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herrKanin

Learning Blues Improv

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herrKanin    0

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:

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!

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allthumbs    8

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.

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Kirk Lorange    128

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:

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herrKanin    0

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!

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canuck    0

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.

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Shantiano    0

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.

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mkorman    0

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!

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Kirk Lorange    128

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!

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kidhaiti    0

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?

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Kirk Lorange    128

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:

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Noodler    1

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.

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chorizo    0
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:

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chorizo    0

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.

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LeeB    0
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....

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You know I get just a little bit annoyed when people try to make playing the blues so technical. Tell me this, How many scales and modes do you think Robert Johnson knew? What about old Son House? Those are 2 of the greatest blues musicians you'll ever hear, as a matter of fact, Son House never even learned to read, and as important as that is, why would he ever bother learning scales or modes? He didn't. The key to playing great blues guitar is knowing where you are on the neck of your guitar, once you know where you are on the neck all sorts of things become open to you. Most of the early blues musicians never even played in "standard" tuning. The main trick is to make your guitar "talk" for you. If you want to sing the line "my baby left me down by the road" once you've sang that line use the chord you're in and pick out the notes that will make the guitar sound like it's answering you back, ie, "lawd oh lawd". My advice is to sit down and listen to a wide range of bluesmen, believe you me you'll be able to hear it in their playing.

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solidwalnut    5
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.

That is basically what you can do. But instead of thinking that you're moving the box, think that you're moving the chord shape and choose your tones from the chord shape. Sing while you play. Think melody. Don't get stuck on thinking 'in the box'. Make the guitar sing.

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chorizo    0

Thanks Solidwalnut, when i improvise I guess i see a static key signature running the length of the fretboard behind the different boxes and can play the notes where i choose, and if i think about it, i can pick out the common chord shapes within the key's notes along the fretboard. But i don't usually think in terms playing over the chord shapes, my ears and fingers are familiar with those boxes and the sounds that can be made from them. Seeing and using the chord shapes is something i would like to do.

To help me can you describe/distinguish the difference (or benefits) of thinking of a moving chord shape as opposed to the "boxes".

Deltabluesman i enjoyed reading your comments and can understand your annoyances. My ultimate aim is to just play my guitar and make it sing, I really don't want to think about boxes, notes, scales, but i believe that all guitarists even the greats had to go through a period of finding patterns and rules that worked, for them it was done on a more personal individual basis (that plus a large dose of natural talent). For someone like me without their natural talent and soul these tools are the means to move slowly towards my aim.

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solidwalnut    5
Thanks Solidwalnut, when i improvise I guess i see a static key signature running the length of the fretboard behind the different boxes and can play the notes where i choose, and if i think about it, i can pick out the common chord shapes within the key's notes along the fretboard. But i don't usually think in terms playing over the chord shapes, my ears and fingers are familiar with those boxes and the sounds that can be made from them. Seeing and using the chord shapes is something i would like to do.

To help me can you describe/distinguish the difference (or benefits) of thinking of a moving chord shape as opposed to the "boxes".

Great response. I often feel like you in regard to your comments to Deltabluesman. It's the entire 'journey' aspect, and just using the scale/box mentality sometimes as a framework in working towards playing with total feel.

For me personally, my struggles have always come in playing lead. It's all relative. I've been playing for so long that my lead playing is, really, pretty good. But it's most definitely my weak point as I see it.

I say it's my weak point because I grew up in the guitar world believing, and I still do, that becoming the best rhythm guitarist you can be will lead you to becoming a strong lead player. As a result, I am a strong lead player. Not fast, but solid. I've developed musicianship and understand it's not what you play but how you play it; knowing when not to play.

So, the direct answer to your question is something that you may have heard plenty of times here at GfB. The benefits/difference between thinking about moving boxes and moving chords forms is that moving chord forms contain the basic tones (1, 3 or 3b, 5, 7, etc.) while boxes contain all the tones that may or may not work with they melody. I remember reading this somewhere from a post Kirk did a while back, so don't think this is something I made up!! Blame him ;) This also leads you to begin to think about common tones between the chords used in the song.

My problem is that I began my lead playing with the box mentality. I switched my thinking on this probably only 12-15 years ago (which is really only a third of my playing days) and it has been difficult at times for me to translate that into chord form mentality.

There's nothing wrong with the box mentality except for how that might keep you from thinking chord tones.

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Kirk Lorange    128

To help me can you describe/distinguish the difference (or benefits) of thinking of a moving chord shape as opposed to the "boxes".

The simple answer to that, chorizo, is the fact that chords and melody are really the same thing, they're not separate. If you're following the chord shapes of the tune, you're always seeing the essence of the moment. If you know what the boxes consist of note-wise, great, but if you're simply following fretboard patterns without knowing their content, not so great.

Once you start breaking things down into numbers, you'll find that you begin to literally hear the numbers. That's when you can start to play exactly what you want to hear, not what some box forces you to hear. You should be steering the melody lines, the phrases ... not the pattern.

Melody loves chord tones ... so if you can see the fretboard as the chord, you're also seeing the endless melodic possibilities. You just need to see the notes not as clusters to play together as chords, but as single melody notes waiting to be joined together as melody. Other notes (ALL other notes, not just other scale/mode notes) can and do come into play, but underpinning it all are the chord tones ... they glue the lines to the chords, to the piece of music.

Does that help?

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