I got my looper pedal a few years ago and I can say with no reservations that it is one of the best tools there is for improving your playing!
I'm going to explain 3 fundamental applications for the looper pedal...
The first application is going to be playing a static chord into your looper then playing different scales/arpeggios over it. This is great ear training and really fun. It can be pretty challenging to get what I call a static, perpetual loop recorded. If it's done well, this will result in a measure or two repeating seamlessly ad infinitum. To achieve this, count 2 or 3 measures in time to firmly establish your tempo before activating your looper pedal. You have to be super precise to get this just right and there will almost certainly be a learning curve. Once you're reasonably good at this, I suggest recording an A5 chord consisting of the 5th string open, 4th string 2nd fret, 3rd string 2nd fret, second string 5th fret and first string 5th fret. Next as that A5 chord is endlessly looping, I'm going to have you play several scales/modes and arpeggios over it. Here they are, play all of them rooted on the A on the 6th string fret 5: A ionian, A dorian, A phrygian, A lydian, A mixolydian, A aeolian, A locrain, A major blues, A minor blues, A major 7 arpeggio, A minor 7 arpeggio and A7 arpeggio.
Record a static A7 chord onto looper and play A major and minor blues scales over it and the following arpeggios: A7, A9, A11, A13 and Am7. Also play the dorian, mixolydian and diminished scales.
Record a static A chord and play the follow over it: A major, lydian, mixolydian and major blues scales and Amaj7 and A7 arpeggios.
Second, you can record what I call a “back to back chord progression”. This is when you play a chord progression that repeats as soon as it ends. A couple of favorites of mine to do with students are: 12 bar blues and some common 4 chord progressions. (for example: I – iii – IV – V or I – vi – ii – V) You can experiment with playing different scales and arpeggios over the progression. Also, take the same approach and apply it to a 12 bar blues.
Finally, you can use the looper pedal to become more proficient at another instrument. For example, if you're primarily a guitarist, add a bass track to all of your loops to get more practice at playing and thinking like a bass player and do the reverse if you're mainly a bassist.
One bonus piece of advice: when recording on your looper, don't use a metronome/drum beat/click track. You can use your time with the looper to also work on your ability to maintain a steady tempo which is actually much harder than most people realize and vitally important!
.This blog is going to have information that you can immediately use to plug in and play progressions using harmonic minor (and mixing it with natural minor)...
First off, here are the 4-part harmony versions of the harmonic minor chords:
i = minor/maj7 ii = half dim 7 III = maj7#5 iv = min7 V = 7th VI = maj7 and VII = dim7
These chords in A harmonic minor are: Am/maj7 – Bm7flat5 – Cmaj7#5 – Dm7 – E7 – Fmaj7 – G#dim7
Next, I'll show you 4 common and interesting harmonic minor chord progressions then one progressions that mixes between harmonic and natural minor:
Am7 – G#dim 7 – E7/G# - Am – F#7 – Bm – F – G7 - E7
In a previous blog I explained Minor Keys, this will be an addendum to that content...
We'll begin by comparing the two scales that the chords of minor (natural minor) and harmonic minor are predicated on: The only difference between the two scales is that the harmonic minor has a natural 7th whereas the natural minor (minor) has a flat 7th. In the Key of Am, the minor scale is all natural notes (A – G) and in the harmonic minor scale, all notes are natural except for the 7th degree which, in this case would be a G# note.
(A harmonic minor scale = A – B – C – D – E – F – G#)
Here are the 7 chords built from the harmonic minor scale in the key of Am:
Even though the only difference between the scales of A minor and A harmonic minor is the G# note in the later, there are three differences in the chords generated by the harmonic minor as compared to the minor. In harmonic minor, you get two diminished chords and one augmented and in diatonic minor keys you get one diminished chord and no augmented chords. Also in harmonic minor, the V chord is major instead of minor which is a stronger cadence back to the tonic.
Best of all, you can mix and match between the chords of minor and harmonic minor, which gives infinitely more options for interesting progressions.
In the next blog I'll give examples of chord progressions using harmonic minor and ones that mix and match with both harmonic and natural minor. And finally I'll also show how to augment your songwriting options with a few tricks using chord borrowing and substitutions.
This is a very simple, yet effective trick you can use to great effect, particularly while playing over blues changes. ( I – IV – V ) And yes, it's exactly what it sounds like – taking the 6 notes of the minor blues scale ( 1 - flat3 – 4 – flat5 – 5 – flat 7 ) and then adding the natural 3.
This creates an interesting, smooth, blurring effect over dominant chords because it highlights the major/minor juxtaposition that's one of the hallmarks of the blues. You should learn how to add the 3rd in multiple octaves to all 5 positions of the minor blues scale. Beginning with minor blues box 1, if, for example, you're in the key of A, you play the minor blues scale at fret 5. You'll add the 4th fret of the A string ( C# ) and then in the next octave add the C# on the G string at fret 6 and it's a simple as that.
You can follow the I, IV and V chords with this scale as they go past and it works great over all three chords. You'll be amazed at how much the addition of one little note can enhance your playing!
To familiarize your ear with the sound, I suggest you lay down a 12 bar I – IV – V blues on your looper pedal or play over a jam track in either G or A and first play the minor blues scale with the major 3rd rooted on the 6th string and follow the chords as the progress. Then once you're good at that, move the IV and V chord related scales up to the 5th string to consolidate the parameters of your scales.
Finally a really cool thing you can do in several keys, especially G, A, C, D and E, is to augment this idea of playing minor blues scales with added 3rds with open strings. For example, if you're in the key of A, when you're on the I chord ( A7 ), all of the open strings work well as toggle notes. ( E is the 5th, A is the root, D is the 4th, G is the flat7th, B is the 9th ) Then on the IV chord ( D7 ) you have: E is the 9th, A is the 5th, D is the root, G is the 4th, B is the 6th and finally for the V chord ( E7 ) E is the root, A is the 4th, D is the flat7th, G is the minor 3rd and B is the 5th.
It's well worth the time and effort to embrace this approach and add a new dimension to your blues improvisation!
(Make sure you've read part 1 first...)
In this part, we'll look at several steps/approaches you can take to get better and quicker at deciphering chord progressions.
First tip is to listen to the song you want to learn on HEADPHONES, preferably good quality headphones. This confers multiple advantages – generally, you can hear in finer detail and guitar parts are often panned in one speaker or the other, in that case you can remove the other side so that you can more clearly hear the guitar. Listen as focused as possible, without your guitar and with your eyes closed.