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Dare Some Dissonance and Jam Some Blues
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DanielB
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April 14, 2015 - 6:25 pm
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Uzi did a very good explanation of using Major pentatonic scales over major chord progressions to be able to jam without being "off key". You can find that over here:

http://fiddlerman.com/forum/te.....ey/#p70807

But some genres deliberately use some "off key" notes and it is part of what gives them a distinctive sound.

The idea of intentionally playing "off" notes might seem a bit odd.. I mean, don't we spend a lot of our time learning how to avoid doing that?  But it can sound really cool in some combinations.

Like for some blues, you can use a minor pentatonic scale over a Major chord progression like I IV V, and it can definitely give a good blues sound to work with.  

Uzi explained the Major pentatonic scale, so I'll explain the minor pentatonic.

You can take a minor scale and just drop out the 2nd and 6th note to get the 5 notes for the minor pentatonic.  So sticking with the key of G that Uzi used, the G minor scale is G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F.  So we would drop out the 2nd note, A.. and the 6th note, the Eb, to get the minor pentatonic.  So the G minor pentatonic would be G, Bb, C, D, F.

Or some folks may be more familiar with the Major scales and prefer to construct it from the G major, in which case you drop out the 2nd and 6th note and flat the 3rd and 7th note of the G major scale, which will give you the same notes as a result as if you constructed it from the minor scale.

G, Bb, C, D, F.

On a violin in first position and allowing open string notes, following Uzi's way of explaining it..

G: 0, 2(low), 3

D: 0, 2(low) 3

A: 1(low), 2(low), 3

E: 1(low), 2(low)

 

Now some budding theory buffs may start hearing warning sirens going off at the thought of that against even just the G Major chord.. Putting a flatted 3rd against a the Major 3rd of the triad?  "Danger Will Robinson, Danger!"

But it does work, in it's way, and gives a certain feel that we wouldn't get by just avoiding dissonances.  Try it against this track..

You can get some nice sounds going, and that 3rd will feel just fine.  You can get a nice easy, lazy sort of blues feel.  Even with all those dominant 7th chords all over the place leaving so many spots of dissonance that I'm not even going to count them.  But you just try it, and you may like the sound.

 

I can imagine somebody out there who is saying right now.. "But what about the 'blue' note???  How you gonna play blues without that 'blue note'???"

Oh, fine, if you must.  Just add a flatted 5th, for the key of G minor that will be the Db.  But really, you can play blues without it.  It is just an optional passing tone and there are some other good choices you can find for passing tones or "flavour" that can work just as well, if you experiment a bit.  But try it without that "blue" note first.  If you listen to much old blues, you'll notice a lot of the trad blues players didn't make much use of that "blue" note, and it is not the "secret" to the blues that some folks try to make it out to be. 

Anyway, hope some folks have fun with this.  Enjoy!

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Uzi
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April 14, 2015 - 10:44 pm
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Really nice follow up post @DanielB.  I think that these posts could be quite helpful to people wanting to learn particular genres of music and to better understand music in general.  I think that, if one learns to understand the patterns and to recognize them when one hears them, it makes music both more interesting to listen to, as well as easier to learn.

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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BillyG
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April 15, 2015 - 7:40 am
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@DanielB and @Uzi - two fine posts chaps, thank you both !   Just picked out a bit of the sequence and suddenly I'm playing a piece I wrote for guitar and kbds years ago!

 I haven't spent much time on violin trying blues or rock - largely because although that's what I would VERY MUCH like to play on my EV I spend so much time on the more "traditional" pieces (and our various mini-projects here) that I never really "get around to it".   I think I should factor in some practice time to this particular area.

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Mark
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April 15, 2015 - 8:00 am
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DanielB and Uzi,

 

Thank you both very good posts.

 

Mark.

