Grade Lesson

A recent lesson was covering the Quick study section of the RSL guitar grade. In this particular section the student is presented with a motif and a progression that they have to improvise over. In the current incarnation there is a 12 bar blues in E that requires a quick improvisation over the top.

The progression consists of 3 different chords. E7 A7 B7. Firstly lets look at the notes that these chords consist of. E7 : E G# B D. A7 : A C# E G . B7 : B D# F# A . If we analyse them we can see that there isn’t a scale that covers all these notes, so to keep the note choice relevant we need a different approach.

I am going to suggest a tried and tested method, whilst is not the definitive answer, is a method that will work will more complex progressions and is a good discipline to apply.

Learn where and what the 3rds are of each of the chords. This tone is often the strongest tone you can select. the 3rd defines whether or not a chord is major or minor.
The 3rd of the E7 is a G# , For the A7 it is C# and for the B7 it is D#.
So to begin with we target the these notes, relative to the chord being played on beat one of the bar concerned. We are indicating that we know the chord and where the progression is going. Why? from an exam point of view you are demonstrating understanding and away from exams in the real world, the right notes are always good to supply your audience with.

This is the first part of the exercise. Hit those 3rds. Once you can do it confidently we will move on to adding the 7th of each chord. In this instance the 7ths of each chord are as follows.
E7 : D A7: G B7: A

Next part of the exercise is to add the 7ths on beat 3 of the bar. The 7th is probably the next strongest note in these chords. By accenting both these strong notes it demonstrates and understanding of the chords that are being played. As before we need to practice and integrate this idea until confident in it. We have strong chord tones now on beats 1 and 3. The down beats, the strong beats.

Happy with this concept I have now added notes in between drawn from the E minor pentatonic. This allows us to start working on lines to join changes together. At this point we are using 1/4 notes and no phrasing. Remember this is an exercise to install a new approach. This is not a world ending solo. The concept however will lead to the ideas that will allow you start constructing those kind of solos.

Now if we play the ideas presented , you will be able to hear the chords changing despite no chords being played. This is a desirable facet to have.

There is a Pdf of the ideas below for you to download and work through. It demonstrates each of these stages. Now work slowly and diligently through it in order to integrate it into your musical lexicon.

~ by Geoff Lea Guitar on May 9, 2019.

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