How to Play a Jazz Piano Solo with 3 Easy Blues Scales

It’s important to learn music theory if you want to get into jazz improvisation, but an easy place to start is the blues scale. Don’t feel like you need to lock yourself in a library with a stack of books. The real learning happens through playing and experimenting. I remember taking piano lessons when I was 11 years old, and telling my piano teacher I wanted to learn jazz. He sent me home with a workbook the size of a phone book full of terse explanations of diatonic, minor pentatonic, harmonic, dominant, subdominant, Dorian mode, Mixolydian mode, Locrian mode, diminished, augmenttdrfggggggggggg

Sorry. Fell asleep on my keyboard there.

What I’m saying is, theory alone is boring. But then, anyone who’s ever failed at playing a solo (if you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried) will know that you can’t improvise without at least some knowledge of music theory.  For this purpose, you can’t beat the blues scale. Like I said in part one of this lesson, if you’re playing through a blues progression in the key of C, you can get by playing nothing but the six notes from the C blues scale, and still sound like you have a clue. But let’s take it a step further. A basic C blues starts out in C, but changes to F and G as well. Naturally, we should familiarize ourselves with the F and G blues scales so we have more notes to choose from as we solo our way through the progression.

 

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droberts@makingmusicmag.com'

Drew Roberts is digital editor of Making Music magazine. He writes articles, produces videos, dabbles in piano, and does stop motion animated text.

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4 comments

Damn, thanks for letting folks know about the “simple” blues scale, which is what I’ve called it since I learned about. Of course, there is such a thing as a “hard” blues scale as well, which I sometimes teach to my more serious students.

Now I could ask you if you ever studied at KIT in LA. In fact, I will.

Did you? You can let me know directly at danstarrorg410@gmail.com

You should do a lesson on Duke Ellingtons “It Dont Mean A Thing (If It Aint Got That Swing)” PLZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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