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Cello Lessons: “C Jam Blues” (Beginner Jazz Tune)

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I'm so excited to
finally dive into the blues.
The blues is kind of like
the grandfather of all American music.
It's the roots of jazz.
It's the roots of rock.
It's the roots of R&B.
And so, it's gonna be a really
great thing for us to dive into.
This particular blues tune
is called C Jam Blues, and
I picked it because it has the easiest
melody we could ever hope for.
The melody just goes like this,
and that's it.
It's just that phrase, and
it happens three times.
So we're just using two notes,
G [SOUND] and C, [SOUND] and
we're gonna kinda phrase it
though in a really jazzy way.
So wanna actually vocalize it,
much like we did for
the Scottish tune a couple lessons back.
But you may have heard of scat singing.
Scat singing is when you sing and
improvise in a jazz style,
with just nonsense syllables.
So we could play this phrase,
like a bee bop,
bee bop, bee bop, doo bop.
Do it with me.
Bee bop, bee bop, bee bop, doo bop.
One more time.
Two, three, four, bee bop,
bee bop, bee bop, doo bop.
It's a big thing for any horn player,
any saxophone, trumpet player from jazz to
practice vocalizing, because it helps you
really internalize the articulations.
So when I say articulation,
that means whether the notes are long,
short, connected, or accented.
And so what we have in this melody,
we've got a long, short.
Long, short, long, short, long, short.
And so when I say long,
I don't necessarily mean
just the length of the note.
But whether we're [SOUND]
connecting it to the next note.
So you've got long, [SOUND] short.
Because we lift after that second note.
we don't lift after the first note.
Let's just try that.
A long short.
So, we lift only after the second note.
One, two, ready and
let's do it a couple more times,
really get into it.
doo bop, [SOUND] bee bop, [SOUND] doo bop.
Last time, ready, and bee bop, [SOUND] doo
bop, [SOUND] bee bop, [SOUND] doo bop.
[SOUND] Good.
So that's gonna be a key part
to how we play this melody.
In addition to,
whether we play the notes long or
short, we also wanna be conscious
of which notes we're accenting.
Let's try always accenting
the long notes first.
It would sound like this.
Two, three, and
let's try it again.
Accent the long [SOUND] note.
Last time,
ready, and
The other thing is we can actually
try accenting the short note as well.
That'll sound like this.
Two, three, and
do it with me two more times.
Accenting the short note.
Where you put the accent is a key part to
jazz phrasing, and
in the performance track I kind of shook
it up a little bit, and
did it differently each time.
And you can experiment with that too.
Now that we know this really simple
melody, let's talk about the blues form
because that's, at the end of the day,
that's what makes the blues the blues.
The blues has three phrases,
and they're organized
in question, repeat the question,
and then answer.
And each phrase is you may
have predicted four bars long.
So, how long does that
make the standard blues?
You are correct.
12 bar,
the 12 bar blues is our standard form.
The blues form is gonna sound
really familiar to you.
The question,
question, answer form has two phrases
that kind of say the same thing.
And then a third phrase
that wraps it all up.
I learned this song, called the Suburban
Blues, by Martin Mull from the great
Daryl Enger and it's nice fun way to
get into the field of the blues forum.
[SOUND] Two, [SOUND] one,
[SOUND] two, three.
[SOUND] I woke up this morning, and
found that both cars were gone.
I woke up this morning, [SOUND] and
found that both cars were gone.
I was so mad,
I threw my drink across the lawn.
So, you'll see that we say something.
That's the first phrase of the blues,
and then we say it again.
That's the second phase of the blues.
Then the third phrase is
something completely different.
So, [SOUND] we need to put chords to form.
The first phrase is gonna be all the one
Now since we're in the C major,
C, jam blues you can guess
that the one chord is C.
So, let's actually find [SOUND] a full
C major chord on our instrument.
It's gonna be O, [SOUND] O,
[SOUND] one, [SOUND] two.
If you want extra credit,
you can play the C seven chord,
which means instead of playing [SOUND]
the C on top, we're gonna actually
shift a half-step back, and then play
E [SOUND] with the second finger.