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coolpinkone
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April 15, 2015 - 2:31 pm
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@Uzi 

@DanielB

Thank you for the great posts.  (no I don't get it completely.. no jammin with chords for me yet .. and I can't apply it yet... but I am going to one day)

HELPFUL HELPFULexactlyexactlyexactlyexactlyexactlyexactly

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Uzi
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April 16, 2015 - 10:27 am
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@coolpinkone, that's kind of the purpose of the posts.  It's not really required that you understand it.  All you have to do is remember the fingering pattern and you can use it to make music.  From that point on the only a requirement is to feel the music. Like Stevie Ray Vaughn once said when he was sitting in with another band and they were going to play a song he hadn't heard before, "Go ahead and start and I'll feel something." That's it.

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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BillyG
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April 16, 2015 - 11:53 am
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Uzi said
.... "Go ahead and start and I'll feel something." That's it.

Summed it up there man !

EDIT: That was one of my shortest ever posts, so I thought I would add an "EDIT" LOL

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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DanielB
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April 16, 2015 - 3:57 pm
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I def agree with Uzi on that, Toni.  If you take the "safe notes" that either he or I listed and just mess around with them, even randomly while the chords are playing, it won't sound bad, and can have moments even from the first time you try it where you may go "Hey, that sounded pretty good!" at least for a few notes at a time if you play around with it for even a couple minutes.

That's the "magic" of scales like these.  Since they jump over the notes that could maybe sound kinda bad, pretty much anything you do with them will sound ok, or even maybe pretty darn good.  So you can "play" in the literal sense of the word, like a kid with a toy, just trying them in different ways and seeing what you can make with them.  They're child-safe building blocks, nice clean sandbox sand, modelling clay, non-toxic washable crayons..

The Major pentatonic that Uzi explained will sound "right" with more of the different genres in that big long list of backing tracks.  This minor one, over the backing track I gave the link to here is more for specifically getting a type of blues sound.  Not everyone would like that as well as maybe some of the other genres.

But you do know far more than you need to start applying this.  Even back somewhere before you started working on Scarborough Fair, you knew enough.  

I do feel there is also an important reason to give some time to practising improvisation (which is what we can call this).  It is practising using your creativity in music.  Think of why it is important for toddlers to get some time with blocks and clay and crayons.  Sure, a toddler learning to count and copy letters and speak words and sentences is important.. But so is the time spent with crayons and clay and stuff.  Creativity doesn't just happen, in some ways it is something we learn and develop, just like everything else.

 

EDIT:  Hmm....

" I haven't spent much time on violin trying blues or rock - largely because although that's what I would VERY MUCH like to play on my EV I spend so much time on the more "traditional" pieces (and our various mini-projects here) that I never really "get around to it".   I think I should factor in some practice time to this particular area."

Sounds like a serious issue, Bill.  Might be a mental block or something.  What you maybe should do is dig out your old "I do the ROCK" t-shirt, maybe even watch the video a couple times..

That should fix you right up.

exactly

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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DanielB
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April 18, 2015 - 8:12 pm
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Here's another blues jam track I ran across that happens to be in G, so you can use the same old notes as from the first post.

This one is kinda interesting to jam with, since it has some Maj7th chords in it.  That's a little more dissonance for those minor pentatonic notes to work with.  It also has maybe a little bit of a funk swing on the beat, and with those Maj7 chords, I'm not sure whether I'd say it leans more in a funk direction or jazz..  

But it's a fun jam either way, and like I said, the same 5 note minor pentatonic scale sounds pretty darn good with it.

It is a little longer than some.  About 11 minutes, which is quite a workout for improvisation.  Might want to pause and listen for a bar or two every now and then, while you let yourself take a few seconds to think about how you want to hit the groove next.

As usual, if people notice that you're missing for some chunks of time, blame it on space aliens or something..

 

"No, really!  I wasn't just jamming out.. There was this big blue light, and the tinfoil hat was all the way in the kitchen, and I think I was abducted!!  Yeah.  That must be it.  Dang aliens.."

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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coolpinkone
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April 20, 2015 - 1:40 pm
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Yay.... cool.

Thanks Dan and Uzi....

I see some improv in my future. ;)

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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