Monster Licks: Conjuring Some "Evil" Blues with the Dissonant Sound of the Flat 5
In this lick, I'm using the blues scale in the key of E.
When used in the right fashion, this scale can sound incredibly dark and even a little evil!
It is the dissonant sound of the flat 5 that creates the dark feeling. In the traditional blues format, the flat 5 is used as a passing note. This creates the intensity and gives tremendous feeling to the lines or licks.
My approach is a little different. I intentionally land on this note to create a heavier, darker sound. You'll notice how I shape the arpeggios around the flat 5 note to create this intensity.
I was after a way of getting a heavier-sounding solo without shifting from the pentatonic tonality too much. Although I admire players who use other scales, the tonality of the harmonic minor or modal playing is not my thing. For me, it is too dramatic when adapted to rock — hence my reason for playing and creating licks like this.
There are two main parts to this lick. First there's the arpeggio starting on the A-string, moving down to the high E. You will notice that by adding the flat 5 it creates a diminished-type arpeggio. It's like that broken power chord you will sometimes hear in songs. The first five notes of the arpeggio are picked with a down-sweep stroke with the last note (the 10th fret on the high E) is picked with an up-stroke.
You should focus on this part of the lick first, as the whole lick is based around this arpeggio shape. The rest will follow once you are comfortable with this.
From the up-stoke on the 10th fret, I slide up to the 19th fret on the high E. The note on the 19th fret is not picked again. The next two notes we pick are with up-strokes on the B and G strings.
From this point, we simply take the same approach and play it in reverse. This is a really fun lick to play, as the shapes are repeated. It is a fantastic way to push your speed.
Australia's Glenn Proudfoot has played and toured with major signed bands and artists in Europe and Australia, including progressive rockers Prazsky Vyber. Glenn released his first instrumental solo album, Lick Em, in 2010. It is available on iTunes and at glennproudfoot.com.