#1
Over the past weeks I have been practicing soloing to some blues, and it generally sounds good. My only problem is that my scales don't always seem to fit even though logically they should. For example, I want to solo over the standard E, A, E, B, A, E blues progression. I would play the E-blues scale right? Strangely it seems to also fit sometimes when I play an A or B scale instead. Why is this? Do I always use the first chord (in this case E) as my scale's root? Why does it not always fit?
#2
Blues is kind of an odd-duck as far as theory goes. There's a lot of ways to
approach it.

For traditional blues, I - IV - V major progressions, the I pentatonic minor/blues
scale is the basic scale someone would use to "derive the structure" of the solo.
In your example E - A - B is the I- IV- V, and E pentatonic minor/blues scale would
be the primary scale.

However, as you've probably noticed, it's fairly easy to sound OK with just that
scale, but not so easy to sound GOOD with just it. That's because of 2 things:
1) There's some notes in the scale you don't want to "sit on" over some of the
chords, 2) There's more notes outside the scale that are GREAT to use.

The blues progression sits somewhere between being in 1 key and going through
3 key changes (with each chord). What you want to try and do, once you've gotten
a feel for the blues scale, is start to follow the chords. You can use E - A - B
arpeggios, E - A - B pentatonic major or mixolydian E - A - B as some different
ideas to use over each chord (but you can still have the overall structure be using
E Blues).
#3
Thanks! That really helps me out. Just to clarify though: once the key changes, say from E to an A in the basic EAEBA blues progression, I can use the A blues scale over that? Then B once the key changes to B? I can just stick to E for the whole thing or I can change keys with the chords?
#4
Quote by slapfunk_101
I can use the A blues scale over that? Then B once the key changes to B? I can just stick to E for the whole thing or I can change keys with the chords?
You can do any of that. Without going into the theory, the use of three 7th chords allows you to do pretty much anything.

In fact, at some point in a blues progression, over at least one of the chords, every note in the Western music system makes sense.

Edit: One cool thing SRV did was play an E Phrygian lick over the B7 chord; the F in E Phrygian is the blue note of B, the b5.
#5
Quote by slapfunk_101
Thanks! That really helps me out. Just to clarify though: once the key changes, say from E to an A in the basic EAEBA blues progression, I can use the A blues scale over that? Then B once the key changes to B? I can just stick to E for the whole thing or I can change keys with the chords?


Actually, more often than not you'll really only be using E minor pent/blues scale.
There isn't really a key change as the entire progression is still in the key of E.
The "blue notes" b3, b5 and b7 relate to the key and that's what E minor pent
gives you.

Over A and B, you would tend to go major -- A major pent/arpeggio/mixolydian,
B major pent/arpeggio/mixolydian. And over E you can do the same as well as
using minor pent. And over eveything you can still use E minor pent changing only
what you emphasize over each chord and which scale blendings you want to use.
#6
To solo over a chord, you can play ANY note in it. in an A chord, you play an E, therefore, you can play an E scale over it. If it doesn't seem to fit just try playing another note in the chord's scale, if that makes sense.
#7
Try this

Play Emin penta over E min, Amin penta over A, Bmin penta over B.
Or try doing it as maj pentatonic.

Or try playing the netural penta....1,2,4,5,b7, if you add the b7 to all of the chords.
Example, if you use E7,A7,B7...the minor penta will work as will

To stay in E over the entire movement just use the arppegios of the chords to guide you. Even if the chords arn't being played as extended.
I'll type in the key of C for clearity.

C maj penta will have these notes CDEGA

extended arpeggios
I= CEGBD
IV=FACEG
V= GBDFA

Anyway, while over the I and V chord...it'll be as if you're playing less the 7th or b7th
of the chords

While over the IV , it's just takes getting use to soloing without the root note (F) of the chord. You have two other arpeggios play around with and two ghost arpeggios
if you don't extend the chord.
Last edited by Ordinary at Jun 15, 2008,
#9
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Don't play a maj7 interval over a dom7 chord.


