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Rock/Blues soloing issue Major Keys


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So much of my soloing is based on the minor pentatonic/blues scale. When it comes to major solos I just don't sound right. In some tunes, I just use the relative major and focus on the root ex) using Am pentatonic for Cmaj solo. In some songs, it doesn't sound right.

 

When I have to solo over major, happy-ish blues, I'm severely lacking. Just not pleased with what I'm doing. Do you play a I major pent, IV major pent, V over the corresponding chords? Is there another trick?

 

I listen a lot, but don't have a great ear especially when peeps are playing fast.  Any tips? Although, my band plays mostly Allman's, Dead, Clapton type stuff, I feel like I need more than I have in my belt.

 

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So there are two pentatonic blues scales - get to know and use both of them.

 

Key of A blues scale: a, c, d, eflat, e, g, (a) - and its relative major: c, d, eflat, e, g, a, (c).

 

I use that relative major scale to get a major, country-ish sound over the I chord of a C blues (continuing with the C blues scale over the IV chord of a C blues).  To do something like this, you need to shred the blues scale and its relative major in every key.

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43 minutes ago, JamPro said:

So there are two pentatonic blues scales - get to know and use both of them.

 

Key of A blues scale: a, c, d, eflat, e, g, (a) - and its relative major: c, d, eflat, e, g, a, (c).

 

I use that relative major scale to get a major, country-ish sound over the I chord of a C blues (continuing with the C blues scale over the IV chord of a C blues).  To do something like this, you need to shred the blues scale and its relative major in every key.

So if you were playing a 12 bar C major blues: 

 

On the C chord: C D Eb E G A 

On the F: C Eb F F# G Bb

What about on the G?

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, JamPro said:

I use that relative major scale to get a major, country-ish sound over the I chord 

 

My first thought when I saw this thread was,  if you're playing major over a blues progression, you're playing country. 

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4 hours ago, JamPro said:

So there are two pentatonic blues scales - get to know and use both of them.

 

Key of A blues scale: a, c, d, eflat, e, g, (a) - and its relative major: c, d, eflat, e, g, a, (c).

 

I use that relative major scale to get a major, country-ish sound over the I chord of a C blues (continuing with the C blues scale over the IV chord of a C blues).  To do something like this, you need to shred the blues scale and its relative major in every key.

I thought you were going somewhere *slightly* different with this, which is to apply the scale positions of that major blues scale to the key you'd already mentioned (A). This gives you A, B, C, C#, E, and F#. It's basically a major pent with the added color of the flat 3. 

Contrasting the "lightness" of the major pent with the darkness/tension of the minor blues scale--in the same key--provides lots of options for phrases and statements.

 

Of course, you have to have something to say before using any notes to say it... :)

 

 

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A blues I IV V , with all dominant chords in A, I like to play mostly  A MINOR over the I (tonic) throwing in a major 3rd right before moving to the IV.

Then on the IV i like to play the A MAJOR pentatonic riffs.

Then over the V I'll sometimes play B Major pentatonic riffs but shift IMMEDIATELY to what I was doing over the IV if that's where to song moves to (maybe A major pentatonic).

Then back to the tonic thing in A minor  ( but with a major 3rd note right before the turnaround).

 

Sorry if this doesn't make sense. It works for me.

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17 minutes ago, Jr. Deluxe said:

A blues I IV V , with all dominant chords in A, I like to play mostly  A MINOR over the I (tonic) throwing in a major 3rd right before moving to the IV.

Then on the IV i like to play the A MAJOR pentatonic riffs.

Then over the V I'll sometimes play B Major pentatonic riffs but shift IMMEDIATELY to what I was doing over the IV if that's where to song moves to (maybe A major pentatonic).

Then back to the tonic thing in A minor  ( but with a major 3rd note right before the turnaround).

 

Sorry if this doesn't make sense. It works for me.

I Major over the IV? So a IV Major 7? Then II Major over the V--another Major 7, with a Lydian against the key of the I (the D#)? Is that right?

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My methodology is this: 

Yes I Major PENTATONIC on the IV not a full major scale.

Then what ever you play on the IV you can play a whole step up over the V if both are dominant like D Dom to E dom. Sometimes it sounds exotic but always works.

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Use Audacity to slow down what you want to learn then play it.  Keep working those parts  Do the piano until the piano does you.  You can change speed without impacting playback pitch.  Also you can adjust pitch and not impact speed for those 70s hits that are between keys.  The software is free.  Its a powerful tool.

 

https://www.audacityteam.org/

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45 minutes ago, Jr. Deluxe said:

My methodology is this: 

Yes I Major PENTATONIC on the IV not a full major scale.

