Video Lesson: Breaking out of the "pentatonic box" in the blues

Lephty

Member
Messages
1,578
Just uploaded this short lesson today as an addition to the "blues primer" on my website. Designed for players who feel a bit stuck in the "pentatonic box," it discusses targeting the 3rds of the chords in a 12-bar blues.

 

EL 34 X2

Gold Supporting Member
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1,302
Nicely done and well presented. That is a very simple, but effective, way to spice up a 12 bar blues.

Only problem I had was just seeing half your head. Sounds stupid, but I found myself ducking down to get a better view. Wish the camera was either just on your hands or your entire head was in frame. Thanks though for the great lesson.
 

Sigmund Floyd

Silver Supporting Member
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2,458
Good lesson, thanks you. It also seems to add a bit "happier" more major sound (obviously) to the playing.
 

Tdowne

Member
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17
I'm adding my thanks for this excellent lesson. It explains simple additions to the minor pentatonic scale that are easy to execute but also very effective in expanding the available notes in a I, IV, V progression. I'll be watching for more lessons from Lephty. Thanks very much.
 

Lephty

Member
Messages
1,578
Thanks folks, glad to hear some people are finding this idea useful. I always like to look for ways to expand on things that are familiar.

Re. getting a "happier" sound in the blues by targeting thirds--what I like about this is that it leaves you room to build more tension in a solo. So if you took a solo for, say, two choruses of the 12-bar blues, the first chorus might have more of the thirds in it and then in the second chorus you might get some more intensity by leaning more toward that minor pentatonic sound.
 

Lephty

Member
Messages
1,578
He's referring to the fact that in a 12-bar blues, none of the thirds of the I, IV, or V chords are present in the minor pentatonic scale.
 

flavaham

Member
Messages
1,866
Nice video and nice playing in the video as well!

I've never approached this in the way that you did here in that I think it's a great way to introduce chord tone soloing. (which I think is hugely important!) It's easy to tell a guy that "this scale works over x progression" (ie. minor pent over blues) and people just get stuck there.

Thirds and sevenths are huge! Sure, you can sound ok just widdling away at the minor pentatonic, but throw in the third and/or seventh of the chord that you are on and, well, you sound like you know what you're doing! Lead to one of those notes and arrive as the next chord hits? Now we're getting somewhere!

For me, I think almost exclusively about what chord I'm on rather than scale, but this is a great way to get out of just playing that pent box. (as the topic suggests).

May I just suggest that if you are going to do this, make sure you know where these thirds happen in all five positions of the pentatonic scale! A good way to do this is to play each position up and down over each chord and add the major third. So, play the A minor pentatonic scale in first position (5th fret) over the A7 chord. Make sure to ADD the M3 when ever you can. Go up and down that position. Now, in the same position, go up and down but hit the M3 of the IV chord (IV chord is D7, so the M3 is F#). Make sure you hit the F# that time. Now do the same position over E7 (V7 chord in A) and make sure to add G#. Each time you go up and down the scale, regardless of which position you are in, you should hear the chord you're on as long as you hit that note (the third of the chord you are on).

Do it in all 5 positions, and then in all keys.
 

Lephty

Member
Messages
1,578
Yes I should have made that point in the video--that this idea of targeting thirds should be expanded to the whole neck of the guitar. I just figured that the "pentatonic box" would be a good place to start with the idea, since it is so familiar.

For me, learning to outline the chords in a 12-bar blues was my first introduction to outlining chords in general--getting my melodies to reflect the chord they are played over. As Keith Richards said, "If you don't know the blues, there's no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll or any other kind of popular music."
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,520
Nice video and nice playing in the video as well!

I've never approached this in the way that you did here in that I think it's a great way to introduce chord tone soloing. (which I think is hugely important!) It's easy to tell a guy that "this scale works over x progression" (ie. minor pent over blues) and people just get stuck there.

Thirds and sevenths are huge! Sure, you can sound ok just widdling away at the minor pentatonic, but throw in the third and/or seventh of the chord that you are on and, well, you sound like you know what you're doing! Lead to one of those notes and arrive as the next chord hits? Now we're getting somewhere!

For me, I think almost exclusively about what chord I'm on rather than scale, but this is a great way to get out of just playing that pent box. (as the topic suggests).

May I just suggest that if you are going to do this, make sure you know where these thirds happen in all five positions of the pentatonic scale! A good way to do this is to play each position up and down over each chord and add the major third. So, play the A minor pentatonic scale in first position (5th fret) over the A7 chord. Make sure to ADD the M3 when ever you can. Go up and down that position. Now, in the same position, go up and down but hit the M3 of the IV chord (IV chord is D7, so the M3 is F#). Make sure you hit the F# that time. Now do the same position over E7 (V7 chord in A) and make sure to add G#. Each time you go up and down the scale, regardless of which position you are in, you should hear the chord you're on as long as you hit that note (the third of the chord you are on).

