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Charlie had so many crazy pieces you couldn't count 'em - Charlie Patton, remembered by Son House

Author Topic: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords  (Read 40036 times)

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Online Johnm

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #45 on: August 14, 2008, 07:13:25 AM »
Hi all,
A quick report from EBA Bluesweek 2008: Phil Thorne loaned me a Trix CD of Tarheel Slim (Alden Bunn) to listen to here.  I had never heard Slim's music before and found on the CD a blues in A minor, "Weeping Willow", that is completely different from Blind Boy Fuller's song of the same name.  Tarheel Slim's song is slow, very moody, and employs voicings I haven't heard used elsewhere by country blues musicians.  For his I chord, he rocks between these two A minor chords:  X-0-2-2-1-0 and X-0-3-2-1-0, a surprising A minor#5.  For his IV chord he uses an F (IV of the relative major of A minor, C), rocking between a conventional F, 1-X-3-2-1-1, and an F6:  1-X-3-2-3-1.  His V chord is really exotic, very Spanish-sounding, rocking between 0-x-2-1-0-0 and E add flat9:  0-X-3-1-0-0!  If you are a player, you may want to try these chords out; they're really something.  Tarheel Slim doesn't really do picking on this number, but sticks to smooth kind of brush strokes with his thumb from the sound of it.  It makes sense, because the brushing really brings out the sound of the chords.  His singing was terrific, too.
Elsewhere on the CD, Tarheel Slim plays a song, "My Baby's Gone", in B in standard tuning, and he has a couple of nice tunes in Vestapol.  He was really a nice singer and player, and if you find this CD, entitled "No Time At All", you may want to pick it up, because it is no longer in print.
All best,
Johnm 
« Last Edit: August 15, 2008, 01:30:01 AM by Johnm »

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #46 on: August 14, 2008, 07:22:15 AM »
Ha! Good job I let Phil have the CD...  I hadn't listened to it for years (I believe it came my way as a review copy) and when Phil expressed an interest I listened again and was very pleasantly surprised.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
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Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #47 on: August 14, 2008, 09:34:29 AM »
Hi all,
A quick report from EBA Bluesweek 2008: Phil Thorne loaned me a Trix CD of Tarheel Slim (Alden Bunn) to listen to here.  I had never heard Slim's music before.....Johnm 
FWIW there's a Trix TAG with a potted history of the label complemented by a Trix discography at Stefan's web site that show Slim and Pete Lowrey in jovial mood! :)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #48 on: November 24, 2008, 05:26:21 PM »
Brother Can You Spare A Dime works really well on guitar out of an A minor position, capo 3 if you want to pitch it like Bing. Not a blues, just real bluesy and very satisfying to play.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #49 on: November 24, 2008, 06:45:59 PM »
Another song I listened to recently using a minor chord to great effect is Mance Lipscomb's "Evil Blues", found on the Arhoolie CD "Texas Country Blues Vol 5". It's very much in the vein of Lemon's "Wartime Blues", a 16-bar blues with a minor IV chord, and a I chord that hovers harmonically between a major and a minor feel by not emphasizing the 3rd.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2008, 06:47:07 PM by uncle bud »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #50 on: November 24, 2008, 07:12:39 PM »
Another one that I listened to recently is the version of "Ella Speed" by the obscure Tricky Sam on the Document CD "Texas Field Recordings 1934-39", DOCD-5231. This is a really nice version of the song, poorly recorded, but I'd say that Sam uses a minor II chord as the second chord of the major key (in C), raggy form he employs, rather than the II7 that might be more typically found in this this progression:

A Dm G (G7) C
A Dm F#dim
C D7 G7 C

(with variations and 7ths employed throughout).

The minor II is of course the way the triad would normally be built. A really pretty version with a nice progression.

I wonder if you were to sketch this out numerically what that F#dim chord is.

VI II-minor V I
VI II-minor ??
I II7 V7 I
« Last Edit: November 24, 2008, 07:19:41 PM by uncle bud »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #51 on: November 24, 2008, 07:25:14 PM »
I'm guessing here since I don't have that one (Tricky Sam), sounds intriguing. This inversion of F#dim might fit: 2-0-1-2-0-X

Voicing is a bit less brash than the in-yer-face version at the fourth fret (2)-0-4-5-4-5 and anyway it's nice to interchange them.

