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Learning Blues Improv


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#1 herrKanin

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 12:13 PM

Okay, first of all, I would love to be able to improvise blues. One small goal i have is to be able to improvise something like G Love does from about 6:55 in this video. I know it won't happen over a day, but I have time worth spending:
YouTube - BACK OF DA BUS

My experience in guitar is about 1 and a half years of playing, and the knowledge in theory is almost non-existant except what you learn in the music class at school.

And now when you all know that, what steps do I have to go through to become a fairly average blues improvistionist?

At last, do someone have a tab, preferaby Guitar Pro file, with a nice sounding blues "improvisation". Just to get the feeling.

Thank all of you!

#2 krissovo

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 01:55 PM

Cannot help you too much but try this site for inspiration and ideas:
Slowhand Blues Guitar - Clapton Style Blues Guitar Tutorial And Forum

Apart from that treat your self to looper, learn the blues scale and prepare for lots of blisters from practicing morning, noon and night

#3 allthumbs

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 05:18 PM

He was rehashing licks and bits and pieces from all over the place. Some Clapton (Change The World) and some well known Delta Blues licks etc. He was sure having fun with it. Kirk has some blues lessons in his lessons forum.

#4 Kirk Lorange

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 10:02 PM

Learn your chords, hK ... he obviously knows them well and is working most of his lines/licks around the chords he's using. Lines, licks, riffs, solos, lead, improv, melody ... they all come from chords, which come from scales. Knowing chords really well is a much quicker way to get there than learning endless scales, since the chords have already sifted out the lesser notes for that point in time. What I call 'The Chord Of The Moment' is what I follow when I play ... it rules the roost.

However, having said that, there are two schools of thought and the biggest will tell you to learn scales. But, I can see and hear that this guy is basing what he does off the chords, not scales, so if you like the sound of it, get to know as much as you can about chords.

Have a look at the CAGED lesson for some insight.

Here's a movie of me playing a 12 bar thinking 'Chord of the Moment' rather than 'scale' ... just to show you how it sounds:



#5 herrKanin

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 02:58 AM

And this is what your book Plaintalk is all about, instead of thinking scales you should think chords?
Too bad i don't have money at the moment... Christmas can't come soon enough!

Thanks guys, you're the best!

#6 canuck

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 10:18 AM

herrKanin,
At its very basis, blues improv. follows chord tones as mentioned above from a somewhat modular basis- 5 little notes that can be found in boxed patterns along the neck (1st, b3rd, 4th, b5th, b7th of the particular scale) . The beauty of the pattern itself is that you can apply it to any key.
I have found, in my humble opinion, that the less notes played the better. And that without bends, slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs, the notes sound bland and uninteresting.
Let the music flow from your fingers- live it, love it, experience it.....

#7 Shantiano

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 11:56 AM

Hi there,
First thing to know is the 12 bar blues progression. The most important factor in blues improvisation is to follow the chord changes & you must know the pentatonic scale & the blues scale shapes.

#8 John Creecy

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 04:28 AM

thanks for showing us the EC site it;s fantastic

#9 doug russell

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 10:13 PM

Cannot help you too much but try this site for inspiration and ideas:
Slowhand Blues Guitar - Clapton Style Blues Guitar Tutorial And Forum

Apart from that treat your self to looper, learn the blues scale and prepare for lots of blisters from practicing morning, noon and night


Great site Chris. Thanks for the link.
Now when I talk to God he said he'd understand, Stick by me I'll be your guiding hand. But don't ask me what I think of you. I might not give the answer you want me to.

#10 doug russell

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 10:22 PM

Kirk your blues improvisation is inspirational. Just checked out your "Red strat blues", so I'm going to dig out some of my BT's and get some real heartfelt practice in.:smilinguitar:
Now when I talk to God he said he'd understand, Stick by me I'll be your guiding hand. But don't ask me what I think of you. I might not give the answer you want me to.

#11 mkorman

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 05:57 AM

I have another question regarding blues Impro.

I am quite familiar with scales (know the 5 positions for the blues and pentatonic scales, and 4 out of 7 of the major scale, and working on the other 3). I am also familiar on using arpeggios when soloing, even though I find them hard to learn.

However, I have one issue when improvising Blues.

A typical blues progression uses the following chords, in different orders:

I7 - IV7 - V7

When I play on the I7 chord I used to play on the blues scale (minor). I recently found out that I can also switch to major by using arpeggios (or chords, as you like to call them) or the pentatonic major, and that the passage between minor and major creates some interesting changes.

My issue is when I have to improvise over the IV7 and V7 chords. All I have to work with are the arpeggios. I cannot work over the blues scale anymore, as the notes don't seem to fit.

- The IV7 chord uses only 3 notes of the blues scale, and introduces a new one

- The V7 chord uses only 2 notes of the blues sclae, and introduces 2 new ones.

