“The Paul Halladay Turnaround”

Back in the Stone Age when I was first learning to play, Renaissance Music was located on Princess Street across from the church. That store was a hangout for a lot of cool local musicians who would come in just to visit, chat with others, strum a guitar. It was a real nice vibe, but I remember how nervous I’d get when some of the heavy hitters would wander in, guys like Tim Mavety, Rick Genge.

One day I was sitting on an amp strumming a guitar in the back section of the store alongside of my friend Paul Halladay, who also had a guitar in hand. We were just hangin’ out, no particular place to go. Paul played me a real basic (to him) blues turnaround that I certainly had heard before, but had never figured out. He was kind enough to teach it to me right then and there, and I gotta admit, it proved to be a very valuable lesson, one I’ve always been grateful for, and now I’m going to share it with YOU.

A turnaround is a musical passage that literally turns a song around, bringing it back to its beginning. They can take many forms, and are commonly found in the last couple of measures of a 12-bar blues progression, signalling that the progression has reached its end and is about to start over.

Example A shows a chord change from A7 to E7 (I – V), happening in bars 11 and 12 of a 12-bar blues, which leads back to bar 1, where the progression starts again on A7. Naming the two chords that happen between the A7 and E7 is a pain in the butt – it’s easiest to just think of them as magical passing chords. The Paul Halladay Turnaround is in the first bar, the rest is just some stuff I’ve come up with to go along with it. As indicated, play all of the examples with a Shuffle groove. You can enlarge the example just by clicking on it.As I learned more about applying theory to the guitar, I also got more into playing the blues. I began to see other ways and situations where I could use that thang that Paul shared, and I’ll share those with you, too.

Example B is the same musical idea, but transposed down a perfect 4th to the key of E, using the 1st and 2nd strings as drones in place of the high A of the first example.When playing these examples try tossing your pick and using just your right hand fingers to pluck the strings. Example C jumps the idea up a fourth, this time to the key of D.If we apply theory to analyze The Paul Halladay Turnaround we can see that it begins with an A7 cluster containing, from low to high, G, C# and E (the flatted 7th, 3rd and 5th of the A7 chord). These notes move downward to resolve on a simple A major triad in 2nd Inversion. By playing around with other inversions of Paul’s thang we can come up with some different sounds for the same turnaround.

For Example D we remove the high droning A from the original example, and replace it with the low open A on your 5th string. Then we raise the flatted 7th (G) of the A7 cluster up an octave so that it becomes the high note of the cluster, now on the 1st string. The notes, from low to high are now C#, E and G from low to high – we have inverted that little A7 chord. Now move the notes down just like before, ending this time with a Root Position A triad. Same results, but the new voicings give it a different sound.If we go the other way, and invert the A7 downward, the notes will be in the order of E, G and C#, and will move down to an A triad in 1st Inversion, as shown in Example E.With Example F we are inverting downward yet again, starting with C#, E and G and bringing those notes down to form an A chord in Root Position. This is a bit of a finger stretch, but do-able.Keep investigating. If you try applying the same inversion ideas to the E and D turnarounds of Examples B and C you should be busy for a few days!

My thanks go out to Mr. Paul Halladay for the initial inspiration behind this post.

If you enjoyed this little workout, please share it with others. I won’t mind that one bit.

Let that be a lesson to you.  😉

© 2014 Matthew Woodward