And then play [SOUND]
a B flat with a low one.
That's gonna give us the C seven chord.
[SOUND] Let's strum that.
[SOUND] You can play this chord,
[SOUND] or just the basic [SOUND] C chord.
We're gonna play that for four bars.
So we're gonna strum it on
each quarter note.
Let's do that together.
One, [SOUND] two, [SOUND] the first
phrase of the blues, and C seven.
[SOUND] Three, [SOUND] four, [SOUND] two,
[SOUND] two, [SOUND] three, [SOUND] four,
[SOUND] three, [SOUND] two, [SOUND] three,
[SOUND] four, [SOUND] four,
[SOUND] two, [SOUND] three, [SOUND] four.
Good, so
I'm kind of accenting the down beats.
But then also kind of
throwing in an eighth note,
right at the end to show
a little bit of the swing feel.
I'll show you again.
One, [SOUND] two, [SOUND] s three,
[SOUND] four, [SOUND] two, [SOUND] two,
[SOUND] three, [SOUND] four,
[SOUND] three, [SOUND] two, [SOUND] three,
[SOUND] four, [SOUND] four, [SOUND] two,
[SOUND] three, [SOUND] four.
[SOUND] And also,
I should mention since we're here,
that I'm kind of dampening
the string in between each strum so
that we get like a tight rhythmic strum.
We don't wanna have it ringing a lot.
If I let it ring,
[SOUND] it's less rhythmic.
the next time through I'm gonna dampen
kind of with my fourth finger, but
also I'm just releasing my
fingers off the string too so
that'll help keep it rhythmic.
The first four bars are C.
Then in the second phrase,
we're gonna divide it into two bars of F,
and then two bars of C.
That's two bars of the four chord,
and then back to one.
So that'll sound like this,
three, and four [SOUND] s chord.
Back to the one chord, [SOUND] one,
seven chord there.
Let's find the F chord in our strum, we're
gonna play open C, first finger [SOUND] on
A, second [SOUND] finger on F, and
then we can use [SOUND] open A there.
So this is our F [SOUND] major chord.
Let's strum that together.
[SOUND] Good.
You can also get extra credit, if you do
the same movement with your left hand.
You move it back to half step,
half, half step to half position.
So we're playing the A [SOUND]
with second finger,
and then we get an E flat
[SOUND] with a low one.
That's gonna give us the third.
That will sound like this.
[SOUND] Sounds a little gnarlier.
Let's do that for two bars.
One, two, ready, and [SOUND] F seven.
[SOUND] F seven.
[SOUND] Good.
And then in order to go quickly back
to the C chord, our two fingers
are just gonna go up one string from
the G and D to the D and A string.
that leaves us back with the C7 cord.
Let's play two bars of F7,
and then two bars of C7.
Sounds like this.
One, [SOUND] two,
[SOUND] three, [SOUND] four,
[SOUND] one, [SOUND] two,
[SOUND] now to C7.
[SOUND] Let's try that again.
This is the first time I think we've
had to change chords that quickly.
Two bars of F7, two bars of C7.
One, two, ready, and
one, [SOUND] two, [SOUND] three,
[SOUND] and C7.
that's the first two phrases at the blues.
The third and final phrase is
also split up into two bars,
except we're gonna have the first two
bars be a G chord, the five chord.
We're gonna have two bars of five,
and then two bars of one.
So, the G chord would be just open G,
[SOUND] open D, [SOUND] and first finger.
[SOUND] Let's find the G major chord.
[SOUND] Very nice.
One of the most resonant
chords on the cello.
[SOUND] If we add second
finger to the D string.
That gives us G seven cuz that's a B flat.
The seventh scale degree.
[SOUND] Let strum that.
[SOUND] Good.
So we're gonna play two bars of that.
One, [SOUND] two, [SOUND] one, two,
G seven.
So, it's the same strumming rhythm, and
then we're gonna just slide these
two fingers a half step back,
and then we're right there ready for
our C seven chord again.
The only change between G seven and
C seven is [SOUND] we move both
fingers back [SOUND] a half step.
