As you might know, the minor blues scale has that unique note that distinguishes it from the pentatonic scale (the augmented 4th or diminished 5th). In Am blues, for example, it’s Eb or D# (They are enharmonic tones, same pitch, different names). But when should we call it the first or the latter — and what’s the difference?
Playing the part is only half of the equation. The other half is deciding on the type of guitar, choosing the strings, selecting the hand technique (fingerstyle or using a pick or "plectrum," as they like to call it here in the U.K. — maybe because it sounds more complicated that way) ... and, if fingerstyle, which finger, and which part of the finger? The flesh, the nail, a bit of both?
Although it’s quite tempting to add the minor 3rd that is so significant in many blues licks, we have to control our natural impulse in order to get the exotic feel. In a way, this is the essence of playing this type of music, which demands control from us and allows us to meditate on one scale in one frame of mind.
The last time we discussed the search for exotic sounds — and how to blend them with more-familiar blues — we explored the flavors of Hungary. This time, we're going to sample some Egyptian spices. While this might seem like a long flight with no connections, there’s more here than meets the eye.