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Storm Stenvold >> Lead Guitar Styles >>
Lesson Subject: Lead Guitar Styles
What you learn: Melodic Rock Soloing
Teacher: Storm Stenvold

Storm: Hello class. In this lesson we will look at Melodic Rock soloing. Go ahead and load the looping jam track. The rhythm guitar chord progression begins on B minor, moves to the G major chord then to A major. By listening and comparing notes, you can identify the central note to this chord progression as 'B'.

Buud: I did a I, VII, VI chord progression using a natural minor scale for solos in my lesson today. Is that what we're doing here?

Storm: Buud, you're ahead of the game. Here comes a tab of the rhythm part.

Storm: The progression could be viewed as vi - IV - V in the key of D. Getting to a bit of the theory soon, if this is unclear. Notice that if you try to 'end' the progression you will be most 'satisfied' by ending on the B minor chord. In tonal center theory you would call the 'B' by the number 1 and you would call the 'Bm' chord the "Im". The other chords would be named by their letter distance to the Im chord letter. ... G = bVI of B... A = bVII of B, Chord progression = Im / bVI / bVII / bVII.

Buud: So what kind of scale do we use to create solos?

Storm: This scale is called the B minor pentatonic. Numbered off the 'B' note you should study the numerical values as you play them ... 1 - b3 - 4 - 5 -b7 - 1 etc... The highlighted dots in the shape indicate a fingering of the Bm chord 1 - 5 - 1 - b3 - 5 - 1. You can see how the chord fits into the scale and examine numerically how it relates. You could say that this scale is an ornamentation of the Bm chord. This scale is the classic improvising tool over minor progressions. This pattern will be familiar to many soloists. Lets look at some sample phrases before expanding it.

Storm: A common ornamentation of this scale is to add bends. The bend of the '4' up to '5' and the 'b7' to '1' are popular. Adding slurs - 'hammer-ons' and 'pull-offs' add a smooth sound. And can add speed as well.

Storm: And playing through this pattern in repeating 'sequences' is a popular device. I use the 3rd and 1st fingers for this lick. Use whatever works. Most rock players would seldom use the 4th finger. At higher positions you might even stretch up an extra fret with the second finger.

Storm: Notice that pull-off example has a repeating pattern to it. The sequence that follows repeats in "3's". Play three notes of the scale, the next 3, until you end with a screamin' bend. Or blues lick. There a hundreds of possible sequences. This is a popular one. Practice getting into and out of sequences so that they don't sound overly forced in to your solos. Finally a popular addition to the pentatonic scale.

Storm: This pattern adds the b5 our pentatonic scale to create a blues quality. The scale would now be called the 'blues scale'.

Jan: I'm not stuck in sequences as much as I'm stuck in "boxes".

Storm: Let's try and branch out from those boxes, OK, coming is a fingering for the 'G' chord.

Bill: Teacher, are these scales coming from the D major starting from the Aeolian mode?

Storm: Yes, Bill. Building it right now. B Aeolian is a great scale choice. D major, as well. What is critical is that the 'G' chord is placed in the same area of the neck as the 'Bm pentatonic'. Now it can be easily visualized in relationship to the tonal center of 'B'. The highlighted dot indicates a note of the G chord that is not available in the pentatonic shape. This dot would be numbered 'b6' in relationship to the tonal center of 'B' and can be added to your improvisation ideas.

Storm: This is a fingering for the 'A' chord, again, placed in the same area of the neck as the pentatonic. By discovering chordal fingerings that lay 'over' the minor pentatonic you can easily discover extra notes to add to your minor pentatonic solo ideas. The dot indicates the note that would be numbered '2' in relation to the 'B' tonal center.

JMeyer: Is this the same as an arpeggio?

Storm: Yes. Here come some arpeggio fingerings in this same position.

Storm: An arpeggio is defined as the notes of a chord played in a single note fashion.

Storm: This is the 'B natural minor scale' also called 'B Aeolian'. Numbering these notes gives you 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7-1 etc. You should memorize this tonal center chromatic numerical structure and the name labels 'natural minor' and 'Aeolian'. Notice that these numbers are the combination of the minor pentatonic and the extra numbers that came about just by visualizing the song's chords. Highlighted notes indicate the added notes, the '2's' and 'b6'.

Storm: Chords can be placed in the 'major scale family tree' to discover what scale they came from. Major scale is built W W H W W W H. W=Whole step H=Half step. Minor chords can be placed in the II, III and VI positions while major chords can be placed in the I, IV and V positions.

Major Scale Family Tree

Storm: Most progressions will fit in at one corresponding position in this major scale family tree.

Progression - Scale Tree

Storm: The progression leads back to 'D' major as the 'parent' scale.

D Scale Tree

Storm: This is a common fingering for the 'D' major scale. As just discussed, D major is the related major to this B minor chord progression and can be used as a substitute scale for improvisation. The nice thing about this approach is that you can use 'D' major fingerings anywhere you know them. You can also try other elements of 'D' major for substitution. The difficult part of this approach is that you might lose track of the song's actual tonal center and chromatic numbering values that are useful for identifying blues phrasing.

Storm: This is another fingering for the 'D' major scale, with the highlighted note indicating the 'D' note for correct neck placement. Compare this to the previous pattern and you will see that they are the same notes, just different ways of thinking. Many players like to play the tonal center pentatonic (B minor pentatonic) and then visualize the related major in the same area of the neck (last pattern of D major). This gives you a dual visualization so that you can access blues qualities as well as extra ornamentation. This gives us three levels of impact for our melodic soloing. 1. 'Blues" notes 2. 'Non-Blues" chord notes 3. 'Non-Blues-Non-Chord' scale notes Stay in the pentatonic or blues scale for the first level.

Storm: Listeners will find the blues notes to be very familiar and 'comfortable'. The example features the second level. Featuring the non-blues chord tones during the change to the G chord, again if you like on the A, you will create a 'sweet', melodic ornamentation for the listener. Stairway to Heaven features an nice example, here transposed to our key of B, the riff outlines the Bm - G change.

Storm: The 3rd level uses the scale notes that are not 'comfortable' like the blues and are not 'sweet' like the extra chord notes. However these 'non-blues-non-chord' scale tones are still from the related scales and can be used over any of the chords to create 'melodic' tension'.

Storm: That is it. Experiment with these ideas over the jam track. And thanks for checking out the Melodic Rock Lead lesson.

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