With many of my students I work on improvisation and developing runs. In this lesson In will use a classic bluegrass run to show how you can get much more out of it in terms of developing solo ideas and phrases. In this lesson we will use a standard run from the bluegrass genre and see where it might take us when creating our own break over a standard chord progression.
The run we’ll use is a G major run, essentially a G major blues scale (G major pentatonic plus minor third or so you wish the E blues scale started on the G note). Ultimately we will use the lesson material to play a break over the following common chord progression ( BIG SANDY RIVER).
||: G | G | D | D |
| G | G | D | G :||
||: G | C | D | G |
| G | C | D | G :||
The G major blues scale run
Ok, here we go.
We could also do this run in a closed position (no open strings)
First of all transpose the run to C and D
Play it backwards
I’ll leave it up to you to play this in closed position and to transpose it to C and D.
Playing around with these six notes we can come up with alternatives.
Playing around with the notes
Ex 5 Start at a different place in time
Ex 6 Leave out the root
Ex 7 Adding the flat 7th
Ex 8 Adding the flat 7th
While all examples are in G I leave it up to you to transpose.
Application of what was learned: Big Sandy River break/solo
Time to apply what we have been doing so far to a real life situation: a break over the chord structure of Big Sandy River, a bluegrass standard. A melody arrangement of the tune can be found here >>>
Experiment with hammer-on pull-off etc, remember that this is alternate picked (on the beat down, off the beat up) and if you have a question let me know. Below a you tube video of Big Sandy River for some extra inspiration.
All the examples and the break are available as a pdf here >>>