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Fig. 3 is our first real lick. Now we’re playing 16th-notes with a swing feel over a D7 chord and you’ll really start to see the reason we try to put chromatic notes on weaker beats. As before, this line follows all of the rules we laid out—all passing tones occur on weak beats. When you play with a swing feel, the strong notes are naturally longer than the weak notes and this creates a serious sense of forward motion and harmonic strength.
We feature another chromatic idea, referred to as an enclosure, in Fig. 4. If you look at the second beat you’ll notice the notes G–F–F#, with F# being the note that’s targeted. In order to place the target note on a strong beat, I play a note above the target, then one below it, and finally resolve to the intended note. Try spotting all the chromatic notes in this lick and label them as either neighbor tones, passing tones, or enclosures.
Fig. 5 is based out of position four and is rich in encirclement. First we target the 3 (F# on beat 2), then the b7 (C on beat 3), and the 3 again in the second measure. There are also Cmaj7 and Am7 arpeggios here, and both are common diatonic arpeggios to use over a D7. Lastly, Fig. 6 is a hip little phrase that uses most of the ideas presented in this lesson. See if you can spot them and identify where they fall in the bar.
As with anything, it will take a while for this technique to become second nature, but once you’re there, you’ll be able to slip some more jazz-influenced lines into your classic blues phrases. It doesn’t have to be the main feature of your playing, but it’s a great tool to have at your disposal.
D7 Backing Track
Levi Clay is a London-based guitar player, teacher, and transcriber. His unique approach to learning keeps him in constant demand from students the world over, and his expertise as a transcriber has introduced his work to a whole new audience. For more information, check out leviclay.com.