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#1
Recently I've been soloing on blues backing tracks a lot, it's fun but the problem is that all I do is playing the blues scale up and down the neck according to the key changes of the backing track and just throw in a few licks ''stolen'' from Clapton, Grossman, SRV, Hendrix, BB King and so on. What can I play to make my solos less monotonous ? Are there some other scales that can be used in blues ?
#2
what you can do in general is learn to play the guitar, and stop letting the guitar play you. learn theory and use your ear. it'll get you much further than playing scales up and down.
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#4
Quote by Brainpolice2
Three words: chord tone approach.

That is all.


This.

Also try paying attention to the intervals between notes- we all know that the minor pentatonic scale has a minor 3rd degree, but it's not the only minor 3rd interval. Playing the 5th and then the b7th is also a minor third interval for example, the point is that you can target not only chord tones but specific intervals to make your solos more effective.
#5
Quote by AeolianWolf
what you can do in general is learn to play the guitar, and stop letting the guitar play you. learn theory and use your ear. it'll get you much further than playing scales up and down.

The answer to 99% of the questions in this vein...the details are moot if you can't get your head around this simple statement.
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#6
It's difficult to give a comprehensive list of scales to use as there are different blues variations, but a basic 12 bar major blues (as in, not minor) try using the mixolydian mode over each chord.

Then try using the melodic minor up a fifth (from the root note of the accompanying chord)
In the bar or half bar before the chord changes from I to IV, try melodic minor up a half step.

Over the V chord in the 12th bar try a diminished arpeggio starting from the b9 or 7th.

There are many many options - listen to jazz.

Sorry for not going into depth.
#7
What you could also try is actually play the song. Play the chords... know where it changes. Then combine your little licks you stole with the chords (seeing as you mentioned SRV).

Then, once you know the track.... steal from within the stolen licks. Take what you like, discard what seems redundant... use it. Voila - it is now yours and you own the track. Well, not in the copyright sense... unless you re-record all the parts and alter something here and there... then you'll really own it.

Once you have all that done, then try incorporating what Matt said (apart from the mixolydian thing - that just sounds dumb... no, really, try it and see for yourself).

PS: I know there are a few things/books that recommend the mixo, but it just sounds plain... my opinion of course. The blues scale just adds the perfect amount of tension - the melodic minor does this too. Don Mock has a few books that can help with playing over that awesome V chord.

Something else I'd recommend. Learn some intro's and endings... and please, really learn some turnarounds. Or rather, learn how to play over the turnaround - this alone is what makes or breaks a blues muso. You can add all the fluffy shit out there to make your song all pretty and stuff, but if you mess up on the turnaround - as in not having your own voice and digging in and all that other psycho babble - then take up knitting instead.

*edit* One more little thing: you have a minimum of one chorus (12 bars) to a max of 3 chorus' (36 bars) to solo in. You can do 4 as well, but you better know how to build the solo for that. Don't take a whole track of 5 to 7 minutes (or more) and expect to solo over the whole thing. Do it realistically, just like you would on stage/recording studio. Think it, feel it, play it.
Last edited by evolucian at Feb 3, 2012,
#9
Quote by Matt.Guitar
It's a pretty standard and reliable, though rather dull approach really - certainly not dumb.


it's the major scale with a minor 7th (not the mixolydian mode), typically used to deal with dominant chords. try using the bebop scale instead. or screw it, just learn to use intervals advantageously, particularly with clever chromaticisms when dealing with blues, while simultaneously highlighting relevant chord tones. who cares as long as it sounds good
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#10
Quote by Hail
it's the major scale with a minor 7th (not the mixolydian mode), typically used to deal with dominant chords. try using the bebop scale instead. or screw it, just learn to use intervals advantageously, particularly with clever chromaticisms when dealing with blues, while simultaneously highlighting relevant chord tones. who cares as long as it sounds good


Sorry but am I missing something here?
Is the mixolydian mode not a major scale with a minor seven?
#11
Quote by Matt.Guitar
It's a pretty standard and reliable, though rather dull approach really - certainly not dumb.

