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Beyond Blues: Blue Octaves


We’re really mixing and matching to show the full effect of the octave in Fig. 5. We start by playing a melody in single-note form (a question), then answer it with octaves. The octave melody is virtually the same as we played previously, but with a slightly different ending. When you play this in isolation, it’s clear the power you can bring in with octaves.

Fig. 6 takes that question-and-answer idea up a notch by playing a melody in the lower register, then answering it with a more lyrical phrase and a more laid-back rhythm in octaves higher up the neck. When you think like this, everything starts to sound a little more musical—and that’s a good thing!

Our final example in Fig. 7 is a tricky one: We’re throwing everything at this with some slides in and out on the b5, syncopated phrasing, and rapid position shifts.

When you play a figure like this as a single-note line (using either the low note or the high note), you’ll likely find some familiar phrase, but the octave interpretation makes it a little harder to execute. This is a typical jazz/blues phrase but with a twist, so pay careful attention to those position jumps. They trip me up most of the time too!

Lastly, we have our backing track to try all these ideas over. It’s a repeating Cm7–C7sus vamp with a bit of an acid jazz vibe to it. See what you can do with these examples, and try writing some of your own using the C blues scale. You never know, you might discover something that becomes part of your lick bag. Let us know what you come up with!

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