The first 2 scales we will cover, are C# Major(7 Sharps) and C# Minor(4 Sharps). Refer to the above PDF for the visual representation of these scales, as appears on the piano keys. The C# Major key has 7 sharps, as it appears in the musical staff’s of sheet music for instrumentation in this key. They are C#, D#, E#, F#, G#, A#,& B#. C Sharp Minor has 4 Sharps, namely C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A, & B. With the above song “Better Man Blues”, written by Mike Mckendry, an alternating Major/Minor scale, is utilised in the piano solo of the song.
The benefits of playing in the 7 Sharps, is we can roll off the black notes easily, and onto the E, A & B (White notes), in a way that is very different than playing blues in the key of C. The pentatonic blues scale, in this key is C#, E, F#, G, G# & B. Obviously this C# blues scale, is a little more trickier to implement, than playing in A, G or C keys, however when rolling up a semitone, from F# to G or G# to B, the thumb is the best digit to use. Also playing cluster chords is easier in C#, for example it is easier to reach from a black note, to it’s neighbouring white note, using the thumb and the index finger, or the middle finger and the ring finger of the right hand.
When playing a Boogie Woogie bass line, with the left hand, in the Key of C Sharp Major, practice is the only way to get used to the odd layout of notes. Traditionally Boogie Woogie blues is best played in C or G, however I also enjoy playing Boogie Woogie in F and A as well, for example the song “Lady Madonna”, starts with an A Major Boogie Woogie bass line, and meanders into Dm, G & C, a totally fun song to play.
In the above song “Better Man Blues”, block chords are used with the left hand, ie C# Chord > F# > C#7th, as this is quite hard to demonstrate visually, here is a list of the notes for each variation:
C# Chord (C#, E#, G#), F# Chord (C#, F#, A#), C#7th Chord (C#, G#, B)
The verses in the song “Better Man Blues”, move through the above format then down to G# Minor, then onto F# and into the chorus.