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A different way to think about blues changes - forget they exist

John Setchell

Member
Messages
283
Locality
Norfolk UK
Hopefully I don't piss off everyone with this comment:
Blues is about telling a story and having feeling about that come through your playing. I get that in many instances people want to dissect this and examine the how and why, yet IMHO it's not the way to LEARN how to play the blues. Listen (heck how much easier can the changes get?) and sing the line you want to hear.

The proposed alternative of saying to yourself this is in concert E... OK that puts me on alto in C# and which chord tones should I play in mixolydian mode? Obviously that's not the way to think melodically. It's a lot of translation to come up with a few notes that are likely to say nothing.

Hear it...play it. If you can't play the line you can hear or would sing then that's where you need to work...not on more ways to try to translate music into something abstract or visual so that you can wiggle your fingers on a note you can't hear that carries no weight or feeling.

The form is ultra simple yet the possible variations are immense. It's about feeling more than a strict pattern and gives the player the opportunity to give emotional weight to their playing. How does one give emotion and weight to notes you haven't conceived of other than in a mechanistic form?
Brave man Wade!
Blues isn’t intellectual music - it’s intuitive from the soul.
 

John Setchell

Member
Messages
283
Locality
Norfolk UK
There are definitely different approaches to playing music. One is for people who have no talent or ability. They are those poor individuals who can't sing a line of any sort so need to have a "paint by the numbers" type of pattern to follow.

The others are those who can sing and can hear a line that to them sounds good. As you say once someone is playing a line they may find other ways to play it, however the message is really simple: If you have even a modicum of talent why use a "paint by the numbers" mentality? That's using a non musical type of thinking where you don't hear the notes until after you play them. Not a great way to play music!

For those individuals who need to use formulas to play a note that fits that may be as good as it gets. For everyone else I wouldn't recommend that. The academic method of learning is like reverse engineering where you need to employ an engineering method to reconstruct the original. Great for engineering, IMHO not the best for creativity and the arts.

I'm not denigrating those individuals who need to approach music by formulae. If they have the desire and that's the only way they can play and enjoy it, then who is to say it's not a good thing? However I'm seriously questioning anyone who thinks an academic approach is the only way anyone should approach playing the blues. If you've got even a modicum of talent I think you're wasting your time , denying your abilities, and hampering your natural development which is a hallmark of every great blues player.
The difference between a Craftsman and an Artist is that the craftsman hones exactly the end result he wants, whilst an Artist hasn’t a clue!
Left brain-v-right brain. Which are you?
 

turf3

Member
Messages
561
Locality
Earth
Wade, your link doesn't turn up any playable audio files, just gives me an message about how to download wikiloops.
 

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,513
Locality
New Zealand and Australia
Wade, your link doesn't turn up any playable audio files, just gives me an message about how to download wikiloops.
The link should take you to the Wikiloops blues page that's here in the Cafe. If some reason it's not, you can find all of it by going to "forums" tab at the top, then scrolling down to "Your sound clips". Wikiloops is in the subform as the last entry in that category. Once in there, there are heading categories . R&B Blues and Soul is one of those categories. Hit that and 30 + tracks come up. Hit on one of the numbers and that track comes up. In each of these there are actually two tracks. The first one is the template with sax. The second is the template without sax for you to have a play with.

All of the Wikiloops tracks are novel, there are no standards, but often recognizable forms (like Blues). They are there for players to use for practicing improvisation where there is no chart and it's not a standard. That's a "real world" situation where you step into a band (rock, blues, pop, Latin, etc.) and don't know the music. You are expected to hear your way through it using your ears to play lines that fit. Joining any of those types of bands usually means that there is no written music for you and often not even a lead sheet of chord changes. Listening, anticipating, and hearing a line that works as either backing or solo is what's required. You can still decipher all of the changes and eventually translate that into something where a lot of "safe" notes are played, but then that's defeating the purpose of the exercise of working to link your musical thoughts directly to your horn.
 

turf3

Member
Messages
561
Locality
Earth
when I click on the link in Wade's post above, a list of a bunch of tracks pops up. But if I try to click on one of the tracks to play it, it just returns me to the top of the page where the following error message is printed:

?"For copyright reasons, please only upload your tracks to Wikiloops.

You can then embed the tracks here, there is no need to use the Wikiloops share code, just paste the URL into the message and an embed player will be created automatically."

I just now found that there are actually TWO clickables and I have now gotten a track to open.

Never mind.
 

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