Welcome to Polyphoneek’s monthly segment to introduce Soundspheremag readers the latest music tips, licks and secrets. Adding blues notes to your basic pentatonic shapes is a great way to add some spice to your lead playing. They work well over many different genres, not just blues and can easily be incorporated to your basic pentatonic shapes.
To add the blues note to your pentatonic scales, you simply add a flattened fifth to existing 5 note pentatonic scale. The following example is in the key of E minor, and the notes of the E minor pentatonic scale are E, G, A, B, and D, the fifth of E is B so I will add a B flat to the scale to make this the E blues scale. I have highlighted this note on the accompanying tablature.
In this example, I ascend through the scale starting at the A note on the twelfth fret of the A string, incorporating the B flat notes at the thirteenth fret of the A string and the fifteenth fret of the G string. I do this using alternate picking and when I arrive at the D on the fifteenth fret of the B string, I slide up into the next pentatonic shape arriving on the E at the seventeenth fret of the B string. I then carry on up the scale all to the A note at the seventeenth fret of the high E string. Then we have a hammer on and pull off lick using a sixteenth note triplet, which again incorporates the B flat which I play using my little finger, before finally resolving back to the E at the seventeenth fret of the B string, down to the D at the fifteenth fret, and then the B note at the sixteenth fret of the G string and back up again to the D and finally the E, and then add some vibrato.
This example showcases the blues note in three different octaves, and in two different shapes. Being able to add the blues note to all five shapes all over the fretboard is a great tool for writing solos, riffs, improvising and your playing in general.