How to play melodic power blues

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Mixing the blues scale with the Dorian scale

Today’s  idea requires a little more work than the two previous ones. I’ve written about this before but here it is again: Mixing the blues scale with the Dorian scale. The Dorian scale is, of course, your regular Major scale but with it’s second note as the root note.

Here’s your number one regular pentatonic / E-Blues shape again:

And here it is with the added E-dorian (Also D-Major) shape on top of it:

Shape 01

Here are the rest of the blues scale shapes with the dorian scale on top of them:

Shape 02

Shape 03

Shape 04

Shape 05

The easiest and quickest way to learn them

As you can see they are all different. So there’s a bit more to learn this time. The easiest and most effective way to learn to mix these two are also the most enjoyable one and here it is:

1. Select one of the five Blues Scale shapes to practice
2. Memorize the Dorian pattern on top of the Blues pattern
3. Have fun playing around with these shapes
4. Don’t select a new shape before you know every corner of the first one with your eyes closed
5. Go for the next shape and do the same until you’ve played arounnd with all of them
6. Return to the first one again and see how much you’ve forgotten
7. Repeat until you haven’t forgotten a thing when you come back to each shape

The shape of the week technique

The easiest way to do this is to decide on what two shapes (Blues and Dorian) you want to mix up this week. If you practice this for an hour every day you should have a fair chance of really owning these two shapes before you move on. Have the patience to create and follow an effective plan instead of shooting yourself in the foot by moving on before you’ve embedded the first two patterns in your brain. (It hurts, I’ve done it a lot of times)

How to learn them but not use them

The surest way of learning these scale patterns but not using them is to try to learn them all at once. If you practice a new pattern each day you’ll not double the time it takes you to learn them all – rather it will take you ten times as long – and chances are you’ll give up before you ever get to your destination. I’ve written about this principle in more detail in other articles so I wont go into that any further here. Follow the 4 step process and you’ll have these shapes down in no time.

The melodic sound

When you mix the blues scale with the dorian scale you create a very melodic alternative to the bluesy sound. The dorian scale can really give you some cool options that lay completely outside the traditional blues sound. And it allows you to pull in some of the phrases and licks that you have from the melodic rock genre. But the greatest advantage is being able to play all your Major / Minor scale licks and runs within the blues context.

Practice shifting between the Dorian sound and the Blues sound.

Start playing a Blues line, then move into a Dorian run and the end that run with a Blues line. Do this over and over again. Be creative, improvise and have fun, this is the fastest way possible to learn this. Going up and down each scale pattern endlessly will not do the trick. What you’ll learn by doing this - is exactly that; you’ll end up being really good at going up and down the scale patterns. You have to play around with them to make them yours.

As usual I’ve included five licks that gives you an impression of this. There’s one lick for every on of the five blues scale shapes:

Dorian Power Blues Scale Examples