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#1928148 - 07/17/12 03:52 PM What to play over 12 bar blues?
MissMayfield Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/16/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Lithuania
I'm new to all this so please bear with me:)
So when playing 12 bar blues in C, in what scales can I use in the left RIGHT hand?

Is it just C blues scale?
If I understand correctly, you can change a scale when you change a chord. Meaning, I play in C over C chord and when I go to F I can play in....?

smile


Edited by MissMayfield (07/18/12 01:42 PM)

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#1928398 - 07/18/12 06:11 AM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
merlin2812 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/21/10
Posts: 10
hello!

In a 12 bar blue in C, you would usually play a chord progression in your left hand, like:
4 mesures in C7, 2 mesures in F7, 2 mesures in C7, 1 in G7, 1 in F7, 1 in C7 and the last bar in G7; there are a lot of possible variation, but this is a basic and pretty solid progression.

In your right hand for improvisation, you can use just a C minor (or major) pentatonic scale!

enjoy!

regards,

merlin

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#1928436 - 07/18/12 09:20 AM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: merlin2812]
kurtie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 195
Hi,

I also use C minor pentatonic with blue note (C, Eb, F, Gb, G, Bb) for a 12 bar blues on C for the right hand improv, and it works quite well. Maybe I will try C major as suggested for adding more choices... I am learning smile

But know I am wondering what to do with the left hand. Teacher gave me some ideas, but what you usually do? I usually try to do some syncopation with the chords.

Jazz improv is harder because is very usual to use a different scale for each chord... but it also sounds richer. I don't know if the same concept can be applied to blues.

Improv is very fun... specially since I discovered Band in a Box laugh

Regards,
Kurt.-


Edited by kurtie (07/18/12 09:23 AM)

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#1928448 - 07/18/12 09:51 AM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
Kbeaumont Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Virginia, USA
When you go to F play the F blues scale. Minor blues will sound bluesiest. This will allow you to get out of the box that using just the C blues will put you in. The C blues has C - Eb - F - Gb - G - Bb - C when you switch to the next chord F you now have access to F - Ab - Bb - B - C - Eb - F and when the G chord the following notes are available G - Bb - C - Db - D - F - G. Notice that each scale has notes in common? Use these to transition to the next scale. Using the tonic of each scale immediately upon the chord change will give the best resolved sound meaning the note obviously will feel more at home. But you can also create a very bluesy dissonant sound by starting on the 5b or dominate 7th.

Most of all just have fun and try not to over think it. Experiment with different notes until you naturally know what these do. The aim is to make the notes create an emotion. Record yourself often and listen back to what you have played. The scales are a starting point, the aim is to be able to just play what you feel.
_________________________
A long long time ago, I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile....

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#1928537 - 07/18/12 12:56 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2230
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
If you're new to all this start simply.

The pentatonic scale of the key you're in can be used throughout the 12 bars. Continue to use the C blues scale when you change to F and G.

The blues pentatonic scale is I, bIII, IV, V, bVII. In C that's C, Eb, F, G, Bb.

I came to blues via guitar so I just use chords in a shuffle rhythm in the left hand and use the right hand to improvise/muck about/throw in standard licks from the pentatonic of the key I'm in, not the chord I'm on.

Later on you can add notes from the chord you're on, e.g. an A while playing F major. You can also change the scale but it's like changing 'mode' rather than changing key.

Keep it easy while you build up some experience. Play a blues in E flat using Eb, Ab and Bb chords in the left hand and all the black keys (and only the black keys) in the right hand 'melody'.

You'll develop a feel for what notes what best for the chord you're on but start out by using the same five notes but with a different home note:-
C - C, Eb, F, G, Bb
F - F, G, Bb, C, Eb
G - G, Bb, C, Eb, F

Does that make sense?
_________________________
Richard

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#1928566 - 07/18/12 01:55 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: zrtf90]
MissMayfield Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/16/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Lithuania
I love this forum, this is great!

I made a mistake in the first post, I meant to say "in the RIGHT hand" smile

Thank you very much, this all makes perfect sense.
That's exactly what I wanted to hear, actually. I knew there were more possibilities than C blues scale over the C blues, but what really confused me was a transition between those scales.

Quote:
You can also change the scale but it's like changing 'mode' rather than changing key.


Could you explain a bit more?

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#1928633 - 07/18/12 04:33 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: MissMayfield
I love this forum, this is great!

