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Thread: what chord progression over an 'f' blues scale

  1. #1
    Registered User 6strings9lives's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002

    Unhappy what chord progression over an 'f' blues scale

    I'm working on the 'F' blues scale and I've recorded some simple 12 bar blues patterns to play along with but I'm confused about something so maybe my limited knowledge of music theory is messing me up.

    Here's what I know:

    The F blues scale consists of F, Ab, Bb, B, C, Eb (and if I'm wrong on this then I'm totally messed).

    If I play over an Fm7, Bbm7, Cm7 chord progression every thing sounds great. If I play over an F7, Bb7, C7 progression certain notes of the blues scale sound 'off' sometimes. I am assuming it's because the major chords don't have the flat 3rds.

    However (and this could be messing me up) everywhere on the net I always see major 7th chords being played over a blues progression.

    At this point I don't want to be switching scales with the chord progressions so my question is: is it correct to play the F blues scale over a F maj7 chord progression and I just have to watch out for the 'off' notes, or should I be playing a different major chord progression?

    BTW - when I say 'off' I don't mean they clash horribly, just they don't sound as good when played over a certain chord compared to a different chord.



  2. #2
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Jackson MS

    If it hurts don't do it...........

    You need to work on phrasing that works over the chords you are playing over. The blues scale, by itself can get a bit monotonous. There are some color notes you should be adding and possibly some avoid notes under certain circumstances.
    Try adding the major 3rd over the I7 chord and avoiding the minor 3rd, you can still use the m3 as long as you resolve it to M3. The IV chords M3 is the M6 so add it to the scale over IV.
    The V chords M3 is the M7 so add it and use the m7 as a tension.

    The other nice thing about the blues scale is you can bend notes, usually the M3, M6 and M7 are played by bending from the m3 the P5 and the m7. Theis has a nice 'Bluesy' effect and automatically resolves the tensions. If you are trying to emulate fixed pitch instruments ( Piano etc...) quickly hammer on the M3 from the m3 , or M7 from m7 or M6 from P5, to simulate the way a piano play s blues.

    Sometimes you don't want to bend all the way to the M3 (M6 or M7) this really puts the blues in blues.

    Don't forget that you can do all the above with the P4 to b5 as well.

    The point here is don't just run the scale up and down or play sequences, stop playing and sing a few lines then try to play what you just sang, the will really help the phrasing, and put necessary breathing pauses into the lines.
    Just snging blues can give you a fresh outlook.
    Listen to how other musicians (and NON guitarists) play over these changes. Try to emulate them, this will help you get over the parts you are having trouble with.

    The fact is you could play any thing you want over this and if you do it with the proper phrasing and conviction it will sound good.

    So BELIEVE that you are playing well and play with CONVICTION.
    It is truly amazing that this last thing is usually what is missing.

    There are a couple of articles on here called 'Moving from the Unfamiliar to the Familiar"( I wrote these) that deal with Pentatonics as a template for improvisation.

    Last edited by szulc; 06-23-2002 at 12:58 PM.

  3. #3
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Jackson MS

    F maj7 ?

    If I play over an F7, Bb7, C7 progression certain notes of the blues scale sound 'off' sometimes.

    I just realized that you are throwing the F maj7 in here at the end but earlier you are talking about F7.

    Other than Jazz Blues Changes I don't see a lot of this Maj7 stuff in Blues, so I am assuming you are confused about the chord symbol.
    Here when you see two 'M's the frisrt one is the 3rd and the second one is the 7th.
    So MM7 means M3 and M7,mm7 Means m3 and m7,Mm means M3 and m7 and mM means m3 and M7.

    FDom7 = F7 = FMm7 = FMb7 F A C Eb
    FMaj7 = FMM7 = FM7 F A C E
    Fmm7 = F-7 = Fminor 7
    FmM7 = F MinorMajor7

    In case I am off base here and you really meant Maj7, yes you can use the Blues scale but you need the M3 and M7 to be added, you can use the m3 and m7 to approach them . The b5 is not very practical here except as a passing tone.


  4. #4
    Registered User 6strings9lives's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002

    Smile ya learn something new everyday

    thanks for the posts, James.

    I've been playing metal since I picked up the guitar and since power chords don't use 3rds or 7ths, I always figured that a *7 and *maj7 were one and the same. Guess not, eh?

    I've taken your advice and changed my phrasing and throwing in and throwing out different notes depending on the chord. It's starting to sound better and less like a bunch of scalar runs thrown together.

    Well times a wasting and my strings are getting cold.

    Thanks for your help!


  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    St. Louis, MO USA
    Hey there...

    Here's a lesson of mine from my site that might help...

    First: adding to a standard 12-bar blues progression...

    A typical blues progression: (I'll do it in F)

    (Each chord falls on a downbeat of beat 1 or beat 3, the hyphens in between represent the remaining beats; also the minor chords should be interpreted as minor 7th chords, but for the sake of space I have shown them as minor only)...


    Then, begin to introduce ii-V turnarounds and Secondary Dominants within:


    Then, more Secondary Dominants, diminished passing chords, Tritone substitutions as ii-V's:


    Then still more of the same elements in different places, and change the chord types of the I and the IV to maj7's:


    More of the same:


    A couple of turnarounds to use through the last 2 measures of each chorus can be:

    /F7-D7-/G7-C7-/ top
    /F7-Ab7-/G7-Gb7-/ top

    When walking a bass line and comping through these, think of this...

    To begin, walk each chord that receives 4 beats: 1-3-5, then, each fourth beat, approach the next chord with a dominant 7th a half-step above or below...



    Another walking/comping approach is to do whole dominant chords each beat:

    F7---/Bb7---/ etc...
    F7,E7,F7,B7/Bb,B7,Bb7,Gb7/ etc...

    For chords that have only 2 beats per measure, approach each chord from a half-step above or below, playing the chord on the beat in which it occurs:

    Cm-F7-/Bbmaj7---/ etc...
    C,E,F,B/Bb---/ etc...

    Bbm-Eb7-/Am-D7-/Abm-Db7-/Gm-C7-/Fmaj7---/ etc...
    Bb,E,Eb,Bb/A,Eb,D,A/Ab,C,Db,Gb/G,Db,C,Gb/F etc...

    Maybe this will help...


    Scott Jones

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    try the II-V-I progression

    Gmi7, C7, Fmaj7

    F blues will work and D blues will also work

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