#1
I like all types of guitar playing. If it's got a guitar in it, any kind of guitar and it sounds pretty good, I like it ,whatever the genre .

I was thinking about Stevie Ray this morning .

One thing about his skills, he could play a phrase on one string ON 1 FRET using whole, half, or micro-tones . His ear for bending those notes was razor-sharp. I can't think of a better example of using micro- tones.

That's just one thing but it's a way huge thing . A lot of the phrases he uses are definitely Albert King inspired. He took it to a new level.
Last edited by yope at Feb 26, 2016,
#2
I guess when I think about micro tones in music, it's actually part of the musical language, not just used for inflections. But whatever floats your boat man.
#3
Microtones are actual intervals with specific values in other musical systems. Not everything between half steps is a microtone. Bringing a note slightly in and out of tune is quite he opposite of microtonal, because microtones aren't "out of tune".
#4
Microtonal bends are one of the main reasons why I love the guitar. They open the door to so many possibilities that other instruments just can't achieve.
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#5
String bends add a vocal quality to guitar and SRV was great at it. I pretty much bend everything and it is part of my secret sauce.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#6
Quote by cdgraves
Microtones are actual intervals with specific values in other musical systems. Not everything between half steps is a microtone. Bringing a note slightly in and out of tune is quite he opposite of microtonal, because microtones aren't "out of tune".


Wikipedia defines blues-type bends as "variable microtones".
#7
Whatever you want to call it, Stevie was great at it. Probably the greatest white blues player, in my opinion.
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#8
Quote by cdgraves
Microtones are actual intervals with specific values in other musical systems. Not everything between half steps is a microtone. Bringing a note slightly in and out of tune is quite he opposite of microtonal, because microtones aren't "out of tune".


No. Microtones are by definition any interval smaller than a semitone. Blues bends are generally made with the purpose of bending the note to an interval between the minor and major third. That's how a lot of traditional microtonal works actually. In Turkish music for example, the traditional makams used in Turkish bağlama music (sort of similar to the Indian concept of using ragas) often call for slightly flattened intervals, not unlike the in between third bends used in blues and blues influenced music (such as country and bluegrass). Sometimes these intervals are used in addition to the normal interval, similar to how a blues phrase may use the fretted major 3rd and the fretted minor 3rd bent up by 50, 60, 70, etc cents rather than a semitone.
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#9
I was listening to NPR's The World the other day and the host, a violinist since childhood, was talking to some Iranian musicians.
These guys were talking about the tones between our usual half-tones, and how the interval between a natural and a flat was different than the interval between a natural and a sharp....

The host of the show said he really struggled with these ideas, having played "western" music all his life.

We used to know a group of guys of various national backgrounds that had what they called The Nile Band. They played middle-eastern music, belly-dance music, etc.
They complained that western music "left out the melody" which they claimed lurked in those micro-tones.
#10
The bağlama and other similar instruments are very common throughout the Middle East and have all kinds of ways to accommodate microtones such as extra frets or movable frets. The bağlama for example has 17 movable frets in its first octave. The extra frets are usually places very close to other frets allowing a for 12 tones per octave (whether 12 TET or just intervals) as well as slightly flat notes that are added to the melody or for ornamentation. This is a video I really love demonstrating bağlama conceptS transferred to microtonal guitar.

https://youtu.be/MYK_PF9WTRE
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#11
Quote by theogonia777
The bağlama and other similar instruments are very common throughout the Middle East and have all kinds of ways to accommodate microtones such as extra frets or movable frets. The bağlama for example has 17 movable frets in its first octave. The extra frets are usually places very close to other frets allowing a for 12 tones per octave (whether 12 TET or just intervals) as well as slightly flat notes that are added to the melody or for ornamentation. This is a video I really love demonstrating bağlama conceptS transferred to microtonal guitar.

