Mixing Blues and major fluently

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Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby Counterstriker » Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:23 pm

I really love how Jerry can play Blues and Major (Mixolydian) solo and make them sound so together, like Alabama getaway for instance and many others. When I try to combine it doesn't flow at all like his. It's to in your face and I hear that in alot of players, it seems they can't combine them and make it flow so sweetly as Jerry did. Is there any way to learn this?
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby brbadg » Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:01 pm

Why don't you learn the solos?
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby Billbbill » Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:02 pm

I remember when I first ventured in this direction, though purely by accident quite a while back, and thought "Gee i guess I can't play those notes together!" Fast forward to umpty ump years later and I think I'm getting a decent grip on this, though with a ways to go.
I think more than anything it's voicing cohesive runs and just the fact that they're 'going somewhere' allows room for, say flattening and/or bending the flattened 3rd or bending the 4th to the blue note etc. within a major scale and having it work. The opposite works as well - hammering on the major 3rd or adding the major 6th to a minor or blues pentatonic scale.

Lastly, playing, playing and more playing and paying attention to the subtle distinctions while internalizing the intervals.
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby Counterstriker » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:46 pm

Thanks Bill! I will put that to use! I already know a few variations that sound horrible and some that sound really good that I'll apply to my playing. I really love how jerry can play those solo's and flow so greatly.

and drdadg I don't just mean dead stuff but I wanna apply this style to my playing, I don't really play note for note, my memory isn't so good :D
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby Billbbill » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:42 pm

Yea - the note for note thing is an excellent study tool - to check out what jg was up too - but a means to an end, definitely not the ends in and of itself.

I've also found - and this will sound weird, you can almost play just about any whole note within a given lead - not necessarily where you can have every note be a 'stand alone' note that phrases within a given scale can end on, but passing notes or chromatic runs can and do encompass almost all whole notes and are 'available' within a given scale. This doesn't mean you're necessarily going there as much as that the possibility exists. It's also important to try and 'compartmentalize' your runs with the chord you're playing over in mind as there WILL be subtle differences that often go unnoticed to the ear but are key toward getting that jerry style sound, complete with that chord resonance that at once lays claim to the progression with seemingly intricate clarity - and at the same time sounding seamless, as if no real change actually occurred.
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby javalina » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:31 pm

That is very well put, that learning note for note is an excellent study tool but not an end in itself. My brother told me the other day, "the thing I most want to copy about Jerry is his uniqueness".
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby JonnyBoy » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:51 pm

Billbbill wrote:
I've also found - and this will sound weird, you can almost play just about any whole note within a given lead - not necessarily where you can have every note be a 'stand alone' note that phrases within a given scale can end on, but passing notes or chromatic runs can and do encompass almost all whole notes and are 'available' within a given scale. This doesn't mean you're necessarily going there as much as that the possibility exists. .


I agree, and just like the interview that was up recently where Jerry spoke of blues guitarists that can play a note or chord with such authority that its just moves you. I think the same is true with soloing, especially in improvisational soloing. Almost anything can go if you pull it off and the music/rhythm is letting you. You could actually play something dissonant if it was made to look like you meant to do it and it has the power and authority behind it, like a diminished scale in a blues song. I believe that kind of "power" comes from knowing your instrument and the music intimately, But again, at that ability level you should know your stuff anyway, so its kinda catch 22.

There are prodigy musicians and talented musicians where at 18 years old they are unreal. There there are those that work at it for years mixed with some talent. I am the latter as with most and all good things come in time, I am still learning and there is nothing wrong with it. A lot of famous musicians are that way, don't get down on having to practice and get stuff wrong. I think It is nice to be able to put my mind to something and work hard at it to get a payoff. I think Jerry was that way too. He was lucky in the fact all he had to do to make a living was study guitar his whole life, and it showed as the years went by. As for you, you are starting with difficult music at such a young age, you will be blazing soon enough... :-) Like speaking a language fluently, you can learn phrases and vocab all you want, and it helps, but to have a meaningful conversation you need to master it through time and practice. It sucks that for most of us it takes some time and effort!! Peace JB
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby tcsned » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:53 pm

Some great advice here counterstriker. I would add that I would do two things first try changing between the major and blues scales on chord changes. I find that if you are starting in a blues scale when you get to the IV chord switching it up to the major scale is a nice change. Kind of gives a B.B. King kinda thing. Then think in terms of phrases - and switching between phrases. Then as you get more fluent add complexity. A good way to practice this kind of thing is to try it over a single chord jam. That way the chord underneath isn't really changing and you can hear how the different tones work off of each other. Cumberland Blues is a good one with the long jams over a G chord that kinda has a bluesy/country flavor to it.
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby dleonard » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:20 pm

Good advice all around, but remember one more thing.....

