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Lesson Subject: Lead Guitar Styles
What you learn: Jazz-Rock Soloing
Teacher: Storm Stenvold

Storm: Hi. Thanks for tuning in. This lesson is on Jazz-Rock soloing. I think a lot of what we cover tonight will work in other contexts, too. Go ahead and load the jam track. It is in the Key of 'E'. It is a typical Jazz-Rock/Fusion jam. Kind of staying put on one chord but with lots of possible note selections.

Storm: It may be best described as a 'Dominant' Vamp. Or static dominant. Most specifically E13#9.


AScriabin: Like the 'Jimi' chord.

Storm: You got it AScriabin. But with one extra note. Jimi Chord: E7#9. Or the 'Jimi Hendrix' chord.


Storm: This vamp hints at many possible alterations/extensions. That is part of the fun of soloing on it!


Storm: But in its essence it is an E7 chord. The 'seventh' chord is the chord most blues progressions use. The blues background behind this style of music gives a valuable perspective for understanding the various improvisational theories which will be discussed here. The 'E7' chord contains a 'G#' the '3' of 'E' blues. A typical choice might be the major pentatonic. Or the minor pentatonic, rooted on 'E'.

Storm: The tab example shows the 'E' Major Pentatonic scale. This, in theory, is a fundamental fit to the notes of the 'E7' chord. Highlighted is an additional note, the 'b3' of the 'minor pentatonic' scale. The intermingling of the 'b3' and '3' is a trademark blues sound. To the point where listeners are quite comfortable hearing a 'b3rd' G-natural over the I7 or E7 chord'.

Storm: The major pentatonic is used to bring out the major aspects of the E dominant groove. Learn the sound and the numerical values of the notes. 1-2-3-5-6-1-2 etc. It is important to have control of some minor influence to give pattern more 'depth'. The 'b3' will be handy either as a subtle influence, using it to approach the '3'. Or for creating a more direct minor sound by playing it solidly or bending up to it from the '2'. Like in the lick example.

Storm: The next tab shows the minor pentatonic + b5 or the 'blues' scale in the primary notes. This would be the standard scale for blues improvising and is a first rate choice over this static dominant groove. The highlighted note indicates the major. Giving a hint of the major '3'. This pattern emphasizes a minor orientation with a major ornamentation approach. Again, the numerical knowledge is crucial. 1-b3-3-4-b5-5-b7-1-b3 etc..

Storm: As you get familiar with the sounds of each of these possible approaches you can get more adventurous with the combinations.

Storm: If you resolve the licks nicely you may never hit a 'wrong' note over this vamp. Ending in the right place is of prime importance though. I like to target chord tones of the 'E7'.

Storm: A dozen right notes sound wrong with the 'wrong' ending note. Or a bunch of 'outside' notes sound great if you 'resolve' the phrase. Chord tones as target ending notes provide strong resolution. Another choice is an alteration of the Major Pentatonic. The 'Dominant' Pentatonic.

Storm: It is the Major Pentatonic but substituting the 'b7' for the '6'. It also could be called an 'E9' arpeggio. Five note pattern either way. Again work in the 'minor flavors' where you see fit. 'Minor' flavors likely mean 'b3rd' and/or 'b5.' Thinking of the E groove as a pure E7th places the chord in the V7 of the 'A' major scale

Storm: When the tonal center of a song is the fifth note a major scale you refer to it with the modal name 'Mixolydian'.

Storm: You normally 'letter name' modes after the letter of the tonal center. i.e. 'E Mixolydian'.

Storm: You can not only use the A major scale for improvisation but you can use other elements from an extensive range of 'A' major concepts. Or example, you could arpeggiate 'D' and 'E' chords, both in the key of A, against the E7.

Storm: Or, since the key of A major contains B minor and C# minor chords, you could substitute in the pentatonics rooted off those notes.

Storm: Because we are accepting the 'b3' as an available chord tone we can also analyze this chord as a minor 7th. The scale closest in construction to the Mixolydian is the 'Dorian' mode.

Storm: It is identical to the 'Mixolydian' but with a 'b3rd' or 'minor 3rd' instead of '3'. The Dorian is in the second position of the major scale family tree which leads you to a 'D' major parent scale. You can use the 'D' major scale for improvisation as well as other 'D' concepts, just like the 'A' concepts discussed earlier. Just move the earlier licks up 5 frets. Or down 7 frets. Now we are going where few have gone before (Star Trek reference). In to the uncharted territory (for most) of the 'Melodic Minor' scale. (cue Star Trek theme). Actually a mode of the Melodic Minor is a great choice over static dominant vamps. The 'Lydian b7' mode.

Storm: This is the same as playing a 'B' Melodic Minor scale. Also the same as the 'E' Mixolydian but raising the 4th degree or '#4'. #4 = b5.

Storm: And another 'jazzy' choice for the static dominant vamp. The Diminished scale.

Storm: It is called the half-step, whole-step Diminished because its construction begins with a half-step, then a whole-step, alternating throughout.

Storm: I would suggest playing the scale pattern by sliding your 1st finger on the opening note to the 'b2', then using a 1-3-4 to 1-2-4 fingering throughout. This Diminished scale includes the notes of the E7 chord with nice 'altered' or 'outside' tones. The 'b9' the '#3' and the 'b5'. We will look at common jazz scale choices over dominant chords next lesson as we look at soloing in a Jazz style. Over a 'Jazz Blues' progression. The Jazz-Rock style mixes elements of traditional Rock and Blues with the more 'outside' or extended note choices common to Jazz. And this is a nice point at which players from both side, Rock and Jazz, can come together and both express themselves equally. Static vamps. I hope you learned something new for your fingers and ears to wrap themselves around. Thanks for tuning in tonight.

Storm: Next week Jazz soloing.

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