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Welcome to JazzPianoSkills; it's time to discover, learn, and play Jazz Piano!
Every JazzPianoSkills weekly podcast episode introduces aspiring jazz pianists to essential Jazz Piano Skills. Each Podcast episode explores a specific Jazz Piano Skill in depth. Today you will discover, learn, play the Major Blue Scale. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
The Major Blues Scale
How to easily construct the Major Blues Scale for all 12 Keys
The Major Blues Scale using various entry and destination points
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Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music
Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Last week, we discovered the minor blues scale. We learned how to construct it using standard number notation. And we played it launching from various entry points using ascending and descending motion. No doubt, we followed a very concise, thorough and methodical approach to the study and practicing of the minor blues scale. How nice How refreshing to have set before you, especially in this day and age, a concise, thorough and methodical approach to anything I'm telling you with the age of the internet, search engines, and countless and I mean countless number of videos that are produced and published by people with little if any qualifications and absolutely no accountability. It is so easy to get led down blind alleys wrapped around the axle and confused to the point of no return. It's just plain Madni. I don't know about you, but I find myself waiting to shout enough videos already, you know, it's just my personal opinion. But I have to say, videos are not always the answer. They are not always the best way to teach or learn. In fact, it's quite the contrary. Once we begin becoming video dependent, dependent on taking in information primarily with our eyes, our ears begin to shut down. And once our ears begin shutting down, it's just simply a matter of time before they turn off, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm old school. I like listening. I like using my ears to learn and that is precisely Why I started the jazz piano skills podcast and not a YouTube channel. I love this format very much. I love listening to someone speaking about a subject or a topic in which they are an expert. Obviously, you feel the same way. And that's why you're a podcast listener. Okay, like I said, last week, we discovered the minor blues scale. We learned how to construct it using standard number notation. And we played it launching from various entry points using ascending and descending motion. This week, we're going to do the exact same thing for the major blues scale.
Yes, there is a major blue scale so much attention And has always given to the minor blues scale that the poor major blues scale often gets neglected or even just flat out forgotten, but not today. Today, we will take time to discover, learn, and play the major blues scale. Using both of these scales, the major and minor blues scale to help you develop jazz improvisation vocabulary will not only help you become a more expressive player when playing the blues but when playing any style or genre of jazz, I want to remind everyone that every Thursday evening 8 pm Central time I am live online using the zoom platform, which I know everybody at this time is very familiar with and very comfortable with. It's everywhere. Right? This online Line masterclass is an open discussion and deeper dive into the current week's podcast episode. So this Thursday, I will be exploring the major blue scale in more detail and answering any of the questions that you may have regarding this podcast episode. And of course, I always leave room within the hour-long class for some q&a as well. So mark it on your calendars Thursday evenings at 8pm Central Time, join me online. It is definitely a value-added educational opportunity and experience. You do not want to miss the zoom link, by the way, is posted on my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages. If you're not following me, please, please do so. Plus I have it posted on the homepage of the jazz piano skills website as well. I'll see you Thursday evening APM. Last week I addressed the question, how important is it for aspiring jazz pianists to become familiar with the blues. And if you remember, I shared with you some poignant thoughts from a paper published by the Thelonious Monk Institute, titled The influence of the blues on jazz. The documents stresses that jazz as we know it would not exist without the blues. In other words, the blues can be said to be the very foundation of jazz, and therefore, without the blues. The Jazz genre itself would crumble. That is worth giving some thought to as you devote time to studying and learning both Major and Minor blues scales, especially if you're thinking that you can simply and quickly learn how to play the blues scales up and down the piano, and then move on to more contemporary skills. The point is this. If you do not have a working understanding of the blues, its origins, its history, its form, its stylistic elements, influential musicians, then you are not going to develop into an accomplished jazz musician. It's really that simple. So once again, as I did last week, I want to encourage you to devote some time to doing research. To learn more about the blues. It's a fascinating study that will have a profound impact on your approach to plane and Practicing jazz. And once again practicing is not limited to sitting at the piano pushing keys, you have to develop a solid practice regimen away from the instrument so that the time spent at the instrument is quality time. It's time well invested. The investment of quality time produces maximum results. And I know that is exactly what you are striving to achieve. And
