15 Darkly Enticing Musical Ideas Using the Natural Minor Scale

Are you ready to dive into a world of darkly enticing musical ideas? In this article, we’ll explore mesmerizing sounds and captivating techniques achieved using the natural minor scale.

From hauntingly bittersweet acoustic melodies to soulful R&B rhythms, this scale offers endless possibilities for musicians of all genres and styles.

Discover how to navigate the fretboard with different scale patterns, incorporating open-position riffs and open-string enhancements to deepen your playing.

We’ll also analyze iconic guitar parts from legends like Jimi Hendrix and Curtis Mayfield, exploring the emotional impact of their music.

Get ready to unleash your creativity and take your playing to a whole new level!

Key Takeaways

  • The article discusses various musical ideas using the natural minor scale, including different scale patterns, open-position riffs, bluesy folk-rock examples, bluesy acoustic passages, open-string enhanced examples, and more.
  • The examples provided in the article showcase the skill and technique of renowned guitarists such as Edvard Grieg, Randy Rhoads, Ricky Skaggs, Glenn Campbell, Andy Summers, and Cornell Dupree.
  • The article emphasizes the importance of incorporating soulful chord progressions, rhythmic accents, and R&B rhythm guitar techniques in creating darkly enticing musical ideas.
  • The examples accurately represent the chord progressions of well-known songs like “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray, “Rainy Night in Georgia” by Brook Benton, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, “People Get Ready” by The Impressions, and “Castles Made of Sand” by Jimi Hendrix.

E Minor Scale Patterns Along the Fretboard

As you explore the E minor scale patterns along the fretboard, you’ll discover a variety of melodic possibilities and darkly enticing musical ideas. The E minor scale is a versatile and expressive scale that lends itself well to improvisation.

By exploring melodic variations in E minor scale patterns, you can create unique and captivating musical phrases. Experiment with different note choices, bends, slides, and vibrato to add character and emotion to your improvisations. One technique you can try is playing the scale patterns in different positions on the fretboard to explore different tonalities and textures.

Additionally, you can incorporate chromatic passing tones, arpeggios, and double stops to further enhance your melodic variations. The E minor scale patterns provide a solid foundation for creating captivating and expressive musical ideas.

Open-Position Riffs

Try experimenting with open-position riffs to add a unique and captivating sound to your musical ideas. Open-position riffs allow you to explore the full potential of the natural minor scale while incorporating triad harmonization and fingerstyle techniques.

By utilizing open strings and playing in lower positions on the fretboard, you can create rich, resonant tones that are both melodic and rhythmic. Triad harmonization adds depth and complexity to your riffs, while fingerstyle techniques offer a wide range of expressive possibilities.

Whether you’re aiming for a hauntingly beautiful melody or a driving, aggressive rhythm, open-position riffs provide a versatile platform for your musical creativity.

Bluesy Folk-Rock Example

Get ready to explore a bluesy folk-rock example that will ignite your musical creativity.

In this example, we’ll delve into the world of alternate chord voicings and the art of incorporating slide guitar techniques. By exploring alternate chord voicings, you can add a unique flavor to your playing and create a more interesting harmonic landscape. Try experimenting with different fingerings and positions on the fretboard to find new voicings that resonate with you.

Additionally, slide guitar techniques can bring a soulful and expressive quality to your playing. Whether you’re using a glass or metal slide, sliding between notes can add a touch of grit and emotion to your bluesy folk-rock sound.

Bluesy Acoustic Passage

When you’re looking to add a touch of bluesy flair to your acoustic playing, consider incorporating a soulful and expressive passage in the natural minor scale. This technique is perfect for creating soulful acoustic ballads that tug at the heartstrings.

To achieve this sound, try using fingerstyle techniques to bring out the nuances of the natural minor scale. Explore the rich and emotive tones that can be created by playing the scale in different positions on the fretboard. Experiment with sliding, bending, and vibrato techniques to add even more depth and emotion to your playing.

Open-String Enhanced Example

To enhance your playing with open strings, try incorporating the following example into your repertoire.

This open-string enhanced example combines Patterns 1 and 2 of the E natural minor scale, utilizing hybrid picking techniques and pedal point passages.

Inspired by pickers like Ricky Skaggs and Glenn Campbell, this example requires an aggressive pick attack and a forceful snap with the middle finger.

