We all play them. We all play them all the time. We all play them all the time pretty much the same way as everyone else. Sure, you can bend the note longer, or change your vibrato somewhat, but for the most part we’re all pretty much riding the same animal.
So what can we do with just five notes? For those of us that aren’t B.B. King or Jeff Beck, I mean. What can we do to add a little flavor into the soup; that little kick of chili which makes someone say, “Woah! That’s got some bite to it!”
Not sure if there is a better term for this, but I’m a fan of the term Block Phrasing. Here’s an example of what I mean, played over a C Major chord:
The patterns contains little “blocks” of four-note groupings, hence the name Block Phrasing.
Changing Your Note Group Numbers
Somewhat similar to the Block Phrasing approach, you can hip up your lines a bit by varying the number of notes in each group. Here’s an example:
It’s nothing more than an A Minor Pentatonic scale, but the number of notes in each group displaces the rhythm, thereby causing the phrasing to make the line sound somewhat “out” rather than the note choices themselves.
John McLaughlin is a master of this concept. If you remember from the last pentatonic lesson, we discussed how, over a C Major chord for example, you can play both A Minor or B Minor Pentatonic scales. In Scale Weaving, you play a line by weaving in and out of two or more scales as one phrased idea. In my opinion, this concept works better with smaller, motif-type note groups rather than long runs; long runs that weave in and out start to sound more like just running scales.
In this example, I’m using the Block Phrasing and Note Group concepts with Scale Weaving to shift in and out of the two different minor pentatonic scales. Check it out:
Must I Say It Again?
It’s almost becoming my signature: Experiment, and Enjoy!