BB King Box

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons' started by db3266, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    I'm studying BB King :thumb: with my guitar teacher and I thought I would start a thread to see what additional input you may have on the BB King Box.

    CAVEAT !! :) I am in no way an expert on music theory, so I am definitely looking for input and observations in this thread.

    I'll work in the key of A for this thread, but of course, the pattern is repeatable for any key. I will refer to A7, D7 and E7 (oh, and by the way, I run this risk of getting this wrong so please correct me if needed!! :laugh2:)

    The BB box constitutes 7 notes. For the key of A the tab looks like this;

    --------------------------------------------------10----------11----------12------
    -------------10----------12----------13-------------------------------------------
    -11---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The pattern on the fret board looks like this.
    [​IMG]

    The special thing about this pattern is that almost all of the notes fit very nicely over a I IV V blues progression meaning you can get access to the notes without changing hand position during the chord changes.

    For the I chord (A7), the relative intervals are;

    --------------------------------------------------10----------11----------12------
    -------------10----------12----------13-------------------------------------------
    -11---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    6th...........Root.............9...........min3rd..........4th...............b5...............5th


    For the IV chord (D7), the relative intervals are;

    --------------------------------------------------10----------11----------12------
    -------------10----------12----------13-------------------------------------------
    -11---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    maj3rd........5th.............6th..............b7..........Root.............b9...............9th


    For the V chord (E7), the relative note intervals are;

    --------------------------------------------------10----------11----------12------
    -------------10----------12----------13-------------------------------------------
    -11---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    9th...........4th.............5th...............b6..............b7...............7...............Root


    So, the first thing to note (pardon the pun :laugh2:) is that there is a Root note within this pattern for each chord change.


    The second thing to note is that for the I and IV chords, there is a minor or major 3rd. These are really strong notes depending on the flavour of the blues you want to play.


    There are also strong chord tones in the box relative to the chords.


    A7 chord notes are
    A
    Csharp - (where the hell is a hash on a Mac keyboard :laugh2: )
    E
    G


    The D7 chord notes are
    D
    Fsharp
    A
    C


    The E7 chord notes are
    E
    Gsharp
    B
    D


    I think the 9th is also a good note to use but I wouldn't mind someone confirming / explaining why it is and then I can colour code the 9ths in the above charts.


    If you study this, you will see there are loads of notes that can be bent up to relevant notes;

    eg, on the I chord,
    bend the 9 a full step to a major 3rd
    bend minor 3rd a half step to the major 3rd. (very bluesy)


    eg, on the IV chord
    bend the 9 a whole step to Fsharp which is the major 3rd


    I hope this has helped and not confused :hmm:


    Basically, it's a great position to play major / minor blues licks for the I IV V chords. :applause:


    I am going to try and produce fretboard diagrams to enhance the colour scheme I am using for each note. I'll try to update at the weekend. :wave:
     
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  2. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    examples of the diagrams I have in mind (but will be much improved and colour coded as per above post)

    [​IMG]

    My aim is to produce a chart that is easy to read and can be used as a constant reference when learning this box position.
    By the end of this year, I want to completely own the knowledge of this box and be able to play the right notes without thinking, and more importantly, hit the right notes consistently over the relevant chord changes.
     
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  3. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    phew !!! that was so difficult to get the layout right !!!
     
  4. fsenseman

    fsenseman Senior Member

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    Hi there,

    When I saw your first post I thought you'd used an xray machine to make the diagram :)

    That being said (and now I know it was a whiteboard) you might want to consider Neck Diagrams. Chord chart and fretboard diagram software for guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele and ANY fretted instrument | Neckdiagrams.com I have no affiliation to the developer or software. It's not expensive either but is the best I've found for creating chord or scale diagrams. It might make things easier for you as you go through this process as you can have it display intervals, or notes, over the markers, which can be color coded and markers can have different shapes. Probably much easier than photo's of a whiteboard. You can change the root note at anytime and the intervals will be updated, I use it frequently to put ideas my teacher has written on paper into a computer friendly format (the main benefit is that I can read it a week later :) You can also export the diagrams as .jpg files to do with what you wish, or print to .pdf.

    I will keep an eye on this thread as this is something I would like to master as well. I'm sure someone will chime in soon with some theory discussion to make things stand out a bit more.

    Kind Regards,
    Fleet

    Edit: looked at other pics again, maybe not a whiteboard. But check out the software I mentioned. I believe they have a trial version you can check out. You would also be able to post the .jpgs directly to forums for comments by others...
     
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  5. River

    River Senior Member

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    My go-to "box". Well, you know, after, well, you know.

    Milk that for all it's worth and change octaves, then change strings so you can see how it works without the G-B string shift. It's magical.
     
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  6. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    What makes it work is the bounce between minor and major implied by having a b3 and a 6 in an A scale.
     
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  7. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    Can you explain what this means? :thumb:
     
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  8. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    It's a major/minor hybrid, and as we all know, milking that major against minor sound works wonders for blues.

    You have 1b345 from the minor pantatonic (only misses out the b7)
    Very closely related to that, you have 1b34b55 from the blues scale, again only missing out the b7
    You have 12356, which is the major pentatonic, complete.

    The shape is easily anchored in place by the first finger on the root note on the B string.

    So you have one simple shape that is a) easily located to the tonic; b) contains enough information for both major & minor pentatonic sounds; c) can easily be bent to pretty much any other pitch you might want to add to it. What's not to like?

