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Alternating Blues Scale Patterns

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Larry F, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    As many here know, I have got this thing about using a minor pent in blues soloing where 3 has a substitute 2, and 7 has a substitute 6. Since these are substitutes, I propose that 3 cannot directly precede or follow 2. Ditto with 7 and 6. I wrote out some scale-like patterns that use this rule. Notice that they overall pitch content is equal to a dorian mode. The patterns below are in C blues. They are descending for the important reason that fast scale-like runs in blues solos tend to descend, not ascend. I believe this is because going up with anything requires more effort than going down, due to the effects of gravity. I believe that the concept of melodic gravity plays an important role in blues. To test my hypothesis, the first step would be to listen to a bunch of blues solos and see if the faster, scale-like stuff is generally descending, often quickly. In contrast, ascending music ascends over a greater amount of time, and is often stopping and starting.
     

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  2. Thorpey

    Thorpey Tele-Holic

    925
    Dec 26, 2008
    Blackpool, UK
  3. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    58
    Mar 31, 2007
    victoria b.c. CANADA
    It makes perfect sense to me. Some folks would think this is metaphorical and of course in a sense it is but it's what I call 'literal metaphor'. It's a musical representation of our experience of the natural phenomena (laws) that we live with. How can it be otherwise? It's part of how brains work.
     
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  5. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    Here are 1a and 1b.
     

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  6. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    Here are 2a and 2b.
     

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  7. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    In the interest of anti-plagiarism:

    1. Substituting 2 for 3 and 6 for 7 was introduced to me in this forum. About 5 years ago, someone posted this idea and it immediately hit me like a ton of bricks. Someday, I am going to have to back and search for the forum member who first posted this. I will probably ask other forum members to help with the search. It was a thread that I posted in, but I don't know if I started or not.

    2. The gravity metaphor played a central role in the PhD theory thesis of a student of mine. He noticed that throughout history, writers on music have associated low pitches with heaviness and mass, and high pitches with lightness and smallness. He worked with a physics professor to formalize these ideas, and many more that came out of the project.
     
  8. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

    I love this stuff - mainly because of the principle of practice that emerges in regard to scales. What emerges here through the subbing of 2 for 3 and 6 for 7 is a musical 'breakup' of the dorian sound.

    I know this isnt the actual intention ,but using the pentatonics to explore other 7 note scales is one great approach for guitarists who wish to move from blues playing to other scale forms.

    This is the essence of how a lot of jazz players approach the use of pentatonics in exploring all the chords.
     
  9. fakeocaster

    fakeocaster Tele-Afflicted

    Is this not the same idea as playing D Min Pent over C?
     
  10. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

    Yep - or rather that's a side effect of this..
    __________________
     
  11. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    Yes, I think so.
    Musical gravity (love that!) as well as the alternating of straight MP with Dorian. I got it from Herbie Hancock.
    C Bb G F - Bb G F Eb - A F Eb C - F Eb C A - Eb C Bb G
    *Also helps foster and reinforce my fascination with the IV chord.
     
  12. AndyLowry

    AndyLowry Friend of Leo's

    May 1, 2012
    Prescott AZ
    I'm not sure I buy the melodic gravity argument, unless you're saying that it is strictly a characteristic of blues. I can think of some pretty nice tunes that have an upward motif, like the Naval Hymn. I'm going to have to start paying more attention to it to see, I guess.
     
  13. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    Yeah,

    Slowpinky pointed this out to me a few weeks ago in a different thread on these subs.

    Another way to think of this is that you are always playing and thinking two notes per string. However, it won't always work out that way if you alternate the notes with one in between. Confusing, so here is an example in C blues on the 8th fret:

    C Eb C D on the first string
    G Bb G A on the second string

    What is not allowing in my little theory is:

    C D Eb
    C Eb D
    G A Bb
    G Bb A

    I don't allow minor seconds like theses to occur. The allowable minor seconds in blues are:

    Eb E
    E F
    F F#
    F# G

    I shouldn't say this as what I allow. It is just a shorthand way of saying that if you listen to the Chicago, Memphis, and Texas players from the 50-70s, these tendencies can be found with very great frequency. These tendencies start to break down when European guitarists enter the picture, as well as jazz in the US. When blues educators in the last 10-20 years start teaching 7-note modes, like the Dorian mentioned above, then blues starts to have a scale-like quality. Everything that I am saying can be verified or challenged by listening to what guitarists actually do in their blues solos. Remember, I am talking about tendencies, not never/always. The biggest exception is BB. He will really play around with A Bb A Bb A Bb sometimes. Now, if many more of the classic blues greats can also be found using the semitones 2-3 and 6-7 in a similar way, then my little theory is not very good. I am waiting for the day when I can pose a question based on this theory and have software scurry around the internet "listening" to blues guitar solos and spitting out the percentage of how often things like this occur. Music Information Retrieval, MIR, is a field of research tackling questions like this.
     
  14. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    Right, this is for blues guitar soloing only. Shredders, for example, really bring up the energy when they play ascending patterns. In that case, I would want to see how long it takes an ascending pattern to reach its peak, compared with how long it takes to descend. If it takes notably longer to ascend, I could attribute that to gravity, similar to switchbacks on mountain trails.
     
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