Blues improvisation : scales and chords

Blues is one of the most used and fascinating styles in the last years. Getting to know it in its forms, in the scales, in the chords, in the structure and in its accent, is very important to improvise in each musical style, from jazz to pop.

I here introduce some fundamental blues concepts.

At first, I describe blues scale peculiar features, then chords progressions that characterize this style and the two main kinds: major and minor blues.

blues scales

How to study blues improvisation

The essential practice to master blues improvisation or style in general is to know by heart all the main major and minor structures in all tonalities, the twelve blues scales included, to know licks or typical blues phrases, to be able to create melodic phrases in using these scales in every seventh chord, being the less diatonic compared to the blues scale. I here condense some simple indications to deepen blues style :

  • listening famous blues artists such as B. B. King, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker
  • memorizing scales and blues chords
  • learning typical blues phrases
  • improvising all the main blues styles
  • learning different blues accompaniments (triplets, swing, funky)

Considerations on blues improvisation

Blues is the “Soul of Jazz”. I read this sentence many years ago, in an improvisation book. I would like to add that blues is the soul of modern and contemporary music. Blues improvisation also uses pentatonic, major, minor, diminished, and augmented scales.

Last two ones above all in blues jazz.

In order to improvise well, I suggest studying jazz improvisation being the basis of every kind of music improvisation, according to me.

Therefore, I advise studying all styles in improvising; a good musician has to be able to create every kinds of extemporary music, not only his favorite one.

Moreover, this left him playing and improvising what me likes much better.

For example, a rock artist can hale an improvement in studying jazz and blues improvisation and vice versa.

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