Soloing in Minor Scale

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by relman, Feb 7, 2002.

  1. Hey Steve!, i haven't been here in a long time...

    my question is: I wrote a little jazz piece, and i have time for a bass solo...the thing is, i'm not very familiar with soloing in the minor keys (E minor in this case)...i don't want to write it, i just want to wing it (i'm better on the fly)...should i use minor pentatonic or some other mode for such soloing?


  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Ariel,

    soloing in minor keys is much the same as any other soloing in that your job is to come up with a new melody for the tune - how did you go about writing the first melody? what approach did you take to tackling the chords? there's this general misunderstanding that soloing or improvising is a different theoretical path to writing and it's not - try to think of improv as 'spontaneous composition' - you're rewriting the tune there and then. If you stick with just the minor pentatonic, it's probably going to sound OK, but it's going to be basically a blues solo, which is cool if that's what you want it to sound like, but I'd explore a few other options before settling on that...

    Firstly, get familar with the arpeggios of each of the chords that the tune goes through - try playing then in all manner of inversions, starting on the root, the third the fifth the seventh - get that material ingrained in your head, at least so that if you get lost mid song, you can just drop back into that material. There are a million melodies just using those chord tones... next you can add the other three notes from the key, which you can view as the 2,4,6 of the chord, or the 9,11,13 - same thing either way.

    One thing to watch out for in minor tunes is that if the V chord is a V7, then the scale has to change to accomodate that - even if the rest of the tune tinkers along quite nicely using a natural minor scale, you'll get stuck there, if that's what you're thinking, as the third of that chord has been changed to make the resolution back to the root stronger. If you're not sure, stick to the chord notes and see what you can do with those...

    there are a thousand different ways to approach soloing, but start by getting the harmonic material under your fingers and listen for any melodic ideas that just out at you while you're working on that...

    hope that helps - feel free to come back with more questions if any of it doesn't make sense... :oops:)