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Blues scales fingerings for both hands (Read 1521 times)

Offline mrscience

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Blues scales fingerings for both hands
« on: May 04, 2020, 02:26:37 AM »
Hello! I'm curious if anyone has suggestions on good right and left hand fingerings for the twelve blues scales. I am adding them to my daily scales routine, but at the moment I am finding them somewhat awkward. Thanks so much for your help.

Ben

Offline Bob

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #1 on: May 09, 2020, 11:48:13 PM »
I'm curious too, from a few decades ago.

I would guess jazz pianists don't practice jazz scales as scales so much though, maybe more with patterns over scales instead of just up and down.
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Offline j_tour

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #2 on: May 10, 2020, 02:16:49 AM »
I'm curious too, from a few decades ago.

I would guess jazz pianists don't practice jazz scales as scales so much though, maybe more with patterns over scales instead of just up and down.

I wouldn't say that at all. 

I don't know every single jazz pianist in history, but the pattern work is something I'd more associate with a sax or a horn player.  I mean, if you go out on your average Friday night or whatever where college-aged kids have put together some little group, and you just hear it.

I think a lot of that is why you hear wind players doing stunts like playing "All The Things You Are" or "Cherokee" or whatever in twelve keys, but you don't hear that too much from piano or organ players.

Pentatonics, sure.  IME, there's people at the keyboard who do that as part of their style, and there's those who don't.  I'm from the latter category, but I'd bet anything people who use the various pentatonic styles based on fourths absolutely practiced those.  It's not like it's rocket surgery, but I'm sure they put some hours in.

W-H octatonic "diminished" scale?  Absolutely.  That's fundamental.

To the OP, it's difficult for me to say because there are a handful of pitch classes that could be called the blues scale. 

I happen to play a lot of blues, or blues-oriented improvisational music, but I don't think I've ever in my life played or practiced what could be called a blues scale.  Maybe as a kid, a few times, but that was a long time ago and it contributed nothing to my technique or knowledge.

It would sound pretty straight or square to me, and I just never wanted that sound.  Unlike the modes of the major, harmonic minor, for example, where a lot of times you do want that sound. 

So, IME, yeah, any player at the keyboard practices those modes because they're something you use, or you might want to use.  Yeah, just up and down.  In addition, there's the likelihood that your average jazz keyboardist has some legit music background, so is used to that kind of drill. 

Let's say for the sake of argument that {C, D, Eb, F, Gb, G, A, Bb} is your main notes in C-blues (it's not, most purists would drop the nine but, just for the sake of argument, it doesn't matter anyway).

There are guys and gals on recordings who probably would pride themselves on executing that, identically, in twelve keys.

I don't want to name names, but you can hear that on some recordings.

But there are guys and gals who really play the blues, and they'll sound a little different in the key of A from playing in C or Bb.

Equally adept in the various keys, but they're using different approaches to each key.

Those are the players you want to watch for.

IMHO that's how it's played. 

Honey Piazza is a good example, Mac Rebennack, obviously, Otis Spann.

/*ETA Back to the OP.  Yeah, I can figure out what fingers I'd use.  Let's do two keys to start with:  A and C#/Db.  If you give me exactly what pitches you want, I can go to the keyboard and see how I'd do it.  I did say it was a corny sound, but occasionally it's useful, and I'm sure I can do it and say what works for me.  Not sure if I want to risk my phone dropping by recording a video, especially for no money, but I can for sure figure it out.*/

/*EETA No, I tried to remember, but I don't think I've ever heard someone play the "blues scale" up and down in both hands in at the octave.  RH octaves or LH octaves?  Sure.  Yeah, I do remember Chuck Leavell doing some similar things off the Allman Bros. Band album Brothers and Sisters, so I somewhat back-pedal about it "never" being done, although I don't think I said that. 

IMHO Octaves scale-running is something you do hear, but not just a plain, square-sounding "blues scale" in both hands. 

That does include double octaves on occasion.  It can be loud, and sometimes you have to step out in front of traffic.  I'm so glad I'm halfway deaf and not even forty-five yet!  It's a treasury of joy.

Besides, in blues/rock and roll/country, your left hand is going to be doing other things (walking bass, adjusting the Leslie speed, putting the hex on your drummer, beating time, making the shocker gesture at some random girl,or even coming up to the treble to help make a line sound right), so that's yet another reason for abstention.*/

/*EEETA Just curious, but why would you want to do this?  You can be doing W-H diminished scales, HT, in m3rds, dm5s, dim7s and at the octave.  Or any number of modes that people actually use.  What made this sound like "It'd be a great idea"?  I know for sure you've never heard anyone on a recording do this, or if you did, it was some heavily-produced album cut. 

Well, like I said, I know how to play this stuff, so just let's agree on which "scale" we're talking about, and I'll tell you how'd I play it.
*/
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline mrscience

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #3 on: May 10, 2020, 05:29:10 PM »
Hi j_tour. Lots to respond to here. I don't know all the acronyms you're using so apologies if I miss or misunderstand something.