I made a mistake in the first post, I meant to say "in the RIGHT hand" smile

Thank you very much, this all makes perfect sense.
That's exactly what I wanted to hear, actually. I knew there were more possibilities than C blues scale over the C blues, but what really confused me was a transition between those scales.

Quote:
You can also change the scale but it's like changing 'mode' rather than changing key.


Could you explain a bit more?



The most pleasing and direct way to play over a blues progression is to use one scale, and not to change with every chord. So in C, use C, Eb, F, F#, G, and Bb over all the chords.
The trick is to find the patterns, riffs or licks, that fit with the chord you're using. For example, you may want to avoid playing the F# as a primary note on a G7 chord, but is would work very well as a passing tone.

Another thing to consider it to use what is called a tonal centre and have all of your improvisation circle around and reference this centre, at least for one chorus. So, you can play C Eb, low A, low G, then C again as a riff or lick, and can use this over C7 and F7. Once you get to G7, you CAN do the same, but it will challenge your ears a bit. YOU could alternately play a Bb and/or G over the G7 chord, then go back to the C Eb low A thing to completely the 12 bar blues.

I hope this helps.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1928641 - 07/18/12 04:50 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
The scale of notes to play with Blues in the key of C has a few more notes than C, Eb, F, F#, G, and Bb.

Its C, Eb/E, (w/the Eb as a grace note), F, F#, G, A and Bb.

I recommend you listen to the masters of Blues Piano, and copy/transcribe their short licks. Here is a short list of some, in roughly chronological order:

Maceo Merriweather, Champion Jack DuPree, Sunnyland Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Memphis Slim, Otis Spann, Ray Charles (early stuff moreso).

You can also listen to a guitar player who plays a basic simple solo lead line, or fill-in riff, and copy those. BB King and Albert King are good examples of that.

For example, in the key of C, BB starts many tunes with G - A - C - Eb/E - C as a pickup line, with the first beat of the first measure of the 12 bar sequence on the C at the end of that pickup line, so you would play a C or C7 chord w/the left hand on that beat.
_________________________
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#1928650 - 07/18/12 05:03 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: rocket88]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: rocket88
The scale of notes to play with Blues in the key of C has a few more notes than C, Eb, F, F#, G, and Bb.

Its C, Eb/E, (w/the Eb as a grace note), F, F#, G, A and Bb.



I'd look at this as more of a combination of the minor and major blues. (C Eb, F, F#, G, Bb-- Minor Blues) and (C, D, [Eb], E, G, A-- Major Blues).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using both scales, but it can get trickier to understand when to play what note where, don't you think? I've found with my students that when I give them LESS choices they sound better at the beginning, and the more adventurous ones will discover the other scale notes by themselves.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1928659 - 07/18/12 05:14 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158

I have found that teaching Blues by understanding scales does not work very well.

Blues music is "caught" much more than it is "taught"...I have much better results personally and in teaching by listening and transcribing a phrase than trying to figure out which scale is which, and which note from which scale fits.

Which is why most of the early Blues masters on any instrument, be it guitar, piano, harp, were taught by example, listening to others and copying what they heard. Many did not even know how to read music.

But, YMMV!!
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1928670 - 07/18/12 05:34 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2230
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: MissMayfield
Quote:
You can also change the scale but it's like changing 'mode' rather than changing key.


Could you explain a bit more?



A blues in C would register to your ear as C until you used a final cadence in another key. Introducing other notes to the scale you're using doesn't register as a key change but a mood change.

For a blues song in C you use steps I, bIII, IV, V, bVII to form the basic pentatonic scale. If you were to use the F blues scale (F, Ab, Bb, C, Eb), as was suggested by another responder, to play in the key of C the flatted third of F, Ab, would be the bVI in C giving a different mood but still a C blues. It wouldn't sound like a modulation to F major.

Likewise the G blues scale (G, Bb, C, D, F) would add the dominant of G, D, as the second of C. The D would register as a nuance to the C blues not a key change to G. It wouldn't sound like an out of tune note but it would add colour like an accidental in diatonic melodies.

With all due respect for rocket88 and scepticalforumguy, the addition of augmeted fourths (F#) or diminished fifths (Gb) et al isn't necessary until you've a bit more experience. I'd leave these alone until you're more comfortable with the mechanics. Then, as rocket88 suggests, listening to the better exponents will increase your own skills.

Oh, and welcome to the forum smile
_________________________
Richard

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#1928674 - 07/18/12 05:39 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: rocket88]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: rocket88

I have found that teaching Blues by understanding scales does not work very well.

