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How come the major 3rd doesn't sound good as a target tone in blues?

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  • How come the major 3rd doesn't sound good as a target tone in blues?

    I've been reading up and becoming interested in using chord tones for soloing in blues, but the major third, though in the chord (if not using the dom7)  doesn't sound good as a target tone for the end of a phrase.  I get that the minor third is in the blues scale but can't figure out why the major third sound is violating the whole chord tone concept.  Can anyone help?  Thanks.


  • #2
    It may depend on the context. If you are using a pentatonic minor blues scale, the major third gets used sparingly, usually resolving to the minor third. Like a pull off or a reverse slide. But if you are playing a major pentatonic scale, it might sound better. So many of my heroes use both major and minor pentatonic scales. I haven't really messed around with cord tones too much, so someone else might be able to provide you with more info.

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    • onelife
      onelife commented
      Editing a comment

      The "blue note" is in between the Major 3rd and minor 3rd.

      BB King quite often uses the Major 3rd on the I chord (C# in the key of A for example) the drops it a semitone for the dominant 7th in the IV chord (C natural in the case of D7 in the key of A). BB will use the 5th  of the V chord (B natural in the case of E7 in the key of A). 

      You can see how BB is still using notes that are in the chords while finding nice little bendy things he can do with the notes to get there. For example, you could play B on the 12th fret of the second string, bend it up a full step to C# for the A7 chord, release the bend a bit so its a half step to C natural for the D7 chord, then back up to C# for the return to A7 then release the bend and play B natural over the E7 chord. Do this with some fineness and feeling and pay tribute to the master.


  • #3

    Kid Charlemagne wrote:

    I've been reading up and becoming interested in using chord tones for soloing in blues, but the major third, though in the chord (if not using the dom7)  doesn't sound good as a target tone for the end of a phrase.  I get that the minor third is in the blues scale but can't figure out why the major third sound is violating the whole chord tone concept.  Can anyone help?  Thanks.



    You should post this in The Lesson Loft. JonR will be along (it may take a few days as it's a ghost town) to shed some light.

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    • #4

      Kid Charlemagne wrote:

      I've been reading up and becoming interested in using chord tones for soloing in blues, but the major third, though in the chord (if not using the dom7)  doesn't sound good as a target tone for the end of a phrase.  I get that the minor third is in the blues scale but can't figure out why the major third sound is violating the whole chord tone concept.  Can anyone help?  Thanks.


      Another thing to look at is extended and altered chords. The so called Hendrix chord is an example. 

      E7 consists of the notes E, G#, B and D. If we add the 9th note of the E Major scale (F#) the chord becomes E9. If we raise the 9th up half a step to G, the chord becomes E7#9 an altered extended dominant chord.

      Dominant chord are usually used to create tension and the E7#9 does that nicely. That dominant tension is a big part of the Blues.

      When you look at the E7#9 chord you will notice it contains both the Major third (G#) and the minor third (G natural).

      Personally, I like the sound of the Major third in blues, especially when going back to the I chord from the IV or the V.

      Again, listen to BB King for all of your blues needs.



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      • #5

        Is it just me or does it seem like a bad idea to study blues?

        I dunno, maybe it's just me.  

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        • 1001gear
          1001gear commented
          Editing a comment

          Burgess wrote:

          Is it just me or does it seem like a bad idea to study blues?

          I dunno, maybe it's just me.  


           I IV V supertars make me ill but blues in and of itself ain't so bad.

          1/5 kudo.


      • #6
        Its rhyming slang for turd?
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        If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.


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        • Burgess
          Burgess commented
          Editing a comment

          I understand.

          You see, I actually live in the Chicago area and we have actual bonafide bluesmen here.  I'm talking about the real deal.  Guys (and Gals) who walk the walk, talk the talk, live the life.  The genuine artifact.  Granted, there really aren't as many around as there were back in the day but these are no spit Bluesmen.

          Now I can play a passable blues and when I lived in SoCal I actually had a rep as a pretty decent blues player.  But out here I would NEVER claim to be a blues player.  And I even played in a blues band here for a few years, but you can't really help that around here.  I've always found it best to just play the spit out the blues.  Immerse yourself in it, steal every riff, lick, phrase that you can.  Even every mistake that you make that sounds kind of cool, keep that in your bag of tricks!

          It's the blues.  Just tune up and start rippin'!

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