Being stingy with half-steps

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Larry F, Oct 23, 2019.

  1. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I've been working with the idea that a failing of some blues-oriented players is the overuse of half-steps. The minor pent solves that prob, since it has no half-steps. The dorian mode seems to be pretty common, with the stipulation that the semitones between D-Eb and A-Bb of the C dorian not be used in succession. (I could have said that better.)

    Well, if you must play one every now and then, go ahead. But if you don't watch out, you'll sound like a European blues guitarist. This is one reason why Malmsteen can't really play blues with feeling. It's just another scale to him, as zips up and down, up and down. BB King, on the other hand, can use the dorian mode without it sounding classical or gypsy or something. Taste, stinginess, and not too many semitones formed by successive notes D-Eb or A-Bb.

    Super easy to verify the sound of this. Simply play a blues first, without successive semitones, then with them. Big stylistic difference. It might be interesting to play around with this, especially if it breaks some old habits and finger cliches.
     
  2. kbold

    kbold Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Another tasty morsel of information. Thanks.
    I get what you're saying. Play just the semitone steps of the Dorian, and you'll sound like something from the Turkish top 40.
     
  3. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    would half steps be the result of bending some notes ?..

    half step bends are easier than moving up a fret...
     
  4. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Meister

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    Zero cliché in this thread...
     
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  5. Togman

    Togman Tele-Afflicted

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    Only a small part of Turkey in in Europe. The rest is in Asia. But I see where you're coming from....
     
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  6. sockgtr

    sockgtr Tele-Meister

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    Conversely, if you want more jazz in your blues, hit them chromatics!
     
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  7. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

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    play slide with a beef bone, some 13's through an old alamo on gibson 125 with a floating bridge..... that will solve all'a that mess.
     
  8. fretflip

    fretflip TDPRI Member Vendor Member

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    I was happily bending my major pentatonic into minor all day long but now you made me aware of that I am probably overdoing it :)

    Malmsteen... I find him kind of hard to listen to live since syncopation is all over the place in unintended ways.
     
  9. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    would that not be the Phyrigian mode with a flatted 2nd as well as the minor 3rd? Some think of this as a Spanish thing, but there is a reason why it is called Phrygian....Phrygia is an ancient area in what we know as Turkey today. That influence came to Spain with the Arab influence.
     
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  10. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Now that I've let this thread simmer a bit, here comes another point of view. Instead of exhorting everyone to not overdo the minor seconds, what I really mean to say is that minor seconds in blues are often used as colorful, focused zingers, especially when used in halfstep bends. In jazz, they are often used as chromatic tones, usually passing (possibly as a chromatic neighbor). In this sense, the minor seconds are treated as steps played in succession. In blues, minor seconds are not used as succeeding notes in stepwise order, unlike major seconds and minor thirds (which can be thought of as a step, or scale degree), and unlike jazz. When they are used this way in blues, then you've got stylistic shifts into jazz (jump) and European styles, a la Gary Moore.

    Not used as steps in the senses described above, minor seconds in blues are more often used as special events that jump out of the texture. Players often hype this change in pitch color by using trills, slides, and bends, or projecting them as moans and vocal inflections. Flavoring. Spices. The amount of spice used in a solo is an artistic decision or maybe just a matter of taste or habit.

    In no way am I demeaning the value of the semitone in blues.
     
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  11. kbold

    kbold Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Larry (as far as I understand the post) is referring to C Dorian vs C minor pentatonic (which is missing the 2nd [D] and 6th [A] of the C Dorian scale).

    I think what he's getting at is the use of the D-Eb and A-Bb semitone steps can add colour and zest, while overuse can be too much sweetness and actually detract from the effect.
    Maybe LarryF will chime in to clarify my potentially muddy thoughts.

    Phrygian mode (in this case a m6 and m2 added to the C Dorian) would be D Phrygain.
    Things are starting to get foggy for me wrt m2, but since Larry also referred to minor 2nds in his last post, I may have missed the plot here.

    I carry on into the mist.
     
  12. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I agree with Larry that utilizing ‘outside’ notes, which will entail use of half step movements, is 8nteresting...and has been done for ages. I like to play a minor pentatonic and then exhibit to a young player who knows ONLY those intervals....no full scales, etc...what can happen when one discovers other notes to play. It is strange for their ears to hear all of those notes work together.


    And....early morning wake up with a lot of half step, chromatic Movement.....
     
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  13. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    Similarly, as Wally noted above with Misirlou, you can also demonstrate the power of the 1/2 step with the Juan Tizol/Duke Ellington tune "Caravan". The main melody of the [A] section mostly all happens over a C7 chord (you can include the b9 but it's not necessary). *Interestingly, that C7 is the V chord. The resolve is to the Fm - which is the key of the song.



    All it takes is one well placed 1/2 step amidst a bunch of skips to take it all to another place. Which I think is the gist of the OP ... I think ;).
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2019
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  14. Toast

    Toast Tele-Holic

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    I'm not into shred music. I have problems empathizing with that style of music. However, I suspect the "feeling" in it is centered around the listener bonding with the tempo rather than the harmonic, melodic, or lyrical elements. Just my two cents.
     
  15. ASATKat

    ASATKat Friend of Leo's

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    You're asking me to change my blues dna?

    BB played major pent and minor pent in the same lick. And he used chromatics when he felt like it.
     
  16. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I read an interview in GP a long time ago where in B.B. King advised that if one hit a sour note...just bend it or move it a half step.
     
  17. ASATKat

    ASATKat Friend of Leo's

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    So in A you're talking about the Bb note because that is the only minor 2nd in A.

    I don't get it. Only SRV in his opening lick of Texas Flood have I heard a minor 2nd And I questioned it for a while before accepting it. But in my own blues playing I never use Bb, as a b2.
     
  18. ASATKat

    ASATKat Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, I remember something like that,
     
  19. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    I find what you're saying confusing. There are multiple m2 choices in 'A'....I'll assume you're talking about an 'A' blues scale although that doesn't really matter

    You can approach any note in the scale from a m2 above or below. Why do you say 'Bb' is the only minor 2nd?
     
  20. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I would think ASATKat is using ‘2nd’ to mean THE second interval of the scale. How would one say this in order to avoid confusion? And...if the 2nd interval was flatted, then we are seeing some form of an Arabic influence..through Spain...a Phrygian mode.
     
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