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  1. #1

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    Default Blues: Improvise over the changes

    I can improvise over a blues progression on the appropriate blues scale but what about not just playing the blues scale notes. Will it sound as bluesy if you follow the chords and play the chord scale notes?

    Reason I'm asking is because I really want to be able to improvise over the changes on jazz tunes but I find that too difficult. Thought maybe starting with the blues might jump start me in jazz.

    Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Bubba06's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blues: Improvise over the changes

    I'm not an expert... But I find a lot of people sound best when they find a happy-medium between using the blues scale, and playing the changes at the same time.

    At one clinic I attended, he talked about playing over (bebop at the time) the changes for one chorus, and then playing some blues licks on the second chorus. It has a real nice effect.

    -Bubba-

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Blues: Improvise over the changes

    An easy way to start is to throw in some mixolydian scale and diminished scale runs.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Blues: Improvise over the changes

    Quote Originally Posted by BobD View Post
    I can improvise over a blues progression on the appropriate blues scale but what about not just playing the blues scale notes. Will it sound as bluesy if you follow the chords and play the chord scale notes? .
    Go here; this will get you started: http://www.saxontheweb.net/Rock_n_Roll/

    But, to answer your question, I would say yes and no. Yes, if you really want to play the BLUES, you listen to a LOT of real blues players, and you totally immerse yourself in the music and absorb it. No, if you think it's some kind of shortcut to playing jazz and you aren't really interested in the blues. I'm not saying the later is your approach, but if it is it probably won't work out that well. And of course the blues is the core of jazz. Thousands of jazz tunes are written on blues changes, both the basic blues changes and some altered blues changes. So you're on the right track.

    I should add, it's just as important to know how to play over the changes for the blues as it is for 'jazz.' The blues scale can be used for spice and there is a real art to incorporating the notes of the blues scale. There's some advice on that in the link above. But there's a lot more to playing the blues than running the blues scale.

    With all due respect to saxmanjack, don't just run mixolydian scales. That won't get you there, although you should certainly have them under your fingers.

    Most importantly, get some blues cds, if you don't have any already, and start listening.

    I'm sure others here can give you lots of advice, but you might also search some of the threads here and in the "rock & roll" subforum. There are many threads on this very topic.

  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member rleitch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blues: Improvise over the changes

    Hey BobD

    Once suggestion would be to go to "I Got Rhythm" changes as a kind of next step? The cool thing about these changes (at least the conventional ones) is that you can play the 8 bar A sections like a blues (in one key center using blues scales/riffs) or by running the changes in a more jazz oriented way. There's a killer video on this floating around someplace.

    Martin "Dick Stabile" Tenor: Barone Jazz 7*/GW7

    "The spiritual life is built upon a commitment to truth telling and truth living. As master jazz musicians, [John Coltrane and Miles Davis] presented their spirituality within the reality of cool." --Farah Jasmine Griffen and Salim Washington

  6. #6

    Default Re: Blues: Improvise over the changes

    I would try playing with and transcribing a blues solo you like and listen to what they do and where they do it in the progression. Learn the licks you like and learn it in a few different keys. I think you'll find as said above that most do a little bit of both. Learning to play the blues changes effectively will definitely lead your towards playing standards well.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Blues: Improvise over the changes

    Listen to the changes, then sing an improvised melody along with it in your head (or out loud if you've got a nice voice). Or even just small bits of melody that really strike you as sounding good. Then transfer that to the horn. It's kind of like jamming with yourself, bit by bit. This will get easier the more you do it.

    The chord/scale approach doesn't help at all; screw the scales. Play what you feel.
    doms, doms.

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