The Mighty Mixolydian Scale over A Blues

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So why do you want to use the mixolydian scale for blues?

Well, not that there’s anything wrong with the pentatonic scale, in the contrary, the pentatonic / blues scale is the most essential scale for blues music.

But if you want to take it a little further and jazz it up with some nice fresh sounding notes to expand your improvisation possibilities then the mixolydian scale is a great addition.

The mixolydian scale is one of the 7 modes derived from the major scale. It’s the fifth mode and contains a flat seventh compared to the major scale.

If you already know how to play a major scale you only have to lower the 7th degree by a half step and there’s your mixolydian scale.

Major scale = 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Mixolydian scale = 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7

Because the mixolydian scale contains a major 3rd and flat7 (b7) it’s perfectly fit to play over a dom7 chord. And as you might know, the dom7 chord is the main ingredient for blues music.

Now you know how the mixolydian scale is build up, you want to know how to combine mixolydian and pentatonic into your improvisation. Read More »

A Golden Productivity tip for Practicing Guitar

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Sometimes you can feel like you’re stuck in a rut and wish you would make more progress with practicing.

It seems there’s always something else coming up in the midst of practicing.

You get distracted, you think of an idea while you play something and you go along with that idea and that idea leads to another idea and so on. No progress in what you actually should be practicing.

Another time you feel like this fast lick is too challenging, so you throw in the towel and decide to play something else that feels good instantly. No progress there.

Or you feel absorbed by everything around you and stuff that is on your mind and as a result you lack focus. Progress? Nope.

So how do you change this?

You set time limits for practice.

If there is a time limit and the clock is ticking, you know there’s no time for your mind to wander and think of other things. It’s easier to focus because you don’t have that much time to squander and you want to go straight to work and practice that riff, solo or song. It makes it more manageable. Read More »

How to Benefit from The Circle of Fifths and Fourths

The circle (or cycle) of fifths, also called the cycle of fourths is a diagram that gives all kind of handy information on key signatures, chords and scales in a quick and clear manner.

Besides that, it’s an awesome practice tool to improve your guitar playing.

The circle displays all 12 notes of the chromatic scale (those are all the notes in western music) and moves clockwise in intervals of fifths.

An interval of a fifth is equal to 7 semitones or 7 frets on the guitar.

Counter-clockwise the circle moves in intervals of fourths which is equal to 5 semitones or 5 frets.

The circle of fifths is generally used for the study of classical music whereas the cycle of fourth is more often used for the analysis of jazz music, but let that not stop you because there is so much to gain from the circle for any style of music. Make it part of your knowledge of music theory. It will help you in many ways.

Let’s check it out:

Recognizing key signatures
The cycle of fifths is an easy way of finding the key signature of a song. The cycle will show you how many sharps or flats each key contains. At the top the key of C has no sharps or flats. Turn one step clockwise each time and the sharps add up. Next to C on the cycle you’ll find the key of G which has 1 sharp, then D has 2 sharps, A has 3 sharps and so on.

If you go anti-clockwise one step each time the flats up. To left of C you’ll find F which has 1 flat, then Bb has 2 flats, Eb has 3 flats, Ab has 4 flats and so on.

This is useful also and especially if you can’t read music. When you see a music score which makes no sense to you, but you see 3 sharps in the beginning of the note staff, you’ll know that the song is in the key of “A”. Read More »

9 Blues Guitar Chords to Rock The House!

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The dominant 7th chord is the most common used chord in blues.

But also the ninth and thirteenth chords are found regularly in blues music to give that extra flavor to a chord progression. They add a little bit of jazz flavor.

Choosing the right blues chords can make your blues rhythm playing sound fresh and full of color.

Playing these blues chords in different positions will give you a unique sound every time again and makes playing rhythm much more fun and challenging.

The blues chords shown below are all in the key of A, however they are moveable chords so they can be played in every key. The red dot indicates the root note. In the diagrams below all red notes are “A” notes. If you would move all the chords up a whole step then the chords are in the key of B.

If you want the chords to be in the key of E, then move the entire chord so that the red dot (root note) lands on the “E” note. Read More »

Practice Guitar Improvisation using Different Drum Beats

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Okay, you know your blues scales inside out and are confident improvising with these scales.

But you might not be aware that you always practice improvisation with a drum backing track using the same drum beat over and over again.

You tell the drummer of your band to play a slow blues shuffle because it feels so good. Or could it have anything to do with the fact that it feels safe? Does it sound familiar to you?

Then the day arrives you have to play in a new band or with a different drummer and this lunatic starts playing an uptempo country blues. Huh? What’s this? Suddenly your phrasing doesn’t work, it doesn’t fit the groove and you have a difficult time keeping up and putting it all together. That’s a hard truth to be confronted with.

It’s because blues (as any other genre) can be played in many different styles, variations and tempos. Something you may not have focused on. This is a scenario you want to avoid. You want to build the confidence to handle every common drum groove that is being dished up.

You want to play in a band and feel free to solo over every blues, rock, country, pop song like a real pro. It’s something a lot of guitar players struggle with and it’s good to work on this and make sure you get this under your belt.

To make sure you do, take on a 30 day challenge to keep yourself at it! Here’s what to do: Read More »

5 Guitar Master Classes You Must See

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The beauty of guitar masterclasses is that they always give you new insights and make you aware of the infinite possibilities on the guitar.

Today I like to share with you 5 awesome masterclasses of some of the greatest guitar players of all times. They all contain their own unique and valuable lessons.

No matter what level of guitar playing you are, I recommend you to watch Steve Vai’s masterclass which covers all lot of topics from beginner to advanced. Also for guitar teachers like myself it is utterly inspiring! For the advanced guitar player, Robben Ford will show some great ways to incorporate jazz improvisation into your blues playing.

Next, BB King (King of blues) will demonstrate his world famous blues chops. All of todays blues guitar legends have begged, borrowed and stolen from his licks.

Acoustic guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel shows you the essence and basics of fingerstyle playing and how to turn it into beautiful music.

And finally a Joe Satriani masterclass. He gives a one on one private guitar lesson. He applauds the student’s skills but also points out his flaws and limitations that are so common with many guitar players. He shows the next step when your blues and rock playing is stuck in a rut. Watch and learn from the masters!

– Take your time to watch each video over a couple of days or weeks.
– Take notes, there’s so much information you don’t want to forget.

Read More »

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