|Truefire Take 5 Uptown Blues Soloing TUTORiAL
TUTORiAL | 2.5 GB
Soloing Over Sophisticated Blues Changes
As a blues player, soloing over more sophisticated modern blues progressions, gospel or jazz-influenced changes is always a refreshing break from the typical 1-4-5 progression. BUT, you’ll find that your minor and major pentatonic vocabulary will only get you so far.
Jeff McErlain’s Uptown Blues Soloing edition of Take 5 takes you the rest of the way by demonstrating how to “play the changes” by identifying and targeting chord tones and common tones. This is a much simpler approach, does not require learning a ton of scales and arpeggios, and greatly expands your creative palette when crafting solos and improvisations.
”In this course, we'll explore blues tunes that break out to the basic I IV V chord progression. Along with learning the progressions, I'll show you how to solo over these changes by targeting the keynotes on each chord. This is actually much easier than it appears because I'll show you how to see the chord and the notes within it rather than thinking scales.
Playing over these changes is daunting for many guitarists, I know it was for me and frankly, I avoided it! Well, I'm living proof that you can do it with a little bit of effort and patience, you can do it too. Grab your guitar, and let's get started!”
Jeff kicks off the course with a blues soloing primer where he points out some approaches for playing over more sophisticated changes, shares a couple of ways to focus your practice and talk about players to study, and pass on a few sonic tips for blues soloing.
Jeff will then guide you through 5 “Uptown Blues” soloing studies, where you’ll learn to solo over progressions that utilize flat sevens in place of five chords, progressions that incorporate one six two fives. You’ll also work with minor four chords and sharp four diminished harmonies.
Jeff will explain and demonstrate all of the key concepts and approaches along the way. You’ll get standard notation and tabs for all of the performance studies. Plus, you’ll be able to use TrueFire’s learning tools to sync the tab and notation to the video lesson. You can also loop or slow down the videos so that you can work with the lessons at your own pace. All of the backing tracks are included to work with on your own as well.
Uptown Blues Soloing Primer - Demonstration
"I'm really psyched to make this course and it ties in well with many of my other courses in the past few years - Soloing The Changes, Essentials: Chord Tone Soloing, and Solo Explorer: Rock in particular. All of these courses discuss playing chord changes and targeting chord tones, so please if you're not familiar with those, take a look, with those being a bit more blues rock-based. Here I want to say how important it is to be confident in playing over a standard 12 bar blues with even just your pentatonic scales. I find people want to get ahead of themselves and play the "cool stuff" without really nailing what really is the cool stuff! By having a solid pentatonic blues rolling background, making the changes will be much easier. I don't mean licks, I mean improvising using the pentatonic scale because that's where it all comes from."
Level 1: Uptown Blues Soloing - Overview
"In this study, we're going to replace the V7 that normally comes at bar 9 in a blues with a bVII7 chord. What's that you may ask? A bVII is always a whole stop below the root, as a natural VII is a half step. We are playing a C blues and normally the V7 chord is G7, so we will replace it with a Bb7. I really like this change as it's subtle but cool, you can just play pentatonic over it, or you can make the changes. I find switching up the standard 12-bar blues something simple like this can make a difference to the listener whether they are aware of it or not."
Level 1: Uptown Blues Soloing - Performance
"I took a very simple approach on purpose here. Not only is that a great way to start a solo, but by keeping it simple, I can clearly outline the changes so we can hear how effective that is. Sometimes just playing for the chord tones is the best thing to do. As I explain in the video, you can see how this is closely related to the pentatonic scale in position. So, as you learn this solo, I would suggest you create your own that is similar to this. Write a 12 bar solo that outlines the chord changes specifically. The solo does not have to be your masterpiece, you were practicing, which is very different than performing!"
Level 1: Uptown Blues Soloing - Breakdown
"In the breakdown, you can see I did some improvising and extending upon the original solo. I did this because I wanted you to see that with slight variations how we can expand upon the basic theme. Building upon a theme is a great way to get into creating a coherent and well planned out solo. A great way to do this, depending on the song, is to quote the melody of this song at the beginning of the solo. Now clearly I didn't do that here because it is no melody, but I did build upon my initial idea. And as I said, this is always a great way to start solo. Especially if you plan on taking an extended one."
Level 2: Uptown Blues Soloing - Overview
"In this study, we're going to play over an uptempo straight groove and we will add in a VI minor chord. We're in E so that would be a C#m, this change is common and very cool for a little twist. This is the same changes as the song "Mercury Blues" which is a classic blues tune that has been recorded many times, but specifically, we're looking at the version I first heard from David Lindley. Alan Jackson also had a country hit with his version of the song with this added Vim chord. Usually, if someone calls the song on a gig, I assume it'll have the Vim chord in it."
Level 2: Uptown Blues Soloing - Performance
"I'm mainly thinking pentatonic on this song, to begin with. E minor pentatonic specifically but I'm going to add in chord tones needed for each chord change. My first chord is E major, EG#B so I'll be sure to hit some of those notes when playing that chord. The same thing goes for the A major chord, which is my IV chord. That's spelled AC#E, so as you can see I am sure to hit a lot of C#'s on that chord. When I get to the Bmaj and C#m I'm literally playing the chord shape of each one. Starting off with this approach can be really helpful getting into playing over the changes."
