A Medium Blues

This track is very interesting as theoretically its in the key is A minor. But it also leans toward being major sounding. The rhythmic riffs stand out more than the actual chords, which are more utilized as accents. The track is basically a i-iv-v blues progression. It’s pretty wide open so there is lots of soloing avenues to try as you can get creative with both A minor and A major devices.

What relates to all the chords:

With the progression sounding more minor key, you can utilize Minor Pentatonic & Blues over all the chords. A Minor Pentatonic & Blues scales work great over all the chords as those scale relates to all.

A Minor Pentatonic & Blues – A, C, D, Eb, E, G

Then as you analyze the chords notice there is a minor iv chord, Dm7. So this tells us that we can utilize Aeolian or Natural Minor over all the chords. Aeolian will exude a sad, modern, and 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. Aeolian adds melodic half steps and more lick and string bending avenues than Minor Pentatonic.

Natural Minor scales sound great over minor chords. And, at times, you can also use Natural Minor over all the chords in a minor key progression, like in this jam.

If you are not familiar with Natural Minor you can use the concept of major vs. relative minor and 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. The relative major of A minor is C major. A Natural Minor scales have the exact same notes as C Major scales:

A Natural Minor = A, B, C, D, E, F, G

C Major = C, D, E, F, G, A, B

(Same notes – just emphasize the root of the mode, A.)

So if you know some major scales or just more familiar with major scales, play C major scales but start on and emphasize the A notes and it will then become A Natural Minor. This is the crux of playing in the modes, to really focus on that tonal center, the root of the mode.

Also try mixing A Minor Pentatonic & Blues scales with A Natural Minor scales all over the neck. Repeat and vary your licks and remember to emphasize the A notes. At times, resolve your licks to the A notes and also try landing on strong chord tones as the chords change.

You can also try some A Major Pentatonic licks. This will exude a more sweet major sound as opposed to the darker bluesy minor pentatonic sounds. Try A Major Pentatonic over all the chords for that sweet major sound. A Major Pentatonic is the same as F# Minor Pentatonic, major and relative minor:

A Major Pentatonic – A, B, C#, E, F#

F# Minor Pentatonic – F#, A, B, C#, E

(Same notes – just emphasize the root of the mode, A.)

Play all your F# Minor Pentatonic scales, but start on and emphasize the A notes and it will be A Major Pentatonic and will exude that sweet major sound. The jam is wide open so there is lots of room for interpretation. Often you will need to use your discretion and this is one jam where many soloing avenues will work together so get creative and have fun!

Treat each chord as a separate event:

  • Try switching pentatonic scales or natural minor scales over each chord. Over the Am7 chord try A Minor Pentatonic & Blues and A Natural Minor. Over the Dm7 chord try D Minor Pentatonic & Blues and D Natural Minor. Over the Em7 chord try E Minor Pentatonic & Blues and also E Natural Minor.
  • Over the E7#9 try E Minor Pentatonic & Blues. You can treat 7#9 chords as minor chords when considering soloing options.
  • Try various arpeggios and then mixing them in with their respective scales. Remember that good arpeggio playing mixes arpeggios in with scales and licks.

Since Dorian works great over minor type chords you can try A Dorian over the Am7 chord, D Dorian over the Dm7 chord, and E Dorian over the Em7 chord. Remember there isn’t a lot of time on the turnaround chords so you have to get on and off them quickly. You don’t want to get caught playing the wrong scale over the wrong chord so be sure to listen for the changes and change scales appropriately.


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