The MLP Blues Guitar Course

Discussion in 'Guitar Lessons' started by sliding tom, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Ever heard of the so-called “Devil’s interval”?
    That’s what the tritone is being called. A tritone is an interval of three whole notes (full steps) or six half notes (semitones), thus dividing the octave exactly in half. This interval sounds very dissonant and full of tension and that’s the reason why it’s called the “Devil’s interval”. So how does this relate to blues playing? (Blues is The Devil's music :D)
    I have already mentioned that all chords in blues are of the dominant 7th variety. If we take a closer look at a dom 7 chord we will find that the interval between the (major) 3rd and the (dominant) 7 is three whole notes - voila: here’s our tritone! In an A 7 chord this would be C# and G. Since G and C# make a tritone, too (a tritone is symetric), these two notes would also be the major 3rd and dom 7th of a D# chord, respectively. (Can you follow me?) This would be called a “tritone substitution” . We don’t want the D# chord in our 12 bar progression (except as a passing chord), but we need the D a half step below and the E a half step above. Before things get too complicated and you get a headache, here are some chord shapes to illustrate how we can apply this:

    Here’s a 3-note A 7 (I) chord:

    [​IMG]


    The tritone is on the D and G strings (7th and 3rd), the E on the B string is the 5th here. The D and G strings are fingered with your index and middle, respectively.

    Here’s a 3-note D 9 (IV chord):

    [​IMG]

    The tritone is still on the D and G strings, just moved down one fret from A 7, but the 3rd and 7th are reversed, the E on the B string is the 9 of the chord.

    Here’s a 3-note E 7 (V chord):

    [​IMG]


    Tritone still on D and G strings, moved up one fret from A 7,the E on the B string is now the I in the chord.

    Notice that the note on the B string didn’t change? We have a “pedal tone” here.
    Instead of the E7 we can use the E9 with the same tritone movement but this time the topnote changes to an F# (9 of the E 9 chord):

    [​IMG]

    You can use these chord shapes for a stripped down backing adding a lot of suspense and tension to a simple chord progression.

    Omitting the B string and only fretting the tritones on the D and G strings you can use these double stops very effectively in lead playing, marking your changes between single note lines.






    .
     
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  2. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    cheers!
     
  3. Splattle101

    Splattle101 V.I.P. Member

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    Nicely explained. :applause:

    Another nice aspect of these two shapes is that you can fret the 9th on the B string as a passing note or part of a melody. This lets you add a little sugar to the vinegar of the tritone.

    I haven't read the whole thing yet, but this thread is excellent, Tom! Keep it up. :thumb:
     
  4. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Thanks, splattle - yeah, right.
     
  5. PapaSquash

    PapaSquash Senior Member

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    some of us got late to the party and haven't caught up yet.

    Thanks for this.
     
  6. River

    River Senior Member

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    Thanks, Tom. I am sans guitar this week, but I promise I'll do my homework next.

    If this thread goes dormant again, I'd be happy to bump it every day or two. That can really help, especially with what seems like 100 new members a week!
     
  7. Big_dawg

    Big_dawg Senior Member

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    tom do you have any examples of songs that contain the 'devils interval'..??
     
  8. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    If you are familiar with a slow Muddy Waters type of Blues - there's this D7 shape chord, that's being moved down one fret for the "quick change" and then back up. Let's put it in the key of E for convenience:

    ------4----
    ------3----
    ------4----
    -----------
    -----------
    -----------

    that's an E7, move it down by one fret and you'll have an E dim or change to this shape:

    ------3-----
    ------2-----
    ------2-----
    ------------
    ------------
    ------------

    that's an A7. Anyway you have the tritone on the top two strings.
    Another example is "Kindhearted Woman Blues" by Robert Johnson, where the A7 and A dim are being played on the D, G and B strings. This change from a dom 7 to a diminished and back to the seven occurs a lot in blues accompaniment.

    Some other more prominent examples would be the chromatically descending opening phrase of "Red House" or the first chords of "Purple Haze" where you can hear those clashing interval very prominently:



    FF to 8:00.

    Also, Black Sabbath uses the devil's interval in the song by the same name (how fitting is this? :D) It's in the recurring slow ostinato riff of the song.
     
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  9. Big_dawg

    Big_dawg Senior Member

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    thank you...
     
  10. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Thanks, but it's all good! Even if only a handful would hang around, I'd still be doing it. I have it in my signature anyway and since I'm posting on a regular basis everybody who is interested can follow the link and join. :)
     
  11. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    To make the use of the tritone in a lead chorus more accessible and clear to you I have tabbed a series of licks that I often play in a slow blues to shift the mood up a notch. I like the drummer to play the triplets here with me on the snare (preferrably rimshots). Fill the spaces with your own little licks as you please.
     

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  12. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    fantastic
    thank you
     
  13. BluesZep

    BluesZep Senior Member

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    Thanks, Tom!
    I'm learning a lot here.

    :thumb:
     
  14. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Thanks all!


