Prog rock guitarist and teacher with a passion for Music Theory applied to Guitar.
In styles like jazz and blues guitar players (and not only) use a lot of "outside" notes: notes that are not really in the scale that is being used at the moment in the piece. In some cases, some of these outside note became so common that they were eventually incorporated in the scale: think of the "Blues scale," that is simply a pentatonic scale plus the b5 "blue" note, that is clearly an outside note. Another examples are the numerous "Bebop scales."
There is no advantage to restrict yourself to the scale when playing (in fact, it can make your solo sound too "stiff"), on the other hand if you don't know how to use the outside notes, they will invariably sound "bad" when you play them. What can you do?
The wrong solution is to learn from articles or columns titled "24 ways to use outside notes" or similar. I have seen time and again with my student that in this case less is more: you need ONE good trick, and then you need to master it. If you know 24 tricks, you will not focus in mastering any of them, and so you will not solve your problem.
In the video below I explain one of the simplest and yet most effective way to use outside notes in a blues or jazz solo. Sure, it is not the ONLY possible trick (the video would be hours long...), but it's a great first trick to master and you will get a surprising mileage out of it. Watch the video now.
As you can see, there is nothing difficult in what I show in the video. It will not take any effort for you to implement this trick into your guitar playing, and you will be able to use it immediately. What are you waiting for? Grab your guitar and give it a try.
About the Author:
Tommaso Zillio is a prog rock guitarist and teacher with a passion for Music Theory applied to Guitar.