Continuing our look at moving “outside” the tonal center In my last column, I delved into the concept of incorporating an “outside” sound, which, quite literally, means interspersing licks that move beyond the tonal parameters of the established key center.
For example, with a song in the key of Bb, I demonstrated a few ways to move from licks based in Bb to licks one half step higher, in the key of B, which serve as a departure point into a somewhat atonal sound. I then return to licks in Bb and resolve back to the home key.
To some, this will sound “wrong,” but I love the sound of moving up or down a half step out of the home key as a means of creating tension, or “color,” in a solo.
This is certainly not a sound heard often in rock, and when you do hear it, it’s always a bit of a shock. But if you develop a taste for it, as I have, it can provide a very cool expansion of your musical vocabulary.
This month, let’s apply the “outside” concept to a blues shuffle in the key of C. Our first example, illustrated in FIGURE 1, is derived from the playing of the late, great saxophonist Bob Berg, who worked a lot with jazz guitarist Mike Stern. The chord progression alluded to here is C7-Bb7-C7-Db7, as the melodic phrases move down a whole step from C to Bb, and then up one half step from C to Db. The part of this lick I would like to focus on is the phrase in bar 4 that begins in Df but quickly resolves back to C.
In FIGURE 2, I set up a one-chord C7 vamp, and