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Michael Johnson >> Santana style >>
Lesson Subject: Santana Style
What you learn: Licks & Scales
Michael: Michael Johnson

Michael: Welcome to the interactive lesson on the style for Carlos Santana. Carlos has and very lyrical guitar style, you can actually hum or sing his lead solos, much in the way David Gilmour of Pink Floyd does. You basically take the scale add simple but clean melodies and add the licks and runs in between them. Check out licks you will learn in the lesson sample.

Lesson Sample

BluesJedi: E minor?

Michael: That's a relative mode of the scale I'm using, you're actually going to use the A Dorian mode. Here's the scale pattern.

Michael: Notice it has A, B, C, D, E, F# G. Here's a jam track to practice the scales and licks over.

Jam Track 1

Michael: It will take some practice, but this lesson will help you get the Dorian down though. The progression has Am, F and G. Here's our first lick using the Dorian:

Lick 1

BluesJedi: Rooted on A?... rooted on G would be G major, that's why you need to establish A as the root.

Correct BluesJedi, G Ionian (Major) is the first mode, then you have A Dorian, B Phrygian, C Lydian, D Mixolydian, E Aeolian (Minor), F# Locrian.

BluesJedi: Yea... E Aeolian (Minor) is also the same, which is why I thought it sounded like E Minor... Dorian mode generally sounds minor.

Michael: Correct BluesJedi, the Aeolian (Minor), Dorian and Phrygian all have a 1, b3, & 5, these are the key notes for the minor sound. Carlos's sound comes from using the Dorian mode, notice the lick has a melodic feel to it using the notes of the Dorian, simple lines, but effective. Carlos will set up the theme of a solo with a melody like this and then improvise in the scale, try playing over the jam track. Now this next section takes advantage of the box section of the Dorian.

Lick 2

See the pattern used in the scale based between the 5th and 7th frets, you hammer ascending the pattern and jump to a pull-off on the 1st (E) string. So basically you have a simple melody (lick 1) and jump to a run in the A Dorian (lick 2).

BluesJedi: Can A Dorian be played over any A Minor progression?

Michael: It sure can, most modes that share a 1, b3 & 5, now you can descend in note sequences in the pattern as well, here's lick 3:

Lick 3

See how this run jumps within the pattern. Towards the end of the lick you jump in an arpeggio that's in the next pattern. At the end of the lick you have a classic Santana type hammer-on, it's actually broken down into 3 sets of triads if you want to look at it like that. Many of these licks will have triads in them, that is what helps to give it a melodic sound. You can also use the unison bends that jump with in the key as well. Here's one example:

Lick 4

sr: That's awkward to play, what scale is that from?

Michael: It's in the A Dorian on the 1st string.

BluesJedi: Gotta have a strong pinky, ha, got it to be unison, it's tough.

Michael: Use your 3rd finger to bend, and the 2nd finger to support it.

BluesJedi: Ah, easier that way...

Michael: Here's the A Dorian on the 1st (E) string, getting the pitch on the second string is a challenge let alone using it within a sequence. Now we can jump into other patterns as well, you'll see the shift of patterns in the next lick:

Lick 5

In this lick you'll notice a sequence of descending triads and then you jump back into the A Dorian pattern on the 5th fret. You'll notice that you jump to lick 2 at the end of the phrase. Here's a sample of just the sequence of triads and then you can jump to the lower octave on in the open position.

Lick 6

Here's the last lick, you basically follow the chord progression during F, G and Am using arpeggios.

Lick 7

Notice the B Diminished gives the lick a classical type sound. Well time to go, I look forward to seeing you all next lesson!

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