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> Blues Improvisation Course
Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 12 2011, 05:21 PM
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Welcome to the Blues Improvisation Course! smile.gif

As of next Sunday (18th of December), we will start a blues improvising course, both here on this topic and in video chats. No additional knowledge is required, and it's free for everybody. I will give assignments with backing tracks each week for everybody who wants to follow the course in more detail, submit their takes, and get feedback. Here is the summary of all planned courses, you can find the link to other ones as well:

1. Pentatonic scale (finished/detailed log here)
2. Blues scale/blues improvising (in progress, in this thread - see below)
3. Diatonic scale
4. Chords
5. Arpeggios
6. Improvising in general: practical examples

Here's the plan for Blues Improvising Course:

- Session 1: Playing the blues scale over I-IV-V progression
- Session 2: Mixing of major and minor pentatonics
- Session 3: Technique study: Vibrato and bending
- Session 4: Style study: Clapton's licks, SRV's raking/dynamics, BB King's vibrato/phrasing, Albert King's bending


Session 1 assignment:

In the last couple of weeks we went trough all boxes of the pentatonic scale (check out content above for that course), and here we will add one more note to that scale and get 5 positions of a blues scale. They are very similar to pentatonic ones, but should be rehearsed nonetheless, because we have to feel equally comfortable in every position in order to become proficient on the fretboard.

These are the positions that we will cover during this week:

Am blues scale position 4:


Am blues scale position 5:


Am blues scale position 1:


Am blues scale position 2:


Am blues scale position 3:


Blues is all about I - IV - V progression. These roman numerals ( I - IV - V) stand for chords. We have 3 chords in the blues progression, first, fourth and fifth chord. This means we will use first, fourth and fifth note of the major scale. This blues is in the Key of A, so first chord is A, fourth chord is D, and fifth chord is E. We will have to practice with these chords in order to fully understand how blues improvisation works. Don't worry if you aren't too familiar with the concepts of I - IV - V theory. Our main goal is to get to know the patterns and practice them with chords. Rest will come later during the course.

For the assignment, go up and down the patterns, and follow these guidelines:

1. Use the pattern, but start and end the sequence on the note, which corresponds to the root name of a chord (i.e. over A chord backing, start from A and end on A, over D chord backing start on D and end on D, over E chord backing start on E and end on E)
2. Use free player AIMP to speed up or slow down these tracks as you are practicing them
3. Once you feel comfortable with starting and ending on A, D and E notes, use the backing where you have them combined and try to match the notes of the chords as they come into play (trickier then it might seem, but you will love the results wink.gif )
4. Record some of the patterns you went through, and how you followed the chords, and post them here for feedback.


Feel free to send your takes during the week, but also be aware that we will go through complete Session 1 material on Sunday's video chat (18th of December)!


Session 2 assignment:

For session 2, we have one important aspect of blues: mixing major and minor pentatonic. In order to to that, we have to learn to superimpose these two scales on top of each other on the fretboard. Let's start easy, with one position first. We need to superimpose A minor pentatonic box 1, with A major pentatonic box 1:

A minor pentatonic box 1:


A major pentatonic box 1:


In blues, the clash of these two scales over major harmony is creating the dissonance that we usually refer as "bluesy sounding" line. On the next chat we will go through some exercises of playing these two boxes, following roots inside them, and trying to use them together in our blues solo.

During this week, you can work on these patterns in this order:

- play around with these two patterns over single-chord backing tracks
- try to learn and follow the root notes within them over single-chord backing tracks
- try to play roots only with the 12 bar blues progression (3 chords combined)
- try to play lines within each scale separately, that follow the roots over 12 bar blues track
- try to combine two patterns together, and play lines that follow the roots over 12 bar blues track


Feel free to send your takes during the week, but also be aware that we will go through complete Session 2 material on Sunday's video chat (25th of December)! You can also find the Guitar Pro file of the blues solo that we did on the video chat in the attachment section.



Session 3 assignment:

For the Session 3 we have vibrato/bending study. This is very important technique in blues, and we will cover lots of different situations where you need to do bending/vibrato. Unfortunately, it's very hard to display this with tabs/backing tracks, so I will reserve this session for video chat, held on 1st of January. I hope you won't be tired from New Year's Eve, to make it on this chat! biggrin.gif

OK, session 3 is finished, and on the 1st January video chat, we talked about several important bend & vibrato techniques in blues (and in general):

Bending is a technique where we fret the note, and (while fretting) pull the string upwards on downwards:

- When I'm bending with the index finger, I usually pull my string downwards on all strings but B and high E.
- When I'm bending with all other fingers, I'm usually bending my strings upwards on all situations, except when on strings A and low E.

Why? Because there simply isn't room for bending more, the string can go over the neck's edge.

