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Thread: Need advice on Jazz Blues Improv!

  1. #1
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    Exclamation Need advice on Jazz Blues Improv!

    Hi all,

    I'm wondering what everybody's approach to improvisation is when it comes to blues. What I mean, what do you focus on?

    I'm working on Straight, No chaser and I like to focus on guide tones and arpeggios while incorporating 'outside sounds' (referring to arpeggios) like the b2, b3, b7, 6 and #5. But still, I don't feel like it is gelling together and taking shape???

    For those of you who don't know this progression here it is:

    F7 - Bb7 - F7 - F7
    Bb7 - Bb7 - F7 - A-7/D7
    G-7 - C7 - F7 - F7

    what would you play on this. It can be anything from licks to patterns, modes and so on. I'm just trying to figure what I'm have to do to get comfortable and how to add variety to a fairly straight ahead blues jazz tune.

    Suggestions???

    Cheers!

    Pat

  2. #2
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    Hi Pat,

    I'd suggest spelling all the chords and then, look to see where an altered tone might work. For example, moving from the F7 to Bb7 you'll have an A (3rd of the F7) moving to an Ab (7th of the Bb). You could use this as anticipating the change or, to set up a minor pentatonic lick........don't tell the jazz studs

    You could also look at using a tri-tone substitute for the C7, in the turn around. That gives a chromatic, (altered) movement and might allow the use of altered scale / tones.

    Hope that helps some !,(?)

    -best,
    Mike

  3. #3
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    Lightbulb What about this!?!

    Hey Mike,

    I've sort of figured out that you can move from one chord to the other via half-tone or tone movements based on the guide tones so that is kind of covered. I seem to always rely on the arpeggios which becomes quite boring after a while...

    Sometimes I'll start improvising and completely loose touch of the changes, but most often I'll just go back instinctively to minor pentatonic which is something I want to avoid as much as possible at this point cuz it is a natural reflex.

    I got something interesting for the turnaround part so far.

    A-7 D7 G-7 C7 F7
    --------------------------------------------6--8--6--------5--------------
    ------------------------------------------8-------------------6-------------------------------------7--10---------9-----------------------8------------7--10------7---------9-----------------------------------------7-------------------9--------10----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    However, what I think would work, I'm at work and haven't tried it yet is to tritone sub the turnaround in order to get: A-7/ Ab7, G-7, Gb7, F7.

    In this case it think playing b3 intervals starting from the root of each subbed chord would yield an interesting effect. P.S. I've added a lick for F7 for fun

    A-7 Ab7 G-7 Gb7 F7
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------8---
    ----------------------------------------------------------------9s10-------------------------------------7--10--------------6--9---------------8----------7--10---6--9---------9-----------------8---------------------------------------------------10-----------------9-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'd like to have comments on this as I am sure a shredder community like IBM has tackled this issue before!!!

    cheers guys!

    Pat

  4. #4
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    Oooops I did it again

    A-7 D7 G-7 C7 F7
    -------------------------------------------------6s8s6---5------------
    ---------------------------------------------8---------------6--------
    --------------------------------7---10---9---------------------8---5-

    ---7--10---------7----------8-----------------------------------------
    -----------------9--------10------------------------------------------
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------


    and



    A-7 Ab7 G-7 Gb7 F7
    ----------------------------------------------------------------8--
    ----------------------------------------------------------9s10------
    -------------------------7---10-----------6---9-------------------8-
    -7-10-----6-9----------8----------------7--------------------------
    ---------------------10----------------9-----------------------------
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------























    Last edited by plavoie; 11-22-2004 at 06:20 PM. Reason: Problem with spacing in tab example

  5. #5
    Detroit VidKid's Avatar
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    F7 - Bb7 - F7 - F7
    Bb7 - Bb7 - F7 - A-7/D7
    G-7 - C7 - F7 - F7


    For starts, in the 4th measure, you might want to change the F7 to F7alt on the 3-4 beats or Cm7-F7alt and use either a BbHar or F#Mel (Super Locrian)

    In the 8th measure, Sub Am7b5 for Am7, use D7alt and play GHar or EbMel (SL)

    In measure 10, again change to C7alt and play FHar or DbMel (SL)

    In measure 6, play G#dim/Bdim and use a dim arpeggio. Also, try Bbmi.