And that gives us both the third and
the seventh of both chords which
are the key notes we want.
Let's try that third phrase,
two bars of G7 and then two bars of C7.
Okay, one Two.
One, two, ready go.
Shift to C7.
Let's do that one more time.
One, two.
A one two G7.
[SOUND] Now to C7 [SOUND]
that is the whole blues form.
So we've got four bars of the one chord,
then the second phrase is two
bars of four, two bars of one.
Then the third phrase,
is two bars of five.
And then two bars of one.
Let's just verbalize that together before
we play though the whole thing okay?
So the first phrase is four
bars of the one chord.
The second phrase is two bars of the four
chord, and then two bars of the one chord.
The third phrase is two
bars of the five chord, and
then we finish with two bars
of the one chord again.
I'll keep calling it out as
we strum the chords together.
Starting from C7.
Find the first chord, two low one.
From the top.
One, two, a one, two, ready, strum.
Two, three, four.
Two, two, three four.
Three, two, three, four.
Now we go to F7.
Which is just on the middle strings,
back to C7.
Now we shift up half step for G back to C.
Let's do that again.
Two, ready, and a one, two, three,
four to the F in the middle strings
Then we move back to the upper strings.
Up a half-step.
Back down a half-step.
Last time, C7,
move the fingers to the middle strings for
F7, move back up for C7.
Move a half step up for G7.
Back down for C7
We could even sing over that.
To the F7
works out just
So we wanna get that form in our ear.
The last thing we're
gonna do with C Jam Blues
is improvise melodically over it, okay.
So we've already worked on
playing four bar phrases
of the major pentatonic scale alternating
it with the minor pentatonic scale.
The way we're gonna use this in the blues
is that we're gonna use the major C,
major pentatonic scale over the whole
first phrase, over the one chord.
Then in the second phrase, for
the two bars of the four chord,
we're gonna use the minor pentatonic
scale, just for two bars.
And then we're gonna return to the major
pentatonic scale for the last two bars.
So, the second phrase is tricky.
We have two bars of minor,
then two bars of major.
The third phrase over that five chord,
the G7,
you can actually choose whether to play
a minor pentatonic or a major pentatonic.
Both will sound great.
But when we go to the major chord for
the last two bars, we're definitely
gonna play a major pentatonic.
Let me demonstrate this once.
I'll call it out and
then I'll let you try.
I'll play along with the backing track.
>> One, two.
One, two, three, four.
>> Major pentatonic.
Now the two bars of minor.
Back to major.
Then I can choose either for
the five chord.
then I definitely have to do a major for
one part.
This and once more.
Major pentatonic.
Now, two bars of minor.
Back to major.
Now, either.
Or both
Now major.
I'll do it one last time.
To minor.
To major.
So, I want you to practice this with
the backing track, keeping track of
the blues form, and changing those
scales at those specific times, okay?
The last thing I'm gonna say, I know I
said last thing before, but the very last
thing I want to tell you is, in jazz, as
we talked about with Money in the Pocket,
we're gonna start with the melody, then
we're gonna take a bunch of solos, and
we're going to end with the melody again.
So the backing track
has four times through.
So if you play the melody
at the beginning,
you'll have two chances to improvise.
When you play the melody at the end,
I threw in some fills,
because there's a lot of space
between these melodic riffs.
There's a lot of space
before the next one.
So, it's really good to start getting used
to varying the melody in a jazz tune,
We don't have to do much.
But what I want us to try
is play a very short riff
that leads in to the next
phrase of the melody.
I'll demonstrate once, and
you can keep that in mind when you're
playing along with the backing track.
Here's the melody with
a couple short fills.
>> One.
>> Melody with fills
Melody again.
Here's another fill.
Back to the melody.
Do it one more time, ready and.
They can be
really simple.
As long as they have good rhythm.
That's something that's
gonna sound familiar as you
listen to more and more jazz.
You'll hear that rarely does
a jazz musician ever play
the melody just the way
it's supposed to be.
It's generally free and
it's already a good chance for
you to start to be expressive and
explore improvising.
Really looking forward to hearing you
play and improvise on the C jam blues.