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Blues question, been bugging me for awhile

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(@michhill8)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 420
Topic starter  

Ok, I'll be doing my own research on this as well, but I thought I would ask you guys too. My question deals with the blues, not so much the rhythm, but the lead. When the solo comes, how do you pick the right notes to solo over the chords. I know you can play most notes when there is a chord background. BUT, most blues players would pick notes that, even without a rhythm section, would give the feel of the chord changes. For instance, they play a little lick that has an E flavor, then when the chord progesses to A, a corresponding lick sounding like A would ensue. So on and so on. And, I notice they stay in the same scale (with some exceptions). Hopefully you guys understand my question/concern, so I think if we work together we can nail this one. Thanks.

Thanks Dudes!
Keep on Rockin'

Pat


   
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(@fah-q)
Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 103
 

im new to the blues but if i understand the question (and i think i do) for solos or leads i normally play in the scale that the chord is in


   
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(@clazon)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 502
 

You can make most things bluesy if you learn a few of the lead rhythms and then use notes from the pent minor scale or major blues scale.

"Today is what it means to be young..."

(Radiohead, RHCP, Jimi Hendrix - the big 3)


   
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(@michhill8)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 420
Topic starter  

Yes, that is one way. So with that method we would be playing 3 different scales, based on the I, IV, and V. But, some of these bluesmen (and women) keep in the scale of the key, or the I. So blues in E would be the E minor pentatonic most commonly.

Thanks Dudes!
Keep on Rockin'

Pat


   
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(@michhill8)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 420
Topic starter  

Clazon, just missed your post, but I do understand how to make things bluesy, but I wish to know what notes should be played over the chords. I know we have 5 (with a pentatonic) to choose from. But it seems that some of these players will start a lick with the note that corresponds to the chord. hmm, try rereading my first post and see if you know what I mean.

Thanks Dudes!
Keep on Rockin'

Pat


   
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(@clazon)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 502
 

I wasn't suggesting you change key each time, just end/start on an E or D which are found in the A scale. Playing within the A minor pent scale at fret 5.

"Today is what it means to be young..."

(Radiohead, RHCP, Jimi Hendrix - the big 3)


   
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(@alangreen)
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Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5342
 

And then a lot of it is down to feel. Time to plug in and play over a never-ending loop.

Best,

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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(@margaret)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1675
 

Yes, that is one way. So with that method we would be playing 3 different scales, based on the I, IV, and V. But, some of these bluesmen (and women) keep in the scale of the key, or the I. So blues in E would be the E minor pentatonic most commonly.
I think you generally stay within the one scale, the scale that the piece is in. The individual NOTES of the IV and V tones will also be in that scale, but you don't randomly jump back and forth into the keys of the IV and V.

And actually, a blues scale has more notes than a pentatonic scale. I think it has 6 notes, but I'm not at home to check it out.

Margaret

When my mind is free, you know a melody can move me
And when I'm feelin' blue, the guitar's comin' through to soothe me ~


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

Let's take a blues in A.

A-A-A-A
D-D-A-A
E-D-A-E

The most obvious scale would be the Am pentatonic scale: A C D E G. As you can see these notes partially make up the A7m (A E G), Dm7 (D A C) and Em7 (E G D) chords around which a blues in A is build. So what you want to do is have each lick be based on those notes that make up the chord. When you play over the first four measures, which are usually all A chords you work mostly with the A, E and G notes, and use any others for decoration. Try making a two-measure lick which mostly uses those notes and have it end on E, then play the same and have it end on A. This will do nicely for the first four measures. Now we have the D chords coming up, so focus on the D and A notes. To make it clear we are using a new chords focus on the D first instead of hanging around the A. Try to keep more or less the same rhythm for these two measures as the previous four, this will make it sound a bit more coherent. Then back to the A chords again, feel free to use one of the licks you started with. People like to hear you play what they were expecting in their heads so don't start totally different licks all the time. Finally we arrive at the turn-around, again keep emphasing notes of the chords will adding some others to keep things exciting. Feel more then free to use notes outside the pentatonic scale to add some freshness. In A frequently used 'special notes' are the B, Eb and F notes. These will allow for all kinds of hot harmonies, but focus on the basics first before trying these.

