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The last exercise (Fig. 5) is a little longer. Instead of playing a stream of notes, I’ll break it up and try to play something more reminiscent of a solo, and then transcribe what I played. Obviously that’s hard on such a cold progression, but the idea is that I’m still using the arpeggios we’ve looked at as a framework, then creating a melody around that.
If you really look at the solo above, you’ll find a wealth of dominant-sounding phrases that outline a V7-I7 movement, and any one of these could be used when moving from the I to the IV chord in a standard blues. Use the backing track for Fig. 6 to work out all your new ideas.
So that’s it for this installment. There’s a serious amount of work here, as it’s not your goal to be able to play what I played, but instead be able to fluidly improvise your own ideas over this progression. Mastering this can take a lot of time, so focus on memorizing your dominant arpeggio shapes and try to use this method as a way of practicing them. You don’t have to devote two measures to each chord; it could be four or eight measures, one measure, or even just two beats!
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.