I can use those new notes to create good tension over the chord I am playing, that is fine. But what about passing notes. Which ones do I use? ones from the original blues scale? or ones from the myxolidian scales corresponding to the IV7 and V7 chords?

Thanks in advance for your answers!

#12 Kirk Lorange

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 06:48 PM

This is why I stopped thinking scales/modes years and years ago. This idea that a scale of any sort can satisfy the needs of three or more dom7 chords never worked for me. It was way too restricting for my ear.

I think if you look at passing tones as belonging to the chromatic scale -- ALL notes -- you'll be better off than trying to assign them to a mode or scale. Once you can really see those chord tones there (1-3-5-b7) for each chord, you can always move chromatically between them. That always works once you get the timing down. Once you can feel good about that, you can then start to experiment with leaving some out and simply listen to the results. So long as you've got those chord tones in sight and ready to come back to, you can explore what little is left over to your heart's content.

Again, my advice is to stop thinking about some sort of mother scale that's played throughout and take it chord by chord. You'll wind up using the same notes, but you'll always have the proper context in mind if you think 'Chord of the Moment'. Then, when more complex progressions comes along, like I - IV - III - II - V, you'll just be tracking through them all as usual and your lines will always work.

Think melody!

#13 kidhaiti

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 07:37 PM

So if your looking for that 'straight-up' blues sound, the minor 3rd played over dominant seven. I presume you would visualize minor or minor7 chords as that chord of the moment?
way over in the minor key

#14 Kirk Lorange

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 06:42 PM

When playing the blues I see a sort of hybrid chord of the moment ... not quite minor, not quite major. Apart from the 3 not being able to make up its mind, the other chord tones are the same for both. :winkthumb:

#15 Noodler

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 06:45 PM

I've been having lots of fun with that lately, especially hammering on from the minor to major 3rd, bending up to the major 3rd, etc. It's interesting how you can jump between major and minor and still sound extremely blusey. Can sound more like what a saxaphone would play or something.

Another fantastic sounding thing to do (over the I chord) is to bend up to the b7 from the 6 (a semitone). I'm addicted to that! :clap: :smilinguitar: It's awesome!

Another fun thing I'm doing is bending the 2nd to all different places. To the minor 3rd, major 3rd, even the 4th or 5th (2.5 tone bend). Apparently it's called "milking it" which is just a cool name, IMO. So in A, that's bending the 12th fret of the B string up to the 13th, 14th,15th and 17th frets, and then hitting the A at the 10th fret of the B string. Good fun! Thanks Mr King.

I still reckon the blues scale is worth knowing, but thinking in terms of chords has expanded on that. It is extremely useful to know where your 3rds, 5ths, 6ths and b7s are as well as your 1s.

For what it is worth, I reckon one key to it is knowing, for instance, what it sounds like when you bend up the b7 to the root, or slide from the 4th to the 3rd. That way, whenever you want that sound, you just play it at will. That way you can think up music and play. To be honest, I don't know all of them. I've just broken free of the pentatonic box in the last few months. But I notice that the two above, which both work extremely well both rest on chord tones, like Kirk was saying.

#16 chorizo

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 06:10 AM

For what it is worth, I reckon one key to it is knowing, for instance, what it sounds like when you bend up the b7 to the root, or slide from the 4th to the 3rd. That way, whenever you want that sound, you just play it at will. That way you can think up music and play. .


I would agree with this, i'm starting to be able to do the above and it's very satisfying i.e think of a sound and the fingers know what to do. Just wish i had my guitar with me now to try all those bends out :dunno:

#17 chorizo

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 06:48 AM

As a sanity check - if i wanted to change from the Em pent to the G blues scale, would i move the minor pent box shape up 3 frets and with added "blue" notes? If so, can this minor pent shape be moved elsewhere and still work? hope this make some sort of sense.

#18 LeeB

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 11:07 AM

As a sanity check - if i wanted to change from the Em pent to the G blues scale, would i move the minor pent box shape up 3 frets and with added "blue" notes? If so, can this minor pent shape be moved elsewhere and still work? hope this make some sort of sense.


I am not sure if this answers your question but from my understanding the Em and G major pent or blues scales are the same and sound major or minor depending on what note you start with so in my thinking all the pent shapes with the blues note added if you wish will work. In fact getting out of just one shape can really add to your improvising IMHO....

#19 LarryKu

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 01:25 PM

There is a series of blues lessons on YouTube done by Keith Wyatt. Towards the end he gets into blues improv. They are very well done.

YouTube - Blues Guitar Lesson 1-Blues Rhythms: The Shuffle

#20 chorizo

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 03:21 AM

Thanks LarryKu. Great link, Just what i need :clap:




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