Vibrato is a complex-motion technique, consisting out of multiple consecutive bigger or smaller bends. There are numerous ways you can do a vibrato:

- up & down nudging with the wrist fixed, and elbow going up and down (ala Eric Clapton, or more aggressive approach found at SRV)
- up & down nudging with small wrist movement and elbow rotating (ala BB King)
- Circular movement, combining left&right and up&down nudging of the note (ala Steve Vai)

All these techniques are good in their own respective way, and these players developed them to extreme levels. By practicing your vibrato and bending, you develop your expression, but your tone as well. You learn when to stop on the note to do a vibrato or bend, give your notes glissando quality, and improve your tone.

Vibrato and bending should be practiced slowly with the metronome or backing track, as demonstrated in the video chat! Here is one cool exercise that you can do, that will greatly help you achieve desired quality of the bends:

- Take Am blues scale as a reference and practice slowly bending with the backing track
- Bend each note out of a scale, to the next note in line (i.e. bend D to D# and release, and repeat that motion, then bend D to E and release etc..)
- Take it very slowly, using quarter notes, and then move one to faster consecutive bends
- Always make sure you are in correct pitch (that you reached the desired bended note)
- Repeat these steps for each of the fingers


If you take time to do this exercises system, your bending and vibrato techniques will be greatly improved. Even if you do it on several important notes (such as bends to root, or D-D#, and D-E), it will already be a major improvement.

Am blues scale:


Another important thing that we discussed are double stop bends/vibratos. These are very cool sounding, often emulating slide tone, and very popular in blues. Try to go through this cool example:

     |---3---|            |---3--|                         
E E E H Q E W
E||----------------------------------|--------------------|
B||----------8~--L--------7br----5b--|--------------------|
G||--5s--9~---------------7br----5b--|--------------------|
D||----------------------------------|--7~----------------|
A||----------------------------------|--7~----------------|
E||----------------------------------|--------------------|


|---3--| |----------3---------|
Q E Q E E Q E E W
------------------------------------------|--17~----------------|
--7br----5b---------------10~----10s--17--|---L-----------------|
--7br----5b-------5s--9~------------------|---------------------|
-------------7----------------------------|---------------------|
------------------------------------------|---------------------|
------------------------------------------|---------------------|



Session 4 assignment:

For the last session of the Blues Improvisation Course, we need to see how the legends did it smile.gif This should be fun, so let's go through style studies a bit. For this session, there is one assignment to go through before the next video chat and that is, to watch all the examples bellow, and try to spot important characteristics of each of the players.

Clapton's licks (special attention at the beginning, you can hear lots of licks that make sense on their own without the band even)


SRV's raking/dynamics (watch the main verse riff, it's a rock'n'roll riff with reverse raked treb strings)


BB King's vibrato/phrasing (check out the opening lick, with famous vibrato on the "C", followed by an applause, master player)


Albert King's bending (check the intro solo, master player that can play a melody from bends only)


After the discussion we have in the chat, I will wrote down some exercises on how to practice all these techniques. Stay tuned! smile.gif

Backing tracks for practice:

A chord
http://soundcloud.com/ivanmilenkovicmusic/a-backing-track

D chord
http://soundcloud.com/ivanmilenkovicmusic/d-backing-track

E chord
http://soundcloud.com/ivanmilenkovicmusic/e-backing-track

I - IV - V (combined A - D - E in a 12 bar blues progression)
http://soundcloud.com/ivanmilenkovicmusic/i-vi-v-backing-track-a-d-e


You can also download all 4 backings in archive, click on the link bellow:

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Jan 4 2012, 08:27 PM
Attached File(s)
Attached File  Backing_Tracks_for_Blues_Improvisation_Course_on_GMC.rar ( 40.64MB ) Number of downloads: 129
Attached File  Small_blues_solo_from_session_2.gp5 ( 3.02K ) Number of downloads: 117
 


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JaxN4
post Dec 13 2011, 02:27 AM
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I'm in! regardless of weather chats are in my time zone or not....... I'd love to be a part! cool.gif


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 13 2011, 09:48 AM
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Should be fun mate smile.gif Feel free to go through this week's material, as this is the same thing we will be working on chats too. I'll give feedback in each case smile.gif


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JaxN4
post Dec 13 2011, 10:02 AM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Dec 13 2011, 08:48 AM) *
Should be fun mate smile.gif Feel free to go through this week's material, as this is the same thing we will be working on chats too. I'll give feedback in each case smile.gif

'
Ok no worries.

Just to clarify, I am to go through the chord progression with the scale, as in, EG; the progression moves to the 4th, i would play around the D on different positions of the A Min Blues scale, correct? Highlighting the strong notes of the chord??