Well, you said it yourself - dull. Over each chord you are recommending the same sound being used. Over each dominant chord, the same scale. Dull.... and dumb. At least with the one blues scale, there is enough tension to last the entire song and still be resolved. The mixo will just... well... smell the same as the chord - each and every time. Bleh
#12
Quote by evolucian
Well, you said it yourself - dull. Over each chord you are recommending the same sound being used. Over each dominant chord, the same scale. Dull.... and dumb. At least with the one blues scale, there is enough tension to last the entire song and still be resolved. The mixo will just... well... smell the same as the chord - each and every time. Bleh


Yes I know what you are saying, but if you read my entire first post you might have noticed that I also alluded to the use of the super locrian, lydian dominant and diminished scale/arp.
A good basic way to start outlining chords progressions is to actually go with them rather than fighting them by staying in one scale throughout an entire chorus, and by going (example in A) A mixo, D mixo, E mixo you are learning to change scales through the changes but without having to learn too many new scales at once.

Don't get me wrong - I love the blues scale and happily play many choruses using only that.
#13
Quote by Matt.Guitar
Sorry but am I missing something here?
Is the mixolydian mode not a major scale with a minor seven?


Yes; at this point it's little more than a semantic nitpick. If you had used the word "scale", you probably would have been subjected one less level of semantic nitpicking. Unfortunately, the moment "modes" are mentioned here, the resident music theory eficionatos explode in debate. Take it with a grain of salt.

/digression
#14
Quote by Matt.Guitar
Yes I know what you are saying, but if you read my entire first post you might have noticed that I also alluded to the use of the super locrian, lydian dominant and diminished scale/arp.
A good basic way to start outlining chords progressions is to actually go with them rather than fighting them by staying in one scale throughout an entire chorus, and by going (example in A) A mixo, D mixo, E mixo you are learning to change scales through the changes but without having to learn too many new scales at once.

Don't get me wrong - I love the blues scale and happily play many choruses using only that.

I agree with the melodic minor aspect. It's in the PS part of that post... which accidently wound up in the middle of the post.
#16
Quote by Matt.Guitar
So you don't think a guy (the OP) who is clearly just starting out with improvisation should learn to use the mixolydian over unaltered dominant seventh chords?
It only tends sound dull when played by unskilled people with rubbish phrasing.


or you can just skip using scales and play sounds that work based on chord tones

7 chord: 1, M3, p5, m7
mixolydian: 1, M2, M3, p4, p5, M6, m7
chromatic: 1, m2, M2, m3, M3, p4, a4/d5, p5, m6, M6, m7, M7

just use the chord tones and learn to use the chromatic scale wisely and you'll have your mixolydian and everything that it restricts. you should understand your scales, but there's a point where you really don't need to bother thinking about which scale goes where, especially with blues when microtonal bends, chromaticisms, and similarly administered and diatonically irreverent ideas are common.

know what's consonant, what's dissonant, and when you want what where, and you're good.
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#17
Quote by Matt.Guitar
So you don't think a guy (the OP) who is clearly just starting out with improvisation should learn to use the mixolydian over unaltered dominant seventh chords?
It only tends sound dull when played by unskilled people with rubbish phrasing.

I gave my reasons in a few posts. But I'll repeat one small part... it all smells the same. The OP was asking for something that will not sound monotonous. Using the same sound over every chord? That will get the job of boredom done quicker than if he were just using his blues scale which got monotonous to begin with. And in his post you can read why it became monotonous.

It sounds dull to me so I'll be satisfied with the rank of unskilled with rubbish phrasing. I'm sure a few others will be too.
#18
That is alien language for me guys; I know some scales (pentatonic, blues, chromatic, dominanth 7ths, diminished 7ths and etc) but to my shame I took the easy way and just memorized the scales boxes and I didn't learn the notes of the scales and the theory behind it. Today I've tried to play by ''ear'' as AeolianWolf suggested (well, basically I just played around the fretboard until I found something that sounded good and bluesy enough to me), and I've come up with some interesting ''out-of-scale'' licks (like some cool arpeggiated 3 chord progression).

