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Friday, 20 March 2015

12 Bar Blues

I find blues to be and extremely enjoyable style of music to play. This is true both for advanced players and beginners as you really don't need to have a lot of background knowledge or experience in the matter. Blues can actually be the perfect style for a player to start at, due to how simple it can be made. The majority of blues tunes are so called ''Twelve Bar Blues''. This refers to the I ,IV, V chord sequence. For example if the song was in the key of A the chords used would be A, D and E.

This is your typical 12 bar blues pattern in the key of A.


 If your main aim is soloing, there is one essential thing you must do. Learn the pentatonic scale. This will provide you with a solid base that will keep you going in the world of blues. There are however slight alterations to the standard pentatonic scale which will make your solos have that tasty sound. Blues notes!

Another trick you can use to make your solos sound even better is combining the major and minor pentatonic scales. For example if you're playing in the key of A, you can play the a minor pentatonic blues scale and then shift to the first position of the C major pentatonic scale. This works very well as A is the relative minor of C major. There really isn't much more too it. All blues guitarists use this or at least base their playing on these few things.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Introduction to Jazz Chords

In this post I will give some examples of commonly used Jazz chords and their shapes. The first chord type I'm going to talk about is the dominant 7th chord. It is the most commonly used chord in Jazz. It consists of a root note, a major third, a fifth and the minor 7th.

The Major Seventh Chord. This can be a really nice sounding chord if played and used correctly. The Major 7 chord consists of the root note, the major 3rd, an optional 5th (makes the chord sound fuller in this case), and the Major Seventh. The major seventh is a step below the octave. The major 7th chord is usually notated in jazz as a maj7, because if it just said 7, it would imply Dominant. This chord is sometimes referred to as a "Major Major" chord, or a Delta chord.

The Minor Seventh Chord. This chord is also extremely common in a lot of forms in music. The -7 Chord consists of the root, the minor 3rd, optional 5th, and the minor/flat seven. A common way to notate this in jazz sheet music is either like -7, m7, or min7.

|-----------  -8--|
9th Chords. A 9th chord comes in a few different ways. The 9th is a compound Second interval. It can be an added voice to either a minor or dominant 7th chord. The 9 always implies the 7th in the chord unless it is written ass an add9 chord. When simply stated as a C9, it consists of the 1, M3, P5, m7, M9. The -9, m9, or min9 chords are the same thing, but with a minor 3rd.

|----- 3------|



b5 or Half Diminished Chords. Flat 5 chords are all too common in jazz. Almost in every jazz song in a minor key. The ii chord in a ii v i progression is half diminished. The b5 chord is played like a Minor 7 chord, but the 5th is flat. When playing in a combo or ensemble, it almost 100% necessary to add the b5 in this chord. It can also be notated as a circle with a slash through it, meaning half diminished.

|----- -4-----|
Diminished Chords. Fully Diminished chords are used a lot in jazz. It's the same thing as the Half Diminished chord, only the 7th is doubly flat. bb7, if you will. It's very complicated to play, I'll admit. In the third example, the root is in the high voice. This chord is not the most beautiful thing ever. Sometimes notated as just a small circle.

|--------  -8--|
|----- -4--7--|

In classical music and technical theory, a true 13 chord consists of the 1, 3, 5, m7, 9, 11, and 13. But in classical writing, You only need the 1, 3, 5, m7, and 13, because there aren't enough parts, or fingers to have the 9 and 11. So, for what were learning here, you should only voice the 1, 3, 5, m7, and 13.

6th Chords consist of the root, the major third, the fifth and the sixth. A happy little chord.

Getting Into Jazz

Jazz may seem like a rather complex and difficult genre of music, and unfortunately I can't say that it's not. It may take years  before you can call yourself a master, but there are certain approaches you can take to make the process smoother and more fun. I have been told many times, that a very good way of starting your journey through the world of Jazz is simply learning jazz standards such as Autumn Leaves or Aint Misbehavin. They say that your first 30 standards are the hardest and its downhill after that and i have to agree with that.

When learning a Jazz standard you shouldn't just be able to play along with the tune. You should learn both the rhythm and lead parts so that you have a deeper understanding of the piece of music. I find that an absolutely necessary component of practicing is playing with other musicians. Finding people to play with can sometimes be difficult but it is most definitely worth the effort as your sense of time and playing in a band improves drastically. A good way of jamming is swapping between the rhythm section and the lead solo section so that each one of the players gets to play every part.

One thing that many Jazz guitarists do is learning a lick in as many different positions on the neck as possible. This method improves your orientation around the neck and enhances your freedom and comfort when soloing.

Another thing you can do to improve your general jazz skills is invest in a Jazz chord book or find an equivalent online. Most Jazz scores have the melody written out and the chord names just written above it in which case you have to know the chord shapes to be able to play along. Knowing the chords you will be able to play along to pretty much any tune on the spot which can be a very useful skill when jamming with other musicians.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Pentatonic scale

The major pentatonic scale is commonly used in styles including blues, country, rock and jazz. The five shapes of the major pentatonic scale are the same as those for the minor pentatonic scale with the root positioned elsewhere. 

G major

 Position 1

Position 2

Position 3

Position 4

Position 5