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Forum Contributor 2016, The official SOTW Little S
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello SOTW,

This thread will probably be on the lines of begging, so I will commence by stating that I really appreciate all of you and what you do for me. :) Please don't let my opening statement deter you from this thread, if you can help me, please do!

I'll set the scene: I've been practicing for Mid State Jazz for a substantially long amount of time now. I've gotten the prepared pieces down with diligent practice and help from my teacher. I am now prepared to work on the improvisation, but unfortunately, my sax teacher became very ill, had to have surgery on his head, and will be recovering until Mid December (which is after Mid State jazz). I know it sounds slightly selfish, but I don't know what I'm going to do without his help! I talked to my director who said he would be willing to help, but he also recommended finding or writing something to play as the improvisation. He backed up his statement by saying that in general, kids my age really can't improvise and either go in there (the audition room) and sound terrible or memorize something that has theoretical sense and do okay. (By the way, the competition is November 21st.)

So now, I'm trying to find something to play for two verses of Aebersold's Blues in F. This is an odd favor and probably one that will not be fulfilled, but, just by random, does anyone have something written out somewhere that goes with Blues in F? If not, does anyone have any tips so I can write something (which I am willing to do) for 24 measures?

So far, I have these chord changes noted (in Eb alto pitch):

D G D D G G D D A G D D

Would it make sense to write something for each bar according to the chord changes? (I'm not sure if this makes sense. For example: in a bar that is in D, write music that abides by the D blues scale, etc?) What are some tips to make this sound better? Does anyone have any licks that sound good that I can transpose/write into my solo? I wouldn't say I'm clueless about the solo writing process, but it would really help to have some great ideas on my hands.

Once again, if anyone already has something written, it would help a lot, but I feel like I should not be handed this on a silver platter and should sweat over it (although it would be nice. ;)) And thank you for everyone's help, everyone here always seems to help me out when I'm in a bind. :)

Tabitha
 

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play the tones (and use whole notes ) that make it sound like a blues. So in your key the F# over the d, the f over the g, then F#, F#, then f, f, f# F#, G, f, f#....then practice doing stuff around them. also transcribe...
 

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Even if you decide to go play a solo that is pre-written, here is something I would suggest that you try:

When I need to learn to improvise a solo over a new chord progression, I play that progression on the piano (keyboard/organ/whatever). This gets the chord progression into my brain in a way that beats anything else. Once the progression is in your brain, you will be playing solos on that piece on a different level than before.

And if your keyboard playing skills are weak, this method still works. I do not consider myself a "natural" when it comes to improv, and this helps me.

Also, just for fun, you might try playing along with the Beatles song "For You Blue" from the Beatles album "Let It Be". I don't know it is in the same key as yours (concert F) but the chord progression is the same as yours, with the only difference being that the 12th bar is probably the V chord instead of the I chord.
 

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bluesaxgirl, here is my quick and dirty solution: search for Pete Thomas' SOTW blues threads and/or find it on his site. Lots of us recorded single choruses of a blues in F that make up those SOTW blues tracks. I think he's now up to Round 5, maybe putting together Round 6. Anyway, find those. Listen to them all. Play along. Copy licks and phrases. Find ones you like. Write them down if you must, but the more you can play along by ear, the better. Play, play, play.

And to answer 1 of your questions: I don't think it makes sense to write something for each bar according to the chord changes. If you must write something down, write whole phrases that go over 4 bars. Listen to blues singers sing a line that is 4 bars long, then they repeat the same phrase for 4 bars, then they do a different 4-bar phrase for the last of the 12 bars. So, write a 4-bar phrase, repeat it, then write an answer phrase. Now write a different one, repeat it, and write an answer phrase to that one. You've got a 24 bar solo.
 

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Forum Contributor 2016, The official SOTW Little S
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
bluesaxgirl, here is my quick and dirty solution: search for Pete Thomas' SOTW blues threads and/or find it on his site. Lots of us recorded single choruses of a blues in F that make up those SOTW blues tracks. I think he's now up to Round 5, maybe putting together Round 6. Anyway, find those. Listen to them all. Play along. Copy licks and phrases. Find ones you like. Write them down if you must, but the more you can play along by ear, the better. Play, play, play.

