Tag Archives: minor blues licks

Melodic Minor – How To Make Minor Blues Sound Amazing

The minor blues is a great place to explore Melodic minor, and you can get a lot of very different sounds with it.

In this video, I am going to show you how you can use Melodic Minor on an A minor blues, the different colors that are in there, not only on the minor chords but also melodic minor modes like Lydian dominant and altered dominant sounds.

Let’s start with a solo chorus on the song and then I will down what is going and give you some variations and exercise to use in your own playing.

The backing track I am using in this video was made by Quist, and if you want to play over it then there is a link in the description to it on his channel.

Blues Licks With Melodic Minor

The first few phrases are sounding more like a blues phrase than a bebop line, and this is also an option with melodic minor.

The material I use is really just playing around the basic chord tones: Am6, which are great for sounding like blues, almost a BB king flavor. In the example I kept it a bit more plain with the phrasing, but you could also play the line with a few slurs and grace notes like this:

Here, I am mostly just using the Am6 or F#ø arpeggio, so if you take an arpeggio like this:

Notice that an Am6 arpeggio is the same as an F#ø arpeggio, so as you can see here, where F#ø is in fact an inversion of Am6 (and the other way around)

then you can work on making phrases that sound more like blues phrases, like this:

Making the phrases shorter, and a bit more focus on rhythm usually does the trick.

Another option is using double stops like this:

You Need To Know This For ANY Scale You Want To Use

Something I first want to also cover here that is extremely important and something you ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS want to check out for any scale you want to use in a solo: The Diatonic Chords!

You will see this coming back all the time in this video, and knowing them will give you 1000s of things to play.

For A minor Melodic we have these diatonic arpeggios:

You should check those out like this, but also in a position to really get these into your system 

You already saw how this was useful for the Blues phrases, let’s look at some of the other options we have using Diatonic Arpeggios

Beautiful Notes and Diatonic arpeggios

The next phrase in the solo is a combination of two arpeggios: Cmaj7#5 and Am6, both played descending.

This is, again, the Am6 arpeggio and then the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord Cmaj7(#5).

The Cmaj7(#5) works great because it spells out the upper part of the minMaj7 chord and adds a 9th:

AmMaj7: A C E G#

Cmaj7(#5): C E G# B

(Secret) Altered dominant

The chord in bar 4 is a super-imposition, so I am adding a chord to the song that is not really there, and it is creating tension that then resolves a bar later.

In this case, I am adding an A7alt which then will resolve to the Dm6 in bar 5.

A7 altered is the same as Bb melodic minor, and the line is also clearly related to a Bbm shape.

This is because the Bbm over an A7 gives us some altered notes and the 3rd of the chord:

Bbm: Bb C# F

against A: b9 3 b13

The Line uses the Bbm triad and adds in a C which is a #9 on the A7alt.

Being Vague On Purpose But Sounding Great

The phrase on the Dm6 chord is a little less clear, but is a nice example of using a structure as a motif.

The first bar is a statement coming from an Esus4 triad, and this is echoed in the 2nd bar as an Asus4 triad playing the same melody.

Checking out sus4 triads is under-estimated but very much something you want to do to have some more options, just like you want to explore the diatonic triads and arpeggios of the melodic minor scale.

The Lydian Dominant

The final cadence in a minor blues is a V chord and then also the tritone substituted dominant for that chord.

In Am that is E7 and the tritone substituted dominant for this: F7.

In the solo example, I playing the F7 as a Lydian dominant, which is a very common scale choice for a tritone substitute, and I use the altered scale for the E7, so both of these sounds are rooted in melodic minor, and two of the most common sounds you need to know.

For an F7, the Lydian dominant scale is the same set of notes as the C melodic minor, and I am using the Ebmaj7(#5) arpeggio combining it with a trill.

Ebmaj7(#5) is a good way to have a melody with many of the important notes in the chord:

Eb G B D

b7 9th #11 and 13th.

The Altered Dominant

The E7 altered is also a melodic minor sound, being the same set of notes as F melodic minor.

The line is in this case based around a few notes of an F minor triad and then a Dø arpeggio.

The m7b5 arpeggio on the b7 is a great arpeggio for getting the sound of an altered dominant across with the

Dø : D F G# C – b7 b9 3rd b13

Here I am resolving it to the 9th on the final tonic chord and also combining these with the maj7 and the maj6 to really get that rich tonic minor sound

A Great Arpeggio Combination

In the final, bar I am using a combination of an Abmaj7(#5) and Fm triads for the altered chord, again using some of the same structures to get that sound across on the altered dominant.

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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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