https://youtu.be/MYK_PF9WTRE

nice , you can really hear the sitar like expressiveness . I like to hear the Turkish singers or wherever they are from use microtones although blues singers do it, these people do it in a different way.
#12
Quote by theogonia777
No. Microtones are by definition any interval smaller than a semitone. Blues bends are generally made with the purpose of bending the note to an interval between the minor and major third. That's how a lot of traditional microtonal works actually. In Turkish music for example, the traditional makams used in Turkish bağlama music (sort of similar to the Indian concept of using ragas) often call for slightly flattened intervals, not unlike the in between third bends used in blues and blues influenced music (such as country and bluegrass). Sometimes these intervals are used in addition to the normal interval, similar to how a blues phrase may use the fretted major 3rd and the fretted minor 3rd bent up by 50, 60, 70, etc cents rather than a semitone.


But SRV wasn't playing Iranian or Turkish music. Microtonal analysis will not yield much when applied to the blues. You would not see a microtone notated in a blues transcriptions.

They are just different concepts with similar effect. No need to shoehorn eastern musical concepts into the blues.

You can look to someone like Derek Trucks if you want to see actual, intentional application of microtonal intervals to bluesy music (not that he does it very often).
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 27, 2016,
#14
Quote by cdgraves
You would not see a microtone notated in a blues transcriptions.


When it tells you to bend the note, it will tell you to do a quarter bend.
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#15
Quote by cdgraves
But SRV wasn't playing Iranian or Turkish music. Microtonal analysis will not yield much when applied to the blues. You would not see a microtone notated in a blues transcriptions.

They are just different concepts with similar effect. No need to shoehorn eastern musical concepts into the blues.

You can look to someone like Derek Trucks if you want to see actual, intentional application of microtonal intervals to bluesy music (not that he does it very often).

anybody playing slide is using microtones , steel guitar w/ country music ,dobro with slide in bluegrass .slide w/ blues or rock I think .

Its there but used differently
#16
There are actually a ton of microtones, obviously, but I mean there are a bunch of defined microtones based off different things. One is a ratio of 224/225 I think. There do have slightly different feels and I do think srv as well as other blues players have a tendency to consistently bend to the same ones. Hendrix and Page are two other guys whose bends sound very signature. It would be difficult but possible to analyze all their bends and I would bet you'd see some consistency.

Guitar pro has a great bending tool but in general you have to just listen to it and go for the same feel because the rate of increase or decrease in bend is also important.

Wikipedia has a long list of microtones somewhere but I can't find it
#17
So am I using microtones when a tuner gets bumped? Is vibrato a microtonal practice now?

The point is that in the western system, there are not intervals less than a half step. Therefore anything you do between half steps is some sort of inflection on the half step, rather than an interval unto itself.

Just because there is some conceptual overlap does not mean blues players are using a microtonal system. Quarter step bends (which is an approximation) are still inflections of the normal note. It's not like there's a separate name for the note between A and A#, because we don't consider that a distinct note.

In microtonal system, these are distinct pitches that exist separately from the notes nearby, just like A and A# exist separately and aren't interchangeable. In blues, a slight bend on A is not considered a different note than a slightly larger bend on A.

Just because the concept of microtonalism exists does not mean it's useful to apply to anything where the broadest technical definition is met. Microtonalism is a full-on system, not just a concept that exists in isolation.

Does blues playing bear any resemblance whatsoever to the music in which microtones are notated? No. So why would it be appropriate to import that system just for the sake of quarter step bends? Would it make any sense to use Panderecki notation for slide guitar, just because the pitches aren't fixed?

It's much simpler to explain the practice within the system that's actually being used to make the music. Invoking microtonalism adds nothing to an explanation of bluesy inflections.
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 28, 2016,
#18
There's a reason why you call it quarter bends and blues 3rds. And in a lot of Turkish music, or at least the bağlama music, the microtones are used for inflection and embellishments probably more often than in melody, hence the reason for having two frets that are like 30 cents apart rather than just the slightly flat note. These notes are often approximations as well.

