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“Microtonal Blues Scales” video series

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“Microtonal Blues Scales” video series

Postby funkpunk » Mon Mar 09, 2020 6:45 pm

Hey guys! I'm Panos and I'd like to share with you the results of my research on the microtones of Blues scales.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVWX10c0bNc&list=PLnafBBFyC1Qg2kGpp2YeiiKjmMPiYz2s5&index=2&t=0s

For many years I played Blues music with the mind of a jazz musician, utilizing minor and major pentatonics, modes, and arpeggios over major blues forms, but I never found myself sounding “authentic”. Something was missing... A few years ago I met George Zikos (guitarist of the band Zero Zero) who introduced me to a different mindset about blues scales, which led me to this research and eventually to the creation of two series of videos (“Microtonal Blues Scales” & “Blues History”). Even though some of the things I will present about the blues scales are known to scholars, they are not yet incorporated into the teaching of American music. So, I'll try to make a first step with these lessons, not because I am an "expert", but to initiate a discussion about this sensitive topic.

In the first series of videos that I will upload every week, called “Microtonal Blues Scales”, I'll try to address the “problem” of many musicians (including myself) improvising in Blues or Blues-based music and sounding legit. Of course an important factor we should focus on, is the scales we use. Should we play a major scale? Should we play a minor? and if yes, why play a minor scale over major chords?
As I will explain in these videos, blues scales are NOT like classical scales, where every note has an exact and fixed value. A Blues scale is more like an Arabic Maqam or an Indian Raga (where notes deviate from the European 12-Tone Temperament Tuning). However blues scales have the particularity of not only having Western traits in their DNA (due to musical exchange between Afro-americans and Euro-americans) but also being evolved, interpreted and being taught in a white society. Maybe it was the inevitable interpretation from the angle of one's enculturated tone system, or maybe it was just a pedagogical convenience, the result is that whites oversimplified African American music using Classical tools and concepts in order to explain it (since at least the 19th century).
Of course many scholars have tried to analyze the nature of blues scales over the years. It's a very difficult task, considering Bluesmen play the blues scales a little different from one another, depending on their influences, the instrument they use and their personality. They also perform songs slightly differently from time to time, never playing the exact same notes again. Nevertheless, I believe one can find common ground among the most influential bluesmen and make some sense out of this complex tradition. What I will present is a description of these microtonal scales (theory) that I believe is reasonably consistent with the real Blues practice, meaning, it explains most of the things, most of the time. Keep in mind that this is my personal interpretation and your study may produce different results.
On the other hand, some could argue that Blues is a style that should only be learned by listening to records and we shouldn't try to explain and describe it since you only need to have the “blues feeling” to convincingly perform it. Well, in my opinion, that's true for every kind of music, not only for the Blues. Someone with a lot of talent may be able to decode and learn every music language and its accents just by listening, but for the rest of us, a guideline (theory) is needed to help us understand where to pay attention when studying the Blues. Keep in mind, that theories are derived to explain existing musical practices, and therefore should not restrict us on expressing ourselves and making new music.

Ιn the second series of videos I will try to present the “History & Evolution of the Blues” in relation to other American music traditions and socioeconomic developments through the centuries. I have put great emphasis on the period before the birth of Blues (16th-19th century), since it's very interesting to see how various music styles evolved through time and influenced one another leading to the creation of new music genres. I'll publish these History lessons every week alongside the music ones.

I hope you find something useful in this work!

Panos Charalampidis


P.S.1 The video above is a necessary introduction to this new way of thinking. You must wait until next week for the presentation of the first scale :)

P.S.2 English subtitles are available
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Re: “Microtonal Blues Scales” video series

Postby BJG145 » Mon Mar 09, 2020 8:35 pm

Cheers Panos, sounds intriguing...
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Re: “Microtonal Blues Scales” video series

Postby funkpunk » Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:05 pm

Microtonal Blues Scales p.2 [“Majorish 4-7” scale]