Set in a classic arena rock setting, it features power chords and arpeggiated figures. One intriguing aspect is the pedal-point passage, which pivots off a D note, adding a unique and captivating element to the overall sound.

Moving on up the Neck – Pattern 3

As you move on up the neck, you can explore the musical possibilities of Pattern 3 in the E natural minor scale.

Pattern 3, favored by 70s rockers in E minor, has a pentatonic feel on the low strings (E, G, A, B, D). It evokes a riff reminiscent of ‘Superstition’ and ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ and pays tribute to Police guitarist Andy Summers and diatonic possibilities.

One interesting aspect of Pattern 3 is the colorful renditions of the bVII chord (D), which add a unique flavor to your playing.

Andy Summers-inspired Riff

Try incorporating the Andy Summers-inspired riff into your playing to add a touch of moody and atmospheric vibes to your music.

This chordal riff showcases the diatonic possibilities in E Aeolian minor, with an emphasis on the Em7 chord and colorful renditions of the bVII chord (D). To achieve the desired tone, experiment with light flange or heavy chorus settings, along with a delay slap effect.

The rock-shuffle rhythm of this riff draws inspiration from songs like ‘Carry On Wayward Son.’ It creates a moody and atmospheric passage that can be played using various styles, allowing for versatility in your playing.

Explore different chord progressions and experiment with different techniques to fully bring out the expressive nature of this Andy Summers-inspired riff.

R&B Rhythm Guitar Shout Out

Give a shout out to the masters of R&B rhythm guitar, like Reggie Young, for their iconic guitar work and the influences they’ve had on the genre. These guitarists have mastered the art of R&B groove techniques, creating soulful chord progressions that serve as the backbone of the music.

Their rhythmic accents and intricate strumming patterns bring a unique flavor to the genre, elevating it to new heights. Through their mastery of the instrument, they’ve carved a path for future generations of R&B guitarists to follow.

Whether it’s the smooth and sultry playing of Steve Cropper or the soulful and expressive style of Curtis Mayfield, these musicians have left an indelible mark on R&B rhythm guitar and continue to inspire and influence the genre to this day.

Dobie Gray’s ‘Drift Away

Get ready to dive into the iconic guitar part of Dobie Gray’s ‘Drift Away’ and explore its captivating musical ideas.

In this song, the guitarist incorporates different strumming patterns and explores different chord voicings to create a rich and dynamic sound. The strumming patterns vary throughout the song, ranging from a steady and rhythmic strumming to a more intricate and syncopated pattern. This adds depth and texture to the overall feel of the song.

Additionally, the guitarist explores different chord voicings, using variations of the natural minor scale to create interesting and unique chord progressions. The combination of these elements contributes to the timeless appeal of ‘Drift Away’ and showcases the guitarist’s skill and creativity.

Brook Benton’s ‘Rainy Night in Georgia

Take a deep dive into the soulful and bluesy guitar playing of Cornell Dupree in Brook Benton’s ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’.

When comparing soulful guitar styles, it’s hard to ignore the distinct and captivating sound that Cornell Dupree brings to the table. Dupree’s bluesy approach to the guitar is evident in every note he plays, using techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, and sliding 4ths to add depth and emotion to his playing.

His tone is rich and expressive, capturing the essence of the song’s melancholic atmosphere. As you analyze the bluesy sound of Cornell Dupree in ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’, you’ll discover a guitarist who effortlessly combines technical skill with a versatile and expressive playing style, creating a truly captivating musical experience.

Otis Redding’s ‘Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay

Are you ready to explore the iconic guitar work of Steve Cropper in Otis Redding’s ‘Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay’?

Cropper’s soulful guitar playing in this song has had a lasting influence on musicians and listeners alike. The techniques used in the song showcase Cropper’s versatility and expressiveness as a guitarist.

From the opening chords to the melodic fills, Cropper’s guitar work adds depth and emotion to the song. He incorporates techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, and sliding 4ths to create a unique and captivating sound.

Cropper’s soulful playing perfectly complements Redding’s heartfelt vocals, creating a timeless classic that continues to resonate with audiences to this day.

The Impressions’ ‘People Get Ready

Listen closely as Curtis Mayfield’s soulful guitar playing in The Impressions’ ‘People Get Ready’ captures your heart and inspires your own musical journey. Mayfield’s technique and emotion in this song had a profound influence on gospel music.