I'll try to study and perhaps understand all the other archaic things I've read in this topic, I mean things like ''turnaround'' and ''mixolydian: 1, M2, M3, p4, p5, M6, m7''.
#19
Quote by francesco18
That is alien language for me guys; I know some scales (pentatonic, blues, chromatic, dominanth 7ths, diminished 7ths and etc) but to my shame I took the easy way and just memorized the scales boxes and I didn't learn the notes of the scales and the theory behind it. Today I've tried to play by ''ear'' as AeolianWolf suggested (well, basically I just played around the fretboard until I found something that sounded good and bluesy enough to me), and I've come up with some interesting ''out-of-scale'' licks (like some cool arpeggiated 3 chord progression).

I'll try to study and perhaps understand all the other archaic things I've read in this topic, I mean things like ''turnaround'' and ''mixolydian: 1, M2, M3, p4, p5, M6, m7''.


learn your chord tones, that's all you need. that gives you 3+ notes over each chord that you know will sound "good"/consonant. you can do literally anything you want with every other note as long as you can pull into those consonant notes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9Hg4JdwMMg

i'm not saying you need to use chromatic notes to sound good, but you shouldn't limit yourself to scale shapes, either.

also, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_jFAhN6V9s love this one as well
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Last edited by Hail at Feb 3, 2012,
#20
Try using outside notes as "blue" notes. Don't be afraid to repeat lines while the chords change underneath. Switch between major and minor. Also, you can't play the blues with food in your stomach, son.
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#21
Quote by evolucian
I gave my reasons in a few posts. But I'll repeat one small part... it all smells the same. The OP was asking for something that will not sound monotonous. Using the same sound over every chord? That will get the job of boredom done quicker than if he were just using his blues scale which got monotonous to begin with. And in his post you can read why it became monotonous.

It sounds dull to me so I'll be satisfied with the rank of unskilled with rubbish phrasing. I'm sure a few others will be too.


I think there is no point arguing about any of this as both approaches have their merits, and a combination of the two is an extremely powerful sound.
It's like we're arguing about the colour of an orange - we are both right.
#22
^

I'm just picking my jaw up from the floor... the "archaic" term of turnaround. Kind of immediately made me give up... all hope is lost. Masterful blues it will be without the archaic turnaround.... sigh... fml
Last edited by evolucian at Feb 4, 2012,
#23
Quote by evolucian
^

I'm just picking my jaw up from the floor... the "archaic" term of turnaround. Kind of immediately made me give up... all hope is lost. Masterful blues it will be without the archaic turnaround.... sigh... fml


You know I barely know what ''turnaround'' means in english, let alone in music.
http://www.heartwoodguitar.com/blog/2006/10/01/blues-turnarounds/

I understand it now ! Actually I've already used some ''turnarounds'' in my solos, I just called them ''licks''.
#24
Quote by evolucian
^

I'm just picking my jaw up from the floor... the "archaic" term of turnaround. Kind of immediately made me give up... all hope is lost. Masterful blues it will be without the archaic turnaround.... sigh... fml


Sorry but are you referring to something I've said because that little arrow thing looks like it is pointing at me but I don't know...?

OP - Sorry for the hijack of your thread - I hope you are getting something from this
#25
@Matt... you get the cheers thing. Francesco got the jaw drop, lol. But it's ok, he gave his reasons
#27
Quote by francesco18
Recently I've been soloing on blues backing tracks a lot, it's fun but the problem is that all I do is playing the blues scale up and down the neck according to the key changes of the backing track and just throw in a few licks ''stolen'' from Clapton, Grossman, SRV, Hendrix, BB King and so on. What can I play to make my solos less monotonous ? Are there some other scales that can be used in blues ?

You don't need more scales, you need phrasing ideas. Blues is like having a conversation, so leave space, and look in to Q&A style phrasing. Incidentally, phrasing ideas go far beyond this, but it's a good start.

Guys like Clapton have a career spanning 4 decades, and all he knows is the minor pentatonic scale.

