Freshening up blues solos?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by SouthernShred, Sep 22, 2004.

  1. SouthernShred

    SouthernShred Member

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    So, I've recently started a power-trio blues band and I've got to admit, I never thought I'd run out of ideas for blues solos, but doing 30 songs a night...well, let's just say I repeat myself here and there :D

    How do you freshen up your solos out of the normal Minor/Major pentatonic rut?

    Shannon
     
  2. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    1) Play your major/minor pentatonics in the "wrong key". Great example: http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?s=&threadid=50614

    2) Look into modes.
     
  3. Mark C

    Mark C Member

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    Learn some Bebop blues licks. Check out the Charlie Parker omnibook, Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery and Jimmy Smith.

    Learn some country licks. Seriously - they can be very cool in the right places.
     
  4. SouthernShred

    SouthernShred Member

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  5. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    Blues in A -

    Over the A7:
    Maj Pentatonic in A, G, D
    minor pentatonic in E, F#, B

    Over the D7:
    Minor Pentatonic in A, B, E
    Major Pentatonic in D, C, G

    Also, for a "jazzy" feel, go to another position and play minor - for example, on Blues in G, over the G7, go to the 10th fret D minor position and play D dorian stuff but with a lot of sliding into notes instead of bending.
     
  6. SouthernShred

    SouthernShred Member

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    Holy cow that makes sense...now I need to run home and jam on this. Thanks Tom.
     
  7. EricT

    EricT Member

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    A trick I often use is to go up a half step for a few notes and then slip back again. This has to be done with conviction for it to sound good, like you really mean it!:) Up a b5 is good as well, it gives you almost the same notes.
    Something Scofield does a lot is to play the diminished half-whole scale. It works best over a major blues. He also uses the maj 3rd(bent up from the min 3rd) and the #6th a lot.
     
  8. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    Try working with ideas from the Lydian Dominant scale. i.e. Mixolydian mode, but with a #11 (you can also visualize it as melodic minor up a fifth from the root). To go more "out", try superimposing melodic minor up a half step from the root; for my tastes, this sound is most effective over the V chord. In a typical twelve bar, on bar # 6, instead of playing the IV chord, substitute a diminished line up a half step from the IV chord's root. Learn some I-VI-II-V moves in place of the standard bar room shuffle turnarounds. A pet sound of Robben Ford's is to replace the b7 in a minor pentatonic with the major 6th. One of my fave "sweet & sour" sounds is to use minor7b5 arps & ideas up a sixth from the root of a dominant chord (ex: C#min7b5 over E7). Don't forget those "teaser" notes that hover microtonally between minor & major 3rds. Chromatic, whole tone, dimininished, & augmented noises all sound lovely & dark to me over dominant tonalities. The trick with this stuff is to not make it sound forced & contrived - you have to hear it before it falls naturally within your phrasing. The other trick is that a little bit goes a long way - a huge dose of Chuck Berry & T Bone Walker, with a dash of "sweet & sour" sauce makes for a nice marriage in more sophisticated treatments of blues & blues rock noises. Jazz is open game.
     
  9. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    Great post, Tim

    The thing for me about going "out" in a Blues context (and any other, actually) is deciding when to go outside.
    For me, there are two particular situations that are fantastic for trying all of the cool strange outside stuff:

    - When a blues does NOT have a quick four, so the first 4 measures are all on the I, play more outside stuff on the 4th measure.

    - When a blues moves directly from the V back to the I (doesn't go V-IV-I), as in a ii-V7. Then you want to go more outside (try all that cool stuff Tim was talking about, like melodic minor up a 1/2 step), cause it will resolve when it goes back to the root.


    Try this over a backing track - take a backing track with no quick four, and over the last measure of the I try anything - say, major scale up a b5 (Eb Major over A7), then go right into your D7 stuff.
     
  10. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    Hey Tom, thanks for adding some clarification to the ideas I mentioned. I agree, developing some tastefulness as to when or when not to use this stuff really is key. When I first started getting into outside tonalities, I was so enamored with the new sounds that I was superimposing them everywhere I could make them fit. I'm sure I sounded pretty goofy.

    Another approach I've used over blues tunes with some success is decidedly more "inside". For a while I was in a Cajun/Zydeco band, & I had to ape a lot of accordian lines on guitar. So I've used those types of sounds, as well as the "slip note" piano moves of the old classic Country pianist Floyd Cramer, and have used banjo rolls & fake pedal steel licks on occasion also. I like the chord voice leading in Gospel music, & dig from that bag a bit as well.