Then what ever you play on the IV you can play a whole step up over the V if both are dominant like D Dom to E dom. Sometimes it sounds exotic but always works.

If you’re playing A Major pent over A’s IV, which is D, you are not playing D dom, you’re playing D Major 7. A Major pent is A, B, C#, E, and F#. That’s a D Major 7 (or really a lovely 6/9 chord with a Ma7). Same with the V chord—if you play B Maj pent, you will have a B, C#, D#, F#, and G#. That will be a Ma7 on the V, and includes sharping the D (which is natural in A). Is that what you mean? (I'm just making sure I understand what you're describing.)

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9 hours ago, kwyn said:

What about on the G?

 

 

 

 

So experiment around and tell me what you think sounds good.

 

So for a C blues: sometimes I play that C blues scale (c, eflat, f, gflat, g, bflat) over all 12 bars; sometimes I play that relative major scale (c, d, eflat, e, g, a) over the I chord and the C blues scale over the IV and the V chord; sometimes I play a C mixolydian (g, a, b, c, d, e, f,) over the V chord; or screw with my band-mates and play a G altered scale (g, aflat, bflat, b, csharp, dsharp, f) over the V chord (best when I am voicing that V chord as some sort of augmented chord).

 

Play around with it; have fun and experiment.

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3 minutes ago, D. Gauss said:

buy/stream B.B. King's "live at the regal" and check out what he does notewise.  b.b. will learn you real good.  

So will Muddy Waters and Son House.

 

Practice playing the vocals on your instrument. Be prepared to throw down some subtle shifting of pitch, blues is a micro-tonal music.

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1 hour ago, MathOfInsects said:

If you’re playing A Major pent over A’s IV, which is D, you are not playing D dom, you’re playing D Major 7. A Major pent is A, B, C#, E, and F#. That’s a D Major 7 (or really a lovely 6/9 chord with a Ma7). Same with the V chord—if you play B Maj pent, you will have a B, C#, D#, F#, and G#. That will be a Ma7 on the V, and includes sharping the D (which is natural in A). Is that what you mean? (I'm just making sure I understand what you're describing.)

I appreciate you looking that deep at my methodology. It sounds like you have it right but I think in terms of relative positions and scale shapes and don't really analyze what chords my notes are making. 

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6 minutes ago, Jr. Deluxe said:

I appreciate you looking that deep at my methodology. It sounds like you have it right but I think in terms of relative positions and scale shapes and don't really analyze what chords my notes are making. 

Got it. I just wanted to be sure I understood. Thanks.

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For discussions like this one, I always say I use the chromatic scale. You can play all the passing notes you want until you get to notes you like. :) I play pentatonics and minor blues and other scales, but I often go up or down chromatically by a note or 2 or 3 to do little chromatic runs on my way to target notes. You can use the 1, 2, b3, 3, 4, #4, 5, #5, 6, b7, 7 if you go through them to the next note up or down. About the only note that often doesn't sound good is the #1 (b2), but you can go through it from the 1 to the 2 and land on the b3 or 3 or 4 or 5. It all depends on where you're going. 

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These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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4 hours ago, KuruPrionz said:

So will Muddy Waters and Son House.

 

i would say not really for a major "happy" sounding blues as the OP is asking.  b.b. plays the 6 and 2 a lot, "uptown" stuff he copped from Louis Jordan. Speaking of Jordan... since both b.b. and chuck berry stole from him liberally,  check out Johnnie Johnson's piano "solo" in Berry's "you never can tell. "  Can't get more "happy" major than that and it's the hook for the whole dang song. Anything Johnnie Johnson played was gold.

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I’m going to try to explain what I would play if a bandleader called a “major (happy-ish) blues tune.  Since the O.P. mentioned a Cmaj solo, we’re in C. 
-as I play through the I IV V chords, the 7th of each chord is available. 
- it’s a happy blues so I’m staying away from the minor 3rd of each chord unless it’s passing quickly to the major 3rd. 
-obviously the root, 3rd and 5th of each chord is available. 
 

I’m not thinking of scales per se but how to construct a line using those notes available on each chord change.  
 

Having said that, if you want to think of scales to use, in my mind a good blues solo combines the blues scales of the chord plus the blues scale of the relative minor of that chord. 
Ex:  C7. (C blues scale + A blues scale)

 

But to play this happy-ish Blues I’m sticking to playing the relative minor blues scale for 

each chord plus the 7th of each chord. 
Ex: C7. (A blues scale & Bb). and then…..

      F7. (D blues scale & Eb)

      G7 (E blues scale & F)

 

That should get you started but there’s much more you can add later.  
 

