Saxophone confidence. Playing the Blues

Here’s a good way to gain loads of confidence playing the sax after only a few lessons.

Have you started your scales yet? If not don’t worry just try a C major scale now, it’s quite easy, all you have to do is play C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C on your saxophone. It is often easier to start on the C in the middle of your sax (3rd finger, right hand) and work backwards descending down the sax.

Now a little music theory. Try think of your scale like this:

C = 1

D = 2

E = 3

F = 4

G = 5

A = 6

B = 7

C = 8

Why do this? Because numbering your notes will not only help you remember where you are in blues, but it can then be applied to any key signature whilst playing blues. To apply it to another scale just remember that if you are in the key of C then the note C is the first one you play and so becomes note 1. If you were in the key of F then F would be the first note you play and so F becomes note one, G note two, A note three etc.

Next question; what is the twelve bar blues progression? This is a series of chords which form a style of music used in many jazz and rock n roll numbers. You’ve probably heard it and not realised, but if not then YouTube it and you’ll find thousands of examples. A good place to start is C Jam Blues by Duke Ellington. The original videos of this are a little difficult to follow so look for a school jazz band version.

You’ll notice the same melody being played interspersed with solos. Now listen to the rhythm section (Piano, guitar, bass and drums) even during the other instrumental solos they’ll be playing the same thing, again and again. That’s the twelve bar blues progression and it goes like this:

Bar Number

Chord Number

one

1

two

1

three

1

four

1

five

4

six

4

seven

1

eight

1

nine

5

ten

4

eleven

1

twelve

1

 

Now compare that to the way we numbered the notes in the C major scale and you have a key for playing the beginnings of a blues progression.

In bar one you need chord number one. Chord number one is based on the first note in the C major scale so in bar one you begin by playing C. Skip to bar five; in this bar you need chord number four in the C major scale. Chord number 4 is based on the 4th note so in bar five you play an F.

Using this guide you can try and play along to many blues based songs using the basic notes of the progression. Be aware though that saxophones are transposing instruments. To keep things nice and simple we need to find songs that let you play in the key of C major so if you are playing an alto you want to search for blues in Eb and if you are playing a tenor, blues in Bb.

(Eb and Bb are the concert keys or the notes as they would sound on a piano. Because a saxophone has a different range than other instruments we have to play in different key signatures in order to sound correct with everyone else.)

If you have any question please leave a comment and I will answer you/

Creative differences

I suppose it was daft of me but I always assumed that ‘creative differences’ happened to bands who had had a good run.  Bands that had either done a few albums or toured all over the place beacuse surely, I reasoned, bands which are just starting out all have the same concept and end game in mind. But apparently not.

In my last post I eargly wrote about the rock n roll band I play for and how we had been signed for an album. We spent a really great week in the studio and were due in one final day (that being today) for the mixing. Then yesterday Shorty Kennett quit. Which poses a problem in a band called Shorty Kennett and the Goldstars. Creative differences, aparrently.

So if you want to be the lead singer of a gigging rock n roll band based in the Andover area do get in touch.  You never know the band could soon be ‘your name here’ and the Goldstars

Rock and Roll

Today is a very special day. It is my first gig back in England.

The past few months have been difficult as a musician in a new country with out a car. Sadly i’ve been turned down after many an offer purely because i couldn’t get to the venue.

But Andy and The Goldstars have come to the rescue. After some quick negotiating lifts for rehearsal and gigs were arranged and I finally began to feel like a musician again.

So, if rock’n’roll is your thing come to the Working Man’s club in Fairham. We kick of at 9pm.