to help you get started there is a really nice PDF file that you can download from the National blues museum called the evolution of the blues. It will provide you a really nice it's a really kind of a quick historical outline of the blues and it has a terrific Bibliography that at the end to help you broaden your research, check it out at the National blues museum.org. The document again is called the evolution of the blues. If you do a Google search for that, I'm sure it will just pop right up. And you can access that PDF file, read it, download it, and kind of use it as your launching pad into the study of the blues. Here is another important reason to spend time with the blues. Because to spend time with the blues, is to spend time at the beginning of jazz, which, by the way, is always a great place to start the beginning the course of study the curriculum, the roadmap to becoming an accomplished jazz pianist, presented to us historically. Let me say that again, the course of study the curriculum, the roadmap to becoming an accomplished jazz pianist is presented to us historically. In other words, the evolution of jazz itself is the curriculum. It is the roadmap, we must travel. If we want to succeed. You cannot skip the beginning and jump into jazz starting in the 60s. After 30 plus years of teaching jazz, I can attest to the fact that many people tried to do just that. They hear Chuck Korea, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, they get excited. Purchase transcription books. These great pianists and they begin their journey. And after their inaugural launch into jazz, utilizing this approach, it's only a matter of time before frustration and disappointment sets in. Hopefully, hopefully, they are surrounded by some good teachers that can assure them that their struggle is not because of a lack of talent. It's because they didn't start at the beginning. They didn't start with the blues. Okay, before we jump in headfirst with our exploration of the major blue scale, I want to remind you that the educational guides for this jazz piano skills podcast episode devoted to the major blues scale are available for Immediate download at jazz piano skills calm as my regular listeners know, right I developed three educational guides for every jazz panel skills podcast episode, which can be downloaded individually or as a bundle or as a subscription. The illustration guide helps you discover the jazz piano skill conceptually, imagery, graphics are used. They're amazing. And you've heard me say this 1000 times your physical growth as a jazz pianist depends 100% on your mastery of a jazz piano skill, mentally, your conceptual understanding, imagery, and graphics allow you to mentally to visually digest the shapes and sounds of jazz, which in turn, fuels your physical and Oral mastery so important. The lead sheet guide helps you get helps you learn. The Jazz panel skill physically helps you get the jazz panel skill under your fingers. And if you are a reader you like seeing the concept placed on the musical staff. The lead sheets are perfect for you have them sitting on your piano as a quick reference. When you are getting the various harmonic shapes and melodic lines under your fingers. There are 12 lead sheets for each Podcast Episode One for each of the 12 keys of music. They are fantastic and simply invaluable. And finally the play along guide which are play-along tracks. And again there are play-along tracks available for all 12 keys and they are the perfect tool to help you successfully play the jazz piano scale. being taught in the podcast episode. In this case, the major blues scale that play-along tracks will help you develop a strong sense of internal time. Which by the way, and I've said this before, too, no teacher can teach you time we can talk about it. But in order for you to develop time, you have to experience it. And the same can be said for feel and articulation. Okay, so, check out all three of these guides, the illustration guide, the lead sheet guide, and the play-along guide. I cannot stress enough how beneficial they are for expediting your discover, learn, and play process. Simply go to jazz panel skills, get calm. Go to the homepage and click on the podcast link in the menu bar that runs across the top of the page. You're good to go. You'll see all the podcast episodes and the educational guides - you will be able to download the educational guides with one simple click. If you have any questions, you can leave me a quick voicemail message using the speakpipe widget that is nestled along each podcast episode. Or you can post your question at the jazz piano skills forum and let the jazz panel skills community help you or attend the Thursday evening jazz piano skills masterclass 8 pm Central Time and get your questions answered by me face to face. So many ways to get help. And again, I want to stress my entire goal here is to provide you with the best jazz piano lessons, the best jazz piano education materials and support available anywhere today. So this week, we are going to explore the major blues scale You're going to discover the classic major blues scale, you're going to learn how to construct the major blues scale. And you're going to play the major blues scale from various entry points, just like we did last week with the minor blues scale. So regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner, an intermediate player, and an advanced player, or even an experienced professional, you will find this podcast this lesson to be very beneficial. To begin, let's construct the major blues scale. To do this, we're going to use the following numbers. One, two flat 3356 Now think of those numbers in relationship to a key to a scale. For example, the key or scale of C major consists of seven notes, C, D, E, F, G, A, and B, or 123456 and seven. With this as our base, the C major blues scale can be successfully constructed. One equals C, two equals D, flat three equals E flat, three equals E, five equals G, and six equals A.