And do I ever use a C blues scale in this happy-ish blues? Yes, over the IV (F)

 



 

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Quote

 

i would say not really for a major "happy" sounding blues as the OP is asking.  b.b. plays the 6 and 2 a lot, "uptown" stuff he copped from Louis Jordan. Speaking of Jordan... since both b.b. and chuck berry stole from him liberally,  check out Johnnie Johnson's piano "solo" in Berry's "you never can tell. "  Can't get more "happy" major than that and it's the hook for the whole dang song. Anything Johnnie Johnson played was gold.

Quote

 


Johnnie Johnson is a great player to borrow licks from. 👍🏻👍🏻

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5 hours ago, D. Gauss said:

i would say not really for a major "happy" sounding blues as the OP is asking.  b.b. plays the 6 and 2 a lot, "uptown" stuff he copped from Louis Jordan. Speaking of Jordan... since both b.b. and chuck berry stole from him liberally,  check out Johnnie Johnson's piano "solo" in Berry's "you never can tell. "  Can't get more "happy" major than that and it's the hook for the whole dang song. Anything Johnnie Johnson played was gold.

Point taken regarding "happy blues" but "Ces't La Vie" isn't blues at all, it's a happy snappy New Orleans style romp.

Classic 1-5 lik Aiko Aiko or Brother John. Played it many times, great song!

 

Louis Jordan is probably the secret Grandfather of Rock and Roll, an overlooked giant. 

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Yeah, for happy major blues, play the 2 and the 6. Also the major 3. And the 4 on the IV chord. And the 5 and maj 7 on the V chord. That's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. In C, that's all the white keys. That should give you plenty of notes to work with.

 

In my band, the guitar player plays the Johnnie Johnson solo on guitar. I could play it on keys, except on that tune I'm playing the sax lines which are also important parts of the sound.

 

+1 on Louis Jordan as the "secret Grandfather of Rock and Roll." I'm a huge fan of his jump blues. I think of him as rock 'n' roll before there was rock 'n' roll. 

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These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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23 hours ago, kwyn said:

So if you were playing a 12 bar C major blues: 

 

On the C chord: C D Eb E G A 

On the F: C Eb F F# G Bb

What about on the G?

 

23 hours ago, kwyn said:

For the V (G7) and IV use the minor blues sclae ( C Eb F F# G Bb

For the I (one) C  use C D Eb E G A 

 

Also check out Chuck L, solo on Jessica. I still need to learn that, but I think it's a great solo in a major tonality. 

23 hours ago, kwyn said:

 

 

 

 

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"But to play this happy-ish Blues I’m sticking to playing the relative minor blues scale for 

each chord"

I think it bears mentioning that A minor blues and C major blues have the same notes in them.

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10 hours ago, Al Quinn said:

Kwyn, can you post an example of the type of sound you're looking for? I'm asking for something recorded by someone you like who's getting the sound you seek. 

I will. I have to find something. But let's say the band is playing Folsom Prison in E and they want a piano solo. Or maybe a Clapton rendition of key to the highway in A? In those cases, minor pentatonic blues scale doesn't really seem to cut it

 

Thanks!!

 

 

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If you only play the minor blues scale (E G A Bb B D) over a dominant 1 chord (e.g., E7 on Folsom Blues in E) you’ll be missing out on several important notes (G#, C#, F#, and also C as a passing note between B and C#). And if you only play the major pentatonic scale (E F# G# B C#) over an E7 1 chord you’ll be missing out on other important notes (G, Bb, D, and also C as a passing note between B and C#). It’s a combination of all of this that will give you the sound I think your looking for. I think it’s important to identify how each note sounds to you. Each note imparts a different feeling. At the extremes E is home or ground level and Bb is dirty sounding. 
 

I think this is a good demonstration / tutorial

 

 

This is good too but perhaps not as easy to understand

 

 

You can slow these down if you like by adjusting YouTube’s Playback Speed in the Settings menu. Hope this helps.

 

 

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Overthinking things intellectually is often the first wrong step to take. The idea is to just "be musical" about it. Listen to the masters (i.e. BB King, good example). Get into the "blues groove". The scales and notes involved will just come naturally.

 

Yeah, there are times when things get a little dicey, depending on the "feel" that a particular blues tune is trying to convey. For some tunes, you might not know if it's a major or minor blues until you've played through it. One tune my classic rock covers band does is called "Messing With The Kid" by Junior Wells. On that one (which I declare to be essentially a Major blues), you can play in either a major or minor blues scale, or alternate between them, and it all sounds good either way. Focus on the minor when you want it to sound that way, go major on certain passages when it "feels right" that way, etc.

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