Violin Lesson: Beginner Blues Lesson for Violin Part 2

by David Bruce

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Now we're going to put together the two three-note segments we learned in Part 1 to form a complete scale.

Here are all the notes we'll be using:

Again using a combination of quarter notes and eighth notes, try playing up and down all 6 notes.

For now, only play the next note up or down, or repeat the same note - in other words - No Jumps.

For now just give it a go and see what comes out - we'll talk more about what to do with the notes in a moment. Here's one example:

That's already a fine blues melody!

If you're struggling to reproduce the effect, here's a few pointers :

Musical Phrases

A musical phrase in the blues is the same as one in any other type of music - think of it as a sentence, or the part of a sentence up to a comma. When you are improvising around the notes of the blues scale, try to create the feeling of a musical phrase.

This might be an opening phrase for example:

Once you've got an opening phrase, it helps to think of the next phrase as an answer to that phrase. But what does 'answering' a phrase mean?

Think of any everyday argument or discussion. One side says one thing. The other side might :
  • agree entirely - repeating the phrase exactly
  • agree almost entirely - repeating the phrase, but perhaps with a small alteration at the end
  • agree with some parts and not others - copy one part of the phrase, and make the rest totally different
  • agree, but amplify a point - extending the phrase by taking a detail and playing with it
  • totally disagree - do something exactly the opposite
...and so on - there are lots of other possibilities of course.

A complete blues melody

To create your first true blues melody, we're going to build on this question an answer idea and create a melody with four main sections:
  • The opening phrase or question
  • An answering phrase
  • A variation on the answering phrase
  • A return to the opening phrase.
Here's our example:

Again, try to follow the ideas presented here, rather than the music. Go with your instinct about what sounds good as a phrase, an answer or a variation - there are no rules!

When you're ready to move on, check out our collection of Improvisation Pieces for Violin. These are written pieces of music, that include a section for improvising.

Or to be even freer, try our Playalong Jam Tracks for Violin, professional quality tracks you can jam along to.

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