As a guitar instructor at Long & McQuade, I have taught countless students (beginners to advanced) how to play or improve their chops.
Part three introduces more ideas for creating interesting variations of the one, four, five standard blues progression. Many of these chords act as passing chords in a chromatic role, are usually of short duration and connect one principal chord to another. Diminished and altered chords are used often for this purpose, creating a chromatic bassline in the progression. Progression ten utilizes this format throughout the chord movement with the bassline running through the entire progression on the sixth string. With one chord per beat, this will be the hardest of the examples to master.
Progression seven picks up where progression six from Part Two left off. Most of the dominant chords have been substituted with thirteenths to seven sharp fifth chords. This is a common movement and only has a one note difference. For example, C13 to C7♯5 has the sixth (or an octave higher), thirteenth degree moving to the augmented fifth. In this case, the note A (thirteenth) moves to G♯ (sharp fifth). G13 to G7♯5 requires the E (thirteenth) to move to D♯ (sharp fifth). D13 to D7♯5 moves the B (thirteenth) to A♯ (sharp fifth).
In measures three, the normal two measures of G Major have been replaced by GMaj7 and Bm7 . This is another common substitution for the tonic (root) Major chord. Bm7 can respelled as a GMaj9/B.
Bm7 and G Maj9/B Comparison
D (minor third)
A (Major 9th)
F♯ (Major 7th)
In measures eleven and twelve, the turnaround, there is some chromatic movement. The A13♭9 moves to the Am7 with movement in the bass and upper partials, while the Am7 to Adim7 has chromatic movement in the middle and treble strings.
All of these versions are played fingerstyle with the 'grab' technique using the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers. All of the chords have been transcribed that way.
This version adds more elements to progression seven. Minor seventh chords as well as thirteenths and seven sharp fifth chords, have replaced most of the dominant chords. The minor seventh for dominant substitution was addressed in Part Two.
The turnaround (measures eleven and twelve) has another inversion of the GMaj7 chord placed on the third beat of measure eleven. This voicing makes a nice transition into the A13♭9 chord, which in turn leads into the Am7 and Adim7. Plenty of descending chromatic movement here.
A challenging piece to play. I have voiced all of the bass notes on the sixth string. In measure two, the C7sus4 to F13♭9 is a very cool sound similar to the GMaj7 to A13♭9 movement in measure one.
In measure four, I have voiced the Dm7 with an A in the bass to keep the notes moving along the sixth string. The same format is used in measure five with the C7/G. Slash chords are very useful for creating this type of constant bass.
In the last measure, the second bar of the turnaround, the Adim7 chord is repeated and renamed a Cdim7 at the seventh fret. Because every note in a diminished seventh chord is a root note, the chords repeat every four frets.
As mentioned in the introduction, this should be the hardest progression to learn. Playing one chord per beat is not easy and will have you running around the fretboard.
Measures one and two continue the descending chromatic pattern from progression nine. In fact, the whole progression has a descending overall sound until measure seven. The bassline in this measure ascends four frets from G to A♯. The use of diminished seventh chords as passing tones really stands out in this bar.
It should be noted that every progression in this lesson stays on the five chord for measures nine and ten. This is a slight deviation from the norm of one bar of the five chord into one bar of the four chord before the turnaround. In this version, these measures are based on the Am7 chord. Measure ten could be replaced with Gm7, Gm6, Gm7 and C7/G if the four chord is required.
This progression bears little resemblance to the others, but sounds great.
As opposed to the other progressions, this one is predominantly an ascending sound. Measure two is a complete change from the normal 'quick change' dominant four chord. The CMaj6 and C♯dim7 outline a C Major chord more than a C7. The DMaj6 at the beginning of the third measure could be renamed a GMaj9/D, but trying to relate the rest of the chords to the normal one, four, five progression is a stretch. All of these chords just sound very cool together and the three chord progression can still be heard.
In terms of improvisation over these chords, if in doubt about the scales go with chord tones. As with any improvisation, you must alter the scale to match the chord (that is, find a parent scale and analyze the notes of the chord to see what changes they force on the scale). Try singing melodies over the progressions to get ideas. This will greatly improve your ear.
The version on the video is different from the transcription. Instead of playing the chords on every beat, I have treated all of the chords that get two beats as a half note. Also, the tempo is 120 bpm as opposed to 80 bpm.
© 2015 Lorne Hemmerling
Lorne Hemmerling (author) from Oshawa on August 24, 2016:
Hi Al. Yes that chord would make a wonderful transition back into the GM7. Thanks so much for your kind words! It is always good to know that these lessons are being used.
Al Brussich on August 22, 2016:
instead of using the D7/A why not play a D13b5b9? It makes for a smoother down run and a bit easier to play, especially as it is only a one beat chord. Good stuff and great exercise routines.
I use your examples as part of my regular warm up routine. Thanks for your efforts.