    BTW, years ago I used to go hear a band here in town called Tom Gross & The Varsity - would you happen to be the same guy by any chance?
     
  11. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    No, I'm more of a JV player. :)
    Not me.
     
  12. SouthernShred

    SouthernShred Member

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    Hey Tim, who do you play with in Atlanta? Anyone? I live in the Columbus area.
     
  13. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    First off, whatever Tom Gross suggests, just do it - it flat out works for him and I'm relying a bunch, these days, as well on his suggestions. E.g., playing the V harmonic minor over the I as it moves to the IV (if I'm remembering it right - it's become easier to play than to remember and explain!).

    Second, I second the "learn country licks" suggestion. Blues + country = rockabilly and rockabilly is cooler than cool - audiences LOVE it. This is another approach I rely on alot now, too.

    Oh yeah - got to contribute some ideas of my own! Also from the I to the IV (esp. last measure of the I):

    - I# diminished run (chord it on the first 4 strings and you'll see it's essentially the I7 arpeggio with a b2 on top);

    - b2, b5, and #5 as passing tones.
     
  14. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    Right back atcha, Jon - this stuff sure works for you.

    Now I gotta go work on that diminished & b2 stuff you threw in.
     
  15. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    This is something Robben Ford demonstrated to us at the NGW one summer and it went right over my head at the time. In the spring, when I was taking lessons from Bruce Katsu (The Rockin' Bones) locally, he revisited it with me and it finally clicked.

    One example of a cool "sound" for the last measure of I going into the IV: the notes 1 - b2 - 3 - 1 - #5 - b5 - 5. What fascinates me about this is how close it is to the classic klezmer scale underlying tunes like Hava Nagila. Just one of those cool juxtapositions. :)
     
  16. art420guitar

    art420guitar Member

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    Hey SS I have a suggestion that isn’t very technical but it helped me out a lot, it doesn’t really require theory thinking (for slow people like myself haha). It’s basically a chromatic approach. You obviously know the pentatonic scale right? Well let’s say there is a particular note you find yourself on a lot (or any note for that matter). Play that note, but play the three notes before it first and end up on the “target” note with your pinky. So in Cm if you are going to play an F on the g string you could do this. G string: ---7—8—9—10. All of these notes are not in Cm but as long as you end on the “target” note, which will be in key, you are good to go. What’s cool is that you can apply this thinking to every lick but now change it up. You can play 8—9—7—10 or 7—9—8—10 etc. as long as you wind up on target. Now that you’ve got these in mind, you can literally do this for every note in the pentatonic scale. Now start doing the same thing except with three (or any multiple of) strings. In Cm again you can visualize 7—8—9—10 on the A, D and G strings because the 10th fret on all of these strings is located in Cm. That’s 12 notes to choose from randomly as long as you end on a note in key.

    This is how I approach outside playing. I don’t think in terms of what notes, as long as I end on one that is in the scale. If you play a note not in Cm, it’s out. That’s all I need to know. If I want dissonance I play a lot of notes not in the scale. If I want to just spice up the pentatonic, I just hit a few chromatic notes. Hope that makes sense.

    You could check out www.guitaraxis.com for Don Mock’s books. One is called Target Tones and this is where I got the idea from
     
  17. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Not arguing just pointing that you need to be careful putting major 3rds in minor keys. Best for most instances to get off it fast and not play it on a downbeat. In this case E natural over Cmin.
     
  18. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    At least you manage to get in the game now & then. Me, I'm just the Water Boy. :cool:
     
  19. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

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    I play in town a bit, but mostly gig around Rome & north Georgia. Bands are the Dirt Dobbers (original rock) & the Accidental Hillbillies (original Americana). I also work regularly with an acoustic duo (hmmm, I guess we'd be called "Dave & Tim"...).

    How about yourself, ever play up in this neck of the woods?
     
  20. SouthernShred

    SouthernShred Member

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    I used to play occasionally up in that area with a blues band I was in about 3 years ago. I've just recently rejoined the gigging scene and I've got a blues power-trio going, so hopefully we'll get up that way to play. We're calling ourselves "Tail Dragger" after the Howlin' Wolf song. I was in Birmingham Friday night playing with Scott Holt (of Buddy Guy fame)...that was a lot of fun. I think I may have heard your band the Accidental Hillbillies once...sounds very familiar.
     

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