And to answer 1 of your questions: I don't think it makes sense to write something for each bar according to the chord changes. If you must write something down, write whole phrases that go over 4 bars. Listen to blues singers sing a line that is 4 bars long, then they repeat the same phrase for 4 bars, then they do a different 4-bar phrase for the last of the 12 bars. So, write a 4-bar phrase, repeat it, then write an answer phrase. Now write a different one, repeat it, and write an answer phrase to that one. You've got a 24 bar solo.
Thanks for that! The solos are really good, and I'm already thinking of ideas to put into my solo (of course, sped up.). That's the best resource I've had so far. Wow...I sure do have a task ahead of me. :)

And not writing each measure according to the chord change helps me out a lot. ;) I thought about it and it wouldn't make too much sense.
 

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Here's what I mean: Bessie Smith sings "Empty Bed Blues." Copy her phrasing.

I woke up this morning with an awful aching head
I woke up this morning with an awful aching head
My new man had left me, just a room and an empty bed
 

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And I just had this fun thought: Can you growl or flutter tongue? If you throw one of those into your solo, you'll knock the judges back. And if you can play altissimo, save it and end your solo on an altissimo note. You'll nail them to the wall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
And I just had this fun thought: Can you growl or flutter tongue? If you throw one of those into your solo, you'll knock the judges back. And if you can play altissimo, save it and end your solo on an altissimo note. You'll nail them to the wall.
I'm working on growling. As for flutter tonguing, I can't roll my tongue (that's why I never took Spanish. ;)). I don't know if it's genetic or not, because neither of my parents can either. :(

I am getting a pretty good grasp on altissimo though. How could I integrate it and make it sound good at the end of the solo? My glissando's are coming a long way though and I'm able to bend my pitches solidly up whole steps now. Maybe I could throw in a little of that?

So basically, these "improvisations" are to show what you know?
 

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I am getting a pretty good grasp on altissimo though. How could I integrate it and make it sound good at the end of the solo? My glissando's are coming a long way though and I'm able to bend my pitches solidly up whole steps now. Maybe I could throw in a little of that?
Yes! And in the last 2 bars, climb up the notes of the chord--quarter notes or even half notes--up to your best altissimo note in the (concert F) chord. Or gliss up, especially to that high note and hold it for the whole last bar.

So basically, these "improvisations" are to show what you know?
I don't know anything about high school music competitions. Never been there or done that. Maybe somebody else on SOTW who has been a judge can comment. Me, all I know about is showmanship.
 

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Start off just playing a solo with the D blues scale to start getting the improvisation in your ears. Then start playing the dominant scales(a major scale with a flat 7) over every chord, and try to play strings of 8th notes.
 

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HarmonizorNJ's advice is good. That works for me also.
If you don't play piano, perhaps you have a guitar.
Just play the basic three chords, and try to sing a few phrases.
Then see if you can copy them on the sax.

When going from the F7 to Bb7 emphasise the major third and dom 7ths.
In alto key that is D7 to G7, lead into the G7 with F# and C natural.
Then when you are in the G7 section (Bb7 concert) you will go more with
the F natural and B natural notes.
Throw in a few of the blue notes by playing F naturals over the D, but be
careful where you use these as they tend to lead to the G7.
Here is an easy blues phrase that fits nicely under the fingers in that key.
(D blues) D, F, G, Ab, G, F D. Really give this a good working out and
experiment with the phrasing.
Another one decending is C, Ab, G, F, D. Transpose this to the G7.

Experiment with bending some notes.

Alternate fingerings sound good and are fun.
You can do this on A. Play the A and then add various right hand
fingers to the mix.
Play a middle C and then play the bottom C but make the note come
out as middle C. Alternate between these fingerings and really honk them.

On the V chord (A7 for alto) howl away on C natural and A. This might
take a bit to get used to with your ear, but it sounds really bluesy.

Above all use the K.I.S.S. principle. Keep it simple. I would stay away
from altissimo unless you are really confident with this and can work
it into the solo in a natural sounding way.
 

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Forum Contributor 2016, The official SOTW Little S
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
HarmonizorNJ's advice is good. That works for me also.
If you don't play piano, perhaps you have a guitar.
Just play the basic three chords, and try to sing a few phrases.
Then see if you can copy them on the sax.

When going from the F7 to Bb7 emphasise the major third and dom 7ths.
In alto key that is D7 to G7, lead into the G7 with F# natural and C natural.
Then when you are in the G7 section (Bb7 concert) you will go more with
the F natural and B natural notes.
Throw in a few of the blue notes by playing F naturals over the D, but be
careful where you use these as they tend to lead to the G7.
Here is an easy blues phrase that fits nicely under the fingers in that key.
(D blues) D, F, G, Ab, G, F D. Really give this a good working out and
experiment with the phrasing.
Another one decending is C, Ab, G, F, D. Transpose this to the G7.

