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Minor question on the blues

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by lermgalieu, Sep 21, 2002.

  1. Pun intended. Ok, here's my question: I have Ron Carter's excellent book and I was comparing notes on some of his walking blues lines against what I tend to do on blues lines. Then I realized something - he tends to notate the final II chord in the turnaround as either a II7 or just plain II (major) whereas that just sounds off to me:


    I | V | I | I7 | V | V7 | I | VIm | IIm | V7 | I VIm | II V7

    Whereas I would usually play that final II chord as a minor. I am sure he has a reason for doing it - is it just because that is a chromatic walkup to the V7 which lends it a jazzy feel, and maybe I am just not very adept at playing it tastefully?

    I know this is pretty low end theory, but maybe you guys could offer an explanation or confirmation.

  2. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    I wouldn't get too exercised over it. The beauty of the blues is the latitude it offers. The challenge to you is what do you do with that latitude. My general rule is if the original melody line dictates a specific chord, you should honor it throughout the solo. If not, the blues police will not arrest you for using a D major instead of a minor when you're doing a cadence. Or an Ab7 in place of both, or, or, etc.
    I don't believe Carter himself would be quite so rigid as it appears. But he has to start somewhere. You have to know the rules in order to break them in a good sounding way
    You meant to use IV7 in bars 5 and 6, not V7, right? Just a typo, right?
  3. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    And remember, those lines happen in a context. If Kenny Barron's playing ii-minor, I betcha Ron's right with him.
  4. I wasn't asking for the 'rules' or saying it was a rule at all, just asking for some explanation for it because it sounded odd to me. I don't think just because he notates it that way in one place that its the law or anything...

    That said, what are your guesses as to the 'why' of it? I am not 'worried' about it, just more curious than anything, and I assume because it lends itself to a nice chromatic walkup from the major third of the II to the V.

    Don, yeah that was a typo - oops!
  5. It's not because of the leading tone. That note would work even if it was a minor chord. My answer to your question is that it makes the chord function like a dominant chord, V7 of the key of V. I've seen that in other places too, the openning bars of Mellowtone come to mind. It has a real delayed resolution thing going on and if the soloist plays it minor, the minor third becomes a #9 against the harmony, that sounds really bluesy.
  6. David - thanks alot. I will go noodle some blues on the piano to hear what you are talking about. Sometimes its hard to figure out the fine line between bluesy and goofy when you are practicing by yourself...

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