Microtonality also doesn't have to be a "system" either. Also I can't understand how you can say that calling blues bends microtonal does not help explain them when it is probably in fact the single most consecutive way of describing them to the point that anyone even vaguely familiar with microtones would immediately understand even if they have never heard blues before.
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Last edited by theogonia777 at Feb 28, 2016,
#19
I've been playing blues, including slide, for a while now, and for a fair proportion of that time I have thought of it as a microtonal genre, especially what happens between the minor and major 3rd intervals. For example Fred McDowell is a master of microtones. The definitions I've read seem to bear this out - "any interval smaller than a semitone" is a microtone..
#20
Quote by theogonia777
Microtonality also doesn't have to be a "system" either. Also I can't understand how you can say that calling blues bends microtonal does not help explain them when it is probably in fact the single most consecutive way of describing them to the point that anyone even vaguely familiar with microtones would immediately understand even if they have never heard blues before.


Would it make sense to describe Turkish music as using lots of Blues 3rds?

Microtones aren't a system in and of themselves, but they are part of systems that use small intervals extensively and often in ways that are completely different from how the same relative pitches are used in western music. When you play a blues scale, you don't play the m3 and then the blues 3rd and then the major 3rd.

It's not like early blues players listened to a bunch of Ragas and tried to apply the concepts to the blues. There is just no need to appropriate the language of Eastern tonality to describe a single point of Western music that's completely unrelated.

There is a difference between something meeting a technical definition and it making sense to use in analysis of music. You can explain 1+1=2 with calculus if you want, but does that make any sense? Context and consistency matter.

I don't deny there is technical and function overlap, but that's enough for me to appropriate the terminology when there is perfectly good terminology already more consistent with the rest of the music.
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 28, 2016,
#21
But it's still a microtone whether you like the terminology or note.
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#22
Quote by cdgraves
So am I using microtones when a tuner gets bumped? Is vibrato a microtonal practice now?

The point is that in the western system, there are not intervals less than a half step. Therefore anything you do between half steps is some sort of inflection on the half step, rather than an interval unto itself.

Just because there is some conceptual overlap does not mean blues players are using a microtonal system. Quarter step bends (which is an approximation) are still inflections of the normal note. It's not like there's a separate name for the note between A and A#, because we don't consider that a distinct note.

In microtonal system, these are distinct pitches that exist separately from the notes nearby, just like A and A# exist separately and aren't interchangeable. In blues, a slight bend on A is not considered a different note than a slightly larger bend on A.

Just because the concept of microtonalism exists does not mean it's useful to apply to anything where the broadest technical definition is met. Microtonalism is a full-on system, not just a concept that exists in isolation.

Does blues playing bear any resemblance whatsoever to the music in which microtones are notated? No. So why would it be appropriate to import that system just for the sake of quarter step bends? Would it make any sense to use Panderecki notation for slide guitar, just because the pitches aren't fixed?

It's much simpler to explain the practice within the system that's actually being used to make the music. Invoking microtonalism adds nothing to an explanation of bluesy inflections.


Actually the blue note is not necessarily the tritone but in fact microtonal. You're right that it isn't part of the system. But other than that I'm not seeing the point. The blue note is really a slightly flat note. Though that depends on the player.

To say it's all just inflection is to say you know exactly how all blues players play and that they don't do it with any consistency. I do this one thing sometimes where I play a major second and bend the second up a quarter tone then one and a quarter. So I'm using two microtones and it doesn't sound the same if I don't bend them just right.

Also I'm pretty sure western sheet music has symbols for quarter tones. So yeah

Like the blues in general, the blue notes can mean many things. One quality that they all have in common, however, is that they are lower than one would expect, classically speaking. But this flatness may take several forms. On the one hand, it may be a microtonal affair of a quarter-tone or so. Here one may speak of neutral intervals, neither major nor minor. On the other hand, the lowering may be by a full semitone--as it must be, of course, on keyboard instruments. It may involve a glide, either upward or downward. Again, this may be a microtonal, almost imperceptible affair, or it may be a slur between notes a semitone apart, so that there is actually not one blue note but two. A blue note may even be marked by a microtonal shake of a kind common in Oriental music. The degrees of the mode treated in this way are, in order of frequency, the third, seventh, fifth, and sixth.

