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Mastering the Blues Scale Volume 1 Minor

I've been working on this forever but over the last month I finally got my act together and finished it. I know many of you have asked me for a book on the blues scale. This is Volume 1 Mastering the Blues Scale-Minor. http://www.neffmusic.com/blog/2011/04/mastering-the-blues-scale-vol-1-minor/

Description from the website:
“Just play the blues scale!” All across the country, you hear this advice given in every band room. Students sit with blank looks on their faces as band directors tell them to use this or that blues scale on their solo. The advice usually doesn’t go much further than that and many kids end up playing solos that they are less than happy about. What many of these students need is a jump start. A few examples of what to play and how to play it………..Here you go!

In Mastering the Blues Scale Volume 1, I demonstrate using the Blues Scale to create great blues licks you can use in your own playing over minor grooves. From slow Blues, to fast Funk, to Rock and Roll. I show you how to go about getting your blues vocabulary

together as you greatly improve your technique with these essential blues licks and scales. Play along with this book at your own pace, as you learn hundreds of great sounding and easily adaptable blues licks and patterns in all 12 keys. Playing these patterns is a fun and exciting way to make that transition from knowing the Blues Scale, to actually having it in your ears and under your fingers.

These blues licks combine many of the idiomatic sequences, intervals and finger patterns, you really need to have down, if you want to get burning on the blues scale. If you are stuck playing your blues scales straight up and down, practicing these licks will soon have you playing with the technique and flexibility required to be able to play what you hear.

Mastering the Blues Scale Volume 1 Minor has 100 great blues licks in all 12 keys. It is a PDF file that you can download immediately so you can get to work.

Here's a sample of the first couple of pages from the book:

 

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I have a question for the two of you. I'm trying to get a better grasp on improvisation (after 30+ years of muddling around) and managed to confuse myself. (something I'm getting good at lately.) I seem to remember Agent27 in another thread stating that chord tones, rather than scales, are the basis for improvisation. But this book appears to me to emphasize studying scales as an exercise to develop improv skills. How do this concepts fit together? (Or should I just do some more careful reading in the Improvisation forum?)
 

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I do believe outlining the changes is extremely important. But in reality, no improvisor outlines every change. Too much of one thing gets boring. To use a painting analogy, you need more than one color on your palette.

Actually, I think you can stick to outlining the without getting boring, but having other colors at your disposal definitely creates interest.

The blues scale sounds good in certain situations. If you strictly stuck to outline the harmony, you might never play it. So it's a nice change of pace. It's a contrast to the other type of improvisation. But while it's a good way to get students to sound good quickly because there really aren't any bad notes (some just need to be resolved), it shouldn't be thought of as a method of improvisation in itself. It's a color. It's a tool.

Because the blues scale works and because it has a strong sound, you can play it over chords that it doesn't theoretically work over and still get away with it in certain situations. As Neff demonstrated, the blues it one of those situations. The "A" sections of rhythm changes (or pretty much any other tune that follows a I-vi-ii-V type progression) would be another.

But because it's just a color, it shouldn't be used exclusively. Because you're dealing with only 6 notes and only one tonality, it gets boring relatively quick. Since you have more options available in chord based improv, it's harder for it to become stale.

And make no mistake, though Steve is playing a scale, he's outlining a specific tonality. In this case, it's E minor. He's still resolving to the root, 3rd, or 5th of an E minor triad. By sticking to the blues scale, he's generalizing the harmony and sticking to the tonic chord which is another color available in certain situation (blues scale an option but not necessary).

What I was referring to in the other thread was more using standard 7 note scales based off of the major scale. The blues scale has an inherent strength in it. There's only 2 tonalities it can imply so it's hard to go wrong. A 7 note scale has more options and more tonalities in it so it's easier to imply something that doesn't work against the sounding harmony. You can be in C major and using a C major scale but implying D minor instead by accident. Meanwhile, it'd be hard for Steve to use an E minor blues scale in the key of E minor and NOT imply E minor.
 

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Congratulations Steve! I know the kind of work that goes into putting a book together. The YouTube sample sounds great. I'm hearing some Grover in there too.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Online Jazz Lessons and Books
New Lesson:
Making Sense of Jazz Improvisation
Lesson Series:
Introduction to the Blues
The Arpeggio Circle
Through the Keys
and more...
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
Rhythm Changes Lesson:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMOW7QAfpwo
 

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Thanks Randy and Matt. It does take a lot of work as you guys know. Hours and hours of mundane stuff. The creative part of it is fun but the copy and pasting computer stuff is a complete drag!
I always dread getting it back from my proofreader. You work hundreds, even thousands of hours on stuff just to have the proofreader send it back telling you to word things differently.

Congratulations again on what appears to be a very fine and valuable addition to the jazz education library!