Most importantly though is that you *know* how each note sound. If you are 'guessing' how your next note will sound it mostly doesn't work. So play lots and lots of improvs and get used to how all the possible intervals sound together. You'll find it gets easier every month, even when you don't really understand why you're sounding good. :D


   
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(@michhill8)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 420
Topic starter  

Yes, Arjen, you knew what I was talking about. That's a perfect answer. Thank you very much.

Thanks Dudes!
Keep on Rockin'

Pat


   
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(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

This is just the same thing Arjen was saying with an easy example.

Play each example in this order.

A riff - play 4 times
D riff - play 2 times
A riff - play 2 times
E riff - play 1 time
D riff - play 1 time
A riff - play 1 time
E riff - play 1 time


A Riff
~~~~~
e--------------------------
b--5-----------------------
g-----7--5-----------------
d-----------7--------------
a--------------------------
e--------------------------
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

D riff
~~~~~
e--------------------------
b--5-----------------------
g-----7--5--7--------------
d--------------------------
a--------------------------
e--------------------------
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

E riff
~~~~
e--------------------------
b--5--------5--------------
g-----7--5-----------------
d--------------------------
a--------------------------
e--------------------------
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Now, all I did was simply end on the Root note of each chord. This is what Arjen is talking about, you pick notes that belong to the chord being played over. You can start with notes, end with the notes, or play the note in the riff. But you want to put emphasis on these notes. And I think you can easily hear the chord progression in this example.

It doesn't have to be the Root note either. The III tone is good as well.


A Riff
~~~~~
e--------------------------
b--5-----------------------
g-----7--5--6--------------
d--------------------------
a--------------------------
e--------------------------
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

D riff
~~~~~
e--------------------------
b--5--------7--------------
g-----7--5-----------------
d--------------------------
a--------------------------
e--------------------------
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

E riff
~~~~
e--------------------------
b--5-----------------------
g-----7--5-----------------
d-----------6--------------
a--------------------------
e--------------------------
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

All I've done here is substitute the III tone (of each chord) for the Root. The 3rd of A is C#, the 3rd of D is F#, and the 3rd of E is G#. The 3rd gives you the MAJOR tone.

But pick the note that determines the sound of a chord. What makes a 7th chord a 7th? The flatted 7th tone of course. So play that.

This is called "target notes" and is an easy technique to play colorful solos. Always works. :D

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


   
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(@tinsmith)
Prominent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 830
 

You need to "keep within the chord" as well. You just don't just from the key of A to D to E. You need to mix em up & part of that is staying within the chord ie.......the progression starts in A then moves to D. The Player plays in A then stays in A while the progression goes to D. There may be some notes you have to shy away from but most of them work.


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

What Wes said is absolutely correct but might raise some eyebrows among the lesser gods here: why is het playing C#, B and F# notes in a blues? Isn't the blues a 'minor' sounding genre of music? The anwser to this is that early blues is heavily defined by a mix of both major or minor: the backing band usually plays a major progression while the lead player plays in minor. It's this weird conflicting sound that makes blues blues. So while you will usually play in minor it is indeed very, very usefull to know how to make chords major and where those notes are.

Tinsmith: that's an interesting idea which can be approached from many angles. Let's take the Am-Dm progression, lead-wise. If you 'stay in A' during the D-part you are actually adding notes to the D-section: Dm (D F A) + Am (A C E)=Dm9. The same goes for Dm->Em: Em (E G B) + Dm/no5 (D F)=Em9b. The D is a natural part of the seventh chord and the 9b will make an even more powerfull move back to Am as the note F resolves to the note E in an awesome manner. Finally, Em->Am is also very nice. Em (E G B) + Am (A C E)=A9. So in short, by 'staying in the previous chord' you are enriching the progression from Am-Dm-Em into Am9-Dm9-Em9b.


   
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(@michhill8)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 420
Topic starter  

This is all great stuff, finally after months of wondering, I have a solid place to start. It's a lot better than just "guessing and checking" with the minor scale. Thanks everyone!

PS- there should be a lesson or at least more resources online for this.

PPS- Maybe I'm searching wrong.

Thanks Dudes!
Keep on Rockin'

Pat


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

A very basic lesson I wrote two years or so ago: https://www.guitarnoise.com/lessons/blues-solo-improvisation/

It probably won't help much but it might contain some snippets of usefull info here and there.


   
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