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For this installment of PsYcHo LiCkS, I'm presenting a handful of "solo-opening motifs"—tasty little phrases you can use to grab a listener's attention, leading straight into the downbeat of your rock/blues solo. All the examples are in the key of A minor (w/Dorian shadings), end on the tonic (A), and are presented in the same rhythm throughout, making them easy to recall. All stem from the most popular "A minor pentatonic" playing positions. Of course, you'll want to come up with your own rhythmic variations—experiment with different ending notes, and permutate them to fit over different tonalities to get more mileage out of them.

FYI, these types of phrases are somewhat inspired by the timeless rock guitar melodies great players like David Gilmour, Neal Schon, Steve Lukather, Elliot Easton, Tom Scholz, Carlos Santana, and Lindsey Buckingham (among others) use in their songs—essentially a "song within a song" approach towards lead playing. There are eight "mini phrases" total. Hope you dig!



To help hone in on the specific fretting locations for each lick in this lesson (largely pentatonic-derived), be sure to "bone up" on your A minor pentatonic fingering positions! At the very least, since the full range of these scale shapes (laterally speaking) won't be used in these licks, make every effort to familiarize yourself with the pitches oriented along the top three strings. For reference, below you'll find a friendly fingering chart for these scales (played on all six strings):

(You can hear the five pentatonic positions above by clicking HERE)



The two little phrases below are played in 12th position and feature semi-atypical bends on the 2nd and/or 3rd strings. Labeled MOTIF 1A and MOTIF 1B, these lines both feature the addition of the note "B" (12th fret, 2nd string)—a note bent up 1/2 step to "C" each time—to what is otherwise A minor pentatonic (A-C-D-E-G). This produces a six-note scale (A-B-C-D-E-G) theorists generally refer to as minor hexatonic.

(Listen to MOTIF 1A)-------------------(Listen to MOTIF 1B)



This next pair o' licks lurks in 14th position and adds a couple new notes to the equation—D# [16th fret, 2nd string (the A minor scale's "#4," used in a bend to "E" in MOTIF 2A)], and F# [14th fret, 1st string (the "raised 6th degree," which is key to imparting a "Dorian" flavor, used in MOTIF 2B)]. Again, note the use of slightly unorthodox bends and/or somewhat unusual intervallic approach, used to "set up" the almighty "A" note on the downbeat.

(Listen to MOTIF 2A)-------------------(Listen to MOTIF 2B)



Here are a couple cool ones crafted in 17th position—likely the most familiar playing position (along with its 8vb counterpart in Pos. 5), insofar as A minor pentaonic is concened. In MOTIF 3A, after a descending scalar line on beat "four" (kicked off with a 1/2-step bend), the note "G" (20th fret, 2nd string) is bent up slightly just before being held in position, bent up one whole step for a "pre-bend," producing the pitch "A" on the downbeat. Meanwhile, MOTIF 3B depicts another cool "Dorian" approach, with the "F#" (19th fret, 2nd string) targeted for a tasty bend up 1/2 step to "G."

(Listen to MOTIF 3A)-------------------(Listen to MOTIF 3B)



This last duo of phrases can be found waaaay up in 19th position. Opening up with an octave-like move comprising "E" (21st fret, 3rd string) and a "D" (22nd fret, 1st string) that's bent quickly up to "E," MOTIF 4A also features a "B up 1/2 step to C" bending move along the lines of this lesson's opening figure (MOTIF 1A), albeit executed on the highest string. Meanwhile, this lesson's last lick, MOTIF 4B, is comprised solely of pitches from A minor pentatonic, using fun legato moves like hammer-ons and slides to navigate towards the almighty "A" on the downbeat. Enjoy!

(Listen to MOTIF 4A)-------------------(Listen to MOTIF 4B)


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