Given the resolution is to C would the numeric descriptor be something like bVdim? Never seen that written down, I have no real clue what the correct annotation would be. Look forward to being enlightened!
« Last Edit: November 24, 2008, 07:50:47 PM by Rivers »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #52 on: November 24, 2008, 07:57:37 PM »
Riv, wouldn't that be 2-0-1-2-1-X? In fact, any part of 2-0-1-2-1-2 would be available in 1st position and looking at those top 3 strings sure makes it look like a substitution for the II7 chord?

All for now.
John C.
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #53 on: November 24, 2008, 08:04:12 PM »
UB: After consulting with Mrs Rivers, who knows more about this than me, try Vbo - which doesn't read the way you want to say it, 'flat 5 diminished', but looks credible.

Wax, my grip on diminished chord formation is tenuous. To analyze it, you're adding a higher C note, another I. I have a dominant 7 (B), which tends to be the way I use it, since I'm usually resolving to the I, a C chord. You are correct. Or maybe my version is 'the other' diminished, which includes the dom 7?

Cheryl says 'flat the 3rd and the 5th'. But there are two versions of a dim, right? Dims are a big hole in my chord theory, even though I can usually find the version I need by ear. I hope to be enlightened in short order when JohnM gets back, meanwhile I'll research it.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2008, 08:37:14 PM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #54 on: November 24, 2008, 09:15:26 PM »
The formation Tricky Sam uses for the diminished chord is at the 4th fret, xx4545 (so F# in the bass, which is why I named it such). It's a full diminished chord, not a half diminished. So Flat V diminished makes sense to me. Vbo would be new to me but that ain't saying much.

BTW, Wax, you're right, it does behave like a substitution and given it's F#, I wonder if this is what the jazzers would call a tritone substitution.

« Last Edit: November 24, 2008, 09:26:24 PM by uncle bud »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #55 on: November 24, 2008, 11:04:42 PM »
Saying that, UB, you launched me into a little reverie about "well, how does a tritone work" harmonically, and then I realized that a diminished chord is made up of two tritones. -G- Life's little discoveries.

Right, so then I realize that a minor 3rd is half a tritone. D'oh. And in a dom7 chord, you already have a minor 3rd between the 3rd and the 5th, and between the 5th and the flat 7th, so the one note that is out of whack, if you want a diminished chord, is the root. Usually when I think of making a dim I think of the E chord X-X-2-4-3-4 being scrunched down to X-X-2-3-2-3, moving the rest of the chord down to the root to make an Edim, but harmonically, maybe you move the root up, X-X-3-4-3-4, for an Fdim? Here, in my extrapolation of Riv's voicing, we have the X-X-1-2-1-2, which we would call a D#dim, i.e. a D7 (II7) with the root moved up to D#. Since F# is also in the D#dim chord, you can move it up to Tricky Sam's X-X-4-5-4-5 voicing and call it an F#dim, or the dim of the tritone. Since you could also substitute the chord in the same way for the F7 (IV7) it starts to look pretty useful. I guess the other possible substitutions would be for the Ab7 (flat VI7 - gets used in raggy turnarounds) and the B7 (VII7 ?!?).

Hmm? Kinda like, when in doubt, play the tritone dim?

Sorry, just musing into the keyboard.

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2008, 11:10:29 PM by waxwing »
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #56 on: November 25, 2008, 04:46:59 AM »
In my 'play-by-ear w/some theory' chord construction approach I tend to be listening for either the melody note(s) on the top (chord melody), and also an alternative voicing on the bass side around the same fret position where the bass line is heading toward my resolution, for comping or variation. Hence I throw in the dom 7 (B) into that diminished chord to resolve to C

I have no idea about tritones, I really need to study up on that. The wikipedia definition ran me aground on shores of confusion after the first paragraph.

Offline Pan

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #57 on: November 25, 2008, 05:23:58 AM »
Hi guys.

