Get­tin’ The Blues

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

Iin­tro­duced this topic with some scales to prime you in last is­sue’s Blues And Beyond, so today we can get straight into a study piece I’ve pre­pared on the topic of Django Rein­hardt’s time­less ap­proach to the blues.

I have recorded this piece at a mod­er­ate 100BPM (beats per minute) with the aim of mak­ing it achiev­able for all play­ers. The­o­ret­i­cally, there’s a lot go­ing on, but let’s not get too bogged down in the the­ory. Just lis­ten to the notes and utilise the tracks. If you want to reap­ply the ideas your­self, use the chords as your ref­er­ence sound and your ear as your guide, and you’ll get some­where – I prom­ise! Also, utilise al­ter­nate pick­ing where pos­si­ble.


This is es­sen­tially a blues in the key of C with some in­ter­est­ing twists. How­ever, a nice and sim­ple C ma­jor pen­ta­tonic scale couldn’t start things bet­ter. The first beat of Bar #2 sees us bend into an F nat­u­ral – the root note of F. It’s pretty ob­vi­ous, but it works! Then we utilise an F ma­jor 6 arpeg gio be­fore re­solv­ing to the E in Bar # 4.

The E is the third note in a C ma­jor scale, which is the most im­por­tant chord tone, and works sim­i­larly to the same way we may re­solve to the root as we did in Bar # 2. We use a C ma­jor 6 arpeg­gio to roll into Bar #4, which also hap­pens to be an A mi­nor arpeg­gio, an­tic­i­pat­ing the next bar and chord. The D# or Eb that we use here is more or less the blues note from an A mi­nor blues. To use it this jar­ringly is very Django.


A great lit­tle trick to work­ing with ma­jor chords is to think in terms of the rel­a­tive mi­nor. F ma­jor and D mi­nor are the rel­a­tives we are talk­ing about here, so I use a D mi­nor arpeg­gio, which also gives us an F ma­jor 6 arpeg­gio. On the next bar, we utilise the di­min­ished scale I showed you in the last is­sue, be­fore re­solv­ing back to the root of the C in Bar # 7.

Re­ally get to know the chords if you want to un­der­stand the melody we are us­ing – it’s where most of our cues come from. Lead­ing into Bar #8 with an A har­monic mi­nor, we play a sim­ple A mi­nor pen­ta­tonic lick be­fore head­ing into the fi­nal turn­around.

EXCERISE #3 (BARS #9–12)

If it sounds good, do it again! I utilise the same mi­nor arpeg­gio or ma­jor 6 arpeg­gio as in Bar #5, be­fore de­scend­ing and as­cend­ing a G# di­min­ished scale in Bar #10, com­plete with some em­bel­lish­ing. Bar #11 ar­rives on the 5th of the C chord or the note G.

A melodic use of ma­jor pen­ta­tonic rolls Bar #11 into #12, and we utilise chord tones from a G# di­min­ished and a sim­ple lit­tle melody to set up our re­turn to Bar #1. I have bent from an F# into a G, so there’s no need to an­a­lyse the F# – it’s the note we ar­rive at that was the goal, and where the in­her­ent melodic idea lies. The bend is just a lit­tle em­bel­lish­ment.


I think that colour and beauty are two of the things that can get lost in a modern mu­si­cian’s reper­toire, in favour of tech­ni­cal pro­fi­ciency. The time­less­ness of this piece is owed to the se­lec­tiv­ity that would have come from years of ded­i­ca­tion to play­ing the right notes, to find the right emo­tion to match the chords. Af­ter all, isn’t that the whole point of mu­sic?

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