Can someone spell the "BB King blues box"?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by dead of night, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. dead of night

    dead of night Member

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    Hi, I'm reading conflicting reports about the "BB King blues box" online. Can someone simply spell it and then it would be possible to form the box anywhere in any key.

    I have a feeling that using the "BB King blues box" over the I and using the root minor pentatonic over the IV would provide a nice sound.

    What does BB play over the V?
     
  2. huw

    huw Member

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    Something like this:



    :)
     
  3. dead of night

    dead of night Member

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    Can you spell what he plays over the V? I do really well with scale formulas. Also, what is the spelling of the "BB King blues box"?
     
  4. huw

    huw Member

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    Here's a graphic a friend did that spells it out in relation to each of the I, IV, V chords:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Average Joe

    Average Joe Member

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    afaik it's the "C" shape in the caged system, in other words in A it's the major pentatonic pattern on frets 9-12. add the b3 and b5 for flavour and hit the appropriate chord tones through the progression
     
  6. JonR

    JonR Member

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    I happen to have tabbed out that B B King demo a while back:
    .
    Code:
     G             C7                  G              D7
    |-----3-------|--8b(10)-8---------|--------------|--12b(14)-12-10----10--|---------
    |---3----8----|-----------11-8----|---6-3--------|----------------13-----|-----------
    |-------------|-------------------|-------5-4----|-----------------------|------------
    |-------------|-------------------|--------------|-----------------------|------------
    |-------------|-------------------|--------------|-----------------------|------------
    |-------------|-------------------|--------------|-----------------------|------------
        D G  G       C >D   C Bb G        F D C B       E > F#  E  D  C  D
    .
     C7                       G             C7             G
    |-10b(12)-10-8-----------|-------3-----|--------3-5-7-|------------------------------
    |--------------11-10-8---|-------------|------5-------|3------------------------------
    |------------------------|--3h4--------|--------------|-------------------------------
    |------------------------|-------------|--------------|-------------------------------
    |------------------------|-------------|--------------|-------------------------------
    |------------------------|-------------|--------------|-------------------------------
      D > E   D  C Bb A  G     Bb>B  G            E G A B  D
    Here it is again, with chord tones added, and box positions where relevant:
    Code:
     G             C7                    G              D7
    |-----3-------|--8b(10)-8-----------|--------------|--12b(14)-12-10----10--|---------
    |---3----8----|-----------11-8------|---6-3--------|----------------13-----|-----------
    |-------------|---------------------|-------5-4----|-----------------------|------------
    |-------------|---------------------|--------------|-----------------------|------------
    |-------------|---------------------|--------------|-----------------------|------------
    |-------------|---------------------|--------------|-----------------------|------------
        D G  G       C >D   C Bb G          F D C B       E > F#  E  D  C  D
        5 R  R         >9   R b7 5         b7 5 4 3          >3   9  R b7  R      
                  IV chord, box on 8th                   V chord, box on 10th 
    .
     C7                       G             C7             G
    |-10b(12)-10-8-----------|-------3-----|--------3-5-7-|------------------------------
    |--------------11-10-8---|-------------|------5-------|3------------------------------
    |------------------------|--3h4--------|--------------|-------------------------------
    |------------------------|-------------|--------------|-------------------------------
    |------------------------|-------------|--------------|-------------------------------
    |------------------------|-------------|--------------|-------------------------------
      D > E   D  C Bb A  G     Bb>B  G            E G A B  D
        > 3   9  R b7 6  5     b3>3  R            3 5 6 7  R
      IV chord, box on 8th
    Notice - in this example - he doesn't use the box huw's friend spells out for the I chord. When he's on the I, he uses the pattern huw shows for the IV chord, ie, where the G root is on 1st string.

    The point being, he's not thinking boxes! He's thinking chord tones, and just happens to have fallen into a shortcut habit of using patterns that look like boxes, so it's easy to translate what he does in those terms. But it's a BIG MISTAKE to think from the boxes, without being aware of why and how they work.

    Eg (as you see here) there's no need to use the "IV box" only the IV. It ought to be obvious that it can equally well be used on the I, just by respelling the chord tones.
     
  7. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    That's a good example of BB and chord tones and bending using chord tones as the target as well (bending from the 2nd (9th) up to the major 3rd).
     
