Blues Licks Tutorial
Now let’s take our study of the blues scale further and use the notes of the minor blues scale, the major blues scale and the extended blues scale to create different types of blues licks of riffs.
We’re going to start of with simple single-note lick ideas, and then we will introduce other intervals into the licks like minor and major thirds.
We’ll talk about some other stylistic elements of blues licks such as crushed notes, keeping one note on top whilst moving the notes underneath, and finally sliding down the notes to create that fast-fingered and exciting bluesy sound.
The idea is not to prescribe you a number of licks, but rather break down the common concepts which you hear in blues solos, and this will then empower you to listen and transcribe your own blues licks and lines.
Single Note Blues Licks
For an example of how effective single note blues melody lines can be, take a listen to this section of the Bill Evans "Blues in F" record in the blues forum thread.
Bill makes it interesting by first of all, not just using the notes of the minor blues scale, he is using the extended blues scale which opens up much more melodic possibilities and interesting chromaticism. He is also including the major 3^rd^ and 6^th^ in his line.
Next he creates a motif using a turn and he repeats over all of the different chords. This is a million times more interesting than just running up and down the basic minor blues scale.
Bill’s solo is packed full of really nice ideas for improv over the blues. This is the easiest example in the transcription exercise so if you’re just starting out with transcription, start here.
Double Note Blues Licks
This is where knowing your extended blues scales is useful because it opens up much more interesting intervals, as you can see we now have all of these 3^rd^ intervals in the scale which can be used to create these kind of sounds.
If we combine this with some single note melody lines, you will be able to see how things are starting to sound more interesting.
Crushed Note Blues Licks
This is particularly effective between the minor and major 3^rd^ and gives you that old fashioned bluesy gospel kind of sound.
In the F extended blues we could also do this from the b5 to natural 5 with b7 on top. Listen to any bluesy players and you will hear them using this kind of device.
Slide Down Fragments of the Blues Scale
This is perhaps the most characteristic elements of blues licks and you will hear it in virtually any blues recording.
12 Bar Blues Lesson Supplement File Type: pdf
“Straight No Chaser” – Jazz Blues Form File Type: pdf
There are a number of F Blues records in the forum where you can find inspiration to transcribe your own lines.
If you want to truly absorb the phrasing, rhythm and articulation of blues licks, you need to transcribe them, just copying me will give you some insight, but it won't be ingrained in you because you haven't spent the time to listen.
- The raw concepts behind the blues style can be taught, but then it is over to you to use this information in developing your own understanding through transcription.
The concepts covered are great but for a beginner it’s not easy to follow. It would be very helpful if you broke down each lick/riff in more detail .
Hi Ronny 👋
I think that’s a great idea and I’ll certainly keep it in mind for future tutorials.
Remember that you can use the speed controls at the bottom of the video player, this will slow down the performance to .50% and also .75%.
Screenshot attached 🙂
Was looking forward to this lesson and I’ve been following so far but I’m lost on this. I started with the blues improv series because that’s what I’m hoping to learn more of for now, is there somewhere else I need to go before diving into this? The concepts are okay but I don’t understand them enough to apply them to the other keys. When you played the 12 bars, did you use the F extended scale throughout? Or you switched up when going 2-5-1 to G? Anyway I’m going to come back to this vid a few times but even at half speed, I found it difficult to grasp.
This lesson may seem a little hard to understand because it requires some Harmonic Generalization knowledge. In fact I think blues scale improvisation is to some extent a kind of harmonic generalization thought, however what we have learnt most currently is the “Harmonic Specifity” ideas.
In brief “Harmonic Generalization” is to choose a chord as tonic (key center) in a chord progression, then all the chord progression’s key is based on the tonic chord. Also choosing the blues scale depends on the “tonic chord”, then play the scale through all the progression. For example, Fm7 tonic play F minor blues; Bbmaj7 tonic play Bb major blues; and F7 tonic can play either F minor blues, F major blues, or F extended blues. ：）
So its the same principle as chord tone soloing but in this case replacing chord notes with blues scale notes of the current chord tonic?.It can work with individual chords or its is only for pogressions?
I understand what you are saying.They can work on isolanted chords too or it only works on chord progressions?Think of chord soloing but with blues scales.Thks creepy panda
Yes they can work on isolated chords too!
The chord progression’s length depends on your choice, e.g in a progression: Am7-D7-Gm7-C7-F7, you can think it whole as a series of 2-5 resolution to F7, thus the “tonic chord” is F7(then superimpose the F blues) ; or break it down, the first 3 chord Am7-D7-Gm7 as a standard 251 thus play G minor blues, and the latter C7-F7 is a 5-1 resolution so play F major, minor, or extended blues scale. More, for an isolated Am7 chord you can play A minor blues.
However the chord tone improvisation is the most basic.
Hello Hayden..🖐.So i m eager to start transcribing asap ..do you recommend start with the transcribing lessons on the intermediate level section or i m ready to go Just with what we have here?Thks
Thank you for this course. It’s been very valuable in gaining a better understanding of this progression, as well as soloing in general.
Do you have any recommendations on left-hand patterns for solo piano? I’m wondering what kind of left-hand work might sound complete without any accompaniment.
Thanks again, Daniel
Thanks Daniel, I’m glad you liked the course.
The key is now for you to listen to LOTS of blues recordings and try to hear these ideas and concepts in practice. Then transcribe and play along with the recordings to emulate and absorb the feel. That is how we learn to improvise.
Onto your question about left hand patterns for solo piano:
For the Jazz Blues Progression, walking bass would be my main recommendation for left hand work. Check out these lessons which come with PDF downloads showing the example walking bass lines:
- Walking Bass Lines 101: https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/walking-basslines-revealed/
- Walking Bass Lines Theory: https://www.pianogroove.com/blues-piano-lessons/walking-bass-lines-for-jazz-organ/
Both of the above lessons specifcially address walking bass lines over the jazz blues form, and so they are certainly most relevant.
I also did a round up of other walking bass lines lesson here in the forum: https://www.pianogroove.com/community/t/walking-bass-line-lessons-from-4-teachers/3305 – if you are completely new to walking bass lines, it may also be nice to check out my tutorials listed in that thread.
Another thing you can do with your left hand when playing the 12 bar blues is Shuffle Patterns. However, this is less used over the jazz blues form and more for older styles of blues such as Chicago Blues & Boogie Woogie.
Check out Steve’s courses on those styles here:
Chicago Blues Course: https://www.pianogroove.com/blues-piano-lessons/chicago-blues-hand-independence/ Boogie Woogie Course: https://www.pianogroove.com/blues-piano-lessons/boogie-woogie-piano-course/
The shuffle patterns are really great for working on hand independence, which in turn will improve your left hand walking bass lines so I’d certainly recommend studying Steve’s blues/boogie courses.
But just to reiterate, for the jazz blues progression, we would most often use walking bass lines because there are more chords in the form which makes it much easier to create interesting melodic bass lines in our left hand.
The first 2 lessons I highlighted should tell you everything you need to know. Feel free to ask questions on those lesson pages if you need any more advice/direction.
Cheers and enjoy the lessons! Hayden