970 or so, and my musical vocabulary has expanded a fair amount since, but the system still seems to work. \:D

Greg
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#1130525 - 12/10/08 01:52 PM Re: Blues scales
Oneless Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/09/08
Posts: 6
Loc: UK
What a lot of helpful replies!

Thank you for your generous advice ... not yet had time to try out all the tips but I really am most grateful. I

This is a very useful forum.

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#1130526 - 12/10/08 01:56 PM Re: Blues scales
Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/07
Posts: 290
Loc: Massachusetts
I guess a good way to put it is that sometimes I am happy and greasy. \:\)

Consider a C blues:

The C7 is C E G Bb, and the Eb is a good "approach note" to the E. Everything is very consonant (happy). The F# is also a good approach note, and sometimes you can emphasize it for a pretty cool sound, and it's even better when you resolve it somewhere. I already told a story about emphasizing the Eb -- you can do it, but if you don't do it right, it might sound amateurish. Emphasize the F in the blues scale, over a C7, it doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't sound right. But there are probably tons of examples where it is done.

Moving on to the IV chord, F7: F A C Eb...all except for the A are part of the greasy scale, but the A is in the happy scale. I use patterns that go G A C, or C A C all the time.

Another pattern might go G A Bb A G over the C7, or C D Eb D C over the F7. That's a standard background pattern used all the time, including Miles Davis's All Blues.

Some really cool things happen to your solos when you hit a transition from E to Eb on the transition from C7 to F7, or Bb to A on the same transition. Building melodic lines with that attention to the harmony is one way to show you really know what you're doing. I'm still trying to master it \:\)

Happy and greasy. That's the groovy thing...

Speaking of which -- my older son, now 12, started tenor sax about a year ago. He's been going along well, and we've had lots of discussions about styles. I'm well-versed in jazz tenor players, but I've been searching for rock and roll players and classical players. That search has been going well, but the interesting part is that it has led me back to all sorts of rhythm and blues players that were the foundation of rock and roll. It's roots music, but in a different way. Example artists: Junior Walker, King Curtis, Red Prysock -- the list goes on and on.

Guy

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#1130527 - 12/11/08 03:24 AM Re: Blues scales
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
An A "greasy" scale \:D works in a blues context in the key of C technically because it resembles an Am scale which is the relative minor of C major.The blues scale as for the way blues players use it is usually utilized modally played through the entire progression. Technically one can utilize a different corresponding "blues scale" for each chord change ex. I-IV-V.
When a guitar player plays the blues,they almost exclusively play modally the entire progression.
Thats where jazz players when playing the blues,play againest the changes incorporating a hint of the blues scale but still incorporating the feel.
Having played with the best blues guitarists in the world,they dig seasoned jazz pianists and B3 players playing the blues.
Gene Harris,a legendary mainstream jazz pianist was BB Kings musical director for years off and on
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#1130528 - 12/11/08 08:19 AM Re: Blues scales
KHZ Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/30/07
Posts: 18
Loc: Amsterdam
How does is the use of target notes applied in the blues? I understood that you should look for the 3rds and 7ths of the chord you're playing, but your 3rd is usually a semitone lower in the blues scale.

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#1130529 - 12/11/08 08:44 AM Re: Blues scales
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11801
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by KHZ:
How does is the use of target notes applied in the blues? I understood that you should look for the 3rds and 7ths of the chord you're playing, but your 3rd is usually a semitone lower in the blues scale. [/b]
The classical-nerdy way I learned the pattern was in intervals:

min3 maj2 min2+min2** min3 maj2
That group of seconds joined by the "+" is actually a little 3-note chromatic run where a note has been stuck between another maj2 interval. In other words, as Guy wrote: "The 'blues scale' is a minor pentatonic scale with the flat-5 added".

To get the pattern, play a pentatonic scale using the black notes: Eb Gb Ab Bb Db Eb. Now play it again, but stick a white note between the Ab and Bb. You can call it Anat or Bbb. That's your "greasy" blues scale. The pattern jumps right out at you. Every time the black notes have two white keys between there is a minor third, and every time that there is one white key, there is a major second.
(You get: Eb Gb Ab (Anat or Bbb) Bb Db Eb)

You'll see the pattern for the "happy" scale: (maj2 min2+min2** min3 maj2 min3) by playing a black-note blues scale Gb Ab (Anat) Bb Db Eb Gb. It's the same notes as before, but starting one black note lower.

The other way I learned in my theory book which seems to be great for writing the scale out in exams :rolleyes: (any practical use to that?) is to go from the key note:
unison, min3 P4 dim5 (or aug 4) P5 min7 octave.

* Edit2: I had one too many intervals in there. Fixed.

** Edit: I like this idea of chords with a lowered third a lot better than what I learned above.

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#1130530 - 12/11/08 09:01 AM Re: Blues scales
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3239
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Guy:
You usually don't hear performers hammering on the b3 against a dominant chord, because it clashes against the 3, right? In fact, it is rather cool to have a solo make the transition from 3 to b3, as the tune is making the change from the I to the IV chord.

