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Blues Guitar Lessons: Chord Tones

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[MUSIC].
Welcome back, I hope you haven't worn
your fingers down to bloody stumps
trying to bend all those Albert King
notes, but it's good fun all the same.
Isn't it?
Now we're gonna turn our attention back
to something that's a little bit more
kinda heady, I guess I would say.
You have to think a little bit more about
relationships between notes and chords and
things like that.
But it's an essential step in
learning how to play with what
I call harmonic awareness.
I didn't invent that term, but it's the
idea that you're aware, as you're playing,
as you're soloing, you're aware of
both the key, the tonality, and
the harmony, the chord, at the moment.
And it's balancing those
two ideas that really
allows you the greatest flexibility
when you're playing melodies.
So in a way, even though we're talking
about something that seems a little bit
schoolish, this is not much different
than the way the Blues guitar
players played back in
the down home rural style.
Acoustic guitar players playing solo
guitar had to be their own band.
So if you were gonna
take any kind of a solo,
you'd have to keep accompaniment
going at the same time.
And that meant learning
[MUSIC]
knowing your chord shapes and
being able to develop
a melody that was based
on moving those shapes around the neck.
And when the one chord when to the four
chord, you had to quickly figure out
where you were and make it sound like
they all kinda flowed in a direct line.
So we're doing the same thing, but
we're doing it with single notes
instead of with full chords.
When you break a cord down into its
individual notes, it's called an arpeggio.
So an arpeggio is the notes of
the cord played one at a time.
We've encountered these notes in
a couple of different disguises.
One is playing our way
through the patterns.
And another one is walking lines,
remember.
[MUSIC].
The bass player is outlining
the harmony using individual notes, and
when you hear that line, you say I can
hear that A7 cord there, and of course,
you hear it clearly when
it goes to D as well.
So as we play solos, we're really
doing the same sort of thing, but
we're doing it on the higher
strings of the guitar and
linking it together in
different combinations.
Now let's take a quick look
at the arpeggios themselves,
of the three chords that
we're dealing with.
We're still living in this confined little
region here on the neck, in the key of A,
right around the fifth fret.
And it's good to stay focused, because we
don't want to start spreading out all over
the neck until we really know
what we're doing in one spot.
So A7.
What is an A dominant
seven arpeggio look like?
[MUSIC].
We've been playing that in one form or
another for quite awhile now.
We just haven't been
calling it an A7 arpeggio,
but it's very similar to the
[MUSIC].
All right?
There's a blues lick that for
all intents and
purposes might as well be an A7 arpeggio.
So we're kinda stripping it
down to its fundamentals here.
At the same time, we want to know what
the notes are in relation to the chords.
[MUSIC]
So, root, third,
fifth, and the seventh.
[MUSIC]
So a dominant seventh chord is made up of
four notes, the root, the third,
the fifth and the seventh.
[MUSIC]
And
we can arrange those in any order we like,
just as we do when we play chord voicings.
Now in the same position,
the four chord in the key of A is D or D7.
So where's the D7 arpeggio?
Well, I'll find D first.
There's D.
It's the same structure.
Root third, fifth, seventh.
But starting on a different note, so
I have to kinda think about it
because the shape is different.
I can find that scale by ear,
but in the end I'm gonna wind
up with the root the third,
the fifth, and the seventh,
and I can go down from there,
seventh, fifth.
That's the only area that I
need to mess with right now.
That's gonna be plenty to use for
the moment.
And then,
the third chord in the progression,
[MUSIC]
E7.
How do I play an E7 arpeggio?
Well, there's E.
I need a third.
Now, I could either go down here or there.
Doesn't really matter,
but let's go up here, and
we'll just get used to that shape for
the moment.
Root third, fifth, back down.
[MUSIC]
There's the seventh, there's the fifth,
and there's the third again.
[MUSIC]
Okay, so
each of those shapes outlines
its respective chord,
but what we're concerned with
now is linking them together,
and figuring out where
the connections are.
So that when I play a melody over A,
I can flow directly into a melody over D,
and have it sound intuitive and
just smooth and good.
Now the key to that is really
getting down to two notes.
We've got four notes in the arpeggio,
but two of them are the notes that
contain the essence of the chords.
We talk about the dominant seventh
chord is a dominant chord, or
a major chord or a minor chord.
Those are called chord qualities.
It's the difference in structure that
creates the difference in sound.
And the essence of chord
quality is the relationship of
the third degree of the chord, and
the seventh degree of the chord.
It's that interval that you really hear,
that tells you what the chord is.
And with dominant chords,
it's that right there.
It's that interval we
talked about back when we
were talking about the blues scale and
the flat five.
And that's the devil's interval.
Well that's built into
every dominant chord.
That's the tri-tone, as we call it.
[MUSIC]
It's dissonant, it's dissonant.
But it's the essence of the sound.
I can hear the major third and
the minor seventh.
That's a unique relationship that
makes that dominant chord work.
So I know where the third and
the seventh are of A.
I could play the seventh
in a higher octave as well.
All these notes are repeating
in each octave.
Now when I go to D,
where are the third and the seventh of D?
There's the root.
There's the third.
There's the seventh.
Well, what do you know.
There's the third and the seventh of A.
And there's the third and
the seventh of D.
The fingering is exactly the same.
All I did was go down one fret.
Now, if I put the root and
the bass down there
[MUSIC].
Sure enough.
I just nailed the chord change,
and all I had to do was one fret.
It's like that's nothing.
[MUSIC]
What about E?
[MUSIC]
I go up a fret.
So if I wanna play the 1-4-5 changes in A,
I've got A, D,
the four chord, A, E,
the five chord, back to A.
Crazy.
