Tony Oreshko jazz and gypsy jazz guitar


by Tony Oreshko
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Lesson 4

Tritones Part 2 - Jazzing Up a Blues Progression

This lesson is for those of you who can already manage a simple 3 chord blues pattern and want to add some more interesting chords to it.

I'm going to start off with a simple 12 bar blues progression and then show you how to substitute in some extra chords to make the progression sound more jazzy. I'll be referring back to the ideas on tritone substitution covered in Lesson 3 and showing you how to put them to practical use in a blues.

So, let's start with a simple, 3 chord version of the 12 bar blues in the key of C:

     C7    /    /    /   |      F7    /    /    /   |      C7    /    /    /   |      C7    /    /    /   |

     F7    /    /    /   |      F7    /    /    /   |      C7    /    /    /   |      C7    /    /    /   |

     G7    /    /    /   |      F7    /    /    /   |      C7    /    /    /   |      G7    /    /    /   |

        Blues MP3  Listen to the Blues progression

Three String Chord Shapes

First I'll give you some easy 7th chord shapes that are a bit more suitable for playing a jazz flavoured blues. One thing you'll notice straightaway is that they only use three strings on the guitar rather than the usual five or six strings. Why is this?

Well, we're going to be adding a lot more chords to the blues progression, so we want some light, agile chord shapes that will be easier to move about than the clumpy five and six string shapes you may be familiar with.

Dominant 7th Shapes

C7 chord shape F7 chord shape G7 chord shape

Try playing the blues progression with these new shapes. It may take some practice to get used to the unusual fingerings and also to get used to the different sounds. When you're reasonably comfortable with these shapes we'll move on and start adding in some substitutions to the blues pattern.

Adding Tritone Substitutes

You may find it helpful to re-read Lesson 3 before working through this section, as it explains tritone substitutes in detail. Here's a brief summary of what was covered:

Recap on Tritone Substitutes

The main things you need to remember:

  • For every note on the guitar there is another note three tones (6 frets) away that makes a distance or interval called a tritone.
  • If we have a dominant 7th chord we look at its root note and then work out its tritone.
  • We can then use a new dominant 7th chord on the tritone as a substitute for the first chord.

Tritones for the Blues Sequence

Our basic blues progression (above) uses three dominant 7th chords: C7, F7 and G7. Here are the roots of these chords and their matching tritones:

      C - its tritone is F# (or Gb)
      F - its tritone is B
      G - its tritone is Db (or C#)

Now look at the revised blues chord pattern below. You'll see where I've added tritone substitutes - these are the ones marked in a different colour. Notice how I've used two beats on the original chord followed by two beats on the tritone substitute.

Revised Blues Pattern Using Tritone Substitutes

   C7    /    F#7    /   |    F7    /    B7    /   |    C7    /       /       /   |    C7    /    F#7    /   |

   F7    /       /       /    |    F7    /   
B7    /   |    C7    /       /       /   |    C7    /    F#7    /   |

   G7    /   
Db7    /   |    F7    /    B7    /   |    C7    /    F#7    /   |    G7    /    Db7    /   |

        Tritone Blues MP3  Listen to the Tritone Blues progression

Finding the Additional Chords

In order to play this revised version we need three new chords: F#7, B7 and Db7. We can easily play these chords by simply moving the new shapes from earlier in this lesson:

For F#7 play the F7 chord one fret higher
For B7 play the C7 chord one fret lower
For Db7 play the C7 chord one fret higher

Well, that's the end of another lesson. I hope you've managed to get something out of it.

Disclaimer: I accept no responsibility for any losses arising from the use of these lessons - they are taken entirely at your own risk. If you turn into a tritone bore and all your friends and loved ones desert you then I will not be held liable.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to send them to me. I'll do my best to give a prompt reply.

Tony Oreshko

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