This month Shaun Baxter continues his major-minor explorations, moving up through the gears by looking at eighth-note triplet lines.
Shaun Baxter shows you more new ways of bringing rock sounds to your blues playing.
In this new series, we are looking at building a working vocabulary of lines, in all five CAGED shapes, that combine Mixolydian with the minor Blues scale over a dominant chord or tonality.
Strictly speaking, the Mixolydian mode fits best over a Dominant 7 chord because it contains all the relevant chord tones. However, the minor Blues scale is also used as a form of tension. This is because many players find
the 'correct' Mixolydian sounds too pretty with extended use over a dominant 7th chord, whereas the minor Blues scale adds a more organic and earthy effect. In short, its minor 3rd sounds dissonant against a 7th chord, whereas Mixolydian (with its major 3rd) sounds more resolved; hence the two scales provide us with the means to produce tension and release in our solos.
As we learned in the previous lesson, the distinction between the two tonalities isn’t always clear, as most blues, rock and country players will occupy a microtonal transitional sound that occurs between the cracks. In the various examples in this lesson, you will see a microtonal ‘curl’ that only happens on the minor 3rd; it’s slowly inching its way up to a major 3rd, but never quite gets there; lingering in a harmonic no man’s land between minor and major.
Diagram 1 shows the neck in five different areas (in accordance to the CAGED system). Make sure that you can extract all of the following sounds in each position: Dominant sounds:
1-2-3-4-5-6-b7 A Mixolydian:
1-3-5-b7 A 7th arpeggio: A major Pentatonic: 1-2-3-5-6 Minor sounds:
1-b3-4-b5-5-b7 A Blues scale: [note that the is the darkest note: it is a ‘passing’ note that needs to be handled with care] A minor Pentatonic: 1- 3-4-5- 7
Shifting up through the gears, Diagram 2 shows some standard rhythmic subdivision in 4/4, starting relatively slow with eighth-notes and then cranking things up to 16thnote triplets.
You don’t always have to lock in to specific rhythms like this, but it sets a good foundation, allowing you to develop control. If you’re always floating above the music, you can’t practise playing accurately (in time).
In the previous lesson, we started with eighth-note lines. In this one, we’re going to shift up a gear to eighth-note triplets.
All of the musical examples in this lesson are played over an A7 (Dominant) chord, and are written in 12/8, which is just a more convenient way of writing out eighth-note triplets in 4/4. Using 12/8 is a means of representing the above so that the transcriber doesn’t have to keep writing ‘3’ above every group. Note that, because they contain three eighth-notes, each pulse is written as a dotted quarter-note. In other words, although written in 12/8, all of the lines in this lesson can also be thought of as eighth-note triplet lines in 4/4.
Lots of great rock players sound so good because they pepper their Major-scale runs with minor Pentatonic and minor Blues scale notes. Now it’s your turn to do the same.