Lesson 4: Harmony on the Blues
Focus on Harmony and Form

Index - Introduction - Lessons

One-measure riffs on the B flat blues, using scale degrees 1 and 3

Lesson 4 combines the introduction to harmony that was presented in Lesson 3 with the blues progression that was covered in Lesson 2.  The focus of this lesson is harmony and form. Now that you have more pitch choices, your resulting solos will sound more melodic, too.


Lesson 4 Assignment

Part 1: Compose

Compose a solo on the twelve-bar blues using scale degrees 1 and 3.  Begin by writing a one-measure riff using the pitches B flat and D (scale degrees 1 and 3 of the B flat 7 chord).  Write that riff in measure 1 of your composition.  Using the exact same rhythm as your idea in the first measure, compose rhythmic riffs on scale degrees 1 and 3 for every measure in the B flat blues. (For free blank staff paper, visit www.Music-Paper.com)

Suggestions: For this exercise, use the same rhythm for every measure.  However, every measure does not need to have the same contour of line, as shown in the example below.  Keep the ideas simple enough so that you can memorize the solo easily without having to think about every measure.

Example of a B flat blues solo using scale degrees 1 and 3

Part 2: Memorize

Memorize your written solo.  Repeat it many times so that you can play it effortlessly without having to think about where you are in the form or what pitches to play.

Part 3: Improvise

Improvise a solo on the B flat blues following the same format as the composed solo in this lesson.  Use scale degrees 1 and 3, and repeat the same one-measure rhythmic idea in each measure.  Play your solos without looking at the music. Play along with the background recording of the B flat blues.

Suggestions: Keep your ideas simple and memorable.  Remember that a complex or complicated idea is not necessarily a good one.  If you have trouble memorizing the form, make your ideas simpler.  Also, go back to Lesson 3 to continue working on scale degrees 1 and 3 for each chord.

Lesson 5: Variations and Scale Degrees 5 and 7


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