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Improvisation on a 12 bar blues


(@clau20)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 351
Topic starter  

My teacher asked me to practice improvisation on a 12 bar blues that goes like this:

| E7 | E7 | E7 | E7 |
| A7 | A7 | E7 | E7 |
| B7 | A7 | E7 | B7 |

I recorded myself playing those chords (I should say the power chords of those) and try to improvised on it playing in a Pentatonic E minor scale. That's what my teacher ask me to practice.

At that point, I understand.

But he also asked me to practice Arpeggios to play along with the chords. He wrote me down the arpeggios I should play when the chord E7 is played.

The "problem" is, when I play the arpeggios he wrote me, there's a note that doesn't fit in the Pentatonic E Minor scale

Pentatonic E minor scale:
|---------------------------------7-10------------|
|---------------------------8-10------------------|
|----------------------7-9------------------------|
|-----------------7-9-----------------------------|
|-----------7-10----------------------------------|
|----7-10-----------------------------------------|

Arpeggios of E7

|---------------------------------7-10------------|
|-----------------------------8-------------------|
|----------------------7-10----------------------|
|------------------9------------------------------|
|-----------8-10----------------------------------|
|----7-10-----------------------------------------|

The note that doesn't fit in the Pentatonic scale is F... So I was wondering, how should I improvise with the arpeggios and the Pentatonic scale .. And can you explain me why the F is in the arpeggio but not in the Pentatonic scale?

Thanks!

(I translated by memory, I hope there are no mistakes)

" First time I heard the music
I thought it was my own
I could feel it in my heartbeat
I could feel it in my bones
... Blame it on the love of Rock'n'Roll! "


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(@lee-n)
Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 142
 

The arpeggio you have tabbed is a G7, hence the F note. Move that whole thing down to start on the fourth fret and it will become an E7 arpeggio. Take notice of the roots in the patterns you use and centre your pattern around those. In other words, don't think of that E7 as starting on the fourth fret sixth string but the seventh fret fifth string. (Personal rant: I wish so many teachers would stop showing beginners every scale and arpeggio pattern starting on the sixth string!.)

There's a few common ways to improvise over that chord progression, what you have there are just two of them. They do have different notes, the minor pentatonic and the E7 arpeggio will clash on the minor and major third.

Minor pentatonic E G A B D
E7 Arpeggio E G# B D

Practice them as two independant things, eventually you will be able to mix ideas together but it takes time. I guess what your teacher expects you to do for now is to play the E minor pentatonic over the entire chord progression for one practice session and then another session to play the arpeggios, E7, A7 and B7 respectively over each chord. They both have very different sounds. Have you got a backing track to play along with?


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(@clau20)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 351
Topic starter  

The arpeggio you have tabbed is a G7, hence the F note. Move that whole thing down to start on the fourth fret and it will become an E7 arpeggio. Take notice of the roots in the patterns you use and centre your pattern around those. In other words, don't think of that E7 as starting on the fourth fret sixth string but the seventh fret fifth string. (Personal rant: I wish so many teachers would stop showing beginners every scale and arpeggio pattern starting on the sixth string!.)

My teacher always tell me not to start on the 6th string but on the root note I just wrote it that way, much faster to write it like that than type the whole thing up and down to finally get the notes on the 6th string
Practice them as two independant things, eventually you will be able to mix ideas together but it takes time. I guess what your teacher expects you to do for now is to play the E minor pentatonic over the entire chord progression for one practice session and then another session to play the arpeggios, E7, A7 and B7 respectively over each chord. They both have very different sounds. Have you got a backing track to play along with?

Yeah, I record myself playing the chords. I improvise on my own backing track

By the way, thanks for the advices!

" First time I heard the music
I thought it was my own
I could feel it in my heartbeat
I could feel it in my bones
... Blame it on the love of Rock'n'Roll! "


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5384
 

The sound of the blues is the sound of friction: minor against major, tritones and flattened sevenths. Any real blues player will not just play the minor pentatonic but will throw in some major notes as well. You start with four measures of E7, try playing the first and third measure pentatonic and the second and fourth with arpeggios.


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(@scrybe)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2246
 

apologies, I was exhausted yesterday reading this and forgot to post.

as a piece of practical/transerafable advice - arpeggios are, simply put, the notes contained in a chord played individually. So, a C arpeggio is simply the notes C, E, G, since these notes are the only notes contained ina C chord. Likewise, an E7 chord contains the note E, G#, B, D, so a an E7 arpgeggio should only feature those notes. If you're playing an arpeggio and notice it involves notes which aren't found in that, then either (a) it isn't an arpeggio (or isn't an arpeggio of that chord) or (b) you're doing something wrong/whoever 'gave' you the arpeggio messed up.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


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(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

Arjen has it. The Blues is a distinctive sound that comes from playing a minor scale over Major or Dominant chords. The Major scale has the 3rd degree, in E Major this would be a G# note. But in Blues you flat the 3rd which is a G. This is the "blue" note.

Here are some general rules about the Major and Minor Pentatonic Scales.

1) Over Major chords you can play the Major Pentatonic scale- this will generally sound Country

2) Over Major chords you can play the Minor Pentatonic scale- this will generally sound Blues

3) Over Minor chords you can play the Minor Pentatonic scale only.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@clau20)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 351
Topic starter  

Thanks, now I understand what I have to do with all those things

" First time I heard the music
I thought it was my own
I could feel it in my heartbeat
I could feel it in my bones
... Blame it on the love of Rock'n'Roll! "


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(@corbind)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1744
 

If I remember right, the "blue" note is the flat 5 of the Blues Scale. I'm guessing Wes means the clashing note or something like that.

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


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(@noteboat)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4933
 

Dennis, the "blue" note definition depends on who you ask.

When I was in college, we briefly covered the blues scale in theory - and the teacher said it was the b5. My music dictionary said it was a note played deliberately out of tune. After school I'd head down to Buddy Guy's Checkerboard Lounge on the south side of Chicago for the "Blue Monday" open stage jams.

I'm watching these old blues guys, and one's adding a sixth to a major chord. I asked him why - he said it was a blue note. Another guy puts a #9 in a dominant chord. I ask him why - he says it's a blue note. I get a couple more "blue note" explanations to questions, and I'm getting frustrated. "How can they all be the blue note?"

They all laughed.

"Son.... you ain't paid your dues yet"

All the different definitions are technically right - but that's really beside the point. The blue note is the one that makes it the blues :)

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5384
 

Gotta side with Noteboat here. When I play the blues I'm mentally always playing major, even if I dont play the major third at all. The three 'blue notes' I rely on most are the b3, b5 and b7 (note how they are all part of the blues scale!). By playing the sixth instead of a flattened sixth you'll drag the melody into a major tonality which adds color in a way to the blue notes. Just playing the blues scale wont really make it sound bluesy, you need to work some major notes in there to make the minor ones sound minor. A 'blues scale' I use alot would be 1, b3, 3, 4, b5, 5, 6, b7. For example, in A: A, C, C#, D, Eb, E, F#, G.


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(@ricochet)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

But b6-5 makes a great turnaround at the end of a 12-bar cycle, too.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@corbind)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1744
 

Arjen, pretty cool you play those notes. Further, over the past few months of reading threads, you really are quite accomplished. It was solidified by the videos I saw/heard. Great stuff. :D

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."


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