In this episode I'll introduce the first Microtonal Blues Scale (its “majorish” version), demonstrating each degree that is composed of. I call it “Majorish 4-7” since it has a “majorish” 3rd and its characteristic notes are the 4th and 7th degree. At the end I demonstrate the scale over a standard 12-bar blues.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73ejjQ37WLc&list=PLnafBBFyC1Qg2kGpp2YeiiKjmMPiYz2s5&index=3&t=0s
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Re: “Microtonal Blues Scales” video series

Postby funkpunk » Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:33 pm

Microtonal Blues Scales p.3 [8 ways to approach the “Majorish 3rd” sound]

In this episode we are examining eight ways Blues musicians emulate that bluesy bend of the 3rd degree (majorish 3rd - lesson 2), using alternative techniques. Although I use a guitar to demonstrate, many of these techniques can be applied on other instruments too (piano, horns etc).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAzLg9hNqiM&list=PLnafBBFyC1Qg2kGpp2YeiiKjmMPiYz2s5&index=4&t=0s
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Re: “Microtonal Blues Scales” video series

Postby funkpunk » Mon Mar 30, 2020 4:35 pm

Microtonal Blues Scales p.4 [“Majorish 2-6” scale]

In this lesson we'll see another Microtonal Blues Scale, the “Majorish 2-6”. I call it “Majorish 2-6” since it has a “majorish” 3rd and its characteristic notes are the 2nd and 6th degree. I will demonstrate each note that it's composed of, in addition to playing some example phrases. At the end of the video I also improvise over a standard 12-bar blues using only this scale.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJRMnAoy-mA&list=PLnafBBFyC1Qg2kGpp2YeiiKjmMPiYz2s5&index=5&t=0s
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Re: “Microtonal Blues Scales” video series

Postby funkpunk » Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:00 pm

Microtonal Blues Scales p.5 [Extension of “Majorish 4-7” & “Majorish 2-6” scales]

In this lesson we'll talk about the concept of extending the two Majorish Scales we have learned, adding extra degrees. I also play each extended scale over a standard 12-bar blues, demonstrating the fact that each extension results to a different scale with a unique sound.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FQOazWzAv0&list=PLnafBBFyC1Qg2kGpp2YeiiKjmMPiYz2s5&index=6&t=0s
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Re: “Microtonal Blues Scales” video series

Postby funkpunk » Mon Apr 13, 2020 6:06 pm

Microtonal Blues Scales p.6 [Mixing “Majorish 4-7” & “Majorish 2-6” phrases]

In this episode we'll talk about the concept of mixing phrases of the two Majorish Scales we have learned so far. As aways, I will demonstrate this popular practice improvising over a standard 12-bar blues.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFn0f3CsTi0&list=PLnafBBFyC1Qg2kGpp2YeiiKjmMPiYz2s5&index=6
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Re: “Microtonal Blues Scales” video series

Postby funkpunk » Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:00 pm

Microtonal Blues Scales p.7 [“Minorish” scale]

In this lesson I'll introduce a Blues Scale that has a “Minorish” 3rd degree and it's mostly used over Minor blues songs. I will also talk about the exceptions I've encountered in playing in a minor blues environment.

https://youtu.be/tg8xGUwQtoM
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Re: “Microtonal Blues Scales” video series

Postby funkpunk » Mon Apr 27, 2020 5:15 pm

Microtonal Blues Scales p.8 [Extension of “Minorish” scale]

In this lesson we'll see a few ways that we can extend the Minorish Blues Scale using additional degrees. As always, each degree we add will change the “color” of the scale creating a new sound. I will also introduce the concept of mixing Minorish Blues phrases with various Minor Modes, using popular examples. At the end of the lesson I improvise over a Minor 12-bar Blues using the above mentioned practices.

https://youtu.be/s29rGyqwRGE
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Re: “Microtonal Blues Scales” video series

Postby funkpunk » Mon May 04, 2020 8:59 pm

Microtonal Blues Scales p.9 [E7#9 – E7b10 & the “Neutral” scale]

In this last lesson we'll talk about the “Hendrix chord” and its uses. I will also introduce the Neutral Blues Scale that has a “Neutral 3rd” in it. At the end of the episode I summarize the different shades of the 3rd degree of Blues Scales and their uses in Blues music.

*If you have any comments or questions about this series and my point of view, I'd be glad to talk about it.

https://youtu.be/R3GRexoD6a0
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