Blues music is "caught" much more than it is "taught"...I have much better results personally and in teaching by listening and transcribing a phrase than trying to figure out which scale is which, and which note from which scale fits.

Which is why most of the early Blues masters on any instrument, be it guitar, piano, harp, were taught by example, listening to others and copying what they heard. Many did not even know how to read music.

But, YMMV!!



Yes, the best way is to listen. As for the scale thing, I teach band to 12 yr olds and most kind of know what blues is,or at least have heard the scales used in rock music etc, but would never have enough interest to seek out great examples of the genre, so the scale thing is a natural extension of what I teach them in class (Bb maj scale month 4 thereabouts).
But I also find that if I just tell them the notes and not the tonal centre thing they just run up and down the scale and lose interest quickly. So, I try the composer's approach in that they need to create something interesting within a certain framework. It works surprisingly well for about 90% of the students.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1928676 - 07/18/12 05:47 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: zrtf90]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Originally Posted By: MissMayfield
Quote:
You can also change the scale but it's like changing 'mode' rather than changing key.


Could you explain a bit more?



A blues in C would register to your ear as C until you used a final cadence in another key. Introducing other notes to the scale you're using doesn't register as a key change but a mood change.

For a blues song in C you use steps I, bIII, IV, V, bVII to form the basic pentatonic scale. If you were to use the F blues scale (F, Ab, Bb, C, Eb), as was suggested by another responder, to play in the key of C the flatted third of F, Ab, would be the bVI in C giving a different mood but still a C blues. It wouldn't sound like a modulation to F major.

Likewise the G blues scale (G, Bb, C, D, F) would add the dominant of G, D, as the second of C. The D would register as a nuance to the C blues not a key change to G. It wouldn't sound like an out of tune note but it would add colour like an accidental in diatonic melodies.

With all due respect for rocket88 and scepticalforumguy, the addition of augmeted fourths (F#) or diminished fifths (Gb) et al isn't necessary until you've a bit more experience. I'd leave these alone until you're more comfortable with the mechanics. Then, as rocket88 suggests, listening to the better exponents will increase your own skills.

Oh, and welcome to the forum smile



Hi Richard, could you post an example of the blues with the above note choices you're talking about so that I can have an idea about how you'd sound on this? I'll do the same if you like. (I do have an F blues in my tag, but it's NOT using standard scales that we're talking about.)
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1928717 - 07/18/12 07:02 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2230
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
What I'm talking about is using the standard five note blues pentatonic scale. Examples of which are more than plentiful.

Earlier posters, kurtie and Kbeaumont were introducing extra notes, Gb, and playing the F blues scale while playing the F major chord in a C blues. I would have no idea where I might hear that on a blues recording. It would not be indicative of my stuff.

My first post followed the keep it simple approach. My second one responded to the OP's request for an explanation of what I meant by changing mode rather then changing key. I wasn't advocating it.

Sorry if I misled you there! smile
_________________________
Richard

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#1928723 - 07/18/12 07:39 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2938
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
Richard,

What you refer to as the blues pentatonic scale is actually 6 notes and contains the flat 5, in C, Gb (or F#)
It's extremely common to play C blues scale on a C blues.

there are many many ways to play the blues. There's a free jazz handbook here:
http://www.jazzbooks.com/mm5/download/FQBK-handbook.pdf
which contains some options for blues changes. A common modification is the so called "Parker Blues" based on Blues for Alice. It's generally recognized because the first chord is an Fmajor 7 rather than dominant 7.

It's also possible to just "play the changes" on the blues, meaning play mixolydian throughout. But it won't sound as gritty as playing a good old Blues scale and blues patterns. Blues patterns make up the blues language so it's good to learn at least a few, even if you intend on playing jazz.

A good one to listen to is Mose Allison.

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#1928737 - 07/18/12 08:16 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2230
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
With all due respect, knotty, the blues pentatonic scale consists of five tones. Hence the name, PENTatonic.

It is over 2000 years old and has been used in a wide variety of cultures. The C blues scale is the minor pentatonic. The same notes also form the Eb major pentatonic scale.

There are myriad variations on what notes are added in Jazz and other genres. The diminished fifth (or augmented fourth) is generally added to the scale as an auxilary note. It is not part of the scale.

