Night Classes are ten-week TrueFire
Most blues players are capable of wicked phrasing in their solos, but Robben Ford may just be the master of phrasing. He is as comfortable playing the blues as he is playing a rock or fusion groove. By listening to a wide variety of players you admire and examining what sets their playing apart, you begin to realize it’s not so much the notes they play as it is how they phrase those notes.
This week looks into what Jeff calls “shifting sixteenths,” the technique of repeating a simple phrase while moving its starting point over a sixteenth note each time. This seems simple, but it can really change the feel of an otherwise ordinary lick.
Read on for the full
Jeff works through a few variations of last week’s solo, covering the Aeolian and minor pentatonic scales. He then covers the chords at the end of the progression; F and Bb. Since the F chord is the relative major of Dm, you can use the same scale as you play for the Dm. Since the tonal center is now an F, the scale runs from F to F. Note that playing the D Aeolian scale from F to F results in the F major scale, a.k.a. the F Ionian scale.
For the Dm-Am-Gm progression, Jeff uses two different scales: the D Aeolian and the D minor pentatonic, which is a subset of the D Aeolian. The D minor pentatonic scale also works on the F-Bb progression. When this scale is played beginning and ending on F, it becomes an F major pentatonic scale.
Jeff reviews material from the past two weeks, then plays the extended solo using the shifting sixteenths concept. He plays some legato licks using the three notes per string concept: playing using three notes on each string. This technique gives insight into additional positions available across the fretboard.
Practice Regimen For Week 6
Day 1: Review the material from last week’s lesson and spend some more time jamming on the backing track. Jam while focusing on the concept of targeting chord tones. Make sure you know the three or four chord tones for each chord in the progression as well as their locations at various points on the fretboard.
Day 2: Watch video one, then learn the D Aeolian scale around the tenth fret. To get a good understanding of the scale, play along with the jam track of this week’s lesson and alternate between playing a lick from the minor pentatonic scale and one from the Aeolian scale.
Day 3: Find at least one other position on the fretboard for both the pentatonic and Aeolian scales. Improvise with the jam track while switching between both of these scales. Play all the Dm7, Am7 and Gm7 chords you know. If needed, chart them out and focus on the chord notes. Improvise over the backing track using only these notes. Repeat the exercise, playing one note and keep it ringing throughout the different chords. Can you hear the color of the note change when the chord changes? Some notes will suddenly generate tension, wanting to resolve to a different chord. Others can sound grounded over two or more chords. Do this exercise again with each individual chord tones of the Dm7, Am7 and Gm7.
Day 4: Watch the extended performance in video two and study the variations. Improvise over the jam track using the D minor pentatonic scale and keep the D note in clear focus. Over the F-Bb progression, play the F major pentatonic scale bottom to top and top to bottom, starting on F. Use the position starting on the 13th fret of the sixth string or the one starting at the first fret of the sixth string. Select one note from the D Aeolian scale and improvise with the jam track using this note as a pedal.
Day 5: Study the “shifting sixteenths notes” section in video one. Using the chart, rehearse the pattern Jeff uses, then use it to improvise over the jam track. Create your own simple four note pattern and use it within this concept. Now, do it again, varying the timing. Sequences played using this concept can become tedious when played in a mathematical order – many hard rock players fall into this trap. The only thing the audience will hear is ‘WOW, this guy has really practiced a looooong time’. By slightly altering the timing each time you play part of the sequence, varying the dynamics or using vibrato, you are able to make the same lick sound different every time.
Night Classes are ten-week TrueFire