No licks and riffs, just play around the scale to compliment the chord changes?


Cheers


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 13 2011, 10:23 AM
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QUOTE (JaxN4 @ Dec 13 2011, 10:02 AM) *
'
Ok no worries.

Just to clarify, I am to go through the chord progression with the scale, as in, EG; the progression moves to the 4th, i would play around the D on different positions of the A Min Blues scale, correct? Highlighting the strong notes of the chord??

No licks and riffs, just play around the scale to compliment the chord changes?


Cheers


Exactly, this is what should be covered in this first step of the course. You can of course jam and tryout some licks if you like, but the goal here is this:

- Exercise up & down Am blues scale until comfortable in all 5 positions equally well
- Leaning where all A, D and E notes are within all 5 positions of Am blues scale (this is very important)

We are basically keeping the sequence simple (up & down), so we can focus on those roots more then anything. After learning those roots, it will be very interesting to keep on developing licks for those positions.

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Dec 13 2011, 10:25 AM


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Dec 13 2011, 04:32 PM
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This is so great Ivan!! I'll follow this course! smile.gif


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 13 2011, 09:23 PM
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Thanks my friend smile.gif Hope it will be nice smile.gif


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Sensible Jones
post Dec 13 2011, 09:37 PM
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I'd like to follow along as well, although somewhat in the background for a while! Still no Video facility, won't be too long though, hopefully getting a decent camera sorted around Xmas!!
smile.gif


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 13 2011, 09:59 PM
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No prob man, if you would like to get some feedback, audio recordings are fine (it would only help to let me know what positions you played and recorded so I know what you did) smile.gif


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JPBluestring
post Dec 14 2011, 03:19 AM
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Excellent progression Ivan. I love it.
Many thanks for this great lesson. This will be a hot seller for Christmas! smile.gif

JPBluestring

This post has been edited by JPBluestring: Dec 14 2011, 03:34 AM
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maharzan
post Dec 14 2011, 03:43 AM
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coool!! I will follow this too. smile.gif


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Michael AC
post Dec 14 2011, 04:41 AM
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I will work on this too Ivan...my work schedule is really busy right now, I will try to keep up!
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Sensible Jones
post Dec 14 2011, 12:41 PM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Dec 13 2011, 08:59 PM) *
No prob man, if you would like to get some feedback, audio recordings are fine (it would only help to let me know what positions you played and recorded so I know what you did) smile.gif

No probs Ivan, will do!
smile.gif

Is there a way to D/L the Backing Track?

This post has been edited by Sensible Jones: Dec 14 2011, 02:10 PM


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 14 2011, 01:12 PM
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Great guys, glad to see you're all interested! smile.gif For those of you who would like to review the pentatonic course (which we did before this one), feel free to check out this topic for content and backing tracks for practicing. We followed similar concept as here, but learning pentatonic scale, slide connections and ofc, playing all that over chords (in context).

As for this course, session 1 is in progress, feel free to go through the material, post any questions that you have, post your playing, and stay tuned for Sunday's chat where we will go through all this material together. For those of you who cannot make it to the chat, we will work on every aspect of the material on this topic as well.


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enablerb
post Dec 15 2011, 02:53 AM
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This is exactly what I am looking for..I am in....hope I can make the times.
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 15 2011, 12:45 PM
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OK man, no problem. You can do assignments here on this topic, and on video chats we will go through the same material, just to sum it up.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 16 2011, 06:25 PM
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Two more days left to the video chat. Hope you guys went through material in the post #1. If you haven't check it out, we will work on it during the session! smile.gif Feel free to post recordings of your practice too, so we can discuss it! smile.gif


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JPBluestring
post Dec 18 2011, 03:07 AM
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Here's my take on Lesson 1. Hope U like it. (The mixdown is far from being great, but I'd like to improve with good advice!). I whish I had more experience with Cubase Editing. Eventually I'll learn where the delete button is to kill those false notes wink.gif Yes I know I' am out of beat often but maybe it's a new style wink.gif

Anyhow, what counts is that I had a good time doing it and I think I learned many good things from Ivan's lesson. Thanks Ivan I will welcome your comments ... Master.

JPBluestring. smile.gif

http://soundcloud.com/jpbluestring/blues-improvisation-2

This post has been edited by JPBluestring: Dec 18 2011, 03:08 AM
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JPBluestring
post Dec 18 2011, 02:59 PM
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Here is a cleaner version that sounds a little bit better. (Ok I should not quit my day job!)

http://soundcloud.com/jpbluestring/blues-improvisation#play


JPBluestring. smile.gif

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Ivan Milenkovic
post Dec 18 2011, 04:32 PM
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Sounds very good man! smile.gif We will cover this on the chat too! smile.gif


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