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Piano Fact

Week 13: The Blues Scale (continued)
Assuming you have learned the blues scale from last week, let’s now see if we can put it to good use.

We mentioned you can play this blues scale with your right hand while playing the 12 bar blues form from several weeks ago with the left hand. We also stated this one blues scale works very well with all three chords of the 12 bar blues form (C7, F7, and G7). Yet if you tried combining your hands, you may have experienced some problems because:

  1. It’s very hard to put these two ideas together unless and until you know both hands separately very well.
  2. Even if you can put the two hands together successfully, you may not have a good sense of blues phrasing with the right hand.

Fortunately, we can solve both problems rather easily.

There are literally thousands of blues recordings out there. Why not find some recorded blues and play along, using only the blues scale in your right hand? This way you don’t have the problem of having to juggle two opposing rhythmic ideas simultaneously. Plus you get to hear expert phrasing ideas based on the blues scale. Plus it’s fun.

Here’s the big limitation, however. Until we learn to transpose the blues scale into other keys, we have to find blues recordings in the key of C. Fortunately, blues pianists tend to favor the key of C. Therefore, on any given album by a blues pianist, you’re apt to find many of the songs in the key of C. You may have to experiment with the recordings on your own piano until you find the songs that “fit” your blues scale. Use your ear. And use your imagination.

Of course, if you have an electronic keyboard with a transposing feature, you’ll be able to play along with any recording (if you already have a sense of how transposing works).

Otherwise, visit a record store WITH A KNOWLEDGEABLE STAFF, and start collecting some blues piano recordings to play along with. After all, they are good to have in your collection anyway.

For more information on the blues styles see Deluxe Blues/Boogie-Woogie and the Blatantly Basic Blues video.

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