Do it in all 5 positions, and then in all keys.
Hey Flav, re adding major third in chord scale terms for blues style playing, particularly on 6/8 shuffles or swing generally, you'll hear lots of pick-ups across the bar lines where the tonality of the approaching chord is "all in" before you get to the downbeat.
Also, the blu notes, for the most part, qualify as lingering melody tones.
At least on I7 and V7, right?

So, you can make sure to add the minor third to the I chord, the b5 of the key to the IV chord and the minor third (b7 of the key) to the V chord too.

I understand this is a level of elaboration beyond what's necessary to get started, but it's a feature of the territory if you listen and think about it.
If you stick to straight up chord/scale thinking inside the bar lines, enough stuff gets missed that you'll miss a whole bunch of idiomatic lick and melody stuff.
Ok, bye!
 

flavaham

Member
Messages
1,866
Hey Flav, re adding major third in chord scale terms for blues style playing, particularly on 6/8 shuffles or swing generally, you'll hear lots of pick-ups across the bar lines where the tonality of the approaching chord is "all in" before you get to the downbeat.
Also, the blu notes, for the most part, qualify as lingering melody tones.
At least on I7 and V7, right?

So, you can make sure to add the minor third to the I chord, the b5 of the key to the IV chord and the minor third (b7 of the key) to the V chord too.

I understand this is a level of elaboration beyond what's necessary to get started, but it's a feature of the territory if you listen and think about it.
If you stick to straight up chord/scale thinking inside the bar lines, enough stuff gets missed that you'll miss a whole bunch of idiomatic lick and melody stuff.
Ok, bye!
Right. I think for seasoned players all of the above applies and should be utilized early and often in soloing over blues. I think I was more referring to getting this stuff into your fingers and ears in the first place. A lot of it has to do with getting to know where these notes are on your guitar. It's surprising to me how many people blindly run through these scales rather than having a firm grasp of what's happening.

In blues, both thirds (in ET) apply (and a few of the notes surrounding them as well). This is why I've always kind of had an issue with "The Blues Scale." It doesn't come close to covering the notes needed to really nail down the blues! This is also a big reason why I like slide guitar!

But, yes, you are totally spot on as usual here. Again, I was talking in simple terms for those who don't yet know how to use this stuff.

Thanks for the thoughts though! Say "Hey" to Bobby for us!
 

Tomo

Member
Messages
16,609
Right. I think for seasoned players all of the above applies and should be utilized early and often in soloing over blues. I think I was more referring to getting this stuff into your fingers and ears in the first place. A lot of it has to do with getting to know where these notes are on your guitar. It's surprising to me how many people blindly run through these scales rather than having a firm grasp of what's happening.

In blues, both thirds (in ET) apply (and a few of the notes surrounding them as well). This is why I've always kind of had an issue with "The Blues Scale." It doesn't come close to covering the notes needed to really nail down the blues! This is also a big reason why I like slide guitar!

But, yes, you are totally spot on as usual here. Again, I was talking in simple terms for those who don't yet know how to use this stuff.

Thanks for the thoughts though! Say "Hey" to Bobby for us!
Definitely great idea to understand and handle those triad type sound over blues chord change.

Even before you cook music with these. I highly not recommend to memorize them. Try to hear them before you play them!

If you try to memorize them, you could play them knowing where they are. That's too technical so... take your time to hear them first, if you cannot hear them... take your time... then think about degrees...colors... work on it.

Tomo
 

flavaham

Member
Messages
1,866
Definitely great idea to understand and handle those triad type sound over blues chord change.

Even before you cook music with these. I highly not recommend to memorize them. Try to hear them before you play them!

If you try to memorize them, you could play them knowing where they are. That's too technical so... take your time to hear them first, if you cannot hear them... take your time... then think about degrees...colors... work on it.

Tomo
That's just it. You have to hear this stuff and get it in your ears before you can go anywhere with it. Just like practicing scales. You have to start somewhere and hear them, but no one wants to hear you practice scales over a song! You have to break out of that **** at some point and creat music from it. For those who don't know it yet though, you need a starting point.
 

fenderlead

Member
Messages
4,475
Most common scales and arpeggios are just accumulated notes that have been collected over time that have been used over and over again in various musical contexts and work for most peoples ears.

The Blues scale means nothing, except for a collection of notes that Blues singers and players used over and over again.

Someone can play the Blues scale and not be playing the Blues as their musical context application might not be that great or just different (Blues scale/Cuban combo).

The only way to get hold of musical contexts is by listening and that's what everyone did before they picked up an instrument, they were listening to various musical contexts and were attracted to some of them and then decided to try an instrument to engage in the playing/creation of various musical contexts.

No one picked up an instrument just to play scales and arpeggios.

The pentatonic box notes can be used in a lot of musical contexts, various Jazz, Blues, Reggae etc etc musical contexts.

Some of the great classic songs are using melodies from the pentatonic box notes, but those songs have musical contexts.
 

kingsxman

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,885
THis is great. Thank you for taking the time to post and create the video. I'm looking over others on your site. Informative.
 

Guitardave

Member
Messages
10,275
Nice lesson - simple and to the point. It was weird watching things from a left handed perpsective - made my head spin a few times trying to relate to the positioning.
 




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