Lesson based on a guitar solo from a tribute to the late B.B. King.
I’ve always maintained that the most important components of any successful solo are Content, Phrasing, Feel and Message. This brief blues licks lesson is all about the importance and effectiveness of phrasing based upon soulful sax influences. The harmonic content in these measures may appear to be simple, but it’s really the syncopation factor that makes the language work.
Thrill is Gone (blues licks)
This blues licks lesson is based on the first four bars in the third (and final) chorus of my 36-bar “Thrill Is Gone” blues guitar solo, which is a tribute to the late B.B. King.
1 – Believe it or not, there’s a LOT going on in the first measure despite the fact that only four notes are involved.
The D, C#, A
2 – If you were to independently analyze the second measure purely from a blues language perspective, it might seem obvious that it stems from A major blues.
However, what would normally be the 3rd of A (C#) now rears its head as the 9th of the key, the same sweet note mentioned above. This is an example of how you can tweak a blues figure into something that has a melodic effect, but the listener will still perceive it as bluesy. Once again, check out the funky syncopation in beats two, three and four.
3 – Bar three is a classic “just add water” B minor pentatonic sequence common among sax players, where
key notes (D, E, F# and A) are played twice as the line dynamically ascends.
You can modify this approach to begin on any note of the scale to achieve the same effect. Observe the two slurs (pull-offs) as they contribute to the phrasing in a big way.
4 – You might note that the final measure is phrased almost identical to the second bar, but the harmonic content is a continuation of the previous measure (B minor pentatonic) for
a strong blues effect.
In summing up this blues licks lesson, after so many years
To hear Mark Stefani’s entire “Thrill Is Gone” recording including the bass intro and solo, click here. A complete transcription (standard notation/tab) is available in his popular Monster Guitar Solo series.
Also, check out Mark Stefani’s Rhythm & Blues Experience lesson course.