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Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter #1
I wrote this out for another thread and I thought I'd repost it here just in case it might be of interest/value to anybody:

1. Starting in C (i.e. over C/C6/C7 etc.), play this pattern using straight eighth notes:

1-3-5-4-3-4-2-1

:line0: :line1: :line2: :space1: :line1: :space1: :space0: :line0:

This should sound familiar but not very bluesy: it's a basic major pattern you'll find in a million books, and you should be able to do it smoothly with good tone, good jazz/swing articulation, and at a good clip.

2. Once you've got that going nicely, flat the three and play that a few times.

3. Once you've got that going, alternate back and forth between the two.

1-3-5-4-3-4-2-1 / 1-3flat-5-4-3-4-2-1

4. Once you've got that down, play it with the flat three and the flat five as well.

5. Now alternate all three patterns.

1-3-5-4-3-4-2-1 / 1-3flat-5-4-3flat-4-2-1 / 1-3flat-5flat-4-3flat-4-2-1

If you've kept your good tone and speed, this should sound awesome and nice and bluesy. Once you've got it down, finish it by playing the coolest blues lick you can: use whatever notes you want, but try to resolve to the major third (i.e E )

Now do this in all keys (I usually go by the cycle fourths or chromatically).

I like this exercise for a number of reasons, but especially because of the way it forces me to think about the sound of the major 3, the flat 3, and the flat 5 in relation to the basic chord in all keys. This is something that just drilling the traditional blues scales doesn't do: as a number of good teacher/players have pointed out in blues related threads, it's important not to lose the major 3rd tone in your blues playing, especially if you're going for an older Jump or Swing blues style.

I also love to use this one to practice low notes: when I'm doing Bb, B, C, and C# I really dig into these low tones and try to tongue them really nicely. It also forces me to think about where the 2 and the 4 are in all keys, which also helps big time when playing blues.

This drill can be done with any digital pattern that has the main chord tones [i.e. 1-3-5] and can be altered simply by starting on a different note.

eg 5-4-3-4-2-1-1-3

Playing all keys, I can do this drill for hours and I really feel like I'm preparing for actual blues playing.

Cheers,

Rory
 

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Distinguished SOTW Columnist/Official SOTW Guru
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Rory,

Good fun bro'. Further to your idea of starting the pattern on different chord tones, something that works well for me, is to practice this pattern starting from the 1st 3rd 4th 5th etc and then practice leading into those tones in a variety of rhythmic and melodic ways.
If I'm using a triplet on beat 4 to lead into this pattern, I might choose 3 notes of the blues scale to lead into the note. Next I might choose a chromatic triplet lead in, or a triad. Once these digital patterns are assimilated, I find that building up a repertoire of different rhythmic and melodic approaches to them, increases their usefulness a hundredfold.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter #4
Hey DP,

Yeah! That's the goal, which is why I always throw in some kind of cool lick before moving to the next key. What's really constructive, I find, is feeling how the drill is under the lick, so to speak, so that I'm able to reproduce fairly quick, unrehearsed licks, in different keys without having to think about all the notes.

Doing this kind of drill by the numbers you also learn pretty quick which keys you're falling behind in. For me, ironically, it's usually the so-called "horn keys"--F, Bflat, Eflat, and Aflat--where I have to slow down, whereas I'm really used to playing in E, B, and C#.

Rory
 
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