We've saved the best for last... Soul blues! This is without a doubt my favourite kind of blues, and I'm pretty sure it will end up being yours! We bring back that 6/8 groove from Essentials 2, but now we're combining it with a much wider range of chords, not just dominant chords. We bring in the most advanced piece of theory we have covered yet, namely the idea of "secondary dominant" chords, and explain exactly how it works, and exactly how you can use them in your playing. We apply everything to a fantastic rhythm and lead track that you will absolutely love. Check out the first video to get started!
Our first task with this track is to simply learn the chord progression. We'll dive into the theory in the next lesson, but for now, it's all about the chords! So, here is our progression as a chord chart, and you can use the tab to nail the specifics of each chord and where they are played.
This is a fantastic opportunity to dive into a concept called "secondary dominants". If you've taken our Tom Misch course then you would have seen it mentioned, but otherwise this may be a fairly new concept to you. Let's explain it nice and clear.
The basic concept is that we can use a dominant 7th chord to move from one tonal centre to another, without sounding jarring. We're changing the "home" chord, essentially! The best way to learn this is through the example of this track, so let's dive in.
Why is this a secondary dominant... Well, if we stuck strictly to the key of C major, we'd be using an E minor chord here (the third degree of the scale is harmonised as a minor). By making this a dominant 7th, we alter the chord deliberately to create more "pull" to the Am7.
We know that the dominant 7th chord will always resolve perfectly to the root chord. So whenever you play the dominant 7th chord, if the next chord is a 5th below (Like E to A in the example above) it sounds like the next chord is the home chord. This is how you force a new "home" sound and how we can easily stretch and mould a basic key signature into something more interesting. IMPORTANT: As we work through the rest of the progression we still stay roughly within the key of C, just editing chords slightly to create this secondary dominant effect. That means we can still solo in C (hallelujah!!).
It's a surprisingly simple concept, and this track is a perfect tool to learn it inside out. Watch the video to see me work through every single part of the track, explaining the secondary dominants as they pop up. Once you've learnt it for this track, you'll be away and ready to use it in your own playing!
Let's now dive into the solo. We'll use the tab in this lesson for reference as we go through each lick over the next 3 lessons.
Let's dive into the first set of licks. Take a look at the licks we are playing over the first part of the chord progression.
We will be focusing our improvisation around the C major pentatonic for this section, specifically using box 4 for most of it. We'll also be bringing in a few parts of the C minor pentatonic scale to add that extra layer of "bluesyness", using the major and minor crossover as we have done in previous courses. Be sure to visualise the scale shapes, as you can see here, as you go through the licks!
We'll now tackle the second half of the solo, which is the section played over the chords found in the chord chart.
Over this section, we switch to the darker sounding C minor pentatonic to create a little bit more aggression in the second half of the track. This works in much the same way as it does when we play a minor pentatonic over the IV chord in the 12 bar blues. The only difference here is that we need to be a little more specific as we hit that A7 chord. In that case, we really need to target one of the chord tones for it to be effective, which we do so by hitting the 17th fret, which is a G note and is the b7th of the A7 chord. Easy as that! 😃🎸
For the final set of chords, we play some turnaround licks using the C minor pentatonic box 1, as if we were playing a standard blues turnaround, even though this has a more jazzy feel! As always, be sure to know the shapes you are using and be aware of the chords that are playing underneath your lead!
I want you guys to give yourself an enormous pat on the back for getting this far! If you've been through all 3 courses then you now have all the tools you need to go out into the world, guitar in hand, and be the blues player you want to be. Now it's all about letting it sit, develop and gradually form into your own style and playing. In this lesson, I spend the time developing the track with some extra CAGED chords and developing the lead playing.
don't over-complicate the lead. In this track, the chords do the work for you. Stick to a few simple ideas, and let it breathe!
And there we have it guys! You've completed our Blues Essentials Level 3 course. Make sure that all the tracks from Essentials 1, 2 and 3 are sitting somewhere easy to access so that you can continue to learn and refine those skills. Also, please do get in touch to let us know how you're getting on with the course, and how your blues playing has now developed! It's been a pleasure teaching it to you, and I wish you all the best 😃😃🤘
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