What are the elements of blues rock?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by dead of night, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. dead of night

    dead of night Member

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    HI, what are the typical choices for harmonies and scales for blues rock?

    I'm talking about in the style of The Stones, The Who, Bad Company,The Beatles' bluesier stuff like Lady Madonna, and The Faces.
     
  2. HiddenCharms

    HiddenCharms Member

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    I'd say typically major and minor pentatonic scales. Some guys, like Clapton, Bloomfield, and Allman were quite adept at combining the scales. There have been quite a few threads over the years about this, but I think the best way to describe that hybrid scale would be a Mixolydian combined with a Blues scale. That would include the following scale degrees: 1, 2 (9th), b3, 3, 4, b5, 5, 6, b7. Most of those player are not thinking at all in terms of scales, but rather phrases that just happen to fall into those scales.
     
  3. stevel

    stevel Member

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  4. Astronaut FX

    Astronaut FX Member

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    Chinos?
     
  5. ZeyerGTR

    ZeyerGTR Supporting Member

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    Same as any other music - there are 12 notes, use 'em at the right time. Typical scales & modes: dorian, natural and harmonic minor, mixolydian, minor/major pent, blues scale, diminished. It's all fair game - the scales used in a lead or melody don't dictate that it's blues rock (or blues or any other genre), it's all about the rhythm and song structure.

    To me, blues rock starts with the rhythmic foundation of blues and then adds some juice. It's often more riff-based as well, and tends to add more elaborate intro/outtro/bridge sections than you typically hear in straight blues (although there's nothing that says straight blues can't have those). Definitely a fuzzy line, but those are the elements that separate it from straight blues... imho.
     
  6. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Mode mixture.
    Anywhere between major and minor (ie mixolydian and dorian), with blues scale thrown in. (I.e., parallel modes, not relative ones.)

    Take a major key and add a bVII chord. Maybe a bVI and bIII too. Go easy on the diatonic minors, except for vi.

    Take a minor key and add a major IV, or minor II.

    Mix and match.
     
  7. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    The qualities I enjoy is the freedom to bend or microbend
    almost anywhere, anytime.

    Here are the eight most popular blues notes as per a pollI did a few years.

    In A these eight tones are A B C C# D E F# G

    What I see is a root tonic and a 5th as the pillers
    and I see these chromatic pairings of C#/D, F#G and B/C. We play
    bending and micro bending games with theses chromatic pairs.
    We don't have to bend from one note all the way to the next note
    as in F# bending towards G. You can make the full bend or just a fraction
    of the bend. Whatever pleases you.

    The only time I want to think diatonic is when I'm playing chords. I just about never think mixo/dorian whilst soloing. Only when diatonic oportunities show up, and like a river I just flow into diatonics. Its a game.
    But soloing I much prefer pentantonics.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  8. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    You take old blues songs, distill them down to a more basic riff, removing dissonant harmonies and odd syncopation and make the beat more driving. Turn it up loud and apply a songwriting sensibility derived more from surf/instrumental music (if the band is British, probably the Shadows), or American soul/gospel (probably Stax/Volt). Slather that with plenty of indulgent pentatonic minor and a bit of pentatonic major soloing.

    Basically, just look at the influences of the bands and songs. If the Stones covered a song, how does it differ from the original? Black Sabbath really liked Ten Years After. Trace it back.
     
  9. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    For what purpose?
     
  10. muzishun

    muzishun Member

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    Come again?
     
  11. JonR

    JonR Member

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    That's essentially it.
    The OP is talking exclusively British 60s rock acts, so...
    That came from a mixture of blues, rock'n'roll, skiffle (mix of Leadbelly and bluegrass), doo-wop, country, guitar instrumentals, and early Tamla. Basically anything American that was going on in the late 1950s, that we could pick up over here, the grittier and newer (and blacker) the better.
    Stir it all together; plug into the increasingly bigger amps of the time; and turn it up! No, LOUDER!! (Please Mr Marshall, make it LOUDER!!)
    Soul/Stax came later, but the gospel ingredients of that were there anyway, eg in Ray Charles and Little Richard at least.
    This is how the British invented ROCK.
    Of course, the ingredients were all American, but the original recipe was British. (We could make a case that US folk and country was mostly British or Irish originally anyway, but it was the crucial African-American element we lacked over here.)
     
  12. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    Yeah, the Stones were a mishmash of American influences and Satisfaction and Paint It Black and other songs were influenced by Motown riffs (even vocal riffs) and then there is the Blues and early Rock and Roll and some Skiffle influences etc etc.
     
  13. JonR

    JonR Member

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    ...and the pre-chorus sequence of Satisfaction ("I tried, and I tried...) is a pretty direct lift from "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" ("it's a hard, & it's a hard...).
    Not to mention how they stole "Last Time" from the Staples Singers.
    (They knew how to steal good stuff, anyhow... ;))

    Personally, I like how the Animals took the folk song "House of The Rising Sun" from Dylan (who took it from Woody Guthrie of course), and turned it into a loud rock song with an organ in it. Then what's the next thing Dylan does? Forms a loud rock band with an organ in it... ;)
    Good ideas just happen to spread around, until no one really knows - or cares - where they began.
     
  14. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    Keef didn't think much of Satisfaction.

    Looking at it with 20/20 hindsight, it's basically a rewrite of "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" on top of a Motown horn riff from Martha and The Vandellas "Nowhere To Run" and I suppose Keef thought it didn't work out in a good enough way.