This will be the scale we use today to explore this iconic sound. Before we do, there are two points that I want to make sure that I highlight. In fact, I stressed these and last week's podcast episode covering the minor blues scale. These are important points. So listen up. point one, like the minor blues scale. The major blues scale is not actually a scale. It's a pattern. It should be called the major blues pattern because Unlike a true scale, major harmonic minor melodic minor, it does not produce a harmonic system. In other words, each note of the scale does not produce a chord. There are no modes. There are no chord scale relationships. So because of this mislabeling, because we call it a scale, some folks try to study and practice the major and minor blues scales in the same way they study and approach traditional scales. Don't go there. It leads nowhere and it will give you a headache. You will not find any chord scale relationships and trying to construct such a model is the perfect example of thinking way too hard. So, As much as I would love to change the jazz world, and have everyone begin referring to the major and minor blues scales as patterns instead of scales, I know it will never happen. The academic language has been solidified and it is a done deal. Therefore, I will refer to the major blues pattern, as it is referred to in the real world, the jazz world as the major blues scale. Point number two. The major blue scale, like the minor blues scale, is not a lick that is intended to be played in a linear way up and down the piano. Instead, think of it as a framework that can be used to express a wide range of emotions when improvising a frame establishes boundaries right? A top two sides a bottom. So when you use the major blues scale when improvising think within the frame. Think of the minor blues scale as establishing a geographical region on the keyboard for you to explore and for you to be expressive within we can alter the geographical region by shifting our entry points within the major blues scale again, just like we did last week with the minor blues scale and that is exactly what I will demonstrate again today. With each demonstration, I present the major blues scale. Also, when I practice, scale, a pattern, align a lick anything I always make sure that my entry and destination points are always different. I have stressed this on several occasions, I never play from the root to the root or from the third to the third, fifth to the fifth, etc. And why? Because I always want to fully engage my ears, again listening right my ears, I want to be aware of the distance, the interval, the sound (major, minor), and the direction ascending descending, that I am wanting to musically digest. Right? I have found that, that if my entry and destination points are the same "do" to "do", my ears quickly become passive, which is not good, especially in music, and especially in jazz.
So it is in that spirit that I'm going to escort you Through the major blue sound today, we are going to play and hear this iconic sound launching from the root from the third from the fifth and from the six. So let's begin with the root. So starting with the root, right, I'm going to start on my C, and I'm going to travel all the way to the six to the Sunday, I'm going to come right back down to the root. Then I'm going to play from the root and descend down to the second or the ninth, right, and then back up to the root. Nice. So I'm going both directions. I'm ascending from the root to the six. And then descending from the root down to the D, the second or the ninth, and then back up to the root. Sound, right? So I get used to seeing that major blue scale, launching from the sea. I get used to seeing it traveling both directions. Okay, so let's bring in the ensemble, right let's place this into a musical context. And let's hear what it sounds like. Okay, so here we go. Let's check this out.
Very nice man. As I did last week when playing the minor blues scale, I am playing the major blues scale with a nice, relaxed, and laid back eighth note feel. We spent three weeks exploring how to practice articulating the jazz eighth note and solidifying an understanding That is our treatment of the eighth note that ultimately determines whether or not we are playing jazz. Here is a brutal fact. If we get the eighth note wrong, we get jazz wrong. So if you need to bone up on your eighth note, feel your eighth note articulation that I strongly recommend checking out the May 12, May 19, and May 26 podcast episodes 2020 it will be time well spent. I also recommend that you download the educational guides for these podcast episodes. As I mentioned earlier, these tools will help maximize your musical growth, your eighth note growth Okay, now Let's explore the major blues scale launching from the third. So now I'm going to start on the node E. And I'm going to travel up to the flat third. Love it. Got some bite here, write some tension. Decent back down to the E. And once I'm at the E, I'm going to travel descending, I'm going to descend down to the fifth down to the G. And then us and right back up to my third. Nice. So again, from the third launching from the third is my entry point. I'm going to travel up to the flat third, back down from the third, and can descend down to the fifth. right back up to the third. Love it. So again, let's bring in our ensemble. Let's place this into a musical context. Let's get used to seeing and hearing our major blue scale, launching from the third ascending and descending. Okay, so here we go. Let's check this out.
