Thanks @PineComb I’ll take a look.
Thanks @PineComb I’ll take a look.
Hi @Slim. Great explanation that I would have never come up with. My intent was to just show where the notes from the blues scale are. I’m a lot smarter now. If I get a chance I’ll up date the graphic with better/more info.
No problem, Kevin @kjlarochelle – everyone can overlook something, especially when it is “new ground” that they are entering.
Hi @Slim. How do you edit a post? I want to fix the chart but I can seem to find an edit post button.
Also what are the other notes besides the Gmin scale that can be played in a Blues Solo? That wasn’t my original intent but I could make another color and show those as well.
Hi Kevin @kjlarochelle
I believe that the forum software might remove the edit button on old posts, but @Luke would know this and be the person to ask. Otherwise, the edit button looks like a small pencil and appears either in the upper right corner of the post (near the time that the post was made) or in lower right corner between the link button and the three dots.
As for your other question, Kevin @kjlarochelle, the answer is yes. other notes can be played. In fact any note of the chromatic scale can be played – the real question and the art of making music involves the when, where and how these other notes are used in the solo. Much depends on the “musical context” i.e. the notes played just before and just following the place where you wish to use some other note. Perhaps not the best analogy, but it is similar to speaking/writing in some language: basically any word of the language can be used, but depending on the context it can result in nonsense, or an insult or be perfect in that context.
What is “safest” is to play the notes of the scale (in this case Gmin). The other notes usually sound best when played as “passing notes” (notes not played slowly but sort of quickly inserted when moving from one scale note to another). Another rule of thumb is to play those other notes on the “off-beat” (because they are then “less noticed” by the listeners).
This is all something that you also learn through experience, trying it out and seeing/asking if the resulting effect works or is what you intended. To this end it is very usefull to record your playing (ideally with a simple accompaniment, such as an acoustic guitar, rather than in a group situation where it is more difficult to hear what you have played – but playing alone also works).
Hey Kev - to edit a post, you press on the 3 dots, and then as @Slim said press on the pencil button. But if you’re gonna change your graphic, you could just reply and upload the new one?
@Slim is correct, since this is art, not science, in the final analysis, THERE ARE NO WRONG NOTES. Any notes that sound wrong are just half-step away from being right. This concept is easy to explain and explore on instruments like guitar and piano, but more difficult on harmonica.
But the idea is: some notes are very DISSONANT against a particular chord. But they can be RESOLVED by moving to a neighboring note that sounds CONSONANT. Check out Victor Wooten exploring that concept here:
So, as @Slim said, the thing to do is to play along with a backing track and explore what different notes sound like, and for the ones that sound “bad” check out how you might resolve them to start making them sound “good” like Victor Wooten does in the video above.
Having said all that, two scales that are great for playing 2ndf position blues are the Blues Scale which you have shown beautifully, and the Major Pentatonic Scale which is:
-2 -3" -3 -4 5 6
6 -6 -7 -8 8 9
And adding in the top note and bottom notes, over the course of the whole harmonica, ascending:
-1 2 -2 -3" -3 -4 5 6 -6 -7 -8 8 9 -10
9 8 -8 -7 -6 6 5 -4 -3 -3" -2 2 -1
Since both of those sound great, you could try combining them like this:
-1 2 -2" -2 -3" -3’ -3 4 -4’ -4 5 -5 6 -6 -7 -8 8 -9 9 -10 10" 10’ 10
That’s a whole lot of tasty notes…if you can play them! (Not an easy thing to do!) But I think that’s some cool challenging ideas to explore for people who want to move beyond the basic blues scale.
Just a note to mention that, besides the minor blues scale that @Luke mentions and that you @kjlarochelle show in your graphic, there is also the Major blues scale that is most commonly played (see the caveat at the end of this post) using the the following notes (for the C Major blues scale):
C D Eb E G A
or in general (using the numbers of the major scale tones):
I II bIII III V VI
This is just the C Major pentatonic with the bIII (= Eb) added. It is not easy to play the C Major blues scale on the C blues harp because of that bIII (Eb) which requires the advanced overblow technique on holes 1 and 4 (this is somewhat easier using a half-valved blues harp, where instead of the overblow on holes 1 and 4 you play a blow bend on holes 2 and 5, but it is still not so simple).
What is easier (if you have mastered the -3" and -3’) on the C harp is the G Major blues scale:
G A Bb B D E
played on the C harp as:
-2 -3" -3' -3 -4 +5
Unfortunately, the next octave’s Bb requires a hole 6 overblow … but up there you can just skip playing it and play the “plain” G Major pentatonic (at least when improvising) or buy a PowerBender harp in C where that Bb is now simply a draw 7 bend (-7’).
As a final note: there is not just one minor blues scale, and not just one Major blues scale (at least in the world of music theory), but the ones given here by @Luke and myself are the most commonly used ones in the world of rock, blues and jazz.