I'm looking for blues scales following the C-Eb-F-F#-G-Bb-C intervals. I'm a professional classical pianist. I'm also an improvisational player, not strictly jazz but sometimes jazz-influenced). I work full-time as a pianist and composer (at least when COVID wasn't keeping us all under lockdown...).

I like to play scales to warm up every day. I play major, minor, natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor, both hands simply going up and down spanning the full keyboard. I also play major/minor arpeggios and pinky exercises.

I'm looking for fingerings for this blues scale because I find it somewhat awkward under the fingers and I want to add it to my warm up. I don't care if it sounds square, straight, or inauthentic.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #4 on: May 10, 2020, 05:38:35 PM »
It is not necessary to restrict yourself to one set of fingerings but instead understand how to use the most efficient fingers for the given space you are playing within the scale. It also depends what chords and single notes you want to put into it all and what repetitive patterns are being used. If you have an example you want to explore post that and then some discussion with actual context can be struck up, it will be much more interesting than generalized responses stabbing in the random dark.
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Offline mrscience

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #5 on: May 10, 2020, 05:50:11 PM »
Let me clarify with an example. I want something like this, in all twelve keys. A picture should be below:


In case this picture does not post or there is some other issue, that image is a version of the blues scale (C-Eb-F-F#-G-Bb-C) in both hands, ascending upwards two octaves in parallel motion, then descending, and one possible set of fingerings.

Given this context, I am seeking suggestions on good fingerings for the twelve blues scales.

Offline mrscience

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #6 on: May 10, 2020, 05:51:41 PM »
Quick addendum: in my haste, the left hand has a mistake in measure two. Those six notes should be up an octave. Sorry.

Offline mrscience

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #7 on: May 10, 2020, 06:08:21 PM »
Here is a corrected image:


Hopefully this should clarify what I'm looking for. Thanks.

Offline j_tour

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #8 on: May 10, 2020, 07:02:38 PM »
I'm looking for fingerings for this blues scale because I find it somewhat awkward under the fingers and I want to add it to my warm up. I don't care if it sounds square, straight, or inauthentic.

That's fair enough.  I see you are using the more or less standard blues scale.  I remember that one!

I hope I didn't come across as too snippy or snarky.  I didn't intend to insult you, it's just my default mode, not very good.

I don't know if I can get it to right away, but I'll post how I'd finger keys of A and Db as soon as I can.

Others may have different fingerings, of course.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline mrscience

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #9 on: May 10, 2020, 07:18:59 PM »
Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to do that.
If it is helpful for me, maybe it will be helpful for someone else out there, too.

Offline j_tour

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #10 on: May 10, 2020, 09:11:57 PM »
Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to do that.
If it is helpful for me, maybe it will be helpful for someone else out there, too.

I'm having a hard time working it out away from the keyboard, but one thing I would always do is slide using the same finger from either the diminished fifth to the perfect fifth, at least in the keys of C, A, and Db (well, in the latter that would sliding from the fourth to the diminished fifth.

So that's absolutely how I would play it, in either hand or in octaves HT.

That may not be optimal if you want absolute clarity, that's just how I would do it.

So, in C-blues, ascending, RH, you'd go 2 3 1 3 3 | 4 1 3 1 3 3 4 and keep ascending for as long as you want.

Descending, starting from the top C, 4 3 1 3 3 2 | 1 3 1 3 3 2 | 1

And pretty similar for the rest of the keys.  Obviously, that won't work in every key, B-blues, for example, but for an awful lot of them, the basic strategy and many times the exact same fingerings will work.

I'm not too sure where the idea of sliding with the same finger came from, originally, it's just how I've seen and heard people do it, so I never felt the need to do differently.

When I get to a keyboard, I'll do a better answer, including for most blues piano players' bugbear, B-blues, but fair warning that my fingerings are always going to involve sliding from one note to another, which is probably not what you're looking for. 

Anyway, I could do more "straight" fingerings, but then again, I'm pretty sure anybody could devise some appropriate fingerings using that approach, so, I'll leave that for someone else.

My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline mrscience

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #11 on: May 10, 2020, 10:48:27 PM »
Cool. I just tried it. That's useful because I wouldn't have thought of trying that. In general I probably under-use sliding as a technique.

Thank you. If you get a chance at a piano I'd be curious to know your fingerings for the other scales as well.

Offline j_tour

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #12 on: May 15, 2020, 02:34:09 AM »
Cool. I just tried it. That's useful because I wouldn't have thought of trying that. In general I probably under-use sliding as a technique.

Thank you. If you get a chance at a piano I'd be curious to know your fingerings for the other scales as well.

Oh.  Hey, I sort of forgot about this question.

TBH, I assumed you wouldn't be interested in the same finger move from a black key to a white key, or, as you know, as a pianist, it's possible to use the same finger on two consecutive notes regardless of the geometry.

That's the only way I've heard, done, and seen people play that blues scale in person, but it just never occurred to me to do them as exercises.

Which is perfectly valid, and I understand your reasons.

Just thinking, for, like half a second, the fingerings about the same for all keys in blues (whether or not a key that contains a minor seventh can be considered a tonic...never mind). 

