Technique Focus Phrasing
Transcribing the solos of great musicians can unlock the secrets of how the melodies were constructed. Examine this month’s transcription and notice how Freddie mostly starts his phrases on the off beat. If you count the quavers 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + you’ll find most of the lines start on the ‘and of four’ and the ‘and of one’. This sounds less obvious than starting on the downbeat and slightly more sophisticated.
The main rhythmic subdivisions are swung quavers, quaver triplets and crotchet triplets. The note choices come from Db major pentatonic and Db minor pentatonic scales, mainly played in shape 1 which limits the decision making process further. restricting the rhythmic subdivisions and the tonal palette in this way helps to free up the creativity.
The scale diagrams opposite will help you visualise Freddie’s fretboard roadmaps. A general rule is: Db major and Db minor pentatonic scales work over chord I (Db7); and Db minor pentatonic will work over chords IV and V (Gb7 and Ab7). Any note can be bent up to the next note in the scale but Freddie avoids any three-fret bends here and sticks to the two-fret bending points exclusively.
Once you have studied Freddie’s licks, try improvising your own solo using the scale shapes on this page, combining them with some simple rhythms. Hopefully this approach of limiting the parameters of the improvisation will free you up to be more expressive and creative.