I'm not saying it isn't used, though generally I don't make use of it - and I've been paying blues for some forty to fifty years - but I'm not advocating its use to someone who is "new to all this" like the OP.
_________________________
Richard

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#1928740 - 07/18/12 08:26 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: zrtf90]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
With all due respect, knotty, the blues pentatonic scale consists of five tones. Hence the name, PENTatonic.


Hmmm... Blues pentatonic? Yes then, only 5 notes. In my neck of the woods we call it the blues scale (either major or minor) and it will have the 'blue' or bent note approximated by either the b5 or b3 in there as was custom in the singing and guitar styles of playing way back when, thus having 6 notes in the scale.
So maybe the 'blue' note is not really a note, but IMHO it becomes the most important note in the entire scale by how it acts with those around it. But you're right in that the b5 (or b3 in major blues) can be difficult to use properly. Most beginners use it like bad catering companies use salt.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1928741 - 07/18/12 08:28 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2938
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
>>It is over 2000 years old and has been used in a wide variety of cultures. The C blues scale is the minor pentatonic. The same notes also form the Eb major pentatonic scale.
This is incorrect. The blues scale has the so called blue note in it, which is the 5b. Blues Scale = minor pentatonic + the flat 5.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues_scale

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#1928745 - 07/18/12 08:34 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2938
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
>> So maybe the 'blue' note is not really a note, but IMHO it becomes the most important note in the entire scale by how it acts with those around it.
I agree that it's probably the most important note in the blues.
Harmonica players (blues harp) are good at that because that blue note is used by playing the blues on a harmonica in a different key. This forces the player to bend the note, which gives it a very "dirty" quality. And that makes it sound really good.

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#1928767 - 07/18/12 09:50 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2230
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Not wanting to be argumentative, at least not in a malicious way smile but the article you quoted states that 'blues scale' refers to a 'few' scales with differing numbers of pitches and related characteristics.

And further: "The hexatonic, or six note, blues scale consists of the minor pentatonic scale plus the #4th or b5th degree"

So using your own reference source it is not me that is incorrect!

I have been most careful in my posts to cite the pentatonic as the scale rather than just a blues scale, except in a couple of instances where context should make it clear.

The blue note is not just the flatted fifth. (Eek! Who am I arguing with here?) It is any flatted note, usually third and seventh, but also sometimes fifth.

The harmonica players, I am one, use "cross harp" to play in a different mode, eg using a C harp to play in G using Mixolydian mode (flattened seventh). It doesn't force you to bend a note.

Bending is possible on a harp, however, by sucking real hard on the lower notes or blowing real hard (or intensely) on the higher ones, like bending a string on guitar. Some holes permit a two or even three semitone bend. The "dirty" quality is because the bend is neither precise nor stable, again like bending a string on guitar.

And while I'm in retaliatory mood, the most important note in any scale must perforce be the tonic! smile There are many blues songs that don't even use the flatted fifth. How many songs can you name, in any genre, that don't use the tonic?
_________________________
Richard

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#1928777 - 07/18/12 10:06 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2938
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
OK.
Well I guess people give different name to different scales. Over here, the blues scale has a flat 5. And I'd recommend using it. the minor pentatonic here generally refers to something slightly different than the blues scale.

I did misread when you wrote blues pentatonic. I haven't really heard that term. However Blues scale is different from minor pentatonic.

So bottom line and only my personal opinion, when starting on the blues in C, use C Eb F F# G and Bb throughout. You get a lot of good stuff out of it.

>>How many songs can you name, in any genre, that don't use the tonic?
Blue in Green. OK, I'm joking here smile

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#1928927 - 07/19/12 07:44 AM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: zrtf90]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1045
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
With all due respect, knotty, the blues pentatonic scale consists of five tones. Hence the name, PENTatonic.

It is over 2000 years old and has been used in a wide variety of cultures. The C blues scale is the minor pentatonic. The same notes also form the Eb major pentatonic scale.

There are myriad variations on what notes are added in Jazz and other genres. The diminished fifth (or augmented fourth) is generally added to the scale as an auxilary note. It is not part of the scale.

I'm not saying it isn't used, though generally I don't make use of it - and I've been paying blues for some forty to fifty years - but I'm not advocating its use to someone who is "new to all this" like the OP.



What a pity an "old hand" deprived himself of the blue-est of blue notes for so long! I’ve been messing with the blues and jazz on and off since 1959 (I think that trumps your own trumping 40-50 years) when I first heard Andre Previn’s Like Young. Yes, I know, it’s ersatz stuff, not really blues or even ‘real’ jazz come to that, but it hooked me at the time and sent me in an entirely different direction. It’s basically a 12-bar although he’s tacked on a middle-8 and it’s full of jazzy tensions but it’s the flattened fifth used as a vital grace-note in the 12 bar section which to my ear gives it whatever bluesy feel it has.