And then we can get to thirds and fifths, which is IMHO what informs at least my way of fingering that blues scale, which is itself kind of abstract....never mind, we're not talking improvisation, just mechanics.

Without going to the keyboard, I'll just do RH and just the first octave, you know enough to continue up the scale :

C-blues:    2 4 1 3 3 4
Db-blues:  2 1 2 2 3 4
D-blues:    1 2 1 2 1 2 (a rare exception!)
Eb-blues:  1 2 3 1 2 3 (another exception!)
E-blues:    1 2 1 2 2 3
F blues:    1 2 3 1 2 3 (another exception!)
F# blues:  I don't *** know  //OK fine 1 2 3 1 2 3 | 1 ... seriously, that's right.  I guess.
G-blues:   1 2 1 2 2 3
Ab-blues: 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
A-blues:   1 2 1 2 2 4
Bb-blues:  1 2 3 1 2 1
B-blues:  1 2 3 1 2 3

That was kind of just literally in a minute thinking at my desk.  No, I don't want to encourage people to start calling blues tunes in F#.  That's something some guitar player or drummer would do.

I was surprised myself, actually, not that many of my fingerings use the same-finger slide as I'd have thought.  Just a lot of hand motion, basically "thumb-over" fingering.

I don't want to do the LH just now, because it's probably not necessary and I can't type with my LH because of my idiotic attachment to this one notebook computer with all the broken keys requiring I custom make a keyboard map. /*ETA thinking for a second, I guess I'd start all or most of the scale with finger 4 in the LH, but I can't be completely sure ATM.  If I had to guess why it's that I'm subconsciously "saving" my finger 5 if I need or want to hit a lower bass note at some point.*/

I think you can figure it out.

And I could be wrong, that's just me tapping my RH on the desk and remembering what I've done in the past.

/*EETA Looking at the fingerings I put up, I'm really not sure I have a standard set for those.  Look at Db, for example.  I'd just as well go in RH 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 and so forth.

So, in fact, I don't think I have a good answer, because so much is dependent on context and especially what the other fingers of the hand are doing:  it's not rare to do just a really fast multi-octave blues run, not at all.  It's really common.  But most of the time it's just a flourish.  So it doesn't suprise me that a lot of the fingerings I tried to remember at my desk are sort of Tatum-esque two or three finger runs. 

I really don't have a good answer for this one, but I think you have a good idea to add that scale for fun.

Honestly, if I were looking for new scales to add, I'd hit the W-H octatonic "diminished" scale, if you don't already, just because it occurs so often, from Bach, Mozart, into bebop at least.*/

/*EEETA I think where a lot of the sliding motion came from, in the RH, is when you're using fingers 5 and sometimes 4, both ascending and descending.  So your top-most fingers, viz 4 and 5 are adding texture, or maybe making a tremolo with 1 and you do a brief fill, and so you run out of fingers.  Yeah, I think for just single-note runs, you're looking at more a two or three finger technique, just a Tatum thing.  They have to be played fast, though, at least in performance.

Also depends greatly on what pitch you're starting from.  G-blues descending, let's say from the D, 4 3 3 2 1 3 1 3 3 2 1 and down to the bottom of the keyboard.  Gravity at work, sort of. Db-->C, same finger.  Nothing to it.

Actually I wouldn't play the G-blues descending with any other fingering.  I'd have to think about it, but Ab is right near so I'd try to remember how I covered stuff like Jimmy McGriff's "All About My Girl."  Pretty sure about the same, but that's more like, from the Eb note, 3 1 2 1 and so forth.  I don't know, man,

It gets a lot more difficult when you start thinking about which starting note, even in single notes.

It could be a good Hanon type exercise:  you know, in practice, usually the single note blues scale is used descending, in an almost dismissive way, very fast, and arpeggios built on minor thirds to come back up top.  Sort of a bebop thing. 

You could probably make a pretty cool exercise out of that.*/
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline mrscience

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #13 on: May 15, 2020, 02:15:10 PM »
Thanks very much, j_tour, I appreciate it. I'll experiment with those RH fingerings.

If I decide on a set of fingerings for both hands that I like, I may write them up and post them here as sheet music.

Offline j_tour

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Re: Blues scales fingerings for both hands
«Reply #14 on: May 15, 2020, 06:39:24 PM »
Thanks very much, j_tour, I appreciate it. I'll experiment with those RH fingerings.

If I decide on a set of fingerings for both hands that I like, I may write them up and post them here as sheet music.

Well that's all right.

I'm sorry I forgot about this thread.

It would be kind of interesting to decide on a canonical set of fingerings HT for, not just α-Blues tonic key, but even more importantly, for the improviser, the modes, I guess you could say, of the α--Blues tonic. 

It really does make a difference what degree of the scale (or out of the scale, if you'd call that modulating)  you're starting the blues run in.

Well, it's probably not any different than any other tonality.

But I wish you luck, and if you do find something good, it would be interesting to see. 

I think a good part of it is down to geometry, covering the minor thirds in the scale, so, it probably might vary.

My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.