#1
I just started using the 12 Bar Blues progression, at the moment I am playing it using a E major chord progression but want to improv over the chord progression in a Eminor dorian key, do I need to change the chord progression to a minor key too?
#2
There's no such thing as an "E minor dorian key"....E minor is a key, E dorian is a mode.

You can happily use the parallel minor scale (in this case E minor) over an E major progression, especially something as straightforward as a I IV V - it's pretty much the foundation upon which blues and rock was built on. You can't really use E dorian because a typical blues progression doesn't imply modality.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Dec 21, 2009,
#3
Quote by steven seagull
There's no such thing as an "E minor dorian key"....E minor is a key, E dorian is a mode.

You can happily use the parallel minor scal (E minor) over an E major progression, especially something as straightforward as a I IV V - it's pretty much the foundation upon which blues and rock was built on. You can't really use E dorian because a typical blues progression doesn't imply modality.


Wait, so if I got this down correctly, the "right" scale to use over a major I-IV-V 12-bar blues in A is A minor?

Some time ago I wondered about this very topic and my ears (which I dont really trust) told me to use the minor pentatonic over a major progression, but I just didnt see how that could fit into theory..or did you mean that it's common to use, say, an Am scale over a C major progression?
#4
To sound bluesy or typically rocky then yes, you'd use A minor - if you use A major you'll most likely end up sounding more country than anything else.

You can't actually use A minor over a C major progression, the chords dictate what scale the notes form.... the notes A B C D E F G over a progression that resolves to C major will always be the C major scale no matter how you use those notes.
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Last edited by steven seagull at Dec 21, 2009,
#5
Quote by steven seagull
To sound bluesy or typically rocky then yes, you'd use A minor - if you use A major you'll most likely end up sounding more country than anything else.

You can't actually use A minor over a C major progression, the chords dictate what scale the notes form.... the notes A B C D E F G over a progression that resolves to C major will always be the C major scale no matter how you use those notes.

Ok, that explains quite a bit. So your saying that an A minor scale could never sound "out of key" if playing over a C major progression? Even if really trying to draw the attention to the A? I would try this, but I dont have a playable guitar nearby atm...

Oh, and also what if the blues progression is in, say, A minor. What scale would sound "bluesy" now? The A major? (seeing as the notes that clash would be the same as in the "minor-scale-over-major-progression" example)
Last edited by Muffinz at Dec 21, 2009,
#6
Quote by steven seagull
You can't really use E dorian because a typical blues progression doesn't imply modality.


Yes you can. You just use the scale degrees thus: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7.

You might want to bend the b3rd up to a 3rd for an especially bluesy sound. Dorian sounds particularly bluesy/jazzy anyway. So does Mixolydian (1 2 3 4 5 6 b7).

You could also get away with playing the melodic minor if you want to (1 2 b3 4 5 6 7). I don't get why you're saying you can't use E dorian over an E major progression, but you can use E minor pentatonic!

All of these scales are a mixture of the major scale (1 2 3 4 5 6 7) and the minor scale (1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7) anyway... the flat 3rd and 7th in a major progression are blue notes.
#7
Quote by Muffinz
Ok, that explains quite a bit. So your saying that an A minor scale could never sound "out of key" if playing over a C major progression? Even if really trying to draw the attention to the A? I would try this, but I dont have a playable guitar nearby atm...

No, the A minor scale doesn't even exist over a C major progression
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#9
Quote by steven seagull
No, the A minor scale doesn't even exist over a C major progression


Hmmm, okay, I think I get it now...it would be the same thing as playing a C major scale, damn my whole understanding of modes just collapsed...oh well

But what if the progression was, say, A minor. Would the scale that sound bluesy be A major? (seeing that it is the same notes that clash as in the "minor-scale-over-major-progression" example)

Really thankful for these answers btw, clears alot of question-marks
#10
Quote by Muffinz
Hmmm, okay, I think I get it now...it would be the same thing as playing a C major scale, damn my whole understanding of modes just collapsed...oh well

But what if the progression was, say, A minor. Would the scale that sound bluesy be A major? (seeing that it is the same notes that clash as in the "minor-scale-over-major-progression" example)

Really thankful for these answers btw, clears alot of question-marks


I don't think so. The blues sound is more about flattening notes than sharpening them. Best thing is to try it, and if it works for you then use it
#11
Quote by chainsawguitar
Yes you can. You just use the scale degrees thus: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7.