    You may want to target the 3rd, 5th, root when resolving these scales.

    There's many other chord substitutions and scale usage, but these basic subs will get you started.

    I hope this helps,
    VidKid

  6. #6
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    Tons of practice to do just internalizing the ideas already mentioned. Enjoy. My two cents: don't get too caught up in the arpeggios when actually playing (different from practicing). Make melodies. When my muscle memory seems to take over and I feel like I'm not really improvising I'll limit myself to a couple of strings. Playing up and down the neck on two strings will get you into a different space and lead to some new ideas. try also starting with an idea (lick) and try to connect every thing else in that chorus to the original idea. this is usually easiest to do rhythmically at first. Groove and try to please your own ears. A happy player makes for happy listeners. Plan to improvise

  7. #7
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    Hi Vidkid,

    I understand the ii-V (Cm-F7) in the 4th measure and also the Eb mel for D7 (I think this brings up a b9 flavor to a dominant chord), but as for the rest of it I'm a little clueless...?

    I'll have a look at it later today and see if I can make any sense out of it!

    I'm also going to try that 2strings thingee.

    cheers,

    Pat

  8. #8
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    whats an Ebmel? mel? and a (chord note name)har?

  9. #9
    Detroit VidKid's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, Eb Melodic Minor and G Harmonic Minor, etc.

    VK

  10. #10
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    The two strings thing is helpful in that it lets you hear different sounds which can locate afterwards on adjacent strings.

    It is an embarassing question, but Am I the only one here who does not think in modes? It probably is the #1 topic on this board and I have no clue (and not sure about interest...) how this kind of thinking can be applied to guitar. Mind you, I'm not saying that it has value, just that I don't see what I can do with melodic/harmonic minor.

    I tend to privilege certain tones (ex.: b3, b5, b7) and try to develop where I can find those in different positions and be able to transpose certain licks to other positions...

    Is this a bad approach to improv?

    Just wondering...

    BTW sorry for the little venting, it is just that I have been struggling with my approach for a while and everytime I ask people about it, modes always seem to resurface...

    Would looking at eb melminor and gharmonic minor as Gb and Bb maj suffice?

    Cheers,

    Pat

  11. #11
    Detroit VidKid's Avatar
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    F7 - Bb7 - F7 - F7
    Bb7 - Bb7 - F7 - A-7/D7
    G-7 - C7 - F7 - F7

    Pat,

    Your questions are valid and very common. It looks like you're trying to get beyond playing just the normal pents throughout these blues changes. As you know, you can play strictly Fminor or Fmajor blusey type pents/licks, which is fine, but if you listen to jazz/fusion guys, something else is usually going on.

    For starts, most progressive blues changes will use a quick ii7-V7alt (Cm7 - F7#5#9) in measure 4 to temporarily modulate to the key of Bb in measure 5. Common scale choices for measure 4 only are: BbHar , F#Mel or, Bbminor Pent if you want. Then in measure 5, play Bbminor or BbMajor Pents, not Fminor or Fmajor pents, then back to Fmin/major pents in measure 7. You apply the same concept in measures 8 and 9, but you now modulate to the Key of Gm. In measure 8 you could use Am7b5 and D7#9 and play Ghar minor or EbMel. (As a general rule, over an altered V7, use the harmonic minor the V7 is going to resolve to and use a melodic minor a 1/2 step above the current V7 root, which is called a Super Locrian scale). I guess you can think in terms of modes, but I just think scale usage over chords. Then over the Gm chord, measure 9, think G dorian scale, which is F scale anyway, then back to F blues over the C7 and F7, measures 10-12.

