Author Topic: Don't understand keys for blues songs  (Read 455 times)

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Offline NeilVanGotham

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Don't understand keys for blues songs
« on: September 15, 2020, 02:40:34 pm »
Hi

Sorry if this doesn't belong here, or if it's already answered, I couldn't find it.

I don't understand the keys for the songs Justin recommends. I understand keys like A and E, but not Bb or Ab. Do I need to figure out myself which chords to use?

Online stitch101

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2020, 04:47:14 pm »
All the keys have the same intervals.
Ab would be easy to figure out. Just flatten all the notes in the key of A.

Do you know how to figure out the chords in a key using the E and A string?
Every Scale goes Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, dim.
1 4 5 chords are Major, the 2 3 6 chord are minor.

Online J.W.C.

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2020, 06:43:52 pm »
Every Scale goes Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, dim.
1 4 5 chords are Major, the 2 3 6 chord are minor.

To expand on this, here's an example. If you want to know the chords for a song in the key of F, start with an F major scale.

The notes of the F major scale are:

Code: [Select]
1 2 3 4  5 6 7
F G A B♭ C D E

Harmonizing the scale (i.e., stacking triads on each of the notes) gives you the following chords:

Code: [Select]
  I   ii   iii   IV     V    vi  vii
Fmaj  Gm   Am   B♭maj  Cmaj  Dm  Edim

Those are the basic chords in the key of F.

You can use the same process on any major scale to end up with the basic chords in that key.

Another quick example. If you want to know the basic chords in the key of G, start with the notes of the G major scale:

G A B C D E F#

Creating the triads off each of these notes gives you:

Code: [Select]
  I   ii  iii  IV    V    vi   vii
Gmaj  Am  Bm  Cmaj  Dmaj  Em  F#dim

Note that the patterns are exactly the same: the I is major, the ii and iii are minor, the IV and V are major, the vi is minor, and the vii is diminished. The pattern is the same for any major key.

For blues progressions you'll be primarily interested in the I, IV, and V chords, but any of the chords will be in the key. Also, for blues you may want to use seventh chords in some places. For example, in the key of G you might try throwing in G7 (instead of Gmaj) or C7 (instead of Cmaj) or D7 (instead of Dmaj), sometimes.

If you want a deeper understanding, check out Justin's music theory course. Doing a web search for "harmonizing the major scale" or "how to find the chords in a key" might give you some info, too, but it may or may not be presented in a "step by step" fashion that lets you understand from the ground up.

Offline NeilVanGotham

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2020, 08:11:00 am »
Alright, thank you! I learned a lot, now I can continue practicing.

Offline NeilVanGotham

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2020, 09:25:12 am »
All the keys have the same intervals.
Ab would be easy to figure out. Just flatten all the notes in the key of A.

Do you know how to figure out the chords in a key using the E and A string?
Every Scale goes Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, dim.
1 4 5 chords are Major, the 2 3 6 chord are minor.
I'm sorry, I still don't understand how to get the chords of the flat notes. Justin hasn't talked about that yet. Should I figure it out myself, or wait until he does a lesson on it?

Offline close2u

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2020, 09:41:56 am »
Hi Neil.
Some context would help us to help you.
What stage of learning are you at?
Why are you asking - is to to play blues rhythm or blues lead?
How much theory do you know?

My advice is to learn theory using the Practical Music Theory course.
My quick fix is to say :

Use the Note Circle.
Find your starting point - the key.
Count five notches clockwise, then count another two clockwise.
That gives you your three chords for a simple twelve bar blues style progression.



Start at A, then clockwise 5 & then 2 more gives A, D, E
Start at C, then clockwise 5 & then 2 more gives C, F, G
Start at Bb, then clockwise 5 & then 2 more gives Bb, Eb, F

etc etc

https://www.justinguitar.com/guitar-lessons/the-note-circle-bc-152

Offline NeilVanGotham

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2020, 02:40:48 pm »
I am in the beginner's course in stage 2 lesson 13

A few of the recommended songs are in a Ab key or e.g. Bb for Johnny B. Good from Chuck Berry
For the other songs, it's easy to figure out what chords to use, but I have trouble with the songs in these keys, Justin hasn't talked about flat chords yet. Can I just play the major chords for these keys, or am I missing something?

Online stitch101

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2020, 03:00:39 pm »
I'm sorry, I still don't understand how to get the chords of the flat notes. Justin hasn't talked about that yet. Should I figure it out myself, or wait until he does a lesson on it?

I'm guessing you are on lesson 13 and have looked at the blues songs Justin has listed.
Flat keys are no different than other keys. Except for E flat. To play SRV in Eb you need to
tune your guitar down 1 semitone. Alot of blues or rock bands tune to E flat.

Here's a little trick to help you figure out chords in a key. You will need to know the notes
on the E and A string.
Let's use the key of A . The will find the notes in the A major scale and the chords
associated with those notes.
The root note or 1 chord is A. 5th fret of the E string.
The second note or 2 chord is two semi tones or two frets up the neck which is B the
second chord is always minor so Bm
The third note or 3rd chord is two semi tones or two frets up the neck which is C#
The third chord is also always minor so C#m
The 4th note or 4th chord is directly below the Root note on the A string. This is D
or D major chord
The 5th note or chord is two semi tones or two frets up on the A string which is E or
E major chord.
The 6th note or chord is two semi tones or two frets up which is F# or F#major
The 7th note or chord is two semi tones or two frets up which is G# od G# dim.