— Peter van der Merwe (1989)[2]
#23
The point is that partial bends and heavy vibrato lack the regularity and contextual application present in the musics which formally incorporate microtones. In those systems, you can describe the music as "microtonal" with ease because it's so thoroughly formalized. Describing the blues as microtonal music is nonsense, as it has absolutely no similarity to those other music beyond the single coincidence.

The only way "microtone" applies to the blues is by the broadest technical definition, which ignores the context of the music to which it normally applies. Since we already have terminology more consistent with the context in which Blues exists, it doesn't make any sense to use an overbroad term.

I think the question was illustrative: Does it make sense to describe Turkish music as using blue notes? No, because they aren't playing the blues. And blues players aren't playing Ragas, hence why it makes more sense use a term that connects the style to the broader context. Blues did not grow from the Eastern classical music tradition, so why use that terminology?

The issue isn't about technical definitions, but actual practice. You can't divorce analytical concepts from the music to which they apply.

Think about this for a second: if you were in recording studio and the producer said "Use a lot of bluesy bends", you would know exactly what they mean. If the producer said "use a lot of microtones", you'd probably be a little confused.

If someone tasked you with learning a piece of microtonal music, would you learn a blues song?
Last edited by cdgraves at Feb 28, 2016,
#24
Question. Is the blues third less than a semitone sharper than a minor third and less than a semitone flatter than a major third? Yes or no?
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#25
I think it has a lot to do with the overtone scale. Some of the notes dont exactly exist on the guitar, so you have to bend ever so sharp to find them. He did have wicked precise bends. Sometimes I wish I bent more, but i tend to play like a piano player. I also like the way the whammy bar works opposed to vibrato. Vibrato can only raise the pitch, the whammy can make a pure vibrato. I wish i knew how to do that Greg Howe slidy vibrato that violin players do.
#26
Quote by jrcsgtpeppers
I think it has a lot to do with the overtone scale. Some of the notes dont exactly exist on the guitar, so you have to bend ever so sharp to find them. He did have wicked precise bends. Sometimes I wish I bent more, but i tend to play like a piano player. I also like the way the whammy bar works opposed to vibrato. Vibrato can only raise the pitch, the whammy can make a pure vibrato. I wish i knew how to do that Greg Howe slidy vibrato that violin players do.


The whammy bar can produce vocal like qualities. Singers bend up to a note then do a vibrato above and below the note . You can do that with string bends but it's extremely difficult.

It really depends a hell of a lot on song also. Some song seem to work really well with it others not.

As far as no microtones and blues music it is what it is I think, if it's a microtone it's a microtone.

How about this little trick used by SRV, Albert King: use 2 microtones at once by bending one string up until it reaches the other string then bend both strings a little further and strike both at once. You can do with the high E and B or the B and G.

If the professor could analyze that tell me what's going on that would be great.
#27
Quote by yope
How about this little trick used by SRV, Albert King: use 2 microtones at once by bending one string up until it reaches the other string then bend both strings a little further and strike both at once. You can do with the high E and B or the B and G.

I'm pretty sure Stevie did it with all three unwound strings from time to time. That's not easy on the fingers, for sure. To get it to sound good you've got to make sure the top string hits the next scale tone.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Feb 29, 2016,
#28
Microtone def: "any interval smaller than a semitone."

So yes, Turkish and Indian music often include microtones along with jazz, blues, experimental music like Charles Ives or Wendy Carlos or any other form of music that regularly incorporates "intervals smaller than a semitone". There are dozens of musical forms that incorporate microtones and it is certainly not limited only to Eastern music, although Eastern music may have been a significant influence in other microtonal forms.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Feb 29, 2016,