The M3 guitar - Car radio

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It is Sunday afternoon, and as you are heading down the M3 after a pleasant weekend in London, the Chart Show starts on Radio One. A single by Celine Dion is followed by a Bon Jovi track. You are having...

The Blues

The blues, as played in jazz, comes in mainly two disguises: major (dominant, that is) and minor. In its basic form it is a twelve-bar structure, which is almost always in the key of C, F, or Bb. However, the term is used very generously by jazz musicians. A tune doesn't have to follow the twelve-bar structure too closely in order to justify being labeled a blues. Conceptually, you can think of the blues as follows.

The main action is in bars 1, 5, and 9 (the beginning of each line).

Major blues (dominant)

The blues in major (dominant) is slightly different from the traditional blues as played by B.B. King, for example. Some extra chords are inserted in order to make the cycle a bit more interesting harmonically, particularly during the solos, but the basic shape is the same. It has a strong "dominant 7th feel" to it, just as the traditional blues.

Ted's Blues (mp3, pdf, tef) is one of my own tunes, and it follows the chord progression of a traditional blues in C (in fact, it doesn't even go to F7, 'away', in the second bar but a Db7 is substituted for the C7 in the 12th bar). It is heavily based on the type of arpeggio-based runs taught by Ted Greene, hence the title, and it is the only tune on this site that is played on a 6-string in conventional tuning (a Godin LGX).

Turnaround (mp3), which is recorded by an all-star band including Pat Metheny on the 80/81 album, is one of my favourite tunes. It has such a strong melody line that it sounds complete on its own. Play this in unison with a double-bass player, and it is an absolute knock-out. It is ideal as the opening tune on a gig.

West Coast Blues (mp3) is a blues in 3/4 by Wes Montgomery, one of the most innovative jazz guitarists ever. The original recording is a thorough job, complete with big band, a sophisticated intro, and an alternative chord sequence for the solos.

Minor blues

The blues in minor is harmonically more complex than the blues in major. Even the basic progression contains altered chords (necessary for resolving to a minor key), and the root note of the chord in bar 9 is a semitone higher than you would expect.

Blue Trane (mp3) by John Coltrane was the first tune I ever learned to play on the M3, and in style it is almost embarrassingly similar to Pat Martino's Country Road (from his book Creative Force, Vol. 2). The arrangement is somewhat simplistic, not surprisingly, using mainly the root and the fifth to outline the chords. Bars 9 and 10 (the twist) are played three times, making it a 16 bar structure, and a suitably mellow ending is appended.

Blue Island (mp3, pdf, tef) is another tune of mine titled with an equally impressive lack of imagination (the main riff was originally intended as a variation on the Cantaloupe Island theme). It has a nice medium-fast 16th-note feel to it, and it clearly outlines the chords even though it is essentially just one long line of single-note soloing.