The Minor Blues Scale….

As exciting and thought provoking as this lesson has been, here is where it gets even a little bit better! The Minor Pentatonic Scale has a beautiful sister called the Minor Blues Scale. The Minor Blues Scale is the same as the Minor Pentatonic Scale except for the addition of one extra, red hot note: the flatted fifth of the key. In the case of the Key Of A minor, that flatted fifth note is “Eb” (“E” flat). If this is at all confusing refer to the table below and remember, all aof the names and ways of music theory are relation to the Major Scale.

scale degrees
1
2
3
4
b5
5
6
7
1
A Major Scale
A
B
C#
D
E
F#
G#
A
scale degrees
1
2
b3
4
5
b6
b7
1
A Minor Scale A B C D E F G A
A Minor Pentatonic Scale A C D E G A
A Minor Blues Scale A
C
D
Eb E G A

Compare the sound of the Minor Pentatonic Scale with the Minor Blues Scale, an extra degree of smoothness and melodic potential is created by the addition of the flatted fifth note: “Eb”.

Root 6 Minor Blues Scale….

The two exercises that appear below are once again designed to serve as practice in memorizing and playing the scale patterns and also as mini ear training exercises which will enable you to hear scale sounds. Listen to and then play along with each exercise until you can play along in perfect sync.

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In the illustration of the Blues Scale that appears below, the ‘new’ note (“Eb” -the flatted fifth) appears in blue.

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The princilpes governing the useage and application of the Minor Blues Scale are the same as the flexible and adaptive Minor Pentatonic Scale:

  • If a song, vamp or chord progression is based on a Minor Chord, then the Minor Blues Scale of that key can be interesting and acceptable choice for creating riffs, licks and also for soloing.
  • If a song, vamp or chord progression is based on a Major Chord, then the Minor Blues Scale of that key can be an interesting and acceptable choice for creating riffs, licks and also for soloing.
  • If a song, vamp or chord progression is based on a Dominant Chord, then the Minor Blues Scale of that key can be interesting and acceptable choice for creating riffs, licks and also for soloing.

Lead Lines & Melodic Devices…..

Below, we’ll learn a sample solo using the Minor Blues Scale and then analyze the melodic devices at work in the solo. Your job will then be take those specefic lead lines and melodic devices and then adapt them to new and different soloing situations. This very thought process was illlustrated for you in great detail in the main body of this lesson. In this study, the playing and practicing is a little more ‘real world’ and reflects the way that generations of guitarists have developed their ability to create lead lines and use scale patterns in a musical and creative way.

Minor Blues Scale Solo…..

The above solo has three points of interest, or melodic devices at work:

scx19st2gTo simplify, the thing to avoid is this: starting on the Root Note, running the notes of the scale in order and then ending on the Root Note. Its simply a bland and sleepy sound. In this solo we started on the red hot Flat 5th and ended on the funky Flat 7th.

Skipping strings (notes) is a sure way to create melodic interest. These are called melodic leaps and break the monotony of running scales. The melodic leaps featured in the solo are proven favorites.

If its nice, play it twice! Music by it’s very nature is repititious, a professional guitarist knows how to create motifs (themes) in his or her playing and develop these motifs in much the same way as a composer would.

Below you see a set of three play along exercises. The first one is the backing track to the solo we’re currently studying, use it to learn to reproduce the solo on your guitar. The next two play along exercises are new backing tracks you haven’t heard before. Your mission is to use the Minor Blues Scale in the same way,employing the same or similar melodic devices and concepts you learned here today, and adapt them to the new soloing situation.

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Root 5 Minor Blues Scale….

To complete this study you’ll be firming up your ‘first line of defense’ thinking in regard to the Minor Blues Scale in the Key Of A. As before, listen to the each play along exercise once or twice before attempting to play. As you work on these ear training/ scale fingering exercises hear each one as being identifiable as that scales’ sound, Minor Blues Scale and Minor Pentatonic respectively.

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In the illustration of the Blues Scale that appears below, the ‘new’ note (“Eb” -the flatted fifth) appears in blue.

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Minor Blues Scale Solo…..

The preceding melodic solo has three points of interest, or melodic devices at work:

  • Starting and ending on the Root Note is the strongest and most direct sound possible. The solo employs a favorite melodic leap, Root to 5th.
  • Again a strong melodic motif and variations of that theme give the solo a sense of logic and construction.
  • Octave Displacement, is applied to the final phrase of the solo, simply playing the final phrase one octave higher. To a soloist, Octave Displacement can be a dazzling effect. Think of it as maintaining your flow and line of thought within the solo and suddenly jumping up an octave.

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As a way of developing the real world ability to create and play phrases in a conversational manner, limit yourself to small groups of 3 or 4 notes, forcing yourself to listen closely to what your’e playing and develop motifs, and themes. These small groups of 3 or 4 notes are what we call the Sweet Spots or ‘phrase boxes’. Below you’ll see a variety of these Sweet Spots drawn out for you to use while doing the play along exercises found on this page.

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