So when you say..

Quote:
I'd leave [the flat5 aka aug4] alone until you're more comfortable with the mechanics.


..what do you mean exactly? What mechanics? Why would adding a 6th note to the pentatonic modify or complicate the issue of experimenting with a blues RH?

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#1928995 - 07/19/12 10:14 AM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
JamesPlaysPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 104
Just a side note, of sorts:

This whole issue is a great reminder of the fact that scales can be thought of as "subsets" of all possible notes, and that any "subset," including a subset of a subset, seems to conjure up a certain "feeling" which the pianist can exploit. Looked at this way, it's all good, or at least it's all possible- and a pianist need simply be aware of the "feeling" they're getting when using a particular subset. Of course, feelings are subjective and relative and all that, but it's still worth strong consideration.

Example: you can paint a picture using practically all of the colors of the rainbow. You'll get a certain "effect" when you do this. This is kind of like soloing with lots of chromaticism- using every note in the chromatic scale, which will give a certain effect.

Or- you could paint the same scene using only primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. This will create a different effect, and is analogous to using, say, the blues scale (including the flatted fifth), which will give you a different, certain effect.

Yet again- you could paint the scene once more using only red and blue, and get yet another effect. This might be like playing with the minor pentatonic scale (with no flatted fifth), which will have its own sound, or effect.

I'm not trying to make an exact comparison- feel free to use your own colors (maybe, to you, using the pentatonic scale is like using "warm colors" or whatever). My point is this:

Limitation is a really cool thing! By using ONLY certain notes, you set up a certain "effect," which may be difficult to put into words but is there nonetheless. As an improviser you can explore different collections of notes and exploit the effect you get in each case. You could use the (6-note) blues scale, the minor pentatonic scale, or an even further subset, such as using only 1, b3, and 4. If you've never tried this, the effect can be really striking- it really does start to feel like a different sound, even if it may seem like simply using SOME of the notes that you USUALLY play. Likewise, you could create subsets of the mixolydian scale, such as only chord tones (1, 3, 5, b7) or the major pentatonic scale (1, 2, 3, 5, 6), and so on.

Of course, you CAN play anything, but that doesn't necessarily mean you SHOULD! Although the original question was "what can I play," (in which we could list several options, from a few notes all the way to the chromatic scale) I would agree with others that the 6-note blues scale is a good place to start. I tend to start most of my students with it (http://www.betterpiano.com/archives/how-to-play-the-blues-in-ten-minutes) because I believe that this scale, with the flatted fifth included, is closely tied to the history and the heritage of blues music. When one uses it, one shows that he or she is grounded to this history, and has "paid their dues." In the end, though (and I realize that this is a more mature idea) an artist can choose what to use or exclude, taking into careful consideration the consequences of whatever decision(s) he or she makes.

James
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#1929001 - 07/19/12 10:36 AM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: rocket88]
JamesPlaysPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 104
Originally Posted By: rocket88

I have found that teaching Blues by understanding scales does not work very well.

Blues music is "caught" much more than it is "taught"...I have much better results personally and in teaching by listening and transcribing a phrase than trying to figure out which scale is which, and which note from which scale fits.

Which is why most of the early Blues masters on any instrument, be it guitar, piano, harp, were taught by example, listening to others and copying what they heard. Many did not even know how to read music.

But, YMMV!!



I totally know where you're coming from! I do tend to start students with the blues scale, but you're making the very good point that the scale ultimately provides a "list" of "commonly used notes," and doesn't say much about how those notes were used! To that end, I definitely recommend listening and transcribing as well.

Still, I've found that providing the blues scale (and, when appropriate, more detailed discussion about how the notes tend to be used) can be very helpful, especially to certain students, because it provides something tangible and recognizable.