On the V chord (A7 for alto) howl away on C natural and A. This might
take a bit to get used to with your ear, but it sounds really bluesy.

Above all use the K.I.S.S. principle. Keep it simple. I would stay away
from altissimo unless you are really confident with this and can work
it into the solo in a natural way.
Wow. This is really technical (but good!) I'll analyze it and try to integrate these ideas into the solo. I promise to abide by the K.I.S.S. method, I don't think I'll be able to go in there and spit out 16ths and 32ths in a fast blues track under pressure. I'm going to keep it to 8ths and occasional triplets that sound good. :cool:

Thank you so much!
 

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Wow. This is really technical (but good!) I'll analyze it and try to integrate these ideas into the solo. I promise to abide by the K.I.S.S. method, I don't think I'll be able to go in there and spit out 16ths and 32ths in a fast blues track under pressure. I'm going to keep it to 8ths and occasional triplets that sound good. :cool:

Thank you so much!
Actually, BSG, what I have described is very basic simple stuff.
I was intentionally avoiding the technical things.
Just play some of these ideas and listen to them, then forget the technical
descriptions. It is just blues after all and that should come from the ear.
However, in the process of trying to describe in words something that is
quite simple musically, it all seems a bit complicated.
 

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play the tones (and use whole notes ) that make it sound like a blues. So in your key the F# over the d, the f over the g, then F#, F#, then f, f, f# F#, G, f, f#....then practice doing stuff around them. also transcribe...
Being realistic, you need to keep it very simple. zappysax's approach - which emphasizes guide tones (3rds and 7ths of the chords) will work. One way you can do this is to hit the guide tone at the beginning of the measure and play a simple, possibly repeating motif over it. You can then make very slight adornments to the motif to brighten it up. I will try to post a chart within a day or two to illustrate what I mean.
 

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I will try to post a chart within a day or two to illustrate what I mean.
Really?! I can't begin to explicate how much I would appreciate this!
I'll start by saying thank you. :)
Well then, I'll start by saying you're welcome, and I hope you are not disappointed. I sometimes mess up when trying to link to images, so here is where the chart is located: http://lh4.ggpht.com/__bBjLAs1ASM/S...fFSJgm3aTs/s576/BlueSaxGirl Blues Cropped.jpg

This is a very simple 12 bar blues. The last 12 bars show guide tones. The first 12 bars hit the guide tones except the last two measures, which show an ending. The same simple figure (A - B - D - guide tone) is repeated. There is a slight embellishment in measure 4. Take a simple idea or two like this, dress it up as much or as little as you can between now and the Mid State. I think you will get a lot of mileage if you approach it as though you are trying to tell a (simple) story, and if you remember to swing it.

Good luck.

 

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I think you will get a lot of mileage if you approach it as though you are trying to tell a (simple) story, and if you remember to swing it.
Yeah, sing it and swing it!
 

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Thanks a lot:evil:

Here I was enjoying, relaxing playing my tenor and reading sow......

Then Bluesaxgirl has to come along and post this request... martinmusicman has got me singing in my head and now lamplighter has put music before my eyes...

This is causing me to have to shift gears... pull out the alto and make some more noise...

Thanks... and keep at it!

:D

I guess I will put in a plug for a book too.Chris Hunt's Blues By the Bar.

While this book is meant for the guitar it includes the score (and of course guitar tabs) for each of the riffs. It breaks the 12 bar blues progression down into pairs of bars and has interesting and simple explanations of how to develop lead riffs. Comes with a cd which has the guitar riffs and then a series of backing with no lead for you to play against. I have been taking the riffs and transposing them for my tenor as well as re-tabulating (is this even a word?) them and then playing them on my 5 string banjo.
 

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Lamplight, that was just a cool thing to do.

Some things are better done than talked about. For learning the blues "feel" all I can say is to listen to a bunch of stuff, then play and experiment.

Sure, you can say that there's magic in the tension between the major and minor 3rd, and the sweet spot of the flat 5th at just the right moment, but mostly you just gotta find it for yourself.

To me, blues is more about finding the tonal and rythmic pocket than ripping a bunch of sixteenth notes and screaming the tonic in FF altissimo at the end, though there's definitely room for those too.

And there I've gone and talked WAY more than I wanted to. Let's go play now. Enjoy the ride, Sis.
 
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