After studying many subjects, here we are coming back to the world of Blues!
If you are a beginner in the subject and by accident you fell in this topic, read the basic topic about Blues before anything.
Well, if it is not the case, and you have been following the website, so you have learned that the dominant chord V7 allows us to use many interesting resources in improvisation. It is the most explored kind of chords when we talk about outside notes.
What we are going to do now is to take the concepts that we learned about dominants and use them in Blues; because Blues is formed mainly by dominant chords! You already know the basic structure of Blues, so now is time to get off from the surface and go beyond the Minor Pentatonic scale + Blues scale.
Summarizing the improvisation in blues
It is time to use the other approaches we know! Let’s summarize what you can use in the chords of Blues (first, fourth and fifth degrees), all of them non-altered dominants:
– Melodic Minor scale one fifth above
– Major Pentatonic scale (above the first degree)
We don’t need to comment here about Melodic Minor Scale, Diminished, whole tone, Bebop and Mixolydian; because the reason to use each one of them is thinking that each chord of Blues acts like a dominant chord (we already studied this approach for each one of these scales).
Even if these chords with seventh of the dominant are not being solved in their tonalities, they are nonetheless dominants, so we think as each of them as a V7 chord.
The chromaticism with Target Notes was also completely explained in other topics and you already know how to use it.
The new thing here is the Major Pentatonic. In the same way we use the Minor Pentatonic, we can also use the Major Pentatonic above the first degree. Think about this: Major Pentatonic takes the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th degrees. In G chord, Major Pentatonic would take then the notes G, A, B, D and E. Let’s see if these notes are already present in another scale we are using:
To G7 chord, D is present in the Minor Pentatonic scale of G. Ok, then I don’t need o be worried about this note. E and A are present in Melodic Minor scale of D (which is the melodic minor one fifth above G7). B is present in the Mixolydian scale of G. In other words, when playing the Major Pentatonic scale of G, we are not doing nothing different than using the previous notes that we already used. So, there is no problem in doing this!
Just as a curiosity, the Major Pentatonic in Blues is really used by the guitarist B.B. King. If you want to grow in this style, listen to B.B. King and notice the way he uses the Major Pentatonic.
If you are not comfortable with the Major Pentatonic and if you are a lover of the shape of the Minor Pentatonic scale, you can think about the relative minor of G (E minor) and play, in this case, the Minor Pentatonic of E.
Very well, the theory concepts are all expounded, now it is time of hands-on! We will give you all these concepts used in solos. Check bellow and take these ideas as example to build your own ideas!
Observation: Diminished scale in Blues sounds better when is played before the transition from one chord to another. For example, before going from the first degree to the fourth, try to use the Diminished. Do the same thing in the transition from the fourth degree to the first. This scale sounds better this way because it is really used in the idea of “passing chords”, as we already studied.
File Guitar Pro: AdvancedImprovisationinBlues.gpro
Use all these concepts in this base of Blues: Bluesbase.gpro
Now you can consider yourself a differentiated musician! Which is the frequency that you listen to these outside notes in Blues? We can do almost everything in Blues, but 99.9% of musicians don’t explore it, they just extract things from Minor Pentatonic with a Blue note. It is such a waste of opportunity, isn’t it?!
In this topic, we talked just about improvisation. In the next advanced topic of Blues we will talk about the concepts of functional harmony. If Simplifying Theory has been useful for you, share it and help us to grow! Our target is to develop the website even more and be reference in music theory study. Your participation is important!
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