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Some Blues

by lettonico

18 Jul 2010
Views: 25840

I've decided to talk a bit about blues. Why? I'll give you two reasons why.

Reason #1: If you are really into blues, then you may find this helpful. If you don't like blues very much, you should learn to keep your mind open to good music. My advice is not to categorize music in 'jazz', 'metal', 'blues', 'funk' and so on... there are only two types of music - good music, which makes the world a better place, and bad music.
Reason #2: if you are a total beginner in learning guitar (to whom this lesson is actually aimed to), blues is perfect for you, because it's great to learn how to improvise on.

Down to business...

Minor Pentatonic Scales

A pentatonic scale is a scale that contains only five notes, and are quite popular in western music.
You could say they derive from major or minor scales. If you have a major (or minor) scale that have seven notes, and take out two notes, you'll get a five-note scale.
Let's take a look at minor pentatonics:

Let's say we have the A minor (aeolyan) scale, which is: A - B - C - D - E - F - G.


If we take out the second and sixth notes, we get:

A - C - D - E - G, which happens to be the A minor pentatonic scale.


Go up and down A minor scale, and then move on to A minor pentatonic scale? Hear the difference?
As an exercice, play both A minor and A minor pentatonic scale across the fretboard (you already know the notes!)

Once you've done this, let's move forwards.

Da blue note: this is nothing more than the flattened fifth degree. Play now A minor pentatonic scale, but add bE now (Let's not say d#, so as not to repeat note's names. A minor pentatonic with the bluw note added - or 'A Blue Scale' - is: A - C - D - Eb - E - G).


WOW! WHAT'S HAPPENED HERE! that flattened fifth changes it all, doesn't it?

Improvise blues.
I want you to take your time and listen to great bluesman guitar players, like B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Blues is all about playing very brief but emotional-filled phrases, and then stop. It's about playing and stops. Say what you have to say and shut up. Silence is a key part in a blues motive.
I highly recommend to record yourself playing a twelve-bar blues progressions. Blues progressions are basically made from seventh chords in a shuffle feel: I7 - IV7 - V7 is an easy sequence. I'm sorry, but you are on your own here, I'm going to supose you know what a twelve-bar blues progression, since you can find examples without any difficulty on the web.
Above your recordings, play this licks and use them on your improvisations.

Pattern n1

Pattern n2


Pattern n9


B.B. king uses this minor 'little scale' a lot (this one is in A position):
[10] is the root note here, A note.


I know this lesson might not look very useful at first, but if you listen to some blues and learn your scales, hopefully things will start to work out.
I'm uploading a short lick for you to hear, using A minor pentatonic and BBking's scale. I hope this shows you what I mean. And I hope you like it, the sound is not very good though, you better turn your volume up.



Nice stuff dude, I'm sure beginners will benefit from this lesson.

I know you would say there's only two types of music "good" and "bad" - so... what would you consider "bad" music?


hey, thanks a lot jazzmaverick!
my english may not sound (read) very well, i'm from argentina.
I don't know what happened here, but I've uploaded an audio file in this lesson, but it doesn't appear anywhere. maybe i messed up. anyone knows what the problem might be?

About what I consider "bad" music... I hope I get myself understood. This is, of course, just my opinion.

Music is pleasant to our souls, because our ears are like entrances to our heart. Nowadays, due to consumerism, music is sometimes composed not for souls, but for the market. Music is recorded only if profitable (good and bad music that is). When music is composed (and recorded) for the market and not for the souls, then it can't be considered good music, because it fails its primer goal - to give aesthetic pleasure to our souls. Since this has come to be a reality, generations are raised without full knowledge of what good music is, because market is market thanks to publicity - the publicity of bad music. Teen's pop is a good example of this. A lot of teen grow up listening to bad music, in a world where bad music is advertised. and

Why is this bad?
Because instead of composing better and better music to please ourselves, music is composed only to sell, and has lost its complexity.

Jimmy Page once said (I'm translating here),
'I'm optimist about the future of rock. Young musicians will arise again, but with a level of good composition, with depth and intellect. Composition will return to the level of classic music or jazz'
He says 'return' because he realizes what music has become - some music of course. Led Zeppelin is definitely good music.

All I'm trying to say - at least this happens in Argentina - is that is easier to find a teen who listens to (or at least knows the lyrics of some songs of) britney spears, but very few can appreciate Al Di Meola.

Muchas gracias por comentar!!!!!!!!!


Al Di Meola is a friggen legend, I have all of his albums :D

When you upload images and audio in lessons they appear underneith the type box - and you have to click "add" by doing so, it will add a type of code in the type box for you to cut and paste where it's necessary. If you don't add it, it won't show.

What you're saying is true and I would think the same; however - all music is useful... It could be considered crap, but there's most definitely one part, melody/harmony or lick inside a composition that can be an idea for another.

Use their ideas to your advantage my friend!

Jimmy Page is right that the main frame is polluted, but there are still amazing musicians like Andy Mckee, John DuFour, Buckethead, Symphony X (biast haha) and so on.

There's always going to be something musicians don't like, but then that something is what non-musicians DO like... it doesn't have to be complicated, or obey the rules.

Music is what we as humans enjoy.

Comparing everything together - all that we have ever made as human beings and I'd say we've done a pretty awesome job. For a planet that's as small as ours - we've expressed ourselves and made ourselves known in a tongue that others can understand fluently and relate to without any other need of human languages.

Which is why I think human life is defined by music.


YAAAAAAAAAAAAY! I had to cut like half of the lick and save it in a lousy, low-quality format, but hey! It's been uploaded, thanks!

btw, wise words jazzmaverick =)


why is blues good music? i dont care for blues what so ever, its the one genre that doesnt appeal to me. yes jazz i have to agree with you that al di meola is a legend. midnight tango is my favourite song


You gotta read the comments guitarmaster. Good and bad music according to the lesson teacher is not the same for everyone. For OP, blues makes him feel a certain way and affects in a manner that moves him, making it good music to him. If it doesn't move you or make you feel a certain way, it doesn't have to be good music to you! :)


thanks btimm.
I love jazz (from coltrane's to greg howe's), heavy metal (trash metal and speed metal), funk (from james brown to rhcp or primus), psicodelic rock (like the mars volta, tool or screaming headless torsos)... I listen to many bands from these so-called 'genres', and of course the great ones (the beatles, elvis, bob dylan...). the list seems endless.

I LOVE (GOOD) MUSIC. that includes blues in my opinion.

thank all of you for your comments.


Dude you know your stuff


you make me blush, guythatwantstoplaygooduitarandhopefullygoodmusicwhichdefinitelyincludesbluestooguy. (that might make me look stupid)

I'm new here, and I didn't know how to upload sheet music - i hate tab since they don't give you enough information. At least I should've uploaded more audio files. sorry about that. although i'm quite happy i'm getting myself understood, english is not my native tongue.



Thank very much for taking the time to give a great lesson


Dude, GMG, chill. Every topic about blues you post about why you don't like it, etc. Nobody posts about how they don't think your music isn't good, and takes no skill, and isn't exciting, so let it be.

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