Minor Pentatonic and Blues language
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Money (That’s What I Want) – Minor Pentatonic
Before we get into all the different ways we can play this riff and the rest of the song, we need to clear something up. We need to talk about and understand, Blues melody language. We will do that by looking to the king of scales, the Minor Pentatonic.
The blues language comes from having dom7 chord extensions on a I – IV – V progression.
Normally, all chords in a song slot into each other. In Redemption Song, for example, we use the chords I, VI, IV, II and V. All those chords share the same notes from the major scale. Never, I repeat, never, does any chord use notes outside the key.
In the 12 bar dom7 chord blues, the chords don’t share the same notes.
The I chords 3rd (F7) is an A. The IV chords b7 (Bb7) is an Ab.
If you changed an F7 (F A C Eb) to an Fm7 (F Ab C Eb) you’ll see how these two chords have caused a conflict.
Are we supposed to use the m3rd (Ab) or the 3rd (A)?
The answer is both and by using both you are starting to grasp Blues language.
The next “outside” note we can add is the b5. This would create a minor blues scale. We will learn this scale later on but already now we must find our b5 as moving from 4 to b5, as well as moving from b5 to 5 is also classic blues language.
Your mission in this step is to learn three shapes of the Minor Pentatonic and then find that m3rd and b5 interval.
You’ll find it by playing the initial melody of Money.
Here’s the TAB for the first exercise.
As you can see in the TAB, when I play the melody, I slide in, or hammer on to the 5th, from the b5.
Also, the m3rd is bent up slightly, towards the 3rd, both of these 3rds are played in the riff so it makes complete sense.
Here’s a loop for you to practice along to. Use it and the TAB, or alternatively, use the TAB loops in the playlist above.
Next up is the Dm shape. Now the root is in the middle of the shape so practice first up, then back to root, then below the root.
You’ll find the important intervals by playing the melody. Don’t forget to slide in and bend up! Here’s the TAB.
Lastly, let’s learn the Am shape as well, here’s the TAB.
Spend 10-15 minutes on each scale shape to make sure you can play it, including the melody.
By the way, can you see how the Em shape is the same as a G shaped Major Pentatonic? The Dm shape is an E shape and the Am shape is the same as a C shape.
What’s important to remember here is that yes, they are the same notes but no, they are not the same scales.
For successful scale application, you must always look at a scale as intervals, in relation to the root – just like you do when you play a chord.
As you learned today, the blues language is all about the m3rd, the 3rd, and the b5. Or more specifically, how you manipulate these intervals.
If you, whenever you approach a scale, can see the intervals within, you will be able to manipulate them. If you can’t, it will be an endless guessing game.
Next time, you’ll learn the remaining two shapes of the scale.
See you then!
Dan (your guitar guru)