    Apparently according to Keef, Keef was trying to get the Satisfaction riff recorded with horns and he needed something to emulate the horns sustain for a placeholder while recording it and found the Gibson Maestro fuzz and then he put down the riff but it was only supposed to be a placeholder until he could get horns doing it, and the record company released it before he could get the horns on it.

    Another Motown riff was "Paint It Black" where Keef had the Supremes "My World Is Empty Without You Babe" vocal phrase and put a leading tone thing on the end of it and so it ended up as sort of Middle Eastern sounding and Mick and Keef didn't know what to do with it and tried a R&B thing with it and some of that stayed in the break section, but Jack Nitzsche (session piano player) came up with the verse rhythm and that swung it a certain way and then Mick wrote the lyrics in the studio and the riff was played on the Sitar by Brian Jones.

    So after all of those changes it veers well away from Motown, but it started as just playing around with a Motown vocal phrase, basically.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  15. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    For harmonies, I have done a fair amount of working up lead guitar harmonies for Blues-based rock. Generally you have two scale modes (dorian or mixolydian) that you use to create harmonies on either thirds or sixths (some p4 and p5 thrown in) - pretty much like rock vocals. Some rock solos are in the major scale (more than you may realize) but in most cases mixolydian works because of the b7. If you want the mixo to sound more bluesy lower the M3 to m3 which changes the mode to dorian.
    You can also throw in the blue note in either mode.

    If you watch this video (Hotel California) the guitar harmonies are mostly arpeggiated chords where 1 guitar plays 5,3,1 - 5,3,1 - 5,3,1 - 5,3,1
    and the other (2) plays 8,5,3 - 8,5,3 - 8,5,3 - 8,5,3 through the chord changes:



    (this is in Mixo) Try to keep the bends in the same proportional places in relation to chord tones. For example, If guitar 1 is bending down from M3, guitar 2 should be bending down from P5, guitar 3 from b7 to M6

    (1) M3^M2 1
    (2) P5^p4 _M3
    (2) b7^M6 p5

    Here is another more chromatic approach to harmony that works on guitar (or vocals or horns).
    You can use these up and down - of course, things change as chords change so you might not get to that 3rd section, but it does work (the 11 on the d-string could be a 9 depending on the underlying chord feel). Or it might change with chord changes. The idea is keeping everything relative to the chord tones (in red below)

    |----------------------
    |----------------------
    |-1-2-3-4--4-5-6-7---9-11-12-13--------
    |-2-4-5-6--6-7-8-9--11-12-13-14-------
    |-----------------
    |----------------------
     
  16. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    There are sound qualities associated with pentatonics that
    I like the sound of. It's no more difficult than that.

    If you like to call it mixolydian and dorian, no problem
    I'll still understand. What really matters is our playing.
    All these words and names are window dressing.

    I just really enjoy giving blues its own language. The seven note
    scales don't sound good to my ear when bending up a quarrter
    tone, it sounds bad, diatonic scales don't like quarter tones or micro
    bends. What does like those off fret tones is when I'm playing blues
    style pents.

    Where in any modern study of mixolydian does it advocate the
    use of microbends? If it's not advocated why do we give permission to bend
    mixolydian in blues/rock?
    Maybe equal tempered mixo or dorian are morphing into just intonation
    that pents do seem to love.

    We freely mix just intonation and equal temperment
    so much so that the line separating the two blurs and almost disappears.
    But we can't join them, we can only get them to dance together like
    in figure skating pairs.
     
  17. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    I wish I was a better writer, like JonR.
     
  18. cameron

    cameron Member

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    I think Dylan was on record as saying that it was hearing The Byrds' version of "Mr Tambourine Man" on the radio that really blew him away and inspired him to form a rock band. But yeah, he definitely heard The Animals as well.

    I'm sure the fact that The Byrds' version of his song rocketed to the top of the charts probably had no influence on his thinking at all . . .
     
  19. amstrtatnut

    amstrtatnut Member

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    I think a lot of it is lick based. Just keep learning licks and put em in your playing. Vocabulary.

    The vocab is greater and more direct than the parts and names we use to describe em.

    Stones is heavily based in open tunings. Its more dificult to map out typical pentatonics and mixo scales etc. Its almost all lick based. Like sing a lick and then copy it kinda.
     
  20. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Well, he began as a rock'n'roll fan, of course, playing piano in a school band as Elston Gunn in the late 50s. He was a Hank Williams before that. In the light of that and his later career, you could see the short folk period (60-64?) as the "fake" Dylan, seeing his main chance - at that point in NYC - as a Guthrie clone; while no doubt enjoying the opportunity it gave him to express his sardonic humour as well as social comment.

    I read a quote from him that his second rock epiphany (the first being Little Richard) was hearing I Want To Hold Your Hand in early 1964 - along with the rest of the US of course. Previously he'd thought his first love was out of fashion, but the Beatles made him realise there was still life in it. And then the Animals - and I definitely think the Animals' organ (not just their choice of song) was a crucial element.
    He first the Byrds play Mr Tambourine Man in late '64 - before they recorded it - and was definitely impressed ("wow, you can dance to that!" he apparently said). But his rock ambitions were already in place - it was around that same time that he began working with the Hawks on sessions for Bringing It All Back Home - and the Byrds were just an additional kick in that direction.
    In 1965 in the UK, he liked this track enough to seek out John Mayall's Bluesbreakers for a jam:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5My3yBBn8Q
    - organ again ;).
    Of course, none of it (Beatles, Animals, Byrds, Brit R&B) was quite right, but - as always - he took elements from all of it to create the new sound he was after, mainly as a setting for Like A Rolling Stone.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2015

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