Carlos Santana - Guitar Heroes A-Z

A staunch advocate of peace and universal brotherhood, Carlos Santana’s guitar playing has always conveyed a similar sentiment. Okay, maybe it’s hokey to claim that you can “hear” such qualities in a guitar part, but with Carlos, well, you can actually feel the love he puts into each note. Santana is also a devotee of the Dorian mode, and has a particular knack for combining its characteristic sweetness with nasty blues sounds, as well as a talent for manipulating it to form other modalities. Add plenty of Latin-influenced rhythmic syncopations and a sublime, sustained tone and you’ve got the basic recipe for Santana stew.

Check it out: The rhythms alone in Ex. 1 create musical excitement, but a few bluesy D pentatonic minor-based intervals coupled with Santana’s innate sense of call-and-response add some serious sizzle.

Ex. 2’s run, played over a typical Im-IV progression, brings some fluttery Dorian flavor to the blues party, while Ex. 3 reveals how Santana substitutes F# Dorian (plus a few outside tones in bar 2) to create a wailing B Mixolydian modality over a bVII-I “A Love Supreme”-style vamp. (This last example recalls Santana’s mid-’70s ’Trane-influenced collaborations with John McLaughlin.) Just remember that when it comes to making these tasty musical recipes successful, it’s up to you to provide the main ingredient: heart.