Get­tin’ The Blues

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

If you haven’t seen the Blues Brothers movies, stop what you’re do­ing and go watch them now. Even if you’re at work. Just go home and do it! The movie pays homage to great blues play­ers from the ‘50s and on­wards, and the gui­tar work you’ll wit­ness from the one and only Matt Mur­phy will in­spire you to pick up your gui­tar and have a go at the solo in­cluded in to­days col­umn.

If you hap­pened to look up “Sweet Home Chicago” from the Blues

Brothers, you would find a very sim­i­lar solo to the one tran­scribed here at around the 1:40 mark. Of course, you can make use of the tracks pro­vided on­line, but I rec­om­mend check­ing this out!

One of the things this solo high­lights is the im­por­tance of know­ing more than just your pen­ta­tonic blues scale. The mas­ters all use a com­bi­na­tion of con­cepts, from the blues scale to un­der­stand­ing key com­po­nents of var­i­ous chords. I strongly sug­gest get­ting fa­mil­iar with the chords and re­lat­ing what’s hap­pen­ing con­cur­rently with the solo.

I have per­formed this for the tracks at 100 beats per minute (bpm) – a mod­er­ate tempo that should fa­cil­i­tate learn­ing. The orig­i­nal would slot in at around 125bpm, so start here and work your way up.

BARS #1-4

You’ll find this gui­tar solo lit­tered with sub­tle, but clever ideas. The chal­lenge with this open­ing lick is keep­ing the third fret on the sec­ond string fret­ted and ring­ing as you pull off the third fret on the first string. A sub­tle bend of the dou­ble stop chord in the first beat of Bar #2 gives it that bluesy twang, and then we de­scend the lick chro­mat­i­cally be­fore re­solv­ing back to an E7 based lick.

Go­ing into Bar #4, we rip vi­ciously into a mi­nor pen­ta­tonic lick, be­fore set­ting up the shift to the A or 4 chord with a har­monised lick. I would use the pick on the fourth string and my sec­ond fin­ger to pluck the sec­ond string for the fi­nal lick of Bar #4.

BARS #5-9

The crotchet triplet uni­son lick here is cool! Get a feel for this as it’s a great de­vice in all styles of mu­sic. Bend hard on the fourth fret, re­lease it and pull off to the sec­ond fret on the third string. This bar re­peats ex­actly in Bar #6, be­cause if it’s worth say­ing once, it’s worth say­ing twice. In Bar #7, we build on the ini­tial power of the uni­son dou­ble stops with a triple stop lick us­ing notes from the E mi­nor pen­ta­tonic, giv­ing it that re­ally open bluesy flavour.

Bar #9 uses a clas­sic blues de­vice where we mix mi­nor pen­ta­tonic and bor­row the ma­jor third of E to re­solve the idea. Set­ting up the turn­around go­ing into Bar #9, Matt Mur­phy an­tic­i­pates the B7 with a lick that es­sen­tially out­lines the ap­proach­ing chord. D# is the ma­jor third of B, which is an im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent in any chord. It pays to be aware of more than just your pen­ta­tonic scale and root key.

BARS #9-12

By Bar #9, we have well es­tab­lished the B7 as we step into the more com­plex arena of chord tones, be­fore we slip back into what feels like more of the orig­i­nal E mi­nor pen­ta­tonic to fin­ish the bar.

Bar #10 is an­other ag­gres­sive E mi­nor Blues lick over the A or 4 chord. In Bar #11, we again use the ma­jor third chord tone amidst pen­ta­tonic licks to add sweet­ness and res­o­lu­tion, be­fore fin­ish­ing with a clas­sic style chro­matic walk­ing line un­der a ped­alled E note on the first string. Fin­ish­ing with a har­monised dou­ble stop back, step into key notes from a B7 to set up the next 12 bars.


Many play­ers get by us­ing the good ol’ blues scale, but if you’re se­ri­ous about de­vel­op­ing your blues play­ing, get a teacher and learn about chord tones. 1/1

Pen­ta­tonic scales work over an en­tire blues form, but arm­ing your­self with the knowl­edge of chord tones will raise your level of blues play­ing closer to the leg­ends like Matt Mur­phy. Who wouldn’t as­pire to that?

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