The Blues: A Modern Jazz Guitar Approach – Part I

The twelve-bar blues progression has been a mainstay of the repertoire of every jazz musician since the birth of jazz in the early twentieth century.  Over the years, as jazz evolved and sub-styles emerged, the blues form proved itself to be both quintessential and highly adaptable to the varied developments in jazz.  In the early twenty-first century, a new generation of jazz musicians has reinvigorated the genre, but the blues continues to be an essential part of the modern style. If you’re interested in learning more about how to incorporate modern elements while still maintaining a thread of the tradition when you play over the blues progression, then this class is for you.

In this class, the blues form will be explored in detail with the goal of applying modern jazz melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic vocabulary to the progression.  First will be a brief survey of the structure and history of the form along with exercises for gaining mastery over the basic harmonies.  Then, common mainstream approaches for melodic and harmonic variations on the progression will be outlined.  Finally, modern approaches to melody, harmony, and rhythm will be applied to the blues form.

The Blues: A Modern Jazz Guitar Approach – Part I covers:

  • Basic jazz blues progressions defined and analyzed, including harmonic function and chord/scale chart
  • Arpeggio and scale studies for Bb and F blues with emphasis on fingerboard mastery and voice leading
  • Discussion of approach notes and target notes and the “bebop scale” with examples
  • Discussion of mixing blues vocabulary with outlining chord changes in improvisations
  • Tri-tone substitution
  • Melodic minor mode substitution
  • Diminished scale use
  • Basic polyrhythm applications for melodic and harmonic improvising; groupings of three
  • Modal approach to the blues, including polytonal side-slipping
  • Applying 3-part-4ths to the blues
  • Running time: 92 minutes
  • 14 pages of written examples (including chord diagrams, standard notation and TAB), exercises, and example solos with close-up views of the performances
  • Each example performance is titled for easy navigation
  • MP3 backing tracks for all written examples and solos

Also see part II of this blues jazz lesson .

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Class Content

Blues: A Modern Jazz Guitar Approach - Part I
Blues: A Modern Jazz Guitar Approach – Part I 01:32:00
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