You might want to bend the b3rd up to a 3rd for an especially bluesy sound. Dorian sounds particularly bluesy/jazzy anyway. So does Mixolydian (1 2 3 4 5 6 b7).

You could also get away with playing the melodic minor if you want to (1 2 b3 4 5 6 7). I don't get why you're saying you can't use E dorian over an E major progression, but you can use E minor pentatonic!

All of these scales are a mixture of the major scale (1 2 3 4 5 6 7) and the minor scale (1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7) anyway... the flat 3rd and 7th in a major progression are blue notes.


Yeah, that's what I was thinking, dorian is pentatonic minor with added 2 and 6.

I am basically asking if I could use a minor key over a major chord progression.
#12
i do this all the time...
improvising in minor, but sumtimes i add some major notes, or dorian notes, which sound really good
#13
Quote by branny1982
^i think it is a bit different with blues.
the major/minor line becomes very blurry!

Yeah but that's only for the tonic major/minor, you still couldn't use the relative minor.

Quote by Muffinz

But what if the progression was, say, A minor. Would the scale that sound bluesy be A major? (seeing that it is the same notes that clash as in the "minor-scale-over-major-progression" example)

That all depens on the progression. For a diatonic (all the notes are in the key) minor progression using notes from the tonic major key (the major key starting on the same note) would probably clash.

The 12 bar blues progression allows you to play the minor scale over a major key because it borrows notes from the parallel minor. The standard 12 bar blues has these chords (in C major):

C7 F7 G7

Now if we take those chords apart we get:
C7: C E G Bb
F7: F A C Eb
G7: G B D F

So those notes are:
C D E Eb F G A Bb B

These are the notes of the C major scale with two extra notes Eb and Bb. These notes are important because these notes come from the C minor scale. In fact, that list contains every note in the C minor scale apart from the Ab.

The use of notes from both the C major and C minor scale is what makes it sound "bluesly". This mixture is also what allows you to play notes from the C minor scale over it because the entire progression sounds like a cross between major and minor so those minor notes don't sound out of place.

However, if we take a diatonic progression in C:

C Am F G

In this case the chord progression sound very much in the key of C major so using the C minor scale would probably clash and proabably wouldn't sound as good.

So whether playing the tonic major/minor scale over a progression really depends on the specific progression.
#14
Quote by 12345abcd3

So whether playing the tonic major/minor scale over a progression really depends on the specific progression.


This is the important thing here. It's the CHORDS that determin the key and the root note of whatever scale you chose.

Can you play D dorian over a C major chord? No, because the root note here is C, and D dorian with C as a root note is C major.
#15
In a 12 bar in A you can do the following things(there are numerous other possibilities, but w/e.):
- A minor pentatonic over all the chords, this is what everyone does, it's easy, it works.
- A minor pentatonic over just A7, D min pent over D7, E min pent over E7. It's better if you put in major thirds in the E and D pentatonic, for you will sound better.
- Mixolydian modes over all the chords in A, D and E, of course.
- Arpeggiate the chords
- Lydian dominant in A, D and E.
- Altered (7th mode of Melodic minor) over the chords that are functioning(or functional, whatever works) dominants. (For example A7 in the fourth bar, D7 being the next chord)

I don't think I've answered your question and just blurted out random information on 12 bar blues. Sorry for that.
#16
Quote by chainsawguitar
Yes you can. You just use the scale degrees thus: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7.

You might want to bend the b3rd up to a 3rd for an especially bluesy sound. Dorian sounds particularly bluesy/jazzy anyway. So does Mixolydian (1 2 3 4 5 6 b7).

You could also get away with playing the melodic minor if you want to (1 2 b3 4 5 6 7). I don't get why you're saying you can't use E dorian over an E major progression, but you can use E minor pentatonic!

All of these scales are a mixture of the major scale (1 2 3 4 5 6 7) and the minor scale (1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7) anyway... the flat 3rd and 7th in a major progression are blue notes.

you're right, you can.

BUT technically, you arent playing modally. you are using accidentals. if the progression isnt modal, you arent playing modally. however, using the mode names or shapes in order to organize your accidentals is alright. everyone does it. just make sure you dont confuse it with playing modally.
#17
First of all, If you are playing the blues, you needn't sully yourself with modes. Not saying that you can't, you don't need to. There is a blues scale. That is the pentatonic scale with a b5 added. Pretty much if you play the 1, every note between the m3 and p5. and then notes between m7 and 1. 6 is added for color. Play with those notes and you'll be good
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