    With this shifting tonality approach, you have to know your altered scales well and be able to connect them seamlessly together, which is the key. That's why it's so difficult. The first time you do it, it sounds like crap due to mostly starting scales on the root all the time, which is normal. It takes lots of practice and some basic knowledge of chord/scale theory to make it work.

    There's a zillion of sets of "blues changes", but it's basically just 3 chords with added cycles of 5ths here and there. I'm sure other members will add their input and other possible set of changes. Blues changes can really get progressive and you may want to listen to jazz blues instead of SRV/Clapton/BB King to hear the difference. The approaches are somewhat similar, but jazz blues is always more progressive, something much different, with the changing tonal centers, IMHO.

    I hope this helps,
    VidKid

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by plavoie
    .... but Am I the only one here who does not think in modes?

    Pat
    No, you're not the only one -

    There is a member, who states in his sig. "stop worrying about modes and start working on your groove" - (or words to that effect) - Not meaning to "blow off" knowledge of modes, of course but, there are other things (maybe even more usefull ?) to work on.

    : VidKid : great post !!
    I'll be taking a copy of this home, this could keep me busy for some time.
    Thank you !

    -best,
    Mike

  13. #13
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    Thanks mjo,

    Just one last thought here. At first, you have to talk in technical terms with modes, scales etc. That's how today's theory books explain these concepts. You can't just say, use this lick over this chord without understanding why it works. You can learn that way, but you're still in the dark. After awhile, the alt. scales/modes/diatonic triads etc. just become part of your internal playing, like licks, and you don't think so much in terms of theory. You just have more musical tools/ideas to work with. You can always revert back to diatonic pents if needed.

    After awhile, you do mostly concentrate on your groove, motifs to make it happen musically. There's a normal transition period from initial concept to actually making it work for ya. Each day you get a little bit better at your lines, if you practice.

    IMHO, Wes Montgomery was a master at creating grooves/lines. Pioneer guitar boppers, Charley Christian and Django, were also great groove masters. Grant Green was great also. I'm not sure if these players new a lot about theory, but they do play basic altered scales. It's just in today's way of learning, there's so many good improv books/CD's/Vids/Internet, which can be overwhelming and confusing

    VK
    Last edited by VidKid; 12-01-2004 at 05:42 PM.

  14. #14
    Fusion is as fusion does.
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    test

    over V7's i usually try to mix the minor pent, blues pent, bebop (shown below in Cm, just transpose), dorian, melodic minor and symmetrical scales (whole tone and diminished if i want to sound dissonent). and also the chromatic scale. they all tie in nicely together and if you change up notes from these scales at will than you can create very good horn like lines.

    bebop
    ------------------------------------------8-10-11--
    ----------------------------------8-10-11----------
    -------------------------7-8-9-10------------------
    ------------------7-8-10---------------------------
    -----------7-8-10----------------------------------
    ---8-10-11-----------------------------------------


    short lick
    ----------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------6---------------------
    -----7-8-9-10-6/7----------------------------------
    -------------------8------6/7-----------------------
    ---------------------10-8---------------------------
    ----------------------------------------------------

    if you would like REALLY GOOD material on this exact subject you should go to www.guitaraxis.com and check out the following books by don mock:

    melodic minor revealed
    symmetrical scales revealed
    target tones

    tons of excercises, patterns and knowledge in those books.

  15. #15
    Groovy Bastard Maarten's Avatar
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    Indeed my sig says that, but I have to confess I also do know my theory and scales. But just as vidkid says, you need to remember that these things are tools, and no more than a starting point. With a limited vocabulary of these things you can make great music, check out the mentioned players (Wes Grant & Charlie, or george benson for that matter). Even if you listen to Charlie Parker there aren't that many different scales he uses. But these guys can lay down a groove that's unbelievable.
    Stop talking about modes and start working on your groove.

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