About the F#dim7 chord, in the key of C, I believe I've seen it mostly analyzed as being a #IVdim7, rather than the bVdim7. You could look it as an F7b9 chord (IV7b9) without the root, and with the b9 in bass. Strictly speaking, the b9 would be a Gflat instead of the enharmonically equivalent F sharp. I guess the chromatically ascending bassline results in people mostly using the F sharp. This interpretation is straightforward in the sense of the bassline. You could think of it as  a IV7 chord with the root "modified" to creat a chromatic bassline.

However I believe that the chord in question is also often thought to be an inversion of a rootless II7b9 chord with the 3rd on bass (D7b9/F#) which will of course progress nicely to the V chord through the cycle of 5ths. A progression to the I chord with the 5th on bass would be very common too (C/G).

As Waxwing pointed out, the diminished chord can have any of it's notes as the root, and can be also seen as 4 different rootless 7b9 chords, which maybe explains the different interpretations.

There are some  practical uses for this too: Every diminished licks you play can be repeated in a series of minor 3rd up or down. As for the tritone subs, two minor thirds are a tritone, so the D7b9 chord has as a tritone sub the Ab7b9 chord.
Also when the accompaniment moves with the dom7 chords though the cycle of 5ths, you can play chromatically descending diminished chords / arpeggios / scales, and vice versa; if the dom7 chords descend chromatically, you can play "cycle" licks against the descending bassline. This way you'd be creating counter movement, which should sound interesting to the listener.

Just my 2 cents... :)

Pan

Online Johnm

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #58 on: November 26, 2008, 11:33:54 AM »
Hi all,
I just got back, and have been reading through these recent posts.  I agree with Pan, that in the key of C, as in the version of "Ella Speed" that Uncle Bud cites, the F#dim7 chord would be analyzed numerically as #IVdim7.  In the progression, what it's doing is creating an ascending chromatic line from the IV note, F, that is the minor third of the II minor chord that precedes it, up one half step to F#, the root of the #IV dim7, resolving upward by half-step to G, the fifth of the I chord.  What makes this particular resolution a little more colorful than usual is that that it employs a "cross-relation", in that the movement from F to F# doesn't occur in the same voice, by moving the F in the D minor chord on the first string up one fret to F#.  Instead, it "crosses" the chord voices on the second and third strings and resoves to F# on the D string.  Resolution of chord voices across other voices, as in this instance, was considered a major no-no in counterpoint as employed by Bach and other composers in his tradition before and after him. 
The diminished 7 chord is structurally symmetrical in that it is the same distance, a minor third (1 and 1/2 steps) from every note in the chord and its higher and lower neighbors.  A number of interesting effects result from this symmetrical structure.
   *  Since the chord is structurally symmetrical, any one of the four notes that comprise the chord can function as the root of the chord, depending on the musical context in which it is employed.
   *  Since each of the chord voices is a minor third from the next higher or lower voice, you can move the diminished seven chord shape up or down three frets, intact, and get the same chord, just inverted.
   *  Since the chord is structurally symmetrical at the distance of a minor third, there are really only three dimished seventh chords:
   C-Eflat-Gflat-Bdouble flat (normally spelled as A)
   C#-E-G-Bflat
   D-F-Aflat-Cflat (normally spelled as B)
Moving up chromatically, the next diminished seven chord would be an inversion of the first one, the one after that would be an inversion of the second one, etc.
Augmented triads are also structurally symmetrical, but repeat themselves at the distance of a major third (two whole steps) rather than at the distance of a minor third, like the dimished third.  Thus, you have:
   C-E-G#
   C#-E#-G## (normally written as A)
   D-F#-A#
   Eflat-G-B (or D#-F##-A##)
The next augmented triad ascending chromatically would repeat the first one, via inversion. 
All best,
Johnm
   
     
« Last Edit: November 26, 2008, 01:06:43 PM by Johnm »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Blues in Minor/With Minor Chords
« Reply #59 on: November 26, 2008, 01:17:46 PM »
Let's not forget the song that kept me in guitar teaching work for almost a decade after the success of its Hot Tuna hit version, Hesitation Blues. RGD's Blow Gabriel while in a major key, don't know which off the top of my head (I think F though) , has an un-chorded progression that hovers around becoming a minor, but never quite resolves as a full minor chord. It may be as brief as one note but it manages to conjure up the whole minorific sound.
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