Tip: Improvising With The Blues

We’re back to talking about scales to use for improvising. Here’s the sample phrase we’ve been improvising over:

||: C major, A minor, D minor, G7 :||

In previous chapters we improvised with the C major pentatonic and then the G major pentatonic. See the previous posts for details.

Now we’re going to use yet another scale to play over this phrase in C major, with the intention of hearing some Blues. Here’s the pattern we’re going to use:


Play this pattern just shown over a tape recording or midi file of the C major progression.

How did it sound? We can get it to sound even better by highlighting those bluesey dissonances like this: start out playing the G major pentatonic (described in the Scales To Use For Soloing Part II) over the progression, and then after a few seconds play the Eb major pattern just given.

This pattern is the Eb major or C minor pentatonic. Yes, it has two names. It’s not a true blues scale, but it conveys the feeling of the blues. And that feeling comes from just two notes within the Eb major: Eb and Bb. Playing those two over chords in the C major scales produces the sweet, “incorrect” intervals we call the Blues.

We now have three different scales to play over the C major progression. Are you ready for yet another? We’ll dig in next issue.

Copyright © 2007 Darrin Koltow

This first appeared in the Guitar Noise News – September 15, 2005 newsletter. Reprinted with permission.

Scales and Soloing Series