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Blues Guitar Lessons: Phrasing With The 9th

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hello again.
Welcome back, and I'm gonna introduce
you to my buddy, the ninth.
Quite an introduction there.
I remember I think the first time
I became aware of the ninth was
in the playing of one of
the greatest blues guitar players of
the 20th century, Jimi Hendrix, and
I remember a little crazy little song
called All Along the Watchtower.
And he started his solo on that with,
Now if we're in the key of G, which
the song wasn't, it was in the key of C,
Right off the top, he bent from the root,
which in this case would be G up to the
ninth, the second note, in other words.
And it was like, what?
And then he would also do
stuff in his solos like,
Real fast, but
You hear Stevie Ray Vaughn,
he did that a lot too.
He was channeling Hendrix.
So the idea there was
using instead of a typical blues lick
which is all pentatonic,
you've got
the ninth.
Now, why the ninth?
Well, the ninth is a different color.
It brings a different color to the family,
when we bring the ninth into the melodic
picture, we kinda close the circle.
We've got it complete range of tones
now that we can use in order to
create melodies that flow, or
we can be more down home where
we can throw it in there as a little
bit of extra color from time to time.
In other words, it's range and it's depth
So what's the effect of the ninth?
To me, and I think probably to most
players who come up listening to rock and
to blues, the ninth has a jazzy quality.
There's something about it that just
because it's a step away from the root.
It has this slightly off center thing,
and when you wanna sound jazzy,
that's your note.
All right.
Now that's emphasizing the ninth and
putting a rhythmic emphasis on it.
But as in sort of the fast licks
by Hendrix and so forth, a lot of
players use it just as a passing note,
just getting from one point to another.
So the ninth is halfway
between the tonic or the root.
And the third, whether it's
the major third or the blue third.
It's such a natural sounding note in
the context of a phrase, that you hear it.
It's no big deal.
It isn't like suddenly, wow, what's that?
That's weird.
It sounds very natural when
you introduce it into a line.
So it has the jazzy quality
when you emphasize it.
It has sort of a natural flow when you
use it to connect the other
notes of the scale.
So let's do a little call and
responses we did with the sixth, and
I'll play some phrases that use the ninth,
then we'll talk about how they work and
build them into a 12-bar as well.
Just you and me, back and
forth, playing phrases,
including the ninth, and me first.
One, a two, a one, two, three.
the sixth and
the ninth.
that jazzy quality.
Just a smooth melody.
Now check this out.
That's tricky.
I'll play it again, something like that.
That's combining the sixth and the ninth.
One more.
All right, now what I did
toward the end there was I played.
I used my finger roll to get from
the ninth, which is at the first
string fifth fret over
to the second string fifth fret.
That happened to be like a trademark
favorite move of one of
the greatest influential electric
blues guitar players ever,
and that was Freddie King.
Freddie used that lick a lot,
and that's where I learned it.
Of course, he would zip by it,
you'd hear this cluster of notes and
say, what's going on?
Back in the day,
we had to slow the record player down and
try to hear what was happening.
So when you analyze it you hear,
yes, he's playing that blue note,
the root, the ninth, and then rolling
his finger over to play the sixth.
And then, depending on how he wanted to
finish the line, keep going, but
that was one of his favorites.
So we hear that in the playing of Freddie,
and then once you learn it, you start
to hear it in the playing of all the
players who were influenced by Freddie,
who was almost everybody, all the blues
rock guitar players, for sure.
So, there's a brief
introduction to the ninth.
Now when we work it into the 12-bar,
same idea as the sixth.
I'm listening for
the color and the feeling, and
saying, what's the attitude
that I wanna create here?
So I'll play a blues solo that has
kind of a jazzy quality to it,
but I'm gonna go one step further and
combine the sixth and the ninth.
Use them both in the context of the solo.
You don't really need
to isolate the ninth.
But you hear it together
as we just played it in
that lick where it naturally
kinda partners up with the sixth.
Play this in the key of G, again.
And see what results.
Call this the corner of sixth and ninth.
Here we go.
Now, that song started out, that solo,
I like to think of them as songs,
you know, started out with what
may be a very familiar phrase.
Do you recognize that one?
If you don't, you want to look
up Freddie King, Hideaway.
That's actually based on an ancient theme,
Guitar Rag.
It's one of the first real guitar
instrumentals ever recorded
in the early 1920s,
and that theme became Steel Guitar Rag,
which became kind of
a country music anthem.
And then other players grabbed ahold of it
and used it in different ways and forms.
And so Freddy King did Hideaway.
So the melody incorporates.
We're back in G now.
It incorporates the sixth and the ninth.
And so I just kinda made
a little musical tribute there to
Freddie King using some of his ideas.
And you
hear the phrase that we traded back and
It's incorporated in there.
So basically, this solo illustrates a way
to bring those extra colors in there,
even in simple phrases.
Just marching right down the scale.
That's something that we wouldn't have
done before because we would have had
those gaps in there.
So we've added new colors.
We've kinda completed the blues spectrum
in terms of the note choices that we make.
And so, from this point forward,
we've got the blues tonality surrounded.
The notes that you have
under your fingers, and
they way that they're arranged, and the
way that we think of them, is gonna give
you access to virtually every classic
blues solo that you hear on record.
The players are all doing something
that's based around those basic ideas,
with very few exceptions to that.
And exceptions would probably be heading
out toward the jazz realm where they start
adding in more chromatic stuff,
but we're not gonna go there yet.
So [COUGH] that's
an important step to take,
and it's gonna take a while for
those to sink in, and for the sixth and
the ninth to be as familiar
as the other tones.
But once they are,
you're gonna be good to go.
All right, let's move on.