Love it. Wow. Again, write a nice relaxed eighth note feel at a temple of 85 with a classic jazz swing feel, and when practicing the major blues scale, keep it simple and relaxed. I have an important question for you. Are you using play-along tracks when you're practicing? you absolutely should. There's no better way to develop your time, your feel your articulation If you are not using play-along tracks, you are not hearing your music within a musical context. And if you are not hearing your music in a musical context, then your ability to accurately assess your plane is skewed. It's flawed. The use of quality play long tracks is not an option. It's a necessity. And that is why I am committed to making available to you play long tracks. For each jazz piano scale, we explore in all 12 keys. And again, you can download the play-along tracks only, or as a bundle along with the illustrations and the lead sheets. And you can do so at jazz piano skills calm If you do not have access to play-along tracks, go to the jazz piano skills got.com go to the podcast page after this episode and get them, you'll begin to hear a significant improvement in your plane immediately. I mentioned this last week too, that it is so important to be able to easily move either direction from any entry point of a sound. And why because you do not want to be route dependent, only capable of playing a scale a pattern align, starting from the root only students easily and quickly fall into this trap, because they only practice starting on the root. Such a horrible habit. And yet so many teachers teach this way and allow it, students, to become route dependent. The teachers become the enabler. Right? We're not going to allow that to happen. The other trap is only playing from right to left like you're reading a book I mentioned this last week as well. That is why with the minor blues scale last week and again this week with the major blue scale, I am demonstrating how to practice ascending and descending from your entry point. Regardless of whether it is the root, the third, the fifth, and the six. Okay, now let's explore the major blues scale starting from the fifth. So now, I'm going to start on the note G, the fifth and I'm going to travel to the note E to the third And right back down. Once I returned to my G, now I'm going to descend down to the six or the note "A", and then right back up. So again, ascending the third. Now descend down to the six to the right, back to the fifth, the note G. Okay, so let's bring in the ensemble. And let's hear, let's hear our major blues scale, ascending and descending. Starting from the fifth. Here we go. Let's check it out.
Pretty darn cool. The Blues is indeed a great sound packed with a ton of emotion. I do want to stress to you how important it is to play these blues lines like you're improvising. In other words, play them musically, and pack them with emotion. Do not and I repeat, do not play these lines as if they're a fingering exercise. If you do, they will end up sounding like an exercise. Even when playing them within a song. You want everything, everything that you play to be played musically. With that being said I mentioned earlier, the educational guides, the illustrations, the lead sheets to play-alongs that are available for you to download and I strongly suggest that you do so they're invaluable and they will maximize your musical growth and help you successfully digest today's lesson on the major blue scale. But I also want you to check out the jazz panel skills courses. And this is a tremendous, tremendous sequential jazz curriculum that utilizes a self-paced format packed with a ton of goodies, detailed instruction and illustrations in-depth educational talks, interactive learning media, traditional guides and worksheets, high definition video demonstrations of me playing every jazz panel skill in all 12 keys, play-along tracks that you can utilize and of course lead sheets and as always professional and personal educational support that I make available for you as well. And easy and mobile access to all of my courses and lessons. Whether it be from your desktop or laptop, your tablet, your phone, your watch your TV, easy access, so be sure to check out The jazz piano skills courses when you're at jazz panel skills.com. Okay, now, let's explore the major blues scale starting from the six. So now, I'm going to start with the node A ascend up to the note G to the fifth, and then right back down to the, to the, or to the six. Once I'm there, now I'm going to descend down to the root and then right back up to the six. So again, from the six up to the fifth, right back down to the six from the sixth down to the root and then right back up to six. Nice. So let's bring in our ensemble once again. And let's listen to the major blues scale ascending and descending with our entry point, our launch point being the six. Here we go. Let's check this out.
