Joe Bonamassa on Minor Blues

January 30, 2014


“It’s like pork—it’s the other white meat. It’s the forgotten blues.” As he talks, Bonamassa starts some mournful riffing in C minor before settling into the groove that we see here. walks into the I chord with the simple but decidedly non-pentatonic lick before landing on a suggestion of a Cm. Resist the temptation to fill that chord out. As we’ll see, part of the Bonamojo lies in little open-voiced two-note hints of chords. He then does a quick slide that includes the major 6 (A), a note that will be replaced with Ab in the following bar with the Fm chord. Bar 3, where we’re back to our I chord, features the slick double-stop slides that are a hallmark of the minor blues—try ’em and you’ll see. In bar 4, Bonamassa subs in a Csus2 for the Im chord. the next phrase we get an arpeggiated IVm chord. The thing to notice here is how many different ways he attacks, phrases, and animates the chords to keep things interesting. After a bar of Cm, JB takes us to the V chord. notation says G7#9 but that’s merely what his line implies, thanks to the major 3 in the first chord and the minor 3s in the rest of the bar. “The cool thing about the minor blues,” he says, “is that you can kind of float in between the major and the minor in certain situations where it makes sense.” He walks down chromatically to an Fm7 and the revisits the I chord before wrapping up on a straight G major chord.“It’s really an art,” he offers. “There are a lot of guys who do it really well. Ronnie Earl comes to mind. There’s ‘Tin Pan Alley,’ that Stevie Ray Vaughan did. Gary Moore’s ‘Midnight Blues’ is a great example of the Peter Green school, and obviously Peter Green is another.”

This lesson was transcribed with a Godin Freeway SA guitar, a Roland GI-20 MIDI interface, and Sibelius software.

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