The difference between Mixolydian(major sounding) and Dorian(minor sounding / Bluesy) is JUST the 3!!! They simply aren't that different. Off the top of my head I can think of Jerry mixing these two up big time in the China-Rider segue. Try it out over a nice 73-74 version...think mixo, but throw in the minor 3rd for some bluesy accents. I think it'll free you up knowing that the one note is the only difference.

Someone had a great post a while back on the hierarchy of chord tones that sound "correct"
1-Obvious easy fit
5-next best, works for either major/minor (other note in a power chord)
3-note making the chord major/minor

Hope this helps
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby joethepainter » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:49 pm

hey all...just wanted to chime in on the note-for-note thing. I use it to basically get an insight into the thinking process of the solo-er that I'm copying (not always Jer, by the way), and sometimes I get real lucky and can use some of this in my own 'reach for the gold ring'. I agree, using this approach is just a means to an end, but it can really help to jump-start your ear to pick up subleties like Mix/Dor weaves, and the like..dleon, you're absolutely right, its only a matter of an interval (in this case), but to get that into your head+fingers (esp. when you can't 'hear' it) it sometimes takes the extra effort to cop (and shed) some of this stuff...you can always check the obvious sources for the vids, and I'll tell ya, for me it's worth it. just my 2 cents
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby Billbbill » Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:01 pm

dleonard wrote:Good advice all around, but remember one more thing.....

The difference between Mixolydian(major sounding) and Dorian(minor sounding / Bluesy) is JUST the 3!!! They simply aren't that different. Off the top of my head I can think of Jerry mixing these two up big time in the China-Rider segue. Try it out over a nice 73-74 version...think mixo, but throw in the minor 3rd for some bluesy accents. I think it'll free you up knowing that the one note is the only difference.

Someone had a great post a while back on the hierarchy of chord tones that sound "correct"
1-Obvious easy fit
5-next best, works for either major/minor (other note in a power chord)
3-note making the chord major/minor

Hope this helps


Yes indeed but how about the difference between mixolydian/ionian and pentatonic minor (blues)? It's also what you don't play. Jerry would often not play the 2nd in some of his morphing and would "toggle" between the major and minor 3rd - within the same phrase! Yet there is a 2nd in mixo - and there are plenty of tunes where it's appropriate - and others where it really doesn't fit.

It's adding blues accents to pentatonic major scales - adding the major 6th to an otherwise straight up pentatonic minor scale or the dominant 7th to pentatonic major where you really aren't leaning on mixo per se.

It's knowing where in a progression an otherwise ionian scale can drop from the major to dominant 7th due to modulation.

I just think it's more complex than just being about the 3rd - though that is a significant part of it!
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby Stevo123 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:51 pm

I tend to think of slight transient bending of the 2nd scale tone as almost it's own separate scale tone that can be brought into play with the mixing of minor and major. Where you don't truly get all the way up to the minor third. Because of that it doesn't carry quite the same weight as playing an in-tune third.
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby Billbbill » Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:08 pm

Stevo123 wrote:I tend to think of slight transient bending of the 2nd scale tone as almost it's own separate scale tone that can be brought into play with the mixing of minor and major. Where you don't truly get all the way up to the minor third. Because of that it doesn't carry quite the same weight as playing an in-tune third.


Yes - as a matter of fact the bend just shy of the 3rd is supposedly the true tone for the third but that the third is tuned slightly sharp for other more broad tonal/chord considerations. Good point.
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby GlobalWeiring » Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:28 pm

I agree that the thirds do not "carry" as much weight; instead, i would say they seem to add weight in the form of tension, making the resolution, whether it be in the form of a V-I cadence or whatever, seem that much sweeter. To me, Jerry was obviously influenced by Django, frequently incorporating many "Djangoish" practices, like chromatic leading tones.
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Re: Mixing Blues and major fluently

Postby GlobalWeiring » Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:28 pm

I agree that the thirds do not "carry" as much weight; instead, i would say they seem to add weight in the form of tension, making the resolution, whether it be in the form of a V-I cadence or whatever, seem that much sweeter. To me, Jerry was obviously influenced by Django, frequently incorporating many "Djangoish" practices, like chromatic leading tones.
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