Welcome to week #32! This week we’re going to look at one of the most common elements found in improvisation today, the Blues. If this is your first time here, welcome! I’d highly encourage you to check out some of the past week’s tips as some of them might be helpful for you. For our returning friends…welcome back and I hope you find this week’s tip beneficial to your playing! If you haven’t yet, I want to encourage everyone to check out Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and invite you to check it out by going to the link to the right or by going to Jason Klobnak Music for more information. The E-book version works great on mobile devices (which is an instant download available all across the globe) and the printed version is sturdy and sits nicely on a music stand. We should have the E-book version available in a few different languages very shortly.
The Blues and blues licks are found all over in improvisations. Jazz can trace its roots back to Blues, but some falsely believe that you only find blues and blues licks in the Blues. If you listen to albums throughout jazz history, you’ll find that the blues/blues licks are present on all types of song vehicles (standards, “modal”, contemporary, Blues, etc). Before we get into how we can use blues licks in our improvisation, let’s look at what the Blues Scale and how it’s constructed. The Blues Scale is built off the root, flat 3rd, 4th, sharp 4th (or flat 5th), 5th and flat 7th. Below is the “C” Blues Scale:
Many educational systems teach their students the Blues Scale as one of their first exposures into improvisation. One of the reasons for this is that the Blues Scale works over the entire Blues Progression. However, I find that students that learn this scale first tend to overuse the scale and become reliant on it. EVERYTHING they play sounds like they’re running up and down a Blues Scale. This scale, like any other tool used in improvisation, needs to not be overused.
There are times when you have a desire to play something in your improvisation that a Blues Scale type lick fits perfectly. Below are a few short licks that I like that are strictly based on the Blues Scale:
As I mentioned above, the Blues Progression is not the only song vehicle type that you can use the Blues or blues licks on. I’ve found that any time you have a progression that stays in the key center for a period of time (i.e. some standards “A” sections, “A” section on Rhythm Changes, etc) you can, if tastefully done, insert a blues line. Those lines can be like those above that are based strictly off the Blues Scale. OR…one of my personal favorites is combining the key center’s major pentatonic scale with the Blues Scale. For example, if we’re playing a standard that has its “A” section in the key of “C” I will mix the C-major pentatonic scale WITH the Blues Scale.
It might help for you to see some musical examples of what I’m talking about with the mixture. Below are a few lines (some come straight out of my book Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose which goes further into talking about how we can use the blues scale to target) that combine both the pentatonic scale WITH the Blues Scale:
Notice how those lines contain an “A” and/or a “D” in the line? “A” and “D” aren’t found in the C-Blues Scale. I find when you create with these two scales, you communicate a more melodic sounding line. Below is another example (again straight out of Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose) that is a mixed line over the ii-V-I progression:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip and find it beneficial to your playing! Please feel free to share this tip/blog with your friends, colleagues and students. Also, I thought it would interesting to see some of your favorite blues licks if you wouldn’t mind sharing. I think we can all benefit from each other and would love to see some of your favorites. I look forward to hearing from you!
Welcome to week #29, which is the last tip before Christmas! If you’re still looking for ideas for a musician’s Christmas (or other holiday) gift, then Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose would be an affordable and practical gift! The E-book version works great on mobile devices and the printed version is sturdy and sits nicely on a music stand. For more information, you can click on the link to the right or you can go to Jason Klobnak Music. If this is your first time here…welcome! If you’re a returning visitor, welcome back!
Last week we looked at how we can use major lines over minor harmony. This week, we’re going to continue with our similar theme of how we can use our current licks over other harmonies. We’re going to look at how we can use minor lines over minor 7 (b5) chords, or as some known them- half-diminished. To some, this may seem like a no-brainer, but I hope this opens up some new possibilities for some of you.
We’ve all seen this chord in a progression before (many times in a minor ii-V-i): Xmin7(b5). Some of you may wonder, “what can I do with that?” I want to share a quick, but effective tip that should help give you more melodic ideas over that chord (or progression). If you base your ideas off of the melodic minor starting on the flat 3rd of the Xmin7(b5)…you can now use your “minor” lines over the Xmin7(b5). For instance, if you have an Amin7(b5)…your ideas in C minor (more specifically, C-melodic minor) will work over the Amin7(b5).