Level 2: Uptown Blues Soloing - Breakdown
"The first thing you'd like to do is become comfortable using the E minor blues scale on this tune. I would recommend that all the time anyway! I find a lot of people are very interested in learning more advanced concepts, and when we end up playing find that they are lacking in the fundamentals of good strong pentatonic bluesy playing. That kind of playing is the foundation of blues and blues-rock, obviously. I'm not talking about blues licks, I'm talking about understanding the nuances and phrasing that is a part of that music. If you don't have that together, nothing else will really come together. I have spoken. :-)"
Level 3: Uptown Blues Soloing - Overview
"In this study, we're going to take a look at an eight-bar blues and introduce a VIm chord and the all-important I7 VI7 II7 V7 I turnaround. This form is exceptionally important to know as it is many, many, tunes. This was the gateway for me to play a little more jazzy for the first time I had to really think about making some chord changes. Feeling confident over the I7 VI7 II7 V7 is essential but does require a fair amount of work and practice. So, let's take a look at that!"
Level 3: Uptown Blues Soloing - Performance
"There are a few different kinds of I7 Vi7 II7 V7 I7 variations to be aware of. As a general rule of thumb, I've discovered that in many traditional blues tunes all of the chords are treated as dominant. The traditional jazz version of this is I VI7 IIm7 V7 I7. Let's talk chords G7 E7 A7 D7 G7 vs. G7 E7 Am7 D7 G7, the difference can be subtle but it's one to be very aware of, as you do want to make sure everyone is on the same page. Another variation in a Vim7 chord, G7 Em7 Am7 D7 G7 and that are quite common as well. So ultimately you'll want to know how to solo over all three of those."
Level 3: Uptown Blues Soloing - Breakdown
"A little hint here, you can use G minor pentatonic to solo over all of this. Of course, you'll be missing some of them really sweet notes that playing the changes will provide, but I recommend you practice that as well. I have found, if you want to sound bluesy, it is the mixture of these two approaches that are the most classic sound. Think B.B. King as many of his tunes use turnaround and these changes. This is must-know second-level ninja stuff."
Level 4: Uptown Blues Soloing - Overview
"This is a classic gospel-style blues called "Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do". Here we're going to introduce the use of the III7 chord which is an essential gospel blues chord change. We're playing in the key of C, so that III7 chord would be E7 because in C the 3rd is E. Normally that chord would be Em7 but the twist that adds that gospel sound is making it a dominant seventh chord. We'll also encounter the ubiquitous I VI II VI I turnaround."
Level 4: Uptown Blues Soloing - Performance
"There are many versions of this song that was first recorded in 1922 with many lyrical and chordal variations, of course, the version I'm teaching you seems to be the version most blues guys play! Check out Jimmy Witherspoon's version which as the same changes without the VIm added in and is a bit more uptempo. The version I'm channeling here is one of my favorites is from the FANTASTIC record The Biggest Thing Since Colossus by Otis Spann featuring the original Fleetwood Mac lineup (except Mick Fleetwood I believe) with Peter Green and Danny Kirwan on guitar. I can't recommend this record enough and it is one of my favorites. I love the way Peter solos on this one which is a beautiful mix of making the changes and playing street blues. I highly recommend learning his solo."
Level 4: Uptown Blues Soloing - Breakdown
"The real trick on a tune like this is to not always make all of the chord changes. If we do that, it stops sounding bluesy and leans toward sounding a little jazzier. Although most jazz musicians will play very bluesy on this as well. It's a fine line between clever and stupid and sometimes it's easy to sound stupid on this song, take it from me because I know. I would recommend trying to play C minor blues and C major blues over this as best as you can. And gradually outline some of the changes. But to practice, I would definitely recommend trying to outline all of the chord changes to get that under fingers and in your ears. The difficult part is mixing the stuff together where it sounds natural. That comes down to practice and listening to the greats play over these changes."
Level 5: Uptown Blues Soloing - Overview
"In this final study, we're going to take a look primarily at the use of the #IVo7 chord, and once again the I VI II V I turn around. So it should be clear by now that that turnaround is pretty darn important! I know I overlooked it for many years and just played some pentatonic nonsense over-the-top every time, if you dig a little deeper it's really not that hard to make some of those chord changes. It just takes time and some effort but the payoff is huge as it's so common."
Level 5: Uptown Blues Soloing - Performance
"These changes are basically the changes to "Someday After a While You'll Be Sorry", a Freddie King classic. But as we can see it is many tunes. I've talked about the song and a number of my courses because it is so ubiquitous and essential to learn how to play over. The #IVo7 in this key is C#o7 which is spelled C# E G Bb, C7 which is the IV chord is spelled CEGBb. So we can see by sharpening the root of the C7 chord we get C#o7, so we only really need to change one note! Man, I wish I had known that when I first started playing on for this kind of stuff. That diminished seventh chord used to freak me out."
Level 5: Uptown Blues Soloing - Breakdown
"Let me take this time to recap a lot of what we've learned in this course. The I VI II V I is it essential to know how to navigate as it is exceptionally common in both jazz and blues. There are standard variations to this turnaround that you need to be aware of as a player, as to all the people in the band. Another common variation will be how we treat our IV chord in before we go back to the I7. It can be IV7 to IVm to I7 or IV7 to #IVo7 to I7. You want to be able to navigate these changes as well. So if you take anything away from this course that should be it! These changes take time to get under your fingers and this isn't a race, remember you are playing guitar for fun!"
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