His use of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and sliding 4ths creates a unique and expressive sound that perfectly complements the heartfelt lyrics. The way he effortlessly transitions between chords and adds subtle embellishments showcases his technical prowess as a guitarist.

But it’s the emotion that Mayfield infuses into every note that truly sets him apart. His playing evokes a sense of longing, hope, and spiritual connection that resonates with listeners on a deep level.

As you listen to ‘People Get Ready’, let Mayfield’s playing inspire you to explore the power of technique and emotion in your own musical journey.

Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Castles Made of Sand

As you delve into the world of darkly enticing musical ideas using the natural minor scale, you’ll discover Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Castles Made of Sand’ is a captivating example.

Hendrix’s guitar techniques in this song showcase his unparalleled skill and creativity. The lyrical and poetic nature of ‘Castles Made of Sand’ is evident in both the music and the lyrics.

Hendrix’s guitar playing is innovative and groundbreaking, incorporating techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, and sliding 4ths. His use of these techniques adds depth and emotion to the song, enhancing the overall experience for the listener.

The chord progression and melody of ‘Castles Made of Sand’ further contribute to its dark and haunting atmosphere.

Acoustic Example in Ex. 13

Check out the hauntingly bittersweet mood of the acoustic example in Ex. 13. This example, reminiscent of Eric Johnson’s playing style, captures a Renaissance-style flair with its 3/4 time signature.

The hauntingly bittersweet mood is achieved through the use of techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, and sliding 4ths. Whether played on an acoustic or electric guitar, the example sounds equally captivating.

The combination of melodic lines and chord progressions creates a versatile and expressive musical landscape. The haunting quality of the piece transports you to another time, evoking a sense of nostalgia and introspection.

The Renaissance-style flair adds an intriguing twist to the overall atmosphere, making it a captivating piece for any guitarist to explore.

Chord Shapes Favored by Eric Johnson

Explore the chord shapes that Eric Johnson favors in his playing style.

Eric Johnson’s influences can be heard in the unique chord voicings he utilizes. His exploration of chord shapes adds depth and complexity to his music.

Johnson’s chord choices are influenced by a variety of genres, including blues, rock, and jazz. He often incorporates extended chords, such as 9th and 13th chords, to create lush and rich harmonies.

Johnson also frequently uses inversions and adds interesting tensions to his chords, such as the use of sus2 or sus4.

These chord shapes not only showcase Johnson’s technical prowess, but also allow for versatility and expressiveness in his playing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Different Box Patterns of the E Natural Minor Scale Along the Fretboard?

There are different fingering options for the E natural minor scale along the fretboard. Explore the box patterns and pentatonic scale variations to create versatile and expressive musical ideas.

What Are Some Open-Position Riffs That Can Be Played in the Key of E Minor?

You can explore open-position riffs in E minor, drawing inspiration from various genres like folk-rock and blues. Incorporate E minor pentatonic and melodic minor scales for a technical, versatile, and expressive sound.

Can You Provide an Example of a Bluesy Folk-Rock Passage in E Minor?

Here’s a bluesy folk-rock passage in E minor for you. It combines open position riffs inspired by retro tunes like ‘Happy Together’ and ‘People are Strange’. It transitions from open position to neighboring Pattern 2 box, offering a beefier tone and vibrato opportunities.

How Can the Natural Minor Scale Be Applied to Create a Bluesy Acoustic Passage?

To create a bluesy acoustic passage using the natural minor scale, incorporate bluesy improvisation techniques and minor pentatonic scales. Explore sliding 4ths, hammer-ons, and pull-offs for a versatile and expressive sound.

What Are Some Techniques and Inspirations Behind the Andy Summers-Inspired Riff in E Minor?

To create the Andy Summers-inspired riff in E minor, you can use techniques like chordal riffing and diatonic possibilities. Draw inspiration from songs like “Carry On Wayward Son” and experiment with a rock-shuffle feel and atmospheric playing styles.


In conclusion, the natural minor scale offers a wealth of darkly enticing musical ideas for musicians of all genres and styles.

By exploring different scale patterns, incorporating open-position riffs and open-string enhancements, and analyzing the techniques of legendary musicians, you can take your playing to a whole new level of creativity and expression.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, the natural minor scale is a powerful tool for unlocking captivating and soulful musical possibilities.

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