Minor Blues – 5 Important Sounds To Know and How to Use Them

In this video I am going to show you some longer melodic ideas or licks with arpeggios and using different minor sounds on a Cm blues. It’s going to show you how to really get these sounds across and also how to create some great licks with the diatonic arpeggios also some of the other great arpeggios available like Quartal Harmony and Shell voicings. You can of course also use these ideas in a modal situation on a minor chord because the minor blues really is in between the modal and the functional harmony.

I am going to cover some of the more common scale sounds and also that are a little less common or even outside, and the nature of the arpeggios also demonstrates some odd note grouping ideas.

In this Lesson:

  • Minor scale options on a Minor Blues (Inside and Outside)
  • Arpeggio Based Licks or Melodic ideas
  • Material for Modal and Minor Blues progressions
  • How to make melodies with Diatonic Arpeggios

#1 Melodic Minor – Cascading Arpeggios or a Single Triad?

The first phrase is using the most common tonic minor sound in jazz: Melodic minor. The lick can be interpreted in several ways. The first one would be to see it as a row of 3 descending arpeggios: Ebmaj7(#5), B7(#5) and G7(#5). Notice how it contains two arpeggios that are not strictly diatonic arpeggios in the melodic minor scale.

In the video I demonstrate how I play the arpeggios in more detail, but that is easier to actually check out in the video as it shows my hands with the explanation.

The other way to analyze the likc is to look at as being variations of melodies created with an augmented triad and then on each string I add one note, so D on the 1st string, A on the 2nd and F on the 3rd string.

#2 Dorian Shell Voicings

The other very common minor sound that you want to be familiar with is Dorian. Dorian is a mode more than an actual key, but is used very often on minor chords, and also tonic minor chords.

This lick is using Shell-voicing arpeggios, 3-note arpeggios that contain the root, 3rd and 7th of a chord.

The first part is an enclosure targetting the 3rd of Cm: Eb. From there the line continues with shell voicing arpeggios for Ebmaj7, Gm7 and Bbmaj7.

The final Bbmaj7 shell voicing really helps bring out the 13(A) on the Cm7 which is the defining color of Dorian: Cm(13), a chord with both a b7 and a 13.

#3 Harmonic Minor Triads

The Harmonic minor sound is less common than the previous two, but is a very nice sound to have in your vocabulary.

In this case I am using the Harmonic minor sound (defined by a b6 and a maj7 on the C minor) to create alternating Cm and Bdim triads. I start with a Bdim and then move up a few inversions to end with a scale run down to the 9th(D) of Cm.

#4 Dorian Quartal Harmony

A great sound to explore on minor chords is Quartal Harmony. In this case I am using a Dorian sound and working with some 3 part Quartal Arpeggios. The first part of the line is a fairly straight forward Cm7 line that is followed by three quartal arpeggios from G, A and Bb. The final one ending on the 13th(A) of C.

#5 Diminished Quartal Groupings

A more exotic scale that you can use on a minor chord is the diminished scale. It doesn’t actually fit the chord since it doesn’t have a 5th, but is a nice effect on top of an extended minor section.

The construction is that we split the 5th(G).

C melodic minor: C D Eb F G A B C

now if we “split” the G into Gb and Ab we have:

C diminished: C D Eb F Gb Ab A B C

This is also shown below:

The lick uses the quartal arpeggios found in the diminished scale. The first one is from A: A Eb Ab. The pattern I play the quartal arpeggio in is adding a Gb as well and creates a 5 note pattern. This is shifted up and repeated on the next quartal arpeggio: C GbB. Finally the line ends on the quartal arpeggio Eb A D which also takes it back into the Cm melodic sound as it is found in Cm melodic as well.

This is a very smooth way of transitioning of shifting back into a more normal tonic minor sound.

Next Level Minor Blues

Take your Minor Blues skills to a higher level. If you want to really build a solid foundation and explore some more options on a minor blues then check out this lesson in my WebStore.

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