So, my thought is, don't hammer on the b3 all the time. But then I am working on transcribing a solo from a trombonist (Bennie Green, "Say Jack") where he does exactly that...he plays almost an entire chorus on the b3, and he makes it work, and it sounds great. A classic solo of his.

[/b]
Question, and sorry for my ignorance if this is one of those constantly answered ones:

Is that clash partly due to the piano being ET? The trombone is not, and most good trombone players will move that b3 quite a ways from ET. I'm not familiar with sax, think they can bend pitches too but I'm not sure how far.
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#1130531 - 12/11/08 12:13 PM Re: Blues scales
Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/07
Posts: 290
Loc: Massachusetts
I'd say the "shading" of the "blue notes" is more related to temperament than what I was talking about.

In a C blues, I am talking about how an Eb clashes against the E (natural) of the C7 chord.

Some jazz players, of course, may actually be playing modified chords, such as C7#9, so that might make a difference.

To my ear, emphasizing the b3 against a dominant chord sounds dissonant, but not dissonant in a good way (the shaping of the blues melodic line makes a huge difference, though). Just like the 4, which is also in the "blues scale". Against a dominant chord, the 4 (to me) sounds like a wrong note, and it shouldn't be emphasized.

The #4, or b5, is also a very dissonant note against the dominant, but to me it is a much better kind of dissonance, especially if it is used in a line that goes somewhere (for example, an approach note to the 5).

The root, 3, 5 and b7 are all consonant to the dominant chord. The b3 and the 4 are more in place to be consonant when the harmony changes to the IV chord.

My example of "hammering on the Eb" was used for a special example. As I said, I hear the b3 as a perfectly usable part of the blues, but if it is emphasized against a dominant chord (with a natural 3), then I hear it as dissonant, and perhaps as a tired cliche, or as a novice move by a jazz beginner. But, as I said, rules are made to be broken. My example of Bennie Green's "Say Jack" is to show that a master blues soloist can play virtually an entire chorus on 1 note (the b3) and it sounds great. It depends on how you use it.

Now I don't know BB's work all that well, but the few snippets I've seen, he of course is a master at playing the blues. Yes, it seems like he uses the blues scale, and there would be plenty of b3's in there, but because of who he is, he makes it work. I'd guess he probably couldn't play a "wrong note" if he tried. \:\)

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#1130532 - 12/11/08 12:24 PM Re: Blues scales
Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/07
Posts: 290
Loc: Massachusetts
KHZ -- the "target note" idea is right in line with my jazz training, and I've kind of boiled it down to this:

1. one perfectly valid way of creating jazz lines is to look for chord tones as target notes
2. another perfectly valid way of creating jazz lines is the chord-scale approach espoused by many teachers (recognize a chord or progression, and apply a scale or a mode of a scale against it)
3. very skilled jazz players are usually masters as seamlessly working into and out of the above two approaches
4. there are all kinds of special cases that various creative soloists come up with...one such example is how many soloists, in non-blues tunes, can apply blues licks, or fragments, or the "blues scale" as a "flavoring" on their melodic lines. An example: I was with a beginning jazz group at a workshop and we were playing Sonny Rollins "Doxy" -- the instructor told us it is a perfect tune where you can apply the blues scale and get away with it, but it isn't known as a blues tune.

There are jazz approaches and blues approaches (and although I didn't make the point well, the point of me talking about early rock and roll tenor players is that at one time, the distinction between jazz, blues, rhythm and blues and early rock and roll wasn't all that great of a distinction -- they are all interrelated)...100% of my training comes from being in jazz groups. Some of the other contributors to this thread are looking at it from less of a jazz angle and more of a blues angle, and I am enjoying reading about that too.

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#1130533 - 12/11/08 02:12 PM Re: Blues scales
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
A rock/blues guitarist would very rarely use the "happy"scale in his improvisations whereas a traditional jazz guitarist again would almost never rely on a "greasy" scale when playing the blues.Then you have versatile players that can play both for instance Robin Ford or Larry Carlton no problem. Jazz guitarists have a problem with stretching strings and vibrato not so with rock and blues players.It is true,there is both a jazz angle and a blues angle. True blues players learn to play on the street whereas most jazz guitarists can be schooled jazz musicians.
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#1130534 - 12/11/08 02:44 PM Re: Blues scales
Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/07
Posts: 290
Loc: Massachusetts
The only real knowledge I have about blues guitar comes from one of those old "Rock School" videos that talked about two primary blues teachniques. I can recall one of them, a sort of 3-finger bend up and down again. The other one was another kind of a bend, but I can't recall it at this point.

The Rock School video also showed footage of BB in concert using exactly those techniques, and I thought it was pretty cool, how such basic technique can be used to such mastery by BB.

Not long afterwards, I started playing in a couple of different small jazz groups that each cycled through a few different guitarists. One thing I noted, by watching all of those guitarists, is that they were doing exactly the same things, including the 3-finger bend I saw on Rock School. I chalked it up to basic blues technique that all these guys learn when they learn how to play.

