IFR blog > Student questions > What about minor sounds and blues sounds

What about minor sounds and blues sounds?

Hi David,

I'm reading your book from cover to cover and loving it. I have a question that I imagine you will answer later in the book. If the major scale is the origin of all Western music, then how should we think about songs that are in a minor key, or blues music that doesn't seem to be based on the major scale at all?


David's response:

Hi Kathy,

As soon as you begin practicing the IFR exercises, you will immediately discover all those "minor sounds" and "blues sounds" that you're talking about. In IFR we study and play all of these sounds. Here's how we approach these sounds in IFR:

1) You'll be improvising with both major and minor sounds right from the start. In IFR Jam Tracks Level 1: Seven Worlds, you will be improvising over all seven chords of the major scale, which are the most important chords in all popular music. Many of these chords are minor chords, so the overall sound of the music is would you would call a "minor key". IFR will help you see how these chords fit into the big picture so that you can weave your own melodies through the chords.

2) For a great example of how these minor chords appear in popular songs, take a look at the list of songs that we study in IFR Standards Workout 1. Three of the standards in this course (Autumn Leaves, Black Orpheus and Blue in Green) are actually in a minor key, so these are perfect examples of exactly what you're talking about. But regardless of whether the tonal center is major or minor, in IFR we learn to visualize all of these sounds on a single map, giving us a bird's eye view of the entire chord progression.

3) The "blues sound" that you mentioned is even more interesting. Blues music has many dissonant sounds like dominant chords, blue notes, bending, the "blues scale", etc. But remember, EVERY note you play is somewhere on your IFR Tonal Map. The IFR Tonal Map includes all 12 notes of the chromatic scale, so there isn't a harmonic concept in the world that can't be visualized and understood using the tonal map concept. The IFR Blues Mastery Course will show you exactly how this applies to the blues.

So even though the major scale is the origin of all of these sounds, your palette of colors as an improviser is always the entire 12 note chromatic scale. IFR doesn't impose any limits at all on what you can play. IFR just leads you through all of these sounds in an organized way so that you can truly understand them and use them in your improvising.

I hope this helps fill in the blanks a little bit. If you have more questions, just let me know.