Trading Licks – Phrasing On The Upbeats

Posted by on August 23, 2022

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Join us as we dive into the Trading Licks series with Robbie Calvo.

Trading Licks are a series of video jam sessions optimized to teach you improvisational concepts to expand your musical horizons and keep you moving forward as a musician. These monthly episodes feature Robbie Calvo playing the concept examples using Yamaha guitars and the Line 6 Helix multi-effects processor.

This month Robbie Calvo will be jamming over a cool 4-bar progression in the key of B Minor, using the B Natural Minor scale and the B Minor Pentatonic for those improvisations.

The Tonal Center & Sweet Notes The tonal center of a chord progression determines the resolution point of your lines and licks. Also known as the mode or modality of the progression. Typically the first chord in a progression will be the tonal center chord.

In our example the chord progression resolves to Bmi7, so regardless of sc ale you choose, you’ll want to resolve to one of four chord tones.

Chord tones are the strongest tones you can play over any given chord.

R b3 5 b7

Bmi7 = B – D – F# – A

Both the B Natural Minor Scale and B Minor Pentatonic Scale contain all four chord-tones of Bmi7.

The Characteristic Note
Each mode of the Major Scale has a characteristic note that evokes the unique sound of that mode. The characteristic note of the B Aeolian Mode is the minor sixth, (G). We can specifically target this tone for more of the Aeolian flavor, but it isn’t necessary to do so. If you’re improvising with the B Minor Pentatonic scale, the note G isn’t available within that scale.

Phrasing On The Upbeat of One and Two
Intentionally specifying your phrasing approach will help you stay on track when improvising, and define the feel of your solos.

Starting phrases on the upbeat of two will leave space within the first measure. Starting the second half of the four bar phrase on the upbeat of one still leaves space within the phrase, but indicates more immediacy to the listener.

Remember to package your phrases within the space I’ve left for you. This may be challenging to start with, but your “fellow jammers” and band mates will appreciate what this does for your phrasing chops in the long run.

O.k., let’s get down to business and jam.

Robbie Calvo –