Very, very nice. Isn't it amazing by shifting our entry point from the root to the third to the fifth to the sixth, how the major blues scale takes on an entirely different inflection just as it did with the minor blues scale. That is what I am speaking about. Earlier when I use the example of a frame, right, which consists of a top and two sides and a bottom, using that frame to establish various geographical regions for you to explore and for you to be expressive within. Quite simply when you begin thinking like this when you begin seeing a scale, a pattern like this. It's a game-changer, right? It's just a game-changer, your ability to be emotionally expressive has increased exponentially when you're capable of doing this. With that being said, let's get to the final demonstration for today. As I did last week, I want to pull all of this together and use the major blues scale to improvise over the classic 12 bar blues form using dominant chords, and the standard I, IV, V Progression. So I'm going to play in the key of C, which will utilize the C dominant, the F dominant in the G dominant, the one, the four and the five. And I'm going to use the C major blues scale over the entire progression. That is correct. We do not change the blue scale for each core, right? So we're not gonna play like a C blue scale for C seven, and F blue scale for F seven, a G blue scale for G seven c blue scale over the entire progression. Okay? So, I'm going to play through the form four times. And each time, I am going to shift my frame, right my framework, the geographical region that I'm going to focus on to express myself. So the first chorus, my entry point is going to be the route I will explore I will improvise ascending and descending from the route. In the second course, I will shift my entry point I will move my frame over the right to the third . The entry point is the third. And again I will improvise, ascending and descending within this geographical region from the third, then I'm going to shift my entry point to the fifth. And I'm going to do the same thing on the third course. I'm going to be focusing on ascending and descending from the fifth. And then finally my fourth chorus, I shift my frame again, my geographical region, and my entry point will be the six. And I will improvise, ascending, and descending within this framework within this geographical region. So let's have some fun right, let's play the classic 12 bar blues using the standard 145 progression dominant chords and improvise using the C major blues scale, only launching from various entry points, the root, the third, the fifth, and the sixth. So let's bring in the band. Let's bring in our ensemble. Let's put it into a musical context. Let's see how this sounds. Let's have a little fun. Here we go.
way too much fun wow, you know I could get really carried away I could sit here all day and explore the blues. What an amazing sound. What an amazing feel such a blast discovering new ideas to adopt into my jazz vocabulary and make available when playing jazz repertoire. Real quick side note the minor blues scale is typically played over minor chords and can also be played over dominant chords. The major blues scale is typically played over major chords or dominant chords. Okay, so the major and the minor blues scales both can be played on dominant chords over dominant chords. But the major blues scale will be played over major chords and the minor blues scale will be played over minor chords. We'll explore that thought in another podcast. But for now, keep it simple when you're playing the blues, keep it dominant all the way through the entire progression 145 and utilize either the major or the minor blues scale when improvising, and exploring too much fun. Well, I hope you have found this jazz piano skills podcasts lesson on the major blues scale to be insightful, and of course to be beneficial. I'm excited to let you know. And you may have already noticed this with the last couple of podcast episodes that I am now providing a transcript of each episode that you can read and you can use along with the chapter markings for each episode. have begun to include in each podcast episode as well. The chapter markings allow you to easily navigate to various parts of the podcast for real listening purposes. Both tools, the transcripts, the transcript, and the chapter markings are very nice to help you get the most out of each jazz piano skills podcast episode. Don't forget, I will see you Thursday evening jazz piano skills masterclass at 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode in greater detail and to answer any questions you may have about this lesson or the study of jazz in general. Also, download those educational guides for this podcast lesson at jazzpianoskills.com - they are tremendous resources that I put together to help you to expedite your discovery, learn, and play process. And while you're there, check out the jazz panel skills courses and the jazz piano skills forums, join the community. Get involved, make some new jazz piano friends. And as always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills calm or by speakpipe found on the jazz panel skills website, in the educational guides and the jazz piano skills courses as well. So that's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano.
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JazzPianoSkills Members: Links for Educational Podcast Packets are below. Discover, Learn, Play.