Let’s take a look at this idea in three brief examples below over the minor ii-V-i progression. Over each of the Amin7(b5) examples below, you’ll see lines that I might construct in C-minor in place of the Amin7(b5).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip and hope that many of you find it beneficial for you or your students! Please feel free to share this tip (or blog) with your friends, colleagues and students. For easy access, you can use the Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+ links below. Also, please feel free to share this on any site or blog that you’re a contributor for as I’d love to continue to see people benefiting from this. Merry Christmas!
Welcome to week #28! If this is your first time here…welcome! If you’re a returning visitor, welcome back! As I mentioned last week, we’re almost at the end of the 2011 calendar year. If you’re still looking for ideas for a musician’s Christmas (or other holiday) gift, then Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose would be an affordable and practical gift! The E-book version works great on mobile devices and the printed version is sturdy and sits nicely on a music stand. For more information, you can click on the link to the right or you can go to Jason Klobnak Music.
Last week we looked at how we can use minor lines over dominant chords/harmony. This week, we’re going to look at how we can use some of our major lines over minor chords/harmony. Due to the structure of how most major licks or lines are built, they fit nicely over minor chords (especially over dorian minor). The 1, 3, 5 & 7 of the major line become the b7, 9th, 11th and 13th over the minor chord. This approach works nicely when you play your “major” line a whole step below the minor chord. For example, playing a C-major line over a Dmin7 chord.
Below are three examples of taking a typical major line that I might play over a Dmin7 chord. Notice how the lines still have the targeting principles mentioned in past week posts (but the targeting employed is targeting the Dmin7 harmony and not necessarily the implied major).
Try experimenting with some of your favorite major licks/lines and putting them over minor chords/harmony. This is not something that will work 100% of the time and you need to use your ears to decide if it fits or not. If it doesn’t fit, ask yourself why and see if you can alter the line slightly to make it work over the changes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip! Please share this tip (& blog) with your friends and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or any other site you’re a contributor. For your convenience, there are links below that will allow you to quickly share. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back as the last couple of tips of the year are one’s you wont want to miss!
Week #27 is here and we’re almost at the end of the 2011 calendar year. If you’re still looking for ideas for a musician’s Christmas (or other holiday) gift, then Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose would be an affordable and practical gift! The E-book version works great on mobile devices and the printed version is sturdy and sits nicely on a music stand. For more information, you can click on the link to the right or you can go to Jason Klobnak Music.
This week we’re going to talk about how you can use your minor lines over dominant chords. If you talk with those who use the bebop approach, many times they will take a ii-V-I progression and play the V7 sound over both the iimin7 and the V7. Blues players often times will do the opposite (play the iimin7 sound over both the iimin7 and the V7). Many players use this particular approach because it gives their lines more of a bluesy sound. One of my favorite guitar players, Pat Martino, has material that he has written where he goes in-depth on this approach (playing minor lines over X chords). Other great guitar teachers talk about this approach as well and is something I often find myself using to change the color of a progression.
One of the reasons that playing a minor line over a dominant chord sound bluesy is because the line often includes the 11th scale degree (or 4th). Many educators talk about the 4th scale degree as an “avoid” note, but I think the 4th doesn’t need to be omitted or avoided, but if you use it as a passing tone or half-step above targeting the 3rd…it gives a bluesy sound that you hear used A LOT by musicians we admire.
The first example below is a line that I might use over a Gmin7 chord. However, you’ll notice that the line also works great over a C7 chord. The arpeggio at the beginning outlines a Gmin7 chord, but over the C7 it outlines the 5th, flat 7th, 9th and 11th of the C7 chord (the 11th resolves to the 3rd on beat 3).
The next two examples are similar Gmin7 lines that also work over the C7 chord. The lines aren’t “blues” licks, but they do have a bluesy effect because of the minor over dominant sound.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip! The remainder of 2011’s tips will be looking at how we can use some of our lines over different harmonies. You don’t want to miss the next couple of weeks. If you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip, please share it with your friends and colleagues via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, RSS feeds or any other site that you’re a contributor. I’m glad to hear this blog (and the book) has been helping countless numbers across the globe and hope to continue seeing others positively impacted!