10 January 2008

Blues Guitar Licks Over The IV Chord

This is the first in a series of posts showing you how to build licks over the IV chord of the blues progression. The key to these blues licks is in choosing notes that reinforce the IV chord.

In this post you'll learn how to choose notes from the minor pentatonic scale. Later in the series you'll learn how to spice up your sound with a few notes from elsewhere. By emphasizing key notes of the IV chord you'll get great sounding licks that give a feeling of moving with the harmony.

So, what are the key notes to use from the minor pentatonic?

Rootin' Around
At the simplest level if you play the minor pentatonic then make them finish on the 4th note, also the IV chord's root note. Such licks will have a strong IV chord sound and fit well with the harmony.

Here's an example in the key of A.


A (I) D (IV)
3 & 4 & 1 2 & 3
e-|-------------|----------------------
B-|-------------|----------------------
G-|-------5---5-|-7~~-5s7 5s7--7~~~~---
D-|---5s7---7---|----------------------
A-|-------------|----------------------
E-|-------------|----------------------

A Little Variety

Using the IV chord's root note - part of the I chord minor pentatonic scale - is a great way to support the harmony. But your licks will get a bit predictable if you always end your licks on this same note.

For a bit of variety you can end some licks on the I chord's minor 3rd or the I chord's root note. The former is the 7th of the IV chord and the latter it's 5th note.

Payin' Dues
This post has shown you a few fundamental techniques for using the minor pentatonic scale over the IV chord. Now it's time for you to make up some licks of your own. Experiment with them over a backing track to see what works well and what doesn't.

In the second part of this series you'll learn about some new notes that really spice up your IV chord licks. Be sure to subscribe to the site's RSS feed so you won't miss it.

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