But I get what you're saying -- rock/blues guys aren't necessarily working on making a set of complex changes, while jazz guys sometimes are (ii-V7s, tritone substutions, turnarounds and such). Dr. John, for example, has a completely different "bag of tricks" than many of the jazz pianists that I frequently listen to.

Side note: although he rarely ever displayed it with his famous bands, Count Basie was known to be a master stride piano player. His playing otherwise might be called sparse and economical.

(just a quick check here, isn't it Robben Ford?)

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#1130535 - 12/11/08 04:05 PM Re: Blues scales
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobroker:
An A "greasy" scale \:D works in a blues context in the key of C technically because it resembles an Am scale which is the relative minor of C major.
I would explain your "greasy" scale as Dorian, usually omitting 2 and 6 and often adding a note, chormatically, between 4 and 5.

But of course any such formula is only a guide in beginning. \:\)
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#1130536 - 12/11/08 04:19 PM Re: Blues scales
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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Posts: 11801
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I can see it. I can also form it out of a minor chord. So I'm led to the question of whether it is somehow related to Dorian in any way? Is there a connection?

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#1130537 - 12/11/08 05:13 PM Re: Blues scales
rocket88 Offline
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Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3171
I don't understand why people who want to learn how to play blues will study jazz. Its like, " I want to learn how to cook Italian food, so I will study how to cook Chinese food...after all, they both use pasta (noodles), and onions, and chicken, so what's the difference?"

Although there is blues in jazz, the blues does not come from jazz; rather jazz took some of the blues and incorporated it into some, but certainly not all, of the jazz styles.

The blues is a separate genre, not a subset of jazz, or any other genre.

If you want to learn how to play blues piano, go to the original sources...study blues pianists, such as Otis Spann, Alex Milburn, Charles Brown, Professor Longhair, LeRoy Carr, and others. Then you can incorporate what you have learned into other styles.
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#1130538 - 12/11/08 08:37 PM Re: Blues scales
Rob Mullins Offline
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Registered: 02/10/04
Posts: 318
Loc: LA CA
RE Guy's comment:
"Imagine if each of us would have had a blues coach/teacher/mentor that would step us through particular recordings and have us listen to something, repeat it back, twist it around, play it a different way, in a different key, and then move on to the next snippet."

No one has to imagine, I do this with my students every day. Great way to learn to speak the language.
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#1130539 - 12/11/08 10:48 PM Re: Blues scales
TimR Online   content
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Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3239
Loc: Virginia, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:
I don't understand why people who want to learn how to play blues will study jazz. [/b]
Is this common? I had the impression it was the other way around, that people used the blues as a supposedly easier step on the way to jazz.
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#1130540 - 12/11/08 11:17 PM Re: Blues scales
rocket88 Offline
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Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3171
I don't know, but earlier posters in this thread appear to be doing that, and that is what I was responding to.

But you are correct in that people who want to learn jazz sometimes also learn blues as part of their training.

But is blues easier to learn than jazz? Perhaps in the sense that jazz can be very complex. However, although blues may appear simple, and thus can be played simply, as many do, there are many nuances that are integral with so-called "real deal" blues that are definitely not easy to learn, or to play.
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#1130541 - 12/12/08 03:26 AM Re: Blues scales
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
 Quote:
Originally posted by rocket88:


Although there is blues in jazz, the blues does not come from jazz; rather jazz took some of the blues and incorporated it into some, but certainly not all, of the jazz styles.

The blues is a separate genre, not a subset of jazz, or any other genre.

If you want to learn how to play blues piano, go to the original sources...study blues pianists, such as Otis Spann, Alex Milburn, Charles Brown, Professor Longhair, LeRoy Carr, and others. Then you can incorporate what you have learned into other styles. [/b]
I might disagree with you in that it is historically documented that Jazz evolved out of blues a long long time ago. \:D Blues was and still is very basic harmonically and technically and always will be. Originally it's true essance was based on being "down on your luck being able to play the blues because you had the blues". Jazz evolved harmonically and technically though it is still the art of improvisation just like Blues.
As I said earlier you gotta learn to play and experience the "real deal" blues on the street.
You'll never get rich $ playing the blues on the chitlen circuit but you'll have a lot of stories to tell.
"Could you imagine approaching Muddy Waters or John lee Hooker and asking them if they play off the dorian mode or if they prefer the altered pentatonic. "
\:D \:D
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#1130542 - 12/12/08 07:12 AM Re: Blues scales
knotty Offline
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Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2999
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
which came first is irrelevant.
If you want to play some jazz, or some pop, then you better know you blues scale, and your pentatonic scales. which is what the thread is about.

Now the blues doesn't only refer the Otis Span or Muddy Waters. It's also Gene Harris, Oscar Peterson Jimmy Smith or Charlie Parker. In Jazz, the blues quite simply refers to a chord progression. How you play it, how you harmonize it is up to you.

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