Jazz/Rock/Blues Soloing Tip: Using the ‘Rock-Bottom Four’ of the Blues Scale

A Powerful Tip for Blues, Jazz, and Rock Improvisers

Good day!

This is a slide show, which is a common format that I use on my Instagram channel.

I have discovered that these types of posts are very popular on my Instagram page, so I’m going to start featuring these here, too!

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A Study in Blues Piano – Focusing on Twelve Licks

Welcome to A Study in Blues Piano!

Course Description

This is an in-depth study of twelve blues licks, with extensive left-hand support tips. Each lick/riff is explored in detail, including variations, fingering, playing tips, and supporting music theory.

More than just learning the notes by rote, you will get insight into the patterns, scales, chords and intervals involved, including how to transpose each lick.

As a result, each lick will be mastered as RAW MATERIAL for endless variations, with applications in many musical settings (genres).

Lick #10 of this group is actually more than a lick; rather, it gives you a complete two-handed 12-bar opening groove, including a left-hand pattern to support your licks throughout your soloing.

Sheet Music

Students can download and print optional sheet music for several of the licks. There’s also a sample solo piece with a 12-bar introduction, followed by a 12-bar piano solo that features licks from the class.


THE TWELVE LICK STUDIES


One

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Blues Lick #6: “Locked up”

Welcome Back to a Study in Blues Piano!


Blues Study Lick #6, “Locked Up”

This is a really exciting technique for what I like to call the “Big Blues” sound.  By “Big Blues,” I mean dramatic, exciting, full, like you might hear from a jazz big band.  This kind of lick also works great for building to a climax in your “blues story” (a good solo usually tells a story).
The name of this lick, “Locked Up,” ain’t necessarily because what you’re saying with your fingers might be a story about going to jail. In this video, “Locked up” actually refers to the core idea of the lesson, something called “locked rhythm.”

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Blues Piano Crash Course #8: Blue Notes & Pitch-Bending

from The Blues Piano Crash Course

Lesson #8  (video)

In this lesson, we master a couple of specific blues piano tricks of the trade.  I’m using the word specific here, because we’re going to use these devices with a goal in mind, a musical effect that is pretty specific.

The “tricks” in this video are focused on emulating those sounds of blues singers and other instruments who can bend their notes (slide or play between pitches).  You’ll learn about “blue notes,” and also pick up a blues-boogie playing technique called the slide-off.

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How to improvise in modal jazz: “So What” by Miles Davis

Attention!

The following post is not just for jazz players!


It seems to me that contemporary modal improv, which had its jazz  birth in the late 1950’s, was a huge influence on the increasingly improvisational rock of the 1960’s, (even when players might not have consciously realized it!), and has never stopped being at the heart of so many great pop/rock/jazz solos until this very day.

This is a brief introduction to the idea of “modal jazz.”  We’re going to look at probably the most famous example of modal jazz, a tune called “So What,” by Miles Davis and Bill Evans.

We’re looking at this piece because (1) it was part of a ground-breaking approach to jazz improvisation and composition when it came out, and it’s still definitive of the modal jazz genre (maybe the definitive  recording?) (2) because “So What” is the best-known track on one of top-selling jazz albums of all time, “Kind of Blue.”

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Jazz improv practice: A nice drill using “approach tones”

Good Day!

Here’s a nice jazz drill, to give you practice on:

(1) Adding interest to your melody lines,  by sometimes preceding the “target tone(s)” of a chord with “approach tones;” and,

(2) increased mastery of any given scale, especially as it relates to the underlying chords.

As a result, the repeated act of mindfully (and not mindlessly) practicing this drill can increase your general facility with approach tones, as well as give you (possibly new) theoretical insights regarding chord-scale relationships.


VIDEO

 

Blues Lick #10: Learn to Play a Complete 12-Bar Introduction

Welcome back!

Today’s lesson is more than just a lick…

We have here a two-handed intro section, a great setup for getting any blues jam started. This opening groove covers a full 12-bar cycle, giving your listeners an exciting intro (a.k.a. “head”) which leads nicely into the next 12-bars, where you can begin your right-handed soloing.  Note, you can use the left-hand (bass line) of this groove throughout your entire jam. It’s a simple and powerful bass line that keeps the beat going strong.  But wait, there’s more! This lesson also includes a sample opening for your solo.

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