Using the Blues to Teach Music

bluesblogWith numerous opportunities, it’s astounding that so many jazz players seem to obtain so little out of the blues when they improvise on the music. Exactly what numerous players, even experienced players, cannot realize is that the blues can in fact highlight the constraints of an improviser. It is much easier to master a song with lots of chord adjustments, such as “Giant Steps” (tempo aside), as there are fewer offered note choices and also much less time for thematic growth.

The blues provides a wide canvas on which to paint one’s music ideas. There is more time (measures) to develop thematic ideas. There is additionally even more time between the chord adjustments of the standard accordant development. Due to the number of accordant replacements and passing chords that have actually entered into the modern-day jazz vocabulary, there are much more scale and also note selections available to lay out the harmony of the moment. Generally, these accordant replacements are not played by observant rhythm sections until they are first indicated by the musician. It calls for an extensive understanding of jazz concept as well as an eager ear to make use of the ever-changing harmonic context that can take place in the blues. It has been claimed that there are “no wrong notes” when improvising on the blues. This is somewhat of a fiction, for in the blues there are constantly “better” notes with their implied harmonic substitutions readily available at any given time.

Today there are several blues arrangements available from the companies that publish music for college jazz sets, which is why lots of jazz educators utilize the blues to educate beginning improvisation. Students ought to be exposed to the blues from a listener’s perspective early in their musical education; nevertheless, it is the author’s opinion that improvisation need to begin with diatonic developments (II-V-I) and requirements (such as “I Obtained Rhythm”), before presenting the blues. Asking a beginning pupil to improvise on the blues resembles asking a young seafarer to navigate a sea in a tiny watercraft. In both situations the newbie will absolutely run into trouble and also potential catastrophe!

Some educators likewise suggest the use of the blues range as a straightforward method to browse blues changes. Pedagogically, the blues scale is just one of the last ranges the writer would certainly present to a pupil of improvisation. While it could consist of the raised 9th and also 5th, the blues range provides little bit in the method of harmonic as well as melodic source product for the beginning student.