This is a very atmospheric two-chord change. This is the type of jam in which melodic playing leaving lots of space works well. Try to come up with bursts of melodic licks that you can then repeat and vary throughout the track. Keep coming back to those licks as you can really grab the listener’s attention using melody and repetition. Always start your soloing process by listening to the track and deciding what types of sounds you want to create. Then analyze the chords to get the full soloing roadmap.
What relates to all:
Since we are in minor key we can instantly consider using Minor Pentatonic & Blues scales as one soloing option over all the chords:
E Minor Pentatonic & Blues = E, G, A, Bb, B, D
When in minor key you can also usually play a minor mode over all the chords. The mode would be Aeolian or Dorian. When playing over all the chords in minor key, what relates to all, you can always use Natural Minor Scales, (Aeolian Mode), UNLESS there is a major IV chord or a minor ii chord, in those cases use the Dorian Mode. For more on minor key soloing strategies read the Minor Key Soloing written lessons in the written lessons section of this series.
When analyzing the chords in this jam there is a minor iv chord, Am9. That points us to utilize E Natural Minor over all the chords. Try E Natural Minor, (Aeolian Mode), to exude a more sad, modern, darker 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. The relative major of E minor if G. E natural minor scales have the exact same notes as G major scales:
E Natural Minor = E, F#, G, A, B, C, D
G Major = G, A, B, C, D, E, F#
(Same notes – just emphasize the root of the mode, E.)
So if you know some major scales or just more familiar with major scales, play G major scales but start on and emphasize the E notes and it will then become E Natural Minor. This is the crux of playing in the modes of the major scale. Shifting that emphasis to the root of the mode, in this case E.
Also try both and mix E Minor Pentatonic & Blues with E Natural Minor, (E Aeolian mode). You can create killer sounds going between the five-note Pentatonic scale and the seven-note Natural Minor scale.
Treat each chord as a separate event:
In this jam the chords are moving slow with lots of time on each chord. This track is great for treating each chord as a separate event. Remember, if the chords are flying by fast, you won’t have enough time to solo on each chord independently and you would be playing what relates to all.
- Over just the Em chord try E Minor Pentatonic & Blues scales, E Natural Minor, (same as G major), E Dorian, (same as D major), and E minor type arpeggios.
- Over just the Bm chord try B Minor Pentatonic & Blues, B Natural Minor, (same as D major), B Dorian, (same as A major), and B minor type arpeggios.