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Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > Can you play blues with a four-note scale?
Can you play blues with a four-note scale?
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WinslowYerxa
1714 posts
Oct 06, 2020
2:33 PM
Let's say you take a minor pentatonic scale in D and add the flat fifth to make a blues scale:

D F G Ab A C

But then you the *take away* Ab and A, leaving just:

D F G C

What can you do with that? Here's what I came up with:




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Last Edited by WinslowYerxa on Oct 06, 2020 2:35 PM
WinslowYerxa
1715 posts
Oct 06, 2020
5:26 PM
And after working on playing four-note melodies and improvisations for the last week or two, I stumble on this:


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Harmonica lessons with one of the world's foremost experts
Check out my blog and other goodies at winslowyerxa.com
Harmonica For Dummies, Second Edition with tons of new stuff
9000
275 posts
Oct 10, 2020
8:13 AM
Sweet tune. Thanks for you topic, thoughts and demo! I need to THINK more about what I play.
Jay
Piro39
142 posts
Oct 10, 2020
2:38 PM
Great tune Winslow. This 4 note scale lays out great in 6th position and in 2nd position on a dorian tuned harp ( 3 & 7 hole tuned down a half step) also I have been experimenting playing the blues scale in 6th position minus the 5th. 3 draw is the tonic, has this bluesy b5 tonality ( 2 draw full step bend,5 & 9 draw).
WinslowYerxa
1716 posts
Oct 11, 2020
11:35 PM
@Piro39

When you use nonstandard and, especially, reduced-note scales *and* you put them in unusual positions (and in alternate tunings, too), it forces you out of habitual moves and ear expectations, and makes you find new things. Which, to me at least, is way cool!

The other thing I find with this scale is that it also takes away *harmonic* thinking - this note belongs with this chord, or these notes outline that chord. And one of the most powerful notes in the scale, the 5th, is absent. So you really have to explore to come with new stuff to create lines that make sense and also fit against chord changes even if they don't contain chord notes.

And you can carry a lot of that back into blues playing.

I have another tune close to completion that makes much use of this four-note scale (but not exclusively), transposed to fourth position instead of third. (Actually the tune is done but I'm working on a video with lots of graphics and titles.) I'm not sure if I should post it here because it doesn't sound much like traditional blues. But maybe I will and then take my lumps if I get called out for it :)

----------
Harmonica lessons with one of the world's foremost experts
Check out my blog and other goodies at winslowyerxa.com
Harmonica For Dummies, Second Edition with tons of new stuff


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