If you want to sound more sophisticated, then study Jazz, and listen to Jazz Blues, like Martin Taylor, Larry Carlton, and Robben Ford.
#29
Not to sound like an arse, but you have to feel it when you're playing blues. Pop on a backing track and don't even think about it, just play. It will probably sound awful at first, but you will eventually find some riffs and strategies that work for you.
#30
Ok today I've come up with this short lick while I was jamming on a backing track in the key of A :

http://profile.ultimate-guitar.com/francesco18/music/play1083733

It sounded nicer with the backing track on but whatever..what do you think ? It sounds familiar and common and surely it's nothing original but it's one of the few somewhat coherent things I've played by ear without relying strictly on scales.
#31
It sounds more like it's in E to my ears but maybe I need to hear it with the backing.
Sounds OK though.
The little turnaround ideas are nice - not original as you say but that's all good - an audience will hear what they recognize and enjoy it and think you're really good so that's what you want

Here is a vid of me playing an A blues using nothing but notes from the Mixolydian scale.
Just because I'm using a scale doesn't mean it has to sound like just an ascending and descending 'shred' exercise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oErQSp0ZSus

(my guitar was a touch out of tune I'm embarrassed to say - I didn't notice until I played it back)
#33
Quote by Matt.Guitar
Ah cool - I was confused for a moment!
I'm gonna post a little jam video over an a blues using notes only from the mixolydian scale just to show the OP that it can sound good

Hopefully it'll be up soon (it'll be on my YT account - I'm not gonna waste space here with it LOL)


That was great and it didn't sound ''boring'' to me. I know very little about modes but considering that the order of tones and semitones in a Mixolydian scale is TTSTTST...If I wanna play the E Mixolydian scale all I have to do is jam using these notes : E-F♯-G-A-B-C♯-D ? Is it really that easy ? Am I missing something ?
Last edited by francesco18 at Feb 5, 2012,
#34
Mixolydian is mode 5 of the major scale.

E mixolydian is from the A major scale (A B C# D E F# G# A)
Count those letters until you get to five. What letter did you get to?
It should be E.
The notes in E mixolydian are the same as A major, you just start from the E instead of the A, though don't think that you have to actually start from the E when you play!

For my Blues jam the chords were:

A7, D7 and E7.

Technically I was playing D major over A7 (D E F# G A B C# D) (count the 5 - where did u land?)

G major over D (G A B C D E F# G)
and
A major over E.

This is in a nutshell what I was doing, though I threw in lots of other ideas, they all conformed to mixolydian frameworks.


Glad you liked my jam dude!
#35
oh my god just play chord tones who cares what scale it is

and stop talking about modes incorrectly before i turn into ganon and burn down a village

don't play shapes, play sounds
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Last edited by Hail at Feb 5, 2012,
#36
Quote by Matt.Guitar
Mixolydian is mode 5 of the major scale.

E mixolydian is from the A major scale (A B C# D E F# G# A)
Count those letters until you get to five. What letter did you get to?
It should be E.
The notes in E mixolydian are the same as A major, you just start from the E instead of the A, though don't think that you have to actually start from the E when you play!

For my Blues jam the chords were:

A7, D7 and E7.

Technically I was playing D major over A7 (D E F# G A B C# D) (count the 5 - where did u land?)

G major over D (G A B C D E F# G)
and
A major over E.

This is in a nutshell what I was doing, though I threw in lots of other ideas, they all conformed to mixolydian frameworks.


Glad you liked my jam dude!

oh ffs

are you deliberately trying to confuse the poor guy? Have you any idea how utterly ridiculous and inaccurate that statement is?

same old story, somebody gets good advice until some smartarse has to start harping on about modes and the TS goes all goggle-eyed at the music wizard's magic words even though he's spouting bollocks...
Actually called Mark!

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#37
Quote by Hail
oh my god just play chord tones who cares what scale it is

and stop talking about modes incorrectly before i turn into ganon and burn down a village

don't play shapes, play sounds


Every book I have read on improvisation has stressed the importance of knowing your scales AND your chord tones - they go hand in hand.
#38
Quote by steven seagull
oh ffs

are you deliberately trying to confuse the poor guy? Have you any idea how utterly ridiculous and inaccurate that statement is?

same old story, somebody gets good advice until some smartarse has to start harping on about modes and the TS goes all goggle-eyed at the music wizard's magic words even though he's spouting bollocks...


There's no need to be like that.

I was not trying to confuse him - I guess I could have said Over the A7 chord play A major with a minor 7th, D major with a minor 7th for D7 and E major with a minor 7th for E7.
#39
Quote by Matt.Guitar
Every book I have read on improvisation has stressed the importance of knowing your scales AND your chord tones - they go hand in hand.

Maybe you should go back and read them again...
Actually called Mark!

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