Well, you shouldn't, but you can if you want. Will make for an 'interesting' amount of tension, to say the least.
#10
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Don't play a maj7 interval over a dom7 chord.
I would. I'd use it as a passing note between a m7 and a root note. But that wouldnt sound very bluesy.
#11
Quote by slapfunk_101
Thanks! That really helps me out. Just to clarify though: once the key changes, say from E to an A in the basic EAEBA blues progression, I can use the A blues scale over that? Then B once the key changes to B? I can just stick to E for the whole thing or I can change keys with the chords?

you could do that if you want. i dont like to do it too often though. you could try using the major blues scales over the chords as well. or even different modes like the mixolydian or dorian. i usually use the dorian a lot over blues unless its clearly a minor blues progression. then ill use the natural minor scale. the reason i like the dorian is because in blues, artists often switch between the major pentatonic and the minor. and the dorian is pretty much prefect for blending the two together.

what i like to do is keep the pentatonic as a base scale and bluild from that with other notes from outside the scale. so ill go into the dorian, mixolydian, natural minor or what ever from there. i could use any passing tones i want really as long as i bring it back into the pentatonic/blues scale. that way if i do something really out there, i have something familiar to come back to so that the listener isnt thinking "wtf?".
#12
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Don't play a maj7 interval over a dom7 chord.

I do it sometimes. Actually, I do a quarter bend from the minor 7th into the major 7th. Or I'll hang on it through the whole turnaround. Sounds really interesting. Only within the context of the phrase.

I don't know the names for all the stuff that I play. All these names drive me crazy.
#13
Quote by imgooley
I don't know the names for all the stuff that I play. All these names drive me crazy.
The way musicians give each other ideas is through these names. You dont want to learn the names? Well than aren't you just a selfish bastard.
#14
Quote by demonofthenight
The way musicians give each other ideas is through these names. You dont want to learn the names? Well than aren't you just a selfish bastard.


I was going to pull you up on this before I checked your profile. You're just a kid, so you'll grow out of it eventually.

Plenty of ways to communicate ideas besides using interval names, such as playing what you're hearing to someone else Did me fine for 7 years before I knew anything about intervals or theory.

Quote by demonofthenight
I would. I'd use it as a passing note between a m7 and a root note. But that wouldnt sound very bluesy.


Actually, that's about the "bluesiest" sound you can get out of a guitar.
Last edited by elgalad at Jun 17, 2008,
#15
Quote by elgalad
I was going to pull you up on this before I checked your profile. You're just a kid, so you'll grow out of it eventually.

Plenty of ways to communicate ideas besides using interval names, such as playing what you're hearing to someone else Did me fine for 7 years before I knew anything about intervals or theory.


Actually, that's about the "bluesiest" sound you can get out of a guitar.
I was kidding. I dont really think he's a selfish bastard.

And please dont try starting flaming wars in MT. Calling someone "just a kid" can be very insulting to people under 18. Look at grampastumpy, he's like 14 or 15 or something and yet he's incredibly intelligent.
This is the second time you've tried to start a flaming war with me. The next time I'll report you.

And chromatics generally dont sound bluesy, at least not in my opinion. Blues usually uses bends to play passing notes. Like I've heard alot of guys hit a minor third or flat fifth over major chords, which is fairly dissonant. But than they might bend that note until it becomes consonant (major third and perfect fifth respectively). Jazz uses alot of slides and chromatics though.
#16
You can bend chromatic tones!


Buddy Guy is a big fan of that. He might not know they're chromatics but he sure does do it a lot.
#17
Quote by confusius
You can bend chromatic tones!


Buddy Guy is a big fan of that. He might not know they're chromatics but he sure does do it a lot.
Yeah but when I was thinking chromatics, I was thinking Django Reinhardt or Charlie Parker or Charlie Christian or Wes Montgomery or something.

When I said chromatics I meant hitting one note after the other without using bends. Anyway, jazz and blues are fairly similar, some guys even use the word interchangeably. Didnt BB king say that one was like high school and the other is like college or something?
#18
Yes he said something along those lines.