    Hope y'all had a Happy Easter! here's our next part:

    Listen to some classic blues :


    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQQ4YTL1P1A&feature=related]YouTube - LIGHTNIN HOPKINS " GOIN DOWN SLOW"[/ame]


    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of2UmO2WeiA]YouTube - Freddie King - She Put a Whammy On Me[/ame]


    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eu3CbGyKgiA]YouTube - Muddy Waters - Blow Wind Blow[/ame]


    Do you notice something these have in common? Except that they are 12 bar blues and have the usual I - IV - V changes? Oh, yeah: the lyric formula: the first line being repeated once and then answered with a concluding line that rhymes with the first.. An A - A - B pattern.

    12 bars divided by 3 makes 4 bars, but the singer doesn’t sing over the entire duration of four bars (16 beats).

    If you examine this more closely, you will find that the vocal line in blues songs almost always covers two and a half bars (= 10 beats) and one and a half bars ( 6 beats) are left for an “answer” to the vocal, very often this answer being covered by an instrumental (guitar in our case) fill.

    This is a very unique pattern in song and much more characteristic of blues than the I - IV - V change or the 12-bar form. You can find this pattern in other blues with differing changes and more or fewer than 12 bars per chorus. This is one of the major and oldest building blocks of the music we call blues today.

    Put on your favourite blues record and listen - I’m sure you will find this pattern again and again. It’s so universal in blues that it mostly goes unnoticed, but not only informs the vocals of our beloved classic blues heroes but also their instrumental work.

    Most probably this pattern comes from a Christian hymn (now check this out: a Christian hymn as one of the roots of the “Devil’s music”) with the title of “Roll Jordan”, composed by the celebrated composer Charles Wesley (1707 - 1788), who wrote several hundred hymns but never used this type of four-bar phrase with the typical pattern of 10 / 6 beats again in any of his other compositions ( in “Roll Jordan” the 10 beat vocal line is answered by a choir singing a refrain).

    This is the archetypal “call and response” pattern.
    At some point around 1820, a white planter or missionary taught this hymn to a group of southern slaves. Seems like this pattern stuck with Afro-Americans and spilled over into secular music. All the other ingredients like the I - IV - V chord changes, the A - A - B stanza and the 12 - bar song form came much later. Very early “ blues” were one-chord vamps and didn’t have a concluding rhyming third lyric line. Some of these were even in circulation at the time when blues was recorded starting in the 1920s.
    Enough for history here - does this have anything to do with lead guitar playing? Yes, it does!

    If you structure your leads after this 10 / 6 pattern you will be able to make more sense in your playing and stop just jamming and noodling around. :D. As I have told you before: try to tell a story with your lead playing - don’t think like an instrumentalist - think singer!
    Ever heard that famous quote by B.B.King? “ I sing and then Lucille ( his guitar) sings!”?

    Emphasize and say something with those first 10 beats in your playing and follow them with a fill that answers your first line - maybe subdued a bit. Or: just leave space! Don’t play at all! This will give your listeners a chance to cherish what you just played and let it sink in and they will be curious what you will come up with next. Keep them on their toes!
     
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  15. Kuroyama

    Kuroyama V.I.P. Member

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    Bookmarked.

    Im late for school again, but Ill be eagerly snapping up these lessons! Im only on the third post but Im already stumped with "dominant 7th" chords!! Did I miss a post?? How did we get from I, IV, and V... to dominant 7th?? Anyway, Id google more but its already 130am and I do have work in the morning... will be back soon! count on it, and me getting caught up in short order. Ill be looking forward to these episodes as much as I was Battlestar Galactica.
     
  16. dwagar

    dwagar V.I.P. Member

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    Fantastic stuff ST.

    One thing, you may have covered it and I missed it

    I find lots of players are very comfortable in the 1st form (E) and the 2nd form (A) barre chords, but a lot don't bother to learn the 3rd form (D). This also includes that C7 and C9 that ST is using. Being comfortable with these shapes will help as ST motors on.
     
  17. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    Thanks, not exactly sure what you're talking about here - would you elaborate, please? Are you talking chord shapes? Might be something that will be covered later. I think I still have some aces up my sleeve. :D
     
  18. PapaSquash

    PapaSquash Senior Member

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    Maybe referring to the factthat the C9 you give in post #41 isn't in (mine anyway) Mel Bay's encylopedia. There are alternatives though.
     
  19. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    There's a lot of chord shapes you won't find in the books and chord encyclopedias. That's why I have to make my own diagrams sometimes because I don't find the shapes on the web to embed them here.

    Like this one:

    [​IMG]

    It's a variation of your basic G "cowboy chord" used as a G9 with the major 3rd (b) in the bass. A very common fingering in blues. Interestingly this could also be used as a Dmin6 :rolleyes: with the 6 in the bass. I only learned this recently when playing a big band arrangement by chart. Goes to show you never cease to learn and that's one thing I really enjoy about playing music and my instrument: learning...:)
     
  20. PapaSquash

    PapaSquash Senior Member

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    It's cool stuff indeed. And I may have been wrong about what he was referring to, but it was a guess based on my own unfamiliarity with that particular C9 chord shape.

    I had to practice at it to avoid choking off the D string, so at first I pulled out Mel Bay and found an easier substitute so I could hear that "uptown sound" you were referring to.
     

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