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Online Jazz Lessons and Books
New Lesson:
Making Sense of Jazz Improvisation
Lesson Series:
Introduction to the Blues
The Arpeggio Circle
Through the Keys
and more...
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
Rhythm Changes Lesson:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMOW7QAfpwo
 

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Quikc question about the book layout. Is it laid out like you 2-5-1 books, where all 12 keys are on one page or like you Approach Note books where it's divided into keys?
 

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I have a question for the two of you. I'm trying to get a better grasp on improvisation (after 30+ years of muddling around) and managed to confuse myself. (something I'm getting good at lately.) I seem to remember Agent27 in another thread stating that chord tones, rather than scales, are the basis for improvisation. But this book appears to me to emphasize studying scales as an exercise to develop improv skills. How do this concepts fit together? (Or should I just do some more careful reading in the Improvisation forum?)
They don't.
I wish people would stop with the blues scale thing, really. I'm sure the book is groovy, and will satisfy a need obviously, as a poster said, you can still hear junior high band directors across the land calling out it's name. It's usually just a device to get beginning improvisors up and running with a limited bunch of notes to play over all of the chords in a simple progression, aka, ga-ga-goo-goo of the improv world. I'm not saying that it doesn't have a time and place, just waaaaay over emphasised in importance.
 

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Well, just to follow what JohnGalt said, I don't think the idea of Steve's book is to end up ONLY playing the blues scale. Rather it is to focus on one device or sound (the blues scale in this case) and learn how to use it effectively. Then mix it in with all the other myriad sounds available. I do agree, many overuse the blues scale or use it haphazardly and ineffectively, but that could be said about running changes as well.

Part of the problem is the blues scale is a very strong sound and there is a tendency to overuse it or rely on it too much. That is precisely because it does work. That doesn't make it the equivalent of 'ga-ga-goo.' It just means some players haven't put in the time and study Steve has to take it beyond 'ga-ga-goo.' I've heard countless blues heads based on the blues scale played by major jazz artists. Of course they take it beyond that, and they employ the notes from that scale very effectively.

Hey Steve, wouldn't all those blues scale lines also work over a major blues?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hey Steve, wouldn't all those blues scale lines also work over a major blues?
They could work with some tweaking. You would just be laying heavily on the G's over the E7 chords. Those resolutions in my book would no longer be resolutions then as there would be a lot of tension on those notes. I would tend to play around with the G#'s more on a E7 blues. I'll demonstrate that in the next book.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Quikc question about the book layout. Is it laid out like you 2-5-1 books, where all 12 keys are on one page or like you Approach Note books where it's divided into keys?
It's layout is like the Approach Book. After I did the II-V book I had a few people who just wanted to look at one key at a time and transpose in their head. I decided to do the books after that by key so that the people who wanted to do it that way could just look at one key and figure out the rest without being tempted to cheat. I like having things written out in every key. Many people like it especially if they have a song they are doing on a gig that is in say G# minor.......they can just open up to that section of the book and grab some nice idea to work on for that song.
 

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They could work with some tweaking. You would just be laying heavily on the G's over the E7 chords. Those resolutions in my book would no longer be resolutions then as there would be a lot of tension on those notes. I would tend to play around with the G#'s more on a E7 blues. I'll demonstrate that in the next book.
I think a lot of those lines (ones that don't resolve to E) work over G major. The lick you play at the top of your 2nd chorus would be a good example. I used that one last night a few times over major harmony. Others could be altered, maybe by resolving to D instead of E, so that they work over G.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I think a lot of those lines (ones that don't resolve to E) work over G major. The lick you play at the top of your 2nd chorus would be a good example. I used that one last night a few times over major harmony. Others could be altered, maybe by resolving to D instead of E, so that they work over G.
Yes, I wasn't sure if JL was asking about playing the E blues scale licks over a E7 blues or a G7 blues?
 

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Yes, I wasn't sure if JL was asking about playing the E blues scale licks over a E7 blues or a G7 blues?
Well, both actually. But I was also pointing out you can use the minor E blues scale over a blues in E major. Of course that same scale would be what I'd call a major G blues scale, which obviously can be used over G7. But you're right about certain resolutions being different with a major tonic center as opposed to minor. One of the things about the minor blues scale (based on the tonic) is it 'fits' over an entire blues progression, with some tensions of course. But that's part of what makes it sound like the blues.

I actually think of the blues scale in terms of either a minor pentatonic with a b5, or a major pentatonic with a b3. They might be the same scale but I use them in different ways. Which is probably getting off topic a bit.

In any case, nice work Steve. Writing all this stuff out is a real labor of love.
 

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Steve, are some of the patterns in this book from some of your lessons or did you write them all anew?
 

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