Now I can use that relationship, it's so
simple, it seems like it's, really?
It's not fair.
But I can use that to help
construct little melodies
because the third
[MUSIC]
sorry, there we go.
[MUSIC]
The third of A is one half step from
the seventh of D
[MUSIC],
the seventh of A is one half step from
the third of D.
So if I'm on either one of those notes,
all I gotta do is move
a half step one fret.
And I'm home free.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
What I want to do now is experiment with
the chord changes in the key of A.
And I'm gonna break it down,
not even one, four, five,
I'm just gonna make it one, four.
Work on that for a minute, and
then we'll work on one, five.
So by breaking those phrases down,
we really see the essence of where
the melodies are and how they connect.
So I've got a couple of chord
progressions worked out for you.
[COUGH] And they isolate those changes.
And what it's gonna be is
a couple of bars of A, seven,
followed by a couple of bars of D, seven.
[SOUND] Back to A,
seven, back to D, seven.
No five chord yet, right?
Just back and forth.
And I'm gonna play some melodies, and
give you an idea of where
those connections are.
And they're pretty easy to see and follow,
once you get the feel for it, okay?
So let's roll the first one which
is the shuffle in A, one to four.
It's just those two chords back and forth.
And I'll play some
phrases then we'll talk.
[MUSIC]
Mercy,
mercy,
mercy.
Now I played pretty much
regular blues licks, and
in fact, you played those licks before,
we played them together, so
there's nothing really
radically different there.
But what's different is
the way I'm thinking about it.
So I'm not just thinking about the key of
A and hearing melodies moving around A,
I'm thinking about A And
its connection to the A, seven chord.
They're the same.
That's easy.
Then when it goes to D seven,
I'm thinking, okay.
What notes make D seven sound
specifically like the arpeggio.
How do I outline that
chord using my melody.
So the first phrase that I
played was something like.
[MUSIC]
And I'm playing deliberately.
I'm focusing on that note right there.
That's the third.
[SOUND] And I'm waiting for D to show up.
[MUSIC]
A.
[MUSIC]
D.
[MUSIC]
Right?
So, by emphasizing that
particular relationship.
The half step moving from A down to D,
or the seventh of D.
I can immediately hear the chord change,
and.
[COUGH] This is not a new concept,
of course, I didn't make this up.
Famous blues songs that are built around
exactly that particular relationship,
the T Bone Shuffle, which was
the signature song of T Bone Walker,
who was the godfather of blues
guitar that we play today.
He was the first electric
guitar star to play blues, and
he wrote a song that went like this.
[MUSIC]
Is based on
exactly the same
relationship
there.
So you hear that A chord
just singing out to you.
[SOUND] You hear that D chord, which is
contained just in that half step move.
[MUSIC]
And then, sure enough,
even though we're not there yet
there's that E chord.
Another song built on the same exact
relationship is called Caledonia.
This was cut by a famous saxophonist.
He was one of the biggest stars
of jump blues in the 1940s.
He was a bigger star than T Bone even,
direct influence on BB King.
BB did the same song,
it's called Caledonia,
talking about why is your big head so
hard.
And the melody.
[MUSIC]
Now without
going any further,
we hear the A.
[MUSIC]
And then we hear.
[MUSIC]
We hear the D.
And the essence of that is contained
in the emphasis on the seventh,
that C natural there, and the D itself.
So blues musicians have been
using that relationship forever,
as kind of the essence of making
the changes, as we call it.
So those are some ideas on how to play
from the one chord to the four chord.
If I move up the scale a little bit.
[MUSIC]
Right, there's my A.
[MUSIC]
There's my D.
[MUSIC]
Right?
So you can see right in that position
we're making the switch from A to D, and
you can see the shape of
the chord in a sense.
[MUSIC]
Right, there's A seven.
[SOUND] There's D seven.
[SOUND] D seven, right?
So we're, I think of it in my own mind,
is I'm playing around the shapes.
I know what the chords look like.
I just play around
the shape of that cord and
I'm pretty much gonna nail
those notes every time.
Now the next change is A seven to E seven,
the five chord.
So here I'm gonna be looking for
this relationship.
I've got A going up to E and
see where I can
make those connections using the same
kind of thinking that I was using for
A to D.
All right, let's give that a shot,
the next rhythm track.
[MUSIC]
So there
again,
as I'm
playing,
I'm
thinking
ahead.
That's harmonic awareness.
I know what the next chord is.
I can hear it coming up, and
I'm looking for my connection.
So.
[MUSIC]
Right?
Now I'm exaggerating a little bit,
making sure I nail those notes right on
the head because I'm making a point, but
you can also hear that weaving
through all of that is the key center.
We're still in the key of A, so
I can be playing my chord changes.
[MUSIC]
Right?
I can be playing my A arpeggio and
my E arpeggio, but
weaving through there and always available
is just that stone cold A sound.
So what I want you to do is
take those two progressions and
just work with them for a while.
One chord to four chord.
One chord to five chord, and start to see
and hear where those connections are,
and find comfortable ways of
getting from one to the other.
What's crucial in all this, is that you
don't sound like you're running up and
down the arpeggio in an exercisey way.
[MUSIC]
You know that's okay but
you're never going to use that.
That's out of bounds as far as
playing blues is concerned.
So we're using the foundation of blues
phrasing, the rhythm, the dynamics,
all the touch, everything that we've come
up with so far, and just saying, okay,
let's apply that to a new
melodic idea without
losing everything else in the process,
so don't think too hard.
You know, you got to think a little bit,
but it's still blues.
Keep that at the center of your approach,
and then we'll come back and
we'll put this whole thing together and
play some 12 bar blues with chord taunts.
All right, see you in a minute.
[MUSIC]