Toggle Menu

Double Stop Blues - Lesson No 2

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Read the Reviews

For this 2 part lesson, I will now be charging a fee of US $3.95 for the Printable PDF of the TAB/Notation (Both Lessons included). Click here to order it

The Lesson explained

There's not much I find more enjoyable than poking around the fretboard looking for new combinations of notes and what better genre to explore than the blues? There's something about those dominant seventh chords that keeps calling me back to explore the possibilities. I found myself investigating double stops again the other day. I did a lesson on this a while back (The Double Stop Blues - Lesson 1), also in the key of A, so, if you're as keen as I am, you might want to look at that one again and use bits and pieces of both lessons to come up with your own lines.

I won't go into the finer points of what makes the blues the blues here. Suffice it to say that in the Blues, all the major chords of the key - the I, IV and V - can be dominant seventh chords, not just the V chord. When expressing a chord, you can either play all the notes that make up the chord or leave some out and make the chord more compact. In a dominant seventh chord, the notes are the 1 - 3 - 5 - b7. The root and the fifth (1 and 5) are dispensable. They don't define the chord. Both could belong to either a major or minor chord. The third and seventh (3 - b7), however, played together, do in fact define the chord. The third tells us that it's major, the flat seven tells us it's a dominant chord. The interval between the two is called a 'tritone' -- six semitones -- exactly half an octave.

Double stops are, of course, two notes played at the same time. Not quite a chord yet, but getting there. In the lesson, the opening chord is not truly define until the end of the phrase in bar 3 when I play the 3 and b7 together. Up until then, we're pretty sure it's an A chord, but it's that ending that confirms it's an A7. Then at the beginning of bar 4 I play another tritone, this time it's the 3 and flat 7 of D7, so now we can hear that a IV chord has kicked in. The Blues.

In bar 7 another tritone appears, this time that of a F#7 and then at the top of bar 8, another, this time B7, followed by another at the top of bar 9, this time E7.

So with just two notes, we have defined a progression that goes from A to F#7 to B7 to E7. Notice how the two note pattern descends in semitones. How is that possible? you may be asking yourself. F#, B and E are not semitones apart ... The answer is that the roles of the notes keep switching. In the F#7, the 3 is the treble note, the b7 is the bass note; in the b7, the treble note is the b7, the bass note is the 3; in the E7, we're back to 3 as treble, flat 7 as bass. That's because the two notes are a half an octave apart. This means that any tritone belongs to two different dominant seventh chords, one with a 3-b7 combination, the other with a b7-3 combination. You may hear about 'tritone substitution' ... this is where that term comes from. Jazz players often substitute one chord for another using this little trick. That's another lesson, though, a fairly big one too.

I do encourage you to do your own explorations keeping all of this in mind. Look at the other lesson, see if you can find the common bits and pieces, work on the puzzle. Of course, you can save yourself years and years by ordering my PlaneTalk Package. Music, as it all turns out, is numbers, and the easiest quickest way to literally 'see' those numbers is the subject of PlaneTalk. I can look down at fretboard and, if I'm thinking 'thirds and flat sevens', see them all down there, in all their positions, instantly. If I know that the chord in play is, for example, a ninth, I can then see the fretboard as one long array of 1-3-5-b7-9. I can then do whatever I want with them: play chords, chord fragments, double stops, turn those notes into melodic lines ... and always be right.

For this 2 part lesson, I will now be charging a fee of US $3.95 for the Printable PDF of the TAB/Notation (Both Lessons included). Click here to order it

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs well as putting together these fingerstyle guitar lessons, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.