F blues is something you can get started with quite easily. You only need a few different things:The Chords, the Scales and the Arpeggios. I cover all of this and also have a transcribed solo using this material so you can get started both comping and soloing on an F Jazz Blues.
The 12 bar Blues is a key component when it comes to jazz chord progressions and F is for jazz blues probably the most common key. Billie’s Bounce, Straight No Chaser and Au Privave are all blues songs in the key of F.
The 4 Chorus Lesson
In this lesson I have made 4 choruses of exercises: The chords, the arpeggios that go with the chords. The scales that fits with the chords and arpeggios and finally a solo chorus which demonstrates how you might use the other exercises when playing over the F blues.
To keep it simple I have kept all exercises in one position so that if you go through the exercises you should begin to have a tool set to improvise over the Bb blues in that position.
The chord voicings
To improvise over a song you probably need to be able to play the chords so you can hear the harmony and how it moves. In the following example I have written out a set of voicings to play the F Blues.
The voicings can also be played from these diagrams:
You’ll notice that I in general don’t write out which extensions I use, so I write out the basic type of chord and if whoever is playing a chord he can fill in extensions to his own taste. This is common practice in Jazz in general.
The F Blues Arpeggios
When playing over changing harmony the best way to really follow the chords is of course to use the notes of the chords in your solo. Therefore it is very important to be able to play the chords of the progression as arpeggios. In example 3 I have written out the arpeggios in this position.
To make it easier to connect the different arpeggios I have written them out in a similar range which means that I don’t always start on the root of each chord.
You should practice the arpeggios like I’ve written them out, but you would get a lot from also improvising over the progression just using the arpeggios.
The Scales for the chords
In the 2nd example I added a scale to each chord. The way I am playing the scales is that I start on the root and run up to the 7th, this gives you a bit of time to switch to the next chord. This way of applying scales to a progression is the same as you’ll find in Barry Harris exercises. It is a nice way to add the scale in a musical way so that you hear how they spell out the harmony.
The F7,Bb7, Gm7 and C7 are easily understood in terms of where they sit in the key, since they are all mixolydian or dorian scales.
The B dim scale is in fact an C harmonic minor from B to Bb. You can see how I arrive by this by looking at it from the Bb7 scale:
Bb C D Eb F G Ab Bb
If I need to fit an B dim in there then an easy way to do that is to replace the Bb with a B.
B C D Eb F G Ab which you can write out from F to recognize that it as an C harmonic minor scale.
For the D7(b9) you need to look at it as a dominant resolving to Gm7, which tells us that we should use a Gm scale for it. In this context the (actually in most contexts) that means using the G harmonic minor scale. You can use this approach to determine what scale you should use for any auxiliary dominant.
The F Blues Solo
As an example of how you can use the material I have written out a short improvised solo on a F blues.
I hope you can use the exercises and the materials to get started improvising over a Jazz Blues progression. You can check out some of my other lessons on Blues, arpeggios and target notes for more ideas.
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