    I find it very illuminating that BB seems to have built his "standard" position by starting from the major pentatonic and adding a couple of extra "juicy" notes, rather than by starting with the minor pentatonic and building on that, which seems to be a more common approach for guys coming to blues from the rock side of the tracks. My own blues playing got a hell of a lot better when I realised that (only took thirty years or so! :facepalm:)

    (nb - none of this implies that BB plays exclusively in this shape. He doesn't. But he sure does like it a lot, which is why it got the name.)

    I think there might have been a thread around somewhere that looked at combining the major & minor pentatonic shapes in all of the CAGED fretboard locations, not just the C shape that the BB box is built from. But that thread didn't include the blue b5, and it did include the b7, so not the same thing at all. Related, but not the same ;)

    Anyway - this is a position that I play out of a lot, and I particulary love the way it accomodates a change to the IV chord, or a IV7. (BTW that blue note that is b5 to the I chord, but you couldn't identify wrt the IV chord would be a b9 in that context).

    Nice diagrams, the colour is useful.

    :)
     
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  9. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    PS - it's called the "BB KIng Box", but as River knows, it could just as easily be called the "Jimmy Page Box" He got a lot of very tasty sounds out of the same shape without ever sounding like BB. That's a lesson right there. :)
     
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  10. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    Thanks Huw, I have updated the diagram. :thumb:

    Can you explain the relevance of the 6th and 9th notes in relation to the scale?

    Are they chord tones or something different?
     
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  11. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Well they are just the 2nd (9th) and 6th notes up from the root. Neither are actual chord tones but they both "play nicely" with the ones that are.

    (that 2nd = 9th thing: if we write a scale out over two octave, and number the notes we get this: 1C, 2D, 3E, 4F, 5G, 6A, 7B, 8C, 9D, 10E, 11F, 12G, 13A, 14B. The 2nd and 9th are the same note, in different ovtaves).

    Take a major triad: that gives you 135. In A that would be A C# E. Now in order to add notes to those, to make a simple scale, there is a simple principle that seems to be universal (almost): avoid semitones. If we add notes that are a semitone away from one of those chord tones we risk a clash.

    So to add a note between 1 & 3, the only one we can add without a senmitone clash is 2. Look at the string: open A, C# on 4th fret. We can't add notes on either 1st or 3rd frets (because of trying to avoid semitones). The only place we can add a note is at the 2nd fret. That gives B, the major second/ninth from the root.

    Similarly, between C# (4th fret A string) and E (7th fret) we can't add any notes at all without creating a semitone.

    Finally, between that E (7th fret) and the higher octave A (12th fret), frets 8 & 11 are out, but we could add notes at either the 9th or 10th frets. F# (major 6th) or G (b7). Both have been used in different cultures, but the major 6 is far more common (I could suggest why that is, but we'd be getting scientific, and whilst it's interesting to some, it's not essential).

    You can create a minor pentatonic scale the same way, starting with a minor triad and adding notes according to the "no semitones" rule. (nb - this is just one of the ways that pentatonic scale can be/have been/are derived).

    So the "relevance" of the 6th & 9th is that they are non-chord tones that can easily be used along with the major triad chord tones without running a risk of an unintended clash.

    Of course lots of scales exist which do incorporate semitones (or smaller intervals ;) ) but in general the smaller the intervals become then a) the more skill is required to sing them (and always remember the vocal origins of music); and b) some care is required when using those intervals on an instrument (hence the "avoid tones" that litter Jazz "chord scale theory".

    Anyway, :laugh2:, I bet you're sorry you asked now! Hope I didn't explode your head. If it was a bit OTT, just remeber that the 6 & 9 are just notes that sound nice with the chord tones. Damn, why didn't I say that in the first place?

    :)
     
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  12. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    :thumb:

    Strictly speaking, are they major flavour rather than minor falvour?
     
  13. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Yes.




    See - I can do short answers!

    :laugh2:

    "Major" & "Minor" just mean "bigger" & "smaller". The 2nd, 3rd, 6th & 7th all have big & small versions" (4 & 5 are called "perfect" & are usually exempt ;) )

    One fret above the tonic is a "small" 2nd, two frets above is a "big" 2nd.

    Same with the 6th: one fret above the 5th = a "small" 6th, two frets above = a "big" 6th.

    When a scale uses mostly the smaller alternatives we call it a minor scale, when it uses the bigger ones we call it major. (there are scales that mix the two up a little, but that's the basic idea).

    :)
     
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  14. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    edited....

    Huw, can you double check everything is correct?
    I think there are more "bend to" notes that I could possible put on the diagrams, but I don't want to crowd out the general pattern or over-complicate things.
     
  15. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    edited
     
  16. huw

    huw V.I.P. Member

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    Only one thing to point out = against the V chord that is a b6 not a 6. Only one fret above the 5th. Small, not big.

    The rest looks fine, although it took me a minute to work out what "outside of the scale pattern" meant. I was about to launch in with "thirds are chord tone too etc etc" when I realised that you are meaning those are the positions of target notes, not in the basic finger shape, to either bend to or just fret as an aditional note. Gottcha (although I think that wording might be ambigous to some). :)

    Good stuff.
     
  17. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    OK, try this

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    Ive also edited the original post to represent the b6 on the V chord
     
  19. db3266

    db3266 V.I.P. Member

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    Huw, once you have tripple checked everything, I will attach a pdf so the document can be shared.
     
  20. LiveSimply

    LiveSimply Senior Member

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    DB, thank you very much. Love it when folks put in this sort of effort in order to share what they know.
     

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