This works for every key. So if you want the chords in Ab move down on fret to the
note Ab and figure out what the chords are.
If you want to the chords in Bb move up one fret from A to the note Bb and do the
same thing.


Offline NeilVanGotham

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2020, 07:04:17 pm »
I'm sorry, I feel like I'm being a difficult person. I still don't get how to form flat chords.

So I look for the root note on the E string, and then figure ou the right notes on the A string? When do I know if the root note is not on the 6th string? For example, Db has got to be 5th string, right? Am I missing something?

Again, I'm sorry, I really don't understand, I mean, I do understand how to form chords in normal keys like A or E, but not in flat keys.

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Offline Majik

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2020, 08:03:20 pm »
Hi Neil,
I think you would benefit from going back to basics, as I think you are missing some fundamental understanding of notes and scales.

I would recommend starting at the beginning of the Practical Music Theory course. The first few lessons are free, but might be enough to give you some of these fundamentals If you can afford it, I would recommend you take the rest of the course too.

Cheers,

Keith
Guitars: PRS Singlecut S2, Fender Tele Lite Ash, G&L Legacy Tribute, Freshman Apollo 2 OCBX, Gibson SG Special P90
Amps: Bugera G5 Head, Boss Katana 100
All sorts of other stuff.

Offline NeilVanGotham

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2020, 08:09:49 pm »
I understand notes and scales. I understand everything that's been said in this thread, how the note circle works, what flat/sharp notes are, how scales work, how to form chords in a certain key, I just don't understand how the form chords in a flat key.

For example, I know that for blues in the key of Bb, the notes are Bb, Eb and F, so I need chords Bb, Eb and, right? But how do I make chords Bb en Eb?
« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 08:28:33 pm by NeilVanGotham »

Online stitch101

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2020, 08:49:34 pm »
You're not being difficult we all had to start at the beginning where all this stuff
is new.
I think I know what the problem is.
You're trying to form flat open chords. You haven't gotten to power chords or
Barre chords yet.
To play a Bb you either play it as an E shaped barre chord at the 6th fret or as
an A shaped barre chord on the 1st fret.

You have leart the barre F chord, to play a Bb slide that barre F chord up to the 6th
fret. To play an Eb you need to know the A barre chord shapes. Or you can slide the
Bb chord up to the 11th fret. And the 13 fret for F or first fret.

Or you could do like SRV and tune you guitar to Eb down one semi tone from standard.

Offline NeilVanGotham

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2020, 08:58:01 pm »
Thank you! That helped a lot, I think I got a better grasp of what is going on. If you don't mind, I am left with a few more questions.

If I tune down to Eb, the chords as I would play them normally, would also be down one semi tone? So if I would play the A chord, like I would in standard tuning, it's going to be Ab? And if I want to play F, I'll have to slide up one fret?

I have learnt power chords already, can I just play them in blues? Isn't that a rock thing?

Online stitch101

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2020, 09:19:10 pm »
Yes You can use them in the blues. The 12 bar shuffle Justin teaches in lesson 13.6
are open power chords.

You are also correct when tuned down all your open chords would become Flattened.
And to play an F barre chord it would be on the second fret

Offline NeilVanGotham

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2020, 09:22:31 pm »
Alright, thank you, man. You've been a big help! And I've learned a lot from the rest of this thread too.

Offline close2u

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2020, 09:48:21 pm »
Having said that, at your stage, with what you are trying to do and learn, I would not bother detuning to E flat.
There are millions of blues and 12-bar songs in the keys of A, D, E, G, C, and sometimes even B and F. You do not need to venture to flat keys. That is not to mention minor key variants of those above.

There are a few reasons people do it.

One - a big one for artists playing with a big band. Brass instruments are happiest playing in flat keys due to the way most people learn and prefer to play them. Their preferred keys are Bb, Ab and Eb. But those keys are most definitely not guitar friendly unless you know barre chords and the CAGED system and the notes on the neck and chord formation in different keys.

Two - some guitarists deliberately use thicker strings and detune by half a tone. This could be to suit their vocal range or because they like the sound and feel of the instrument at hat pitch. Many Stratocaster players do this (Hendrix / SRV etc). A Fender Stratocaster has a longer scale length than say a Les Paul so for any given string gauge the tension is greater when tuned to standing A440 tuning. Detuning can reduce this tension a little and make bending easier. That said, some of these same guitarists also use thicker strings so they will be strung to a high tension again. They have strong fingers and hard callouses!!

Offline NeilVanGotham

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Re: Don't understand keys for blues songs
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2020, 09:53:28 pm »
close2u

Looks I still have a lot to learn. I'll take you advice, and I'll use power chords if I want to play in flat keys, or maybe go to a higher/lower key? Thanks, man, you've helped me a lot!
« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 09:57:40 pm by close2u »

 

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