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All Blues

Di in France

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I hope this isn't too stupid a question.
I have the sheet music All Blues, it's a Bb tenor copy, 2 sharps, key of D.
To improvise on this, do I use a blues scale, and if so, which one?
Sorry, now I've written it, it does look like a stupid question, but I don't know the answer.

Thanks
Di
 

BigMartin

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We're playing this in my big band. As far as I know, it's usually in G concert ( A for tenor). The first few bars would then be A7 (for tenor) and the melody would hang around C# for those bars. Transpose if necessary. It's basically a blues in A, so blues scale in A should work over the whole thing, but there are some nice juicy altered dominants in bars 9 and 10 which you might want to feature.
 

Di in France

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Thanks Martin. My copy is in D for tenor and I've been told to use the A blues scale. I didn't think it would fit that's why I'm asking. If my copy is in D then surely you wouldn't use the A blues scale?
 

Chris

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It all depends which Realbook/Fakebook you look at. Realbook1 it's 'C', Colorado Cookbook it's 'G' and JazzFake it's 'C'. Whatever key it is in, It wasn't written to just played over with a blues scale. Think chord tones, chromatic notes, blue notes, etc etc..

Chris..
 

Di in France

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I've been thinking about this, and I agree Chris. I was told to use the A blues scale, but I don't need to as there are chord symbols on the sheet. I didn't think it through before, just thought it's a blues so use the blues scale as instructed, a case of brain shutdown, I think. Thanks.
 

Colin the Bear

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As the chords progress through the piece you might be able to noodle a D, G and A blues scale over it. Don't overthink it. Just play it. Trust your instincts and ear.
 

ArtyLady

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Di if the first chord symbol on the lead sheet is D7 then D Blues/Minor Pentatonic will work over the whole thing. :thumb:
 
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kernewegor

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It's on Wikifonia so if anyone wants to see what's under discussion get googling!

Choose the Bb instrument transposition and you will find the key signature is then two sharps.

The chords given are: Four bars A7; two bars D7; two bars A7; one bar E7#9; half bar F7#9; half bar E7#9; two bars A7.

So... blues in A.
 
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ArtyLady

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It's on Wikifonia so if anyone wants to see what's under discussion get googling!

Choose the Bb instrument transposition and you will find the key signature is then two sharps.

The chords given are: Four bars A7; two bars D7; two bars A7; one bar E7#9; half bar F7#9; half bar E7#9; two bars A7.

So... blues in A.

I think it depends who notated it - personally I just go by the first chord symbol for a blues (or by my ear if not using music) :thumb:
 

BigMartin

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Why 3 sharps if it's in E?
Don't blame me, I didnt write it out. Just thought Di's part might be the same. But I suppose it saves putting D naturals all over the place for the E7's (Blues in E isn't really the same thing as E major anyway, is it?). The bari part in in the head is mostly going B-C#-D-C# over and over.
 
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Targa

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Don't overthink it. Just play it. Trust your instincts and ear.

I've been playing this piece myself for a couple of weeks and improvising over it the way I do everything.
I know the noises the sax makes and follow the ones I want to hear without considering whether they are fitting into any particular scale.
 

ArtyLady

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I've been playing this piece myself for a couple of weeks and improvising over it the way I do everything.
I know the noises the sax makes and follow the ones I want to hear without considering whether they are fitting into any particular scale.

This is a very good point - it is important to be able to play instinctively by ear (I did for years) but.........it just helps you to "play it safe" if you are noodling away by ear and you suddenly get stuck for ideas you can resort to the relative safety of a blues lick or riff (or any playing something other than blues, then anything relevant to it) in the relevant key/mode etc :thumb:
 

Colin the Bear

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I generaly run up and down in semitones at the lost point and when I find a good'un I growl and bend it a bit. Running down in whole tones works too. It's good to know where you're suppose to be going though. A bit like stepping stones.
 

Morgan Fry

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It could just be that the key sig is D. My part (for baritone) has 3 sharps, but it's in E. Do you have chord symbols?

This is a mistake.

Looks like the 'arranger' put the key signature as A because of the flat 7 in the root chord (E7). Don't ever do that. It's confusing and not standard practice. If a blues is in A, the key sig should have 3 sharps, despite the root chord being a dominant 7th which would otherwise indicate the key of D.

Likewise minor is always 3 flats more than the parallel major key, regardless of whether dorian mode is indicated for some reason. e.g., Milestones (which is nearly just All Blues in 4)-- Key signature is 2 flats even though the a section is mostly played over G dorian (with an E natural) and resolves to an F in the last 2 bars.


As far as what to play on it -- you can really get away with pretty much any style of thing on this one, including blues. Listen to the recording on Kind of Blue, it's one of the best tracks ever recorded.
 
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