The Blues Dilemma

Hi pals

I struggled for years to be able to make music, and above all solos, even if I am just able to play the doorbell :rofl:

And now that I have many plugins, the Scaler Section B and the Ableton Live 400 scales, I came at a dead-end track, why?

I try to explain: The blues is a very old style, dating from the twenties
I listened and loved a lot of blues music, and rock music that uses blues a lot, both live and on CDs and MP3

But with MIDIs and the tips above, making blues songs and make solos is easy, and I can jam for hours, but it became quickly boring because my ear just listen déjà vu stuff, and I realized that original vibes require more than just a series of MIDIs or scales, so how breaking this deadlock?

Well, I think I have to experiment, that is using more exotic chords, scales and instruments, maybe or to do other things I haven’t still imagined, who knows?

Time will tell

at the end of the day, blues is the feeling put into each note. a single blue note can say more than 5000 notes. blues is more than simply scales, it’s a life-choice.

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Thanks for your insight Glenn

It’s exactly to this concept that I am thinking for my future songs
(but unsure if I will be even able to do)

More or less the same said by Jamieh about this post and song of mine

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I encourage you to read this wonderful oral history of the New York City blues by my dear high school friend and music partner Larry Simon. He always says to me, “Three chords, yet unlimited forms of expression.”

Claudio, I don’t know if you saw my post asking about Scaler 2 grooves. I’m specifically looking for jive, boogie woogie, and stride grooves, but I’m not sure if they exist in Scaler 2.

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I think you will find it is earlier than the 1920’s. W C Handy’s Anthology Of The Blues was first published in 1926 and included songs from well before that date. Handy himself “had been in the blues business for well over a decade” (introduction to the Dover Edition of W C Handy’s Anthology Of The Blues) when he published his anthology.

Flicking through my copy I have just found Ole Miss, which he copyrighted in 1916, Joe Turner Blues copyrighted 1915 and St Louis Blues copyrighted 1914). And in his 1941 memoir, Father of the Blues, Handy recalled itinerant singers from as early as the 1880’s visiting his hometown of Florence Alabama.

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The Blues is a complex subject when it comes to scales and improvisations. The Blues don’t always stick to one scale throughout like much European music does. Also what you feel as blues often depends on who you are listening to be it a piano player like Champion Jack Dupree or a guitar player like Muddy Waters for example. Both these musicians play and sing the blues but the sound is very different from both of these performers. Although Harmonically they may be linked by a common blues chord progression. A blues pianist can’t bend the notes like a guitarist can but they often achieve a similar effect but different by crushing notes or trilling. Slide guitar is also associated with blues styles and again this cannot be achieved by pianists.
Anyhow back to scales. Both blues pianists and guitar and saxophone and trumpet players tend to mix the major and minor scales in the blues. They also use Mixolydian and Dorian modes as well and often this results in a hybrid scale which has no specific name. Let’s take key of C. A typical blues scale in C might be C Eb E F G Bb C but it may also include other notes from the C Blues Scale such as C Eb E F F# G Bb C. Or it may be a cross between a C Mixolydian scale with the inclusion of a bIII NOTE( Eb ) as in C DEb E F G A Bb C.
Albert King played most of his solos using the minor pentatonic scale. B B King liked to mix the Mixolydian with the minor pentatonic and blues scale for a jazzed up style of blues. Early Rock n Roll used a Mixolydian and Dorian ( Chuck Berry - ’ No Particular Place’ ) mixed up. This method is similar to using a Mixolydian with a minor scale. Be aware nobody ever uses a Major scale against a minor progression in the Blues.
Also scales in blues could often follow the chords. So a I IV V progression often used the I Mixolydian scale over the I chord then a IV Mixolydian scale over the IV chord and a V Mixolydian scale over the V chord hence transposing the scale each time to fit the chord changes in the progression. This was common to both pianists and guitarists. No scale covers all these notes of the 3 combined scales so Scaler will not have this type of scale available. This is just the type of knowledge you have to use to make convincing blues arrangements.
For more information on Blues Pianists and how they make blues improvisations I recommend Tim Richards ’ Improvising Blues Piano’. For guitar there are many good books and ohher sources available.

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An excellent book, this, I too recommend it. Tim’s book Exploring Latin Music is also very good if you like the latin genre.


Haven’t seen that one but I can figure it would be good.

Thanks for all your insights
I started to mix scales, usually 2-3 mapping them to 3 black keys in my keyboard, and I think to have dropped a microtutorial about that (or maybe I planned to do that), so I think I am on the right path to improve my blues/rock solos

Now, another question: can I use more exotic scales than the ones you mentioned?

My reply is yes, I think, because I recently tested a rock song using a Persian scale and it sounded cool :smile:

I think they are not there, but @davide can tell; also if they will be included in the future

Hi Everyone,

Just found this which sounds really cool for jamming. The scale is kinda bluesy, but isn’t really a blues scale, but who cares? Even better, the Mixolydian b6 scale is included with Scaler.

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Just found another: 8-Tone Spanish
one of Ableton Live standard, with the tone right to the red arrow moved one place up


You may find this video on Modes interesting

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Yes, very interesting, thanks

And now I have to get how implementing modes in my workflow

I don’t like programming, so using an automatic switch is not an option

Using Ableton Live exotic scales (modes) I don’t know if I can mix more than one at the same time in a way they act in different times… :thinking:

So, a multiple keys foot-switch is needed, maybe?

How about putting two different scale into two patterns binding and using key switches to switch between the two scales?

Yes, I can do that with Ableton Scales as well, with the further advantage I can use Section B that is better for solos

Anyway, I have to use one hand, while using a footswitch I can use my feet… :thinking:

Now, I have the expression pedal, but it is just 1 switch
It could be cool using it as a toggle for 2 scales, but I don’t know if it’s possible
otherwise, I can buy a pedal with 2-3 switches