Luke and Slim,
You guys rock. My mind is blown and and have some studying to do. I appreciate you both taking the time on this.
I just came back to this graphic and love it so much. Here is how I most often practice the blues scale. I start on the root, go up to the root, back down all the way to as low as goes on the harmonica, and then returning to the root.
If you can do all the bends, I recommend you practice it this way as well!
-2 3’ 4 -4’ -4 -5 6
6 -5 -4 -4’ 4 -3’ -2 -2" -1 -1’ 1
-1’ -1 -2" -2
Hi @ Luke
That’s the Minor Pentatonic Scale combining a lower octave right!? Why would you not practice the Major Pentatonic as well?
@fallonsteve291 just wanna clarify, are you replying to this post?
That is the blues scale, which is identical to the minor pentatonic scale but with the addition of one note, the #4/b5 aka TRITONE which on the harmonica in 2nd position is -4’ or -1’.
Yeah I think in order to memorize the scale, practicing the major pentatonic scale the same way is helpful, from root up the octave, back down below the note you started on, and then returning up to the note you started on.
The blues scale doesn’t really play in the top octave (without overdraws or overblows) but since the major pentatonic does play in the top octave (and it’s so much fun to play it up there) I’d include that in the practice of memorizing it as well. So:
-2 -3" -3 -4 5 6 -6 -7 -8 8 9
9 8 -8 -7 -6 6 5 -4 -3 -3" -2 2 -1 2 -2
Does that answer your question, sort of?
Yes it does, the answer is that you do play the Blues, Minor and Major Pentatonic scales as well for warm ups. Sorry i just didn’t read the full email thread and jumped the gun a little. I’m just starting to realize the importance of learning theses scales thoroughly for helping with improvisation.
Keep rock’in on!
Hi Steve @fallonsteve291
All of the advice applies to every scale that you come across in your learning, as well as in every harp position that you eventually might learn (not just 1st or 2nd position).
Begin slowly using a metronome app at a slow speed, like perhaps 60 beats/min (or even slower if you are having difficulty hitting each tone clearly, in tune and on the beat).
When you can play the scale up and down without mistakes, increase the speed only a little, like about 10 bpm and repeat your scale practice. Eventually you will reach a speed where you can no longer play without errors. But this speed limit will increase with time and practice and can be used as your personal “tracker” to show yourself how you have improved over time.
Apply all of the tricks/techniques that Luke @Luke teaches concerning scale practice (different rhythms, note skipping, etc) using the metronome method I have just described. Improvement is guaranteed!
Yeah, good for you @fallonsteve291 for dedicating time to memorizing these scales, it WILL improve your dexterity, speed, and ability to improvise, so it’s time well spent.
All of @Slim’s advice here is RIGHT ON THE MONEY. The only slight modification I recommend is when you’re under 100 BPM try just increasing 5 BPM at a time (i.e. from 50 to 55 to 60 to 65, etc…) and then 10 BPM at a time once you get to 100. Of course any time you can’t quite keep up with a new speed you can try backing off just 1 or 2 BPM and see if you can keep up.
Another great #nextlevel excercise in this regard is double timing. So once you can play quarter notes at 100 for example, a great excercise would be put the metronome at 50 and first play long tones, maybe whole notes (4 clicks per note) or half-notes (2 clicks per note) and then once you’ve played the scale half-notes a few times, without stopping switch to quarter notes (one click per note) and then without stopping switch to eighth notes (2 NOTES per CLICK) and then go back down.
Also here’s a link to some of the other SUPER-helpful approaches to practicing scales that @Slim mentioned:
For #nextlevel from there, you can try half-timing /double-timing the excercises of 3 notes or notes skipping. And a step above that is instead of just ½ notes, 1/4 notes, and 1/8 notes, you can include 1/8 note triplets and 1/16 notes - that when things get really exciting.
It never ends! There are always more cool things you can practice. I could go on and on but I have a sense I might be making you a lil dizzy already?
Remember, above all else, stay relaxed, and HAVE FUN!!
HI @Luke and @Slim
Thanks guy’s for your invaluable advice. It looks like i have many hours of homework in front of me but i can see the massive advantages in doing so. I have struggled with improvising during 12 bar blues sessions and can see that this practice is the answer.
It’s definitely a helpful part of the answer. It’s only gonna help you. There are no downsides to learning and practicing the blues scale.
I’ve spent hundreds or maybe even thousands of hours just practicing scales without playing them in an emotive, expressive kinda way. There’s a moment in time when you’re just trying to MEMORIZE the darn things.
But once you’ve got it, being musical about is a good thing as I discuss in:
Rock on @fallonsteve291
An informative thread, thanks for posting it.
Unfortunately it’s all Greek to me!
Hi @Luke Thanks i’ll take all that on board. Relax and feel the groove. Just as important