Move with the chords

Blues Guitar Lessons

Now what's all the fuss about this mixolydian scale? One extra scale, a couple of extra notes, no big deal, right?

Well, yes and no. If you use this scale on the I chord, you'll sound just fine.
If you use it on the other chords and stick to that mixolydian scale, you'll be hitting a homerun from the bull pen. You'll think you did great, your fellow players will frown, the audience will think you've gone berserk.

And the coach? He'll be serving you a pink slip after the game.

You have got to move with the chords.

The big difference between playing a regular blues scale through a blues chord progression and using a mixolydian scale is that you can't stick to one scale. Once you've moved to the IV and the V chord, you've gotta change to those specific mixolydian scales!

So in a G7 blues with C7 and D7 you play:

G mixolydian on G7
C mixolydian on C7
D mixolydian on D7

These scales look a lot alike:

G mix G A B C D E F G
C mix C D E F G A Bb C
D mix D E F# G A B C D

 

 

 

Or written differently

G mix G A B C D E F G
C mix G A Bb C D E F G
D mix G A B C D E F# G

 

 

 

As you can see, the third of the G scale is the only note that needs to be lowered to a Bb to get a C mixolydian scale.
Move the F up one fret to an F# to get a D mixolydian scale.
When you move from a V to a IV chord, things gets a bit more complex with two notes that change; in this case the B becomes a Bb and the F# an F.

We'll call this the inner logic of the mixolydian scales.

The third of the I chord wants to 'resolve' to the flat seventh of the IV chord. And the flat seventh of the I chord wants to resolve to the third of the IV chord. The same also works in a V to I chord progression.

We can make use of this inner logic in soloing and in playing chords.
Because the differences in the scales is so small, you often only have to move a pattern one fret down or up to get the corresponding pattern on another chord.
Change only one note to play the same riff over the IV chord.

In some cases, play exactly the same riff over I, IV and V; use only notes that those three scales have in common.

Note: other chords

Inner logic also works with minor chords. Every time you play a I - IV chord progression (or a V -I), you can use this theory. In some cases, the third doesn't have to resolve at all, because it's already part of the chord you're resolving to.

If you're playing Am7 to D7 in a minor blues, the third of the Am7 is a C, which is also the flat seventh of the D7 chord.

Note: more inner logic

This theory also works with the fifth and the ninth of a chord in these progressions.

The fifth of the I chord will want to resolve to the ninth of the IV chord and the ninth will want to resolve to the fifth. And again, sometimes they are the same.

Mark the tonic

Blues Guitar Lessons

To be able to do this quickly, you've first got to find the tonic of each chord.
In most blues progressions there are three chords.

In your 1st Blues Position this is where the tonics are:

TAB 1st Blues Position

As an exercise, you could play along with any three chord blues and try to only play the tonics. Be sure to play them on the right chords; play the tonic of I when you're on the I chord, tonic of IV when you're on the IV and tonic of V when you're on the V.

All the solos in this book refer to a certain blues position.
These are the five positions on the neck you probably already know.

In each of those positions, you can find at least one tonic for every chord.
Based on that tonic, you're going to learn solos to get familiar with playing mixolydian riffs within those positions.

After you can wail in those blues boxes, we'll play solos that move from box to box. Always keep your eye on where the tonic of the chord you're soloing on is. And move with the chords.

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