And I knew what you mean about the jazz, it's very popular to go up a halfstep then a halfstep below before landing on the root.
#19
Quote by demonofthenight
I was kidding. I dont really think he's a selfish bastard.

And please dont try starting flaming wars in MT. Calling someone "just a kid" can be very insulting to people under 18. Look at grampastumpy, he's like 14 or 15 or something and yet he's incredibly intelligent.
This is the second time you've tried to start a flaming war with me. The next time I'll report you.

And chromatics generally dont sound bluesy, at least not in my opinion. Blues usually uses bends to play passing notes. Like I've heard alot of guys hit a minor third or flat fifth over major chords, which is fairly dissonant. But than they might bend that note until it becomes consonant (major third and perfect fifth respectively). Jazz uses alot of slides and chromatics though.


Hey, I'm not trying to start anything. I just get tired of seeing you putting people down. Music is about freedom dude, not about theory or some set of "rules" that we should supposedly follow. Everyone approaches it in their own way, and that's the beauty of it

There's quite a lot of examples of chromaticism in blues. SRV used it a lot, Buddy Guy as well, and the old trick of moving between the major and minor pentatonic scales is an example of pretty blatant chromaticism. Also, the 'blue' notes of the blues scales are straight-forward chromatic notes. The m3 > M3 > 1 idea is more common in the older blues styles (a few good examples would probably be Robert Johnson or Mississippi John Hurt), and has fallen away in recent years in favour of using straight minor blues scales over 12-bar or similar dominant progressions, which is why you might not have heard as much of it.
Last edited by elgalad at Jun 18, 2008,
#20
Thanks for the help everybody but I still have a problem. I tried using mixolydian and major and they don't seem to fit. Let's say I was playing Texas Flood: The song is in F# so I know the first bit (and the whole thing if I want) would use the F# pentatonic minor scale. When the key changes to B I tried the B mixoldyian and it sounded bad... I also tried the mixolyian for the C# and it still sounded off. As did major scales on those chords. What should I do?
#21
Quote by slapfunk_101
Thanks for the help everybody but I still have a problem. I tried using mixolydian and major and they don't seem to fit. Let's say I was playing Texas Flood: The song is in F# so I know the first bit (and the whole thing if I want) would use the F# pentatonic minor scale. When the key changes to B I tried the B mixoldyian and it sounded bad... I also tried the mixolyian for the C# and it still sounded off. As did major scales on those chords. What should I do?


Don't worry about following the chords for a straight-forward blues number. When I play Texas Flood I just use F# minor for the whole thing, with a few chromatic passing notes here and there for some extra 'flavour.'
#22
Quote by elgalad
Don't worry about following the chords for a straight-forward blues number. When I play Texas Flood I just use F# minor for the whole thing, with a few chromatic passing notes here and there for some extra 'flavour.'

This. I actually find it easier to play it in G because of the positioning (or tune a half step down, like old Stevie did).

There are these things in blues called 'sweet notes'.


Quote by demonofthenight
The way musicians give each other ideas is through these names. You dont want to learn the names? Well than aren't you just a selfish bastard.




Way to take my words out of context. I was merely referring to the names of modes. Modality itself is not confusing, but the names of the modes are (at least to me, because I never learned them).

Furthermore, they are not important in the context of blues.

As far as chromatics, look at slide guitar. Derek Trucks uses a lot of chromatic licks, and so does Joe Bonamassa and Ry Cooder. Buddy Guy, Earl Hooker, etc. did it a lot too. And let's not forget Blues Piano and New Orleans Jazz.

Also, Jazz and Blues are essentially the same, save the sheer virtuosity of the musicians. Anyone can play blues (if they truly want to understand what the blues is), but only exceptional musicians can play Jazz properly. Nearly every Jazz musician has played straightforward blues numbers, and nearly all jazz compositions are rooted in the blues.


And I knew what you mean about the jazz, it's very popular to go up a halfstep then a halfstep below before landing on the root.

That's how you do a walking bass line.