James
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#1929008 - 07/19/12 11:04 AM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
Kbeaumont Offline
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Registered: 03/26/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Virginia, USA
The reason I suggested changing to the F blues in F is that guitarists, (I have also been playing guitar for forty years in addition to piano) do it that way when playing blues. The guitar scales all have the same shape and changing scales is accomplished mostly by just changing position. The blues and much of gospel spirituals were derived from call and response technique. You sing a line and then the next line is an answer. When you go to the IV chord you sing the same melody in the lines just transposed to the new scale. The following video illustrates this Johnny Winter plays the same lick just in a different blues scale many times in the IV as he does the I chord. He just walks up to the new position. Then during the V chord he utilizes a turnaround lick to get back to the I chord:



The blue notes, yes there are more than one in the scale are b3, b5, b7 though the two most important ones are the b5 & b7 in a major blues. The b3 as a grace note to the regular 3rd is used often. In a minor blues one generally wouldn't play straight (major) 3rds at all.
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#1929010 - 07/19/12 11:11 AM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2230
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
The mechanics are using a simple handful of notes that work across many genres.

Most of the lead guitar books I've seen always start with the pentatonic to develop lead soloing before adding the flatted fifth or major third. Once you get familiar with this handful of notes it's really easy to add all the bluesy extras. It comes with feel and listening and, mostly, copying licks. (I've never seen a blues book for piano.)

When I practise scales on the guitar I really seldom add the flatted fifth. When I solo, however, I usually add it (and the major third) by feel, experience, and, more often than not, by bending rather then fretting the note. I'm not actually deprived of it.

I seldom play blues (and never jazz) on piano.

When you're learning, it makes more sense to me to learn the basic pentatonic scale, which can be used for more than just blues or jazz, and add the rest from experience. Most people learn these genres from listening and copying. Some genres rely more on the extra notes than others. You're more likely to add all the appropriate extras for your style of music by listening to and copying from your kind of music. I think that's the best way of developing.

When you start playing the blues you'll probably be adding the flatted fifth soon enough anyway. It's a freer feeling, to me, to add notes outside the scale in blues, than learning a more complicated scale with three adjacent tones that just doesn't sound right as a scale. You're more likely to add the natural (major) third this way and experiment with other additions. Would you practise the scale with the major third in it as well - five adjacent tones? But would you really play blues without it?

I'm sorry my simplified approach for someone new to all this has caused such consternation among more experienced exponents but this is the way I learned it, this is the way all my guitar playing friends learned it and, until I come across something better, this is the way I'll continue to promote it.

I hope my tone doesn't come across as indignant or disrespectful. I can't get the last paragraph to sound quite as explanatory as the rest. smile
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#1929045 - 07/19/12 12:21 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
Kbeaumont Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/26/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Virginia, USA
The only issue I have with straight pentatonic is it isn't really blues. Pentatonic scales are from classical music when certain notes were considered evil. Most traditional nursery rhymes are pentatonic scales. Much of traditional country music is purely major pentatonic. The reason those books teach it first is the notes will work in any western music. Then they teach the blues notes, this is so they can show how they make it bluesy. The OP already mentioned playing the blues scale this assumes the person is at least aware of it. Playing a blues progression without playing the b5 & b7 is like making a chili or gumbo without hot spices. You get bean soup or chicken and rice not the former.
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#1929051 - 07/19/12 12:41 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: zrtf90]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1045
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
The mechanics are using a simple handful of notes that work across many genres.


yet the op is specifically asking about blues piano.

Quote:

I'm sorry my simplified approach for someone new to all this has caused such consternation among more experienced exponents but this is the way I learned it, this is the way all my guitar playing friends learned it and, until I come across something better, this is the way I'll continue to promote it.


That's a pity, because in promoting it....(and bearing in mind that...)

Quote:

I seldom play blues (and never jazz) on piano.


...there's a risk you're not providing the best advice.

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#1929102 - 07/19/12 02:04 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2938
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
>>I hope my tone doesn't come across as indignant or disrespectful. I can't get the last paragraph to sound quite as explanatory as the rest.

No worries Rich. Your opinion is as valid as any other. There are as many Jazz / blues methods as there are teachers. It's really up to the student to choose what he thinks will suit him best.

>>Pentatonic scales are from classical music when certain notes were considered evil.
This I think is a bit of confusion. It's the tritone that was considered evil. You can still find reference to it in old music books.
The pentatonic is based on the strongest sound / harmonically of the scale. Someone a while ago posted something very mathematical and interesting about the sounds of scales and how they worked because of harmonics.

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#1929104 - 07/19/12 02:06 PM Re: What to play over 12 bar blues? [Re: MissMayfield]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2938
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
There's the article on scales:
http://jeff-brent.com/Lessons/LCC/EvolutionOfTheMajorScaleContraLCC.html

I'm not endorsing it, but an interesting read anyway...

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