Sweep Picking Power Blues

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Dramatic Arpeggios

The blues rock context embodies a whole range of different sounds. You can put almost any scale, arpeggio or lick in there and if you do it right it’ll sound really cool. Today let’s stick an E-minor triad in there and hear how it sounds. I’m going to take a sweep picking approach to this idea. But you can use the notes of the E-Minor triad to produce a lot of interesting sounding slow licks as well. If you’ve been practicing sweep picking Minor arpeggios then you’ll be able to use what you’ve learned to play power blues. Arpeggios add drama to the sound of the blues scale because you suddenly produce a lot of notes that are very far apart - You cover a lot of ground in very little time.

Mixing the Blues Scale with the Minor Triad

Let’s get into it. Here’s your basic number one E-Minor blues scale shape one more time:

And here’s your E-minor arpeggio:

3 out of 6 notes

As you can see, we’re talking about notes that are already in the blues scale so you can’t go wrong playing any of these notes over a blues rock chord progression. Now, because there are only three notes in an E-Minor triad, it only has three shapes or positions. So we’re going to move from a strictly vertical position oriented scale context to a more vertical approach. Here are all of the five blues scale shapes plotted out over the fretboard. Do your best to identify each one of the five blues scale shapes in there:

Now I’m going to put the notes of the E-minor triad on top of this scale like this:

Finally I’m going to split that up so you get three E-minor triad shapes each one ending and beginning on either the low E-string or the A-string. You've seen the first one already:

Shape 01

The second arpeggio pattern stretches over two blues scale patterns. Identify the patterns so you see them clearly. Then practice playing in both of them while utilizing the arpeggio in there:

Shape 02 & 03

Shape 04 & 05

The E-minor Arpeggio patterns

Please notice that these E-minor arpeggio patterns all have two notes on the low E-string and two notes on the high E-string. You can play all three of them starting on the low A-string instead. Try creating patterns that have two notes on the A-string and two notes on the high E-string, these are not quite as massive looking as the ones I've given you here.

As you can see, only the first shape covers only one Blues scale shape. Number two and three use more than one. This is an excellent chance to practice having a more vertical outlook on the blues scale shapes. To improvise fluently using the E-Minor arpeggio, you have to be able to see more than one shape at a time.

How to practice this

The quickest way to learn this is to play around with one arpeggio at a time. You might even want to decide to spend several days on just one shape. Then see how many licks you can come up with where you start playing in the blues scale and then move out into the arpeggio and back into the some blues scale phrasing again. This creative process is the best tool for learning these shapes.

I've created some simple examples of how you can build licks on the basis of the E-Minor triad. I hope they will get you started making your own Arpeggiated Blues lines. Have fun!

Sweep Picking Power Blues Examples