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Thread: 12 bar blues - what do you do?

  1. #1
    Registered User Darren's Avatar
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    12 bar blues - what do you do?

    if you're playing over a I IV V progression, what do you do?

    do you just 'feel' the music?
    do you think... 'right, i'm gonna play that scale over that, that arp over that change' etc... ?
    i'm just wondering what each of you do in this situation.

    i like to think that the blues is about feel. but you have to know a few of the ground rules first. i like to feel the notes when i hear the music, but i can only let it take me as far as i can see - within the minor pentatonic scale patterns.
    i'd like to be more inventive in my note choices. i can still surpise myself with just the 5 notes, but has anyone got any....

    "blues do's and don't's"

    like, "this note clashes with this" or "this note sounds SOOOO good over this" anything you've picked up in your years...
    i'm not really sure what i'm asking here, just interested in hearing any views on the blues...

  2. #2
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    check out strictly pentatonic in the strictly forum.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darren
    if you're playing over a I IV V progression, what do you do?

    do you just 'feel' the music?
    do you think... 'right, i'm gonna play that scale over that, that arp over that change' etc... ?
    i'm just wondering what each of you do in this situation.

    i like to think that the blues is about feel. but you have to know a few of the ground rules first. i like to feel the notes when i hear the music, but i can only let it take me as far as i can see - within the minor pentatonic scale patterns.
    i'd like to be more inventive in my note choices. i can still surpise myself with just the 5 notes, but has anyone got any....

    "blues do's and don't's"

    like, "this note clashes with this" or "this note sounds SOOOO good over this" anything you've picked up in your years...
    i'm not really sure what i'm asking here, just interested in hearing any views on the blues...
    I use two different approaches depending on the mood:

    1) Play the blues scale with the root note based on the root of the I chord. Stick to it through-out.

    2) Use the Mixolydian mode of the corresponding chord. Ie. if you play in E, your chords will be E7 - A7 - B7, so E Mixolydian over E7, A Mixolydian over A7, and B Mixolydian over B7. When doing this you might want to ensure you emphasize the major third and/or minor seventh of each Mixolydian mode in order to let the flavour shine through.

  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    I can not get that blues feel without having the lyrics tied to what I'm playing like in fake chord. Blues to me is getting that call and response phrasing and without paying attention to the "call" and then the "response" (lyrics) it just does not work for me. It's that old; "Woke up this mor'ng...............Feeling mighty low ......... rhythm with the pause. That has to be felt in your scale / mode work for it to be the blues IMHO Just a stream of Mix, or Dorian is just a stream of notes.

    Backup chord work. I rely upon some palm muting or a shuffle beat (E, E6, E7, E) to get that phrasing I speak of in the above section.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 02-13-2006 at 03:06 PM.

  5. #5
    Registered Abuser widdly widdly's Avatar
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    I learnt blues by playing clapton solos (cream or the beano album) so I use a lot of his licks and note choices. I like to use a the pentatonic scale but add in major 3rd, flat 5 and major 6ths. I'm usually thinking in pentatonic terms or in dorian terms. Sometimes I use mixolydian but it doesn't come as naturally to me as pentatonic or dorian. I think it's good to get lots of double stops, bends and slides becuase they are very expressive and add interest.

    On the IV and V chords I sometimes use a pentatonic, dorian or mixolydian scale with the root of the chord, but I try to keep the transition between chords smooth so it doesn't sound like this is one scale now this is another.

    I don't really think in terms of arpeggios when playing blues, although when I'm playing jazz I think in arps all the time. Maybe I should work on that.
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    Last edited by widdly widdly; 04-11-2011 at 07:21 AM.

  6. #6
    I ROCK, YOU ROLL!
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    well man, listen. i have a rule about blues and it goes like this:

    if you want to be good at it you got to have a killer feel, if you don't,
    try to be smarter, if you ain't, have a killer fast fingers.
    but i'll go for killer feel any time.
    but you wan't to know the basic's right? here it is:
    1) treat the E7 chord (if you play it on E) as minor and major as well
    you can use them both along the whol thing.
    2) play pentatonic minor (E) few times and then major. get the feel of
    them both and know what you're doin' all the time
    3)try to combine them toghether. it's great, trust me.
    4)swiching from the minor pentatonic to the major pentatonic sounds especially
    good on the swich from the I chord to the IV.
    5) last but not least: don't forget to play Bm pent. on the B7 chord.

    it takes a while to get used to do all of those things but when you get there
    you'll never stop playing the blues. now, rock-way.

  7. #7
    Registered User Mateo150's Avatar
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    travel to the notes. you should know when the chord changes, and anticipate it. Lets say you start a phrase on the "2 and" beat traveling towards the IV, you should be traveling towards that note and have that in mind. That takes away a lot of the concern of 5 notes or 4 or whatever, it'll all happen a bit more easily, It'll also naturally break up your phrases. I find when I don't focus or play this way, my stuff sounds like complete wankery.
    They call them fingers, but I never see them fing.

  8. #8
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    I think we're over thinking things a bit here.
    1. Listen to great blues players
    2. Learn some scales
    3. Practice

  9. #9
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattfnk
    I think we're over thinking things a bit here.
    1. Listen to great blues players
    2. Learn some scales
    3. Practice
    And that's all well and good, but these guys really have some good practical points here...
    Karma Chameleon...You come and go...You come and go, oh..........MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!!!!!!!!

  10. #10
    Wordgirl: Jaded Musician jade_bodhi's Avatar
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    flatted 3rd and 7th

    The flatted third note and the flatted seventh are keys to the blues. Those two notes identify the tune as a blues tune, but what you do with them could be infinite.
    Nobody ever shared
    what we have known...

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