  8. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Yes. And using that sweet major 3rd - no bending - right at the end. Last phrase pure G major pent, over the C. Not blues at all!
    Because of course B B is just interesting in playing music...
     
  9. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    Anticipating the G and just playing G major pentatonic over the C7 is a great musical device and things like that can make a solo have interesting musical form.

    The OP mentions boxes but boxes are just pools of possible notes and don't mean anything much unless they are used to construct some sort of musical form otherwise it's just running scales.
     
  10. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Here's how you spell the B.B. box: T-Bone Walker, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Son House etc. You be foolin' if you try to put it in a box.
     
  11. dead of night

    dead of night Member

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    Would it be fair to say BB does not play a b3 over any chord except as a passing tone?

    Would it be accurate to say BB targets chord tones with added notes from the major pentatonic?

    Could one deny that BB is playing the blues at all? Could one argue that he does play the blues, although he avoids the b3?
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2015
  12. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Not exactly.
    He's certainly conscious of the relationships between, on the one hand, the blue 3rd of the key, the major 3rd of the tonic and the b7 of the IV - all versions of the same note - and on the other hand the major 3rds of IV and V.
    IOW, he knows the "blues scale" (with its flattened 3rd), but he also knows his chord tones, and how the two interact, pulling against one another but - in his view it seems - gravitating to chord tones in the end.
    The blues scale (1 b3 4 b5 5 b7) is an organic, flexible, singing thing, but the chords are the framework it has to sit within, and ultimately come to terms with.
    That's one way of looking at it.
    The major pent is a very "inside" sound on the chords. It contains the 3 chord tones, plus 2nd and 6th. The 2nd and 6th make good passing notes at any time, along with the minor pent/blues scale notes. As you see, he often uses the 2nd as a base for bending up to the 3rd.

    In that demo, as I said, he uses a G major pent phrase to tie the whole thing up, which sounds "sweet" because it uses the major 3rd directly without bending up to to it (and it sounds briefly as the major 7th of the C).

    Otherwise, it would be hard to tell if the resolutions he uses are based on thinking major pent, or thinking chord tones. My bet's the latter.
    No.
    He plays the blues, and does NOT avoid the b3. In this particular demo, admittedly, he doesn't play a straight b3, but that may be because he's demonstrating the concept of resolving to chord tones, in what you might call laboratory (or academic seminar) conditions.
    I.e., he's being asked to demonstrate a principle, and is politely, conscientiously, going along with it. He's not standing on a stage in front of a band delivering "The Blues".
    Of course, it still sounds completely like "The Blues", because of his sensitivity of phrasing and the way the notes are vocalised through bending.
    The blues is about a lot more than the b3! ;)

    IOW, you're picking out some interesting elements of what he does - which seem to counter the usual crude "minor pent" blues philosophy - but really it's all part of the same big picture. There's nothing he's doing here which is "not blues", with the possible exception of that final 5-note phrase - which could still be considered to be on the fringes of blues (where it meets, say, gospel or soul).
    I wouldn't be listening to this and thinking "hey, B B is not playing the blues there!"

    To put it another way: you could regard the minor pent (plus b5) as the "dirty blues" end of the spectrum, and major pent (of the key) as the "sweet gospel" end of the spectrum. Those two tussle it out, with the chord tones acting as referees! :)
     
  13. GLB98

    GLB98 Member

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    You never cease to amaze me with your awesomeness. Thanks!
     
  14. JonR

    JonR Member

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    You don't want it CAGED either.... :D
     
  15. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Good lord, no!
     
  16. cameron

    cameron Member

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    One of B.B.'s signature licks, which he doesn't happen to use in the bit that JonR tab'ed out above, is as follows (in G):

    Code:
    ---6---3---------------
    --------3-------------
    ---------3-----------
    ------------5--------
    -----------------------
    -----------------------
    
    it's b3, then minor 3rd arpeggio, landing on the root. Are those 3b instances "passing tones"?
     
  17. dead of night

    dead of night Member

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    No, they're not.
     
  18. Jon

    Jon Member

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    lol - 'here's one I prepared earlier' - you've been watching too much Delia!!
     
  19. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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    So true.

    And the whole "box' thing is only going to limit your playing. However if that's what you want, go for it. I would say that 90% of the people here who play are self limiting.
     
  20. JonR

    JonR Member

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    The whole thing is a Gm arpeggio. Can you give a example of two of him using it?
     

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