Stormy Monday


John Coltrane

On Monday I have some guitar practice routines that revolve around the keys of E & Bb. Major scales, then Blues, and then half diminished to altered dominant seventh changes, like the last eight bars of “Stella by Starlight.” In the morning I have a lot of energy and doing this routine always gives me new ideas. I want to just get the routine over quickly, because in the summer, the morning is also the only time it is cool enough to do any strenuous work around the house, but what often happens is that I get all of this insight and inspiration, I am in the groove. Now, the scale thing is going pretty quickly because I stay on track by going up the neck and starting each scale on the next note up chromatically. Today as an example. E is open, so I play the scale that starts on E. There are 4 open strings in the key of E, but G# and D# make it so that those two strings, the G and D, can’t be played open. The other 4: E, A, b & e are all open. Anyway, the first scale I play on Monday is E major using as many open strings as possible. Then I go to the next note, the F at the first fret. There is no F note in E, but it is the 5th of Bb. Since the key of Bb has an F, I play the Bb scale that starts on F. So, I play scales that go up and they alternate between Bb and E. It is easy to know what scale to practice next because you just go up by note, and they alternate between E & Bb. I also sing along with some do re mi to get my voice and my guitar in tune. If I could do this all the time, I could sing solo like George Benson. Anyway, it helps to think of where “do” is, it helps your ear. Also, if you start the scale on a note other than “do” you start to think of the starting note as “do” so I would start the Bb scale beginning on F with a sol la ti do, singing along as I play it. This really helps your ear and I don’t have to hardly think of my fingers at all, I just let them play the notes I am thinking of.

As I was doing the scales I started thinking of how a pentatonic scale also has the notes of the minor 7th chord that is on the relative minor. The relative minor of C is Am, so C Pentatonic is C D E G A, and every note but D is in the Am7 chord, and D could be considered the 11th. So, you could take an A scale and then lower the C# to a C and the G# to a G, but it is easier to just use the C pentatonic to find Am7.

The other thing I thought about while practicing these scales is using the tetrachord, the 1st 4 notes of the scale, and then playing the tetrachord that starts on the 5th. They have the same shape. I was working on traveling scales where you play one finger per note, or slide your finger between the 7 and 8 or the 3 and 4. For example, B and C or E and F. This is how you travel up and down the neck.

I am still using the pentatonic scale when I play the Blues, but you use one penta for the chords but another for the lead notes. So for G you would play a Bb pentatonic over that. My next idea is using this minor third relationship of the G chords supporting the Bb Blues scale to learn how the scales used in a jazz minor 2 5 change also have a minor third relationship. That will wait for another day, though.

They call it stormy monday,
but tuesday’s just the same.
Wednesday’s worse,
and thursday’s just a shame.

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