Les­son with blues icon

Guitar Techniques - - Front Page - NEXT MONTH: Revered clas­si­cal gui­tarist Car­los Bonell discusses his tech­nique

Some new vo­cab­u­lary is guar­an­teed for even the most sea­soned blues player.



KEY: D Tempo: 60bpm CD: CD-ROM

Will im prove your

String-bend­ing tech­nique Slow blues lead Blues-gui­tar vo­cab­u­lary

Fol­low­ing on from last is­sue’s ar­ti­cle fo­cus­ing on how Bernie would typ­i­cally tackle a mi­nor-blues pro­gres­sion, this month, we see him in dom­i­nant seven mode. For those of you who may have missed last month’s in­stal­ment, Bernie is prob­a­bly best known for his work with Whites­nake, and his rich, blues-ori­en­tated style has won favour with many gui­tar fans around the world. When we caught up with Bernie, he was kind enough to play two so­los: last is­sue’s was a mi­nor-key blues, this is­sue, it’s a ma­jor-key blues.

The chord pro­gres­sion used in Bernie’s Dom­i­nant 7 blues track is con­structed from chords I, IV and V of the har­monised D Ma­jor scale. The Ma­jor scale has the fol­low­ing in­ter­vals: root, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, ma­j7th.

If one har­monises the A Ma­jor scale in 3rds, the fol­low­ing chords are pro­duced: Dmaj7, Em7, F#m7, Gmaj7, A7, Bm7, C#m7b5. As you can see, the chords I, IV and V are Dmaj7, Gmaj7 and A7. To make this col­lec­tion of chords sound more bluesy, and pro­vide more op­tions for im­pro­vi­sa­tion, chords I and IV can be changed to D7 and G7 (Dom­i­nant). This gives us the clas­sic blues chords of D7, G7 and A7.

The 12-bar se­quence Bernie uses in his back­ing track is of­ten re­ferred to as a quick-change blues, and this is how the changes stack up: D7 / G7 / D7 / – / G7 / – / D7 / – / A7 / G7 / D7 G7 / D7 A7 /. From a solo­ing stand­point, the D Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic scale (D, F, G, A, C) is a solid ‘home base’. Many of Bernie’s licks and phrases have this scale at their core. D Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic can be used over D7, G7 and A7, so it is a solid choice. To add va­ri­ety, D Ma­jor Pen­ta­tonic can be used over the D7 as well as D Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic. Mix­ing th­ese two scales is a dyed-in-the-wool blues tech­nique, and is a con­cept used by many of the finest blues­men.

String bend­ing and fin­ger vi­brato are key ar­tic­u­la­tions, along with fin­ger slides. Bernie adds th­ese ar­tic­u­la­tions to pretty much ev­ery phrase, while also vary­ing the dy­namic (how loud or soft the notes are played) and his pickup se­lec­tion. A key as­pect of this solo is the use of space and pac­ing. Bernie never gets car­ried away with long phrases or lots of fast notes. Ev­ery­thing is placed in a con­sid­ered fash­ion, and the em­pha­sis is on melody.

Be­fore learn­ing this solo, it may well be worth play­ing through each of the five D Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic shapes as no­tated in ex­am­ples one to five. Th­ese fin­ger­ing pat­terns pro­vide the foun­da­tion of this solo, and learn­ing them will help you to un­lock the neck and ap­pre­ci­ate the nuts and bolts of the phrases. Know­ing where all the D Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic notes are will also help you to work out when and where Bernie is adding in ex­tra tones, such as those from D Ma­jor Pen­ta­tonic.

The no­ta­tion con­tains all of the fin­ger­ings, ar­tic­u­la­tions and phras­ing from the video per­for­mance. Take a close look at the way Bernie fingers and picks the phrases, but don’t be in­tim­i­dated by the look of the no­ta­tion. It may seem busy due to the tempo and 12/8 time sig­na­ture, but the ideas are straight­for­ward – it’s Bernie’s ar­tic­u­la­tion that makes them sound rich and mu­si­cal. If you find a lick you like, then mem­o­rise it and in­cor­po­rate it in your own play­ing, for use in future so­los. Have fun, see you next time.

Bernie plays a ma­jor blues for us this time

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