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GMC Forum _ THEORY _ Theory Help: Sunshine Of Your Love

Posted by: ChocolateThunda Feb 27 2015, 12:41 PM

Hello guys!

Starting to want to get into improvisation. I'm going to be jamming with some dudes next week and they wanna do Sunshine of your love.

Now I could play this easily note for note. But I actually want to understand what's going on so I can do an improvised solo.

I believe after a few internet searches that it's in D major, but the riff is played in D minor pentatonic (confused), and theres also a keychange in there somewhere too apparently.

Can anyone shed some light on the best way to improvise a solo in all this tasty stuff going on? biggrin.gif


Posted by: jstcrsn Feb 27 2015, 02:20 PM

from what I can remember ,I thought it was in d minor, that blues note every other barr .We used to metal it up by doing it in drop D and throwing some gain on it. will look at it again when i have time. off to work

Posted by: klasaine Feb 27 2015, 05:54 PM

The main riff is right from the 'blues' scale. *Which is sort of minor.
The harmony that comes in at :07 (on the vid below) uses major intervals - major 3rd and 2nd above 1 and b7 respectively. You can think of it as mixolydian since it employs the b7.

Posted by: Gabriel Leopardi Feb 28 2015, 02:40 AM

Great song to jam! It has basically three moments that you need to have in mind to stay safe while you improvise.

The main riff is in D minor, and they are using basically the blues scale there so both pentatonic minor and blues scale work great there. Then, the backing modulates to Gm and plays a similar riff (00:35). There you should switch to G minor pentatonic or blues scale. Finally, the "chorus" plays the chords Am - C - G (00:52). This progression played in that way sounds like being in the key of Am, I won't consider it a modulation since I feel that this 3 chords are all the time wanting to release to Dm, but I'd suggest using A pentatonic minor there.

Try it and let me know how it works! wink.gif

Posted by: klasaine Feb 28 2015, 04:43 PM

One of the reasons this song is so cool is that it 'seems' at first listen that it's a normal rock blues tune. Blues and minor pentatonic scales/harmony. But it's not ohmy.gif
The A - C - G part is major. Listen to the vocal melody and harmony.
And check out Clapton's solo - very major/mixolydian (he steals the melody in the beginning to an old Rodger's and Hart song - 'Blue Moon' - 1934). And then he solidly switches to the key of G on the IV chord.
All the V chords (A) are major.

Posted by: Gabriel Leopardi Feb 28 2015, 05:35 PM

My fault on the chorus! I get confused because the first melody that he sings is minor, and then he moves to major. This coexistence of thirds is typical of blues and mixolydian mode. The good thing is that unless there is a singer doing the main melody you can switch between Pentatonic minor, major and mixolydian and it will sound good to our ears since that what blues masters have taught us. biggrin.gif

Posted by: ChocolateThunda Mar 2 2015, 01:57 PM

I'm not sure I understand why it's mixolydian can someone possibly explain this?

If you mean D mixolydian, and youre also playing the D minor pentatonic scale, that has a minor third but D mixolydian doesnt.

Is it only the b7 that gives it this mixolydian flavour, or should I be thinking of them as two separate things? Theory confuses me haha

Posted by: Gabriel Leopardi Mar 2 2015, 03:44 PM

The most common blues harmony is based on the I, IV and V chords of the major tonality, however, the chords are all dominant in quality. This characteristic gives the possibility of using different scales but the most used is one that uses the minor third and a lowered 5th: Blues Scale. This combination of notes yields the crying effect of blues that we are used to hear and it's a great starting point for students, because after all, blues is more about feeling than scales.

There are different variations and modes that used wisely can make your blues phrases richer. I talked about these variations on my improvisation course. Among these variations and possibilities, I included Mixolydian mode which includes a Major third and a minor 7th. These two notes are includes on the first chord so the mode will sound great over I because it's a dominant chord, the root chord of Mixolydian tonality. However, this mode won't sound good over the IV because it includes the minor third of the scale. The mode can be also used over the V chord since it doesn't include the minor third.

So, as you can see, Mixolydian mode can be used but not all the time, and that's why it's usually combined with minor pentatonic and some other variations to get different feelings. This is concept also applies to Major pentatonic, which once again includes the major thirds and sounds great over the I and ok over the V.

Based on this, you could be even deeper and say: Ok, so we have 3 different dominant chords, I want to use the mixolydian mode of each chord. This will also sound good, but used exhaustively can make the blues sound less bluesy. Blues is mostly about the blues scale and the clever addition of some neighbor notes from the other scales suggested.

In order to make all this words sound, I recommend you to experiment all these possibilities over a blues backing and take your own conclusions.

Try this different exercises. Let's imagine that we are in A.

I: A Major pentatonic
IV: A Blues Scale
V: A Blues Scale

I: A Mixolydian
IV: A Blues Scale
V: A Mixolydian

I: A Blues Scale
IV: A Dorian
V: A Blues Scale

I: A Major pentatonic
IV: A Blues Scale
V: E Mixolydian

Then, check out the other variations shared on my course and take your own conclusions. Listen to blues solos or blues lessons here and identify the different vibes and scales used.

One more note: There are some blues progression variations that are minor. These means that the three chords used are minor instead of Dominant. In these cases you have to avoid using the major third.

Posted by: klasaine Mar 2 2015, 03:47 PM

Mixo also has a major 3rd.
In D ... D E F# G A B C.
D Minor penta and D blues will work fine over 'Sunshine' but if you listen to the riff, vocal melody and ECs guitar solo you'll hear plenty of F#s (as well as Bs) in there.

*Major and minor 3rds can co-exist in blues very nicely ... as that tune demonstrates.

Posted by: ChocolateThunda Mar 3 2015, 02:35 PM

Guys, thank you so much for the detailed replies, really appreciate it!

I'm jamming tonight, so I think I'll play it safe until I get a chance to look over this in more detail and start Gabs improv course. I will totally let you know how it goes!! biggrin.gif

Posted by: Gabriel Leopardi Mar 3 2015, 02:58 PM

QUOTE (ChocolateThunda @ Mar 3 2015, 10:35 AM) *
Guys, thank you so much for the detailed replies, really appreciate it!

I'm jamming tonight, so I think I'll play it safe until I get a chance to look over this in more detail and start Gabs improv course. I will totally let you know how it goes!! biggrin.gif

Great ! Keep me updated of your progress with it and let me know if you any help. wink.gif

Posted by: ChocolateThunda Mar 4 2015, 02:06 PM

Well it went okay.

I'll be honest in the moment I kinda froze and my playing was a bit sloppy and the solo was boring. I just stuck to the Dm pentatonic and it sounded a bit bland. It worked but it was bland. Maybe my playing is just still very immature. But the main thing is I had a lot of fun! tongue.gif

Posted by: Gabriel Leopardi Mar 4 2015, 02:31 PM

Well, the rule number 1 is get fun so you are on the right track! If you feel that you are lacking of ideas, I recommend you to check out some blues / funk lessons at GMC to learn licks and phrases that can be starting points for your improvisations. Take some of the licks that you learn from a lesson and play them over this tune, create different kind of variations until you feel it of your own. Phrasing and improvising requires practice and this workout has really helped me to develop my creativity.

I think that this lesson is a great starting point:

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