Here we are in a minor key blues jam in the key of G minor. This is not the easily identifiable major key standard 12-bar I-IV-V blues you are probably accustomed to. So we have to analyze the chords further and think more in minor key terms for this blues jam.
In this jam the chords are moving by fairly slow, so it’s a great jam for treating each chord as a separate event. Remember that if the chords are flying by very fast we don’t have enough time on each chord to solo on each chord independently and in those cases would be playing more of what relates to all.
What Relates to all the chords:
This jam is in minor key and like always you have to analyze the chords to get the complete roadmap to all the soloing and improvisational opportunities.
Because of the chord structure you have to choose solo avenues wisely and pay attention to the chord changes. You can try G Minor Pentatonic & Blues over all the chords, except the D major chord. Or rather you want to be extra careful around that D major chord. Remember when soloing in minor key where there is a V major cord, it can be challenging for utilizing Minor Pentatonic as it can rub over that chord.
So whether we are playing over the Gm7, Cm7, or Eb chords, play G Minor Pentatonic & Blues scales.
G Minor Pentatonic & Blues – G, Bb, C, Db, D, F
The D chord moves by pretty fast so you can steer around it while using Minor Pentatonic & Blues if you are careful. The issue is that the D major chord is made of the notes D, F#, and A. So the chord really wants to resolve to that F# note, not necessarily the G note which is the tonality we are playing in with G Minor Pentatonic.
So be cognizant over which notes you are landing on over the D chord and try to not hang on the G note while on that chord. Try to back it up a half step to F# note over that D chord as it will resolve better on that one chord. Also, be sure and try another option on just that D chord as listed below.
Try G Aeolian, (G Natural Minor), over all the chords. In minor key a minor mode usually will relate to all.
Natural Minor, (Aeolian Mode), will exude a sad, modern, dark sound. The Aeolian Mode is a seven-note scale often used in blues, rock, jazz, and many other musical genres. It is also called Natural Minor or Pure Minor.
Aeolian is considered a minor mode and is always the 6th mode in any major key. Aeolian produces a sad, dark, and mournful sound that is different than minor pentatonic and Dorian. It adds melodic half steps and more lick and string bending avenues. Natural Minor scales sound great over minor chords.
If you are not familiar with Natural Minor you can use the concept of major vs. relative minor to play major scales. Every major key has a relative minor key that has exactly the same notes in it. So you can use that to your advantage.
Since we are in minor key we need to analyze the chords. Being that the iv chord is minor, (Cm7), this tells us we can play G Aeolian mode, (G Natural Minor), over all the chords. Try G Natural Minor scales,
G Aeolian = Bb Major:
G Natural Minor, (G Aeolian) = G, A, Bb C, D, Eb, F
Bb Major = Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A
(Same notes – just emphasize the root of the mode, G.)
G minor is the relative minor of Bb major. So play all your Bb major scales but start on and emphasize the G notes making it G Aeolian (G Aeolian = Bb major).
Try mixing both G Aeolian and G Minor Pentatonic & Blues over all the chords for some killer sounds.
Treat each chord like a separate event:
In this jam the chords are slow moving with lots of time on most of the chords. This is a fantastic scenario opportunity to play over each chord and treat each chord as a separate event
- Over just the Gm7 chord try G Minor Pentatonic & Blues, G Aeolian, G Dorian, or G minor type arpeggios.
- Over just the Cm7 chord try C Minor Pentatonic & Blues, C Aeolian, C Dorian or C minor type arpeggios.
- Over just the Eb chord try some Eb major licks or an Eb major arpeggio.
- Over just the D chord try some D major licks or a D major arpeggio, or G Harmonic Minor. Remember that Harmonic Minor works awesome over the V chord in a minor key progression. The keynote in the Harmonic Minor Scale is the major 7th, and it’s located one half step behind the root. You get great tension and release playing that 7th and then going up a half step resolving to the root. Learn more about the Harmonic Minor scale by checking out the written lesson section in this series.
Keep in mind its all about the sounds you want to create and also playing for the song. Harmonic Minor over a blues progression may sound a tad exotic. So you may like it or you may not. Just know that it’s possible and will work, but you have to like the sound of it. Try it and see what sounds best to your ears.
Remember that you don’t have a lot of time on the Eb and D chords in this jam. There is just enough to rip a cool major lick or arpeggio over each chord. Be sure to get off in time when the chords change so you don’t get caught playing the wrong scale over the wrong chord.