Soloing Over Minor Chord Progressions

Soloing Over Minor Chord Progressions

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Soloing Over Minor Chord Progressions - Tico Tico Licks

Minor chord progressions offer many harmonic and melodic possibilities when improvising.

Tico Tico is a song that includes harmonic sections that are so much fun to improvise over. This week's licks have been transcribed from a solo that I played over the minor chord progression from the first section of this song.

The Back Story...

When I was a very young guitarist, I played in an acoustic duo with my good friend and awesome guitarist Simon Attwood. Our duo was named 'Guitars R Us' and we spent much time experimenting with crazy musical ideas. I miss those days as we learnt so much back then with all the free time available to us.

One day, we were playing a gig and a stranger placed a cassette tape on my guitar amp and said that we would enjoy the tunes he had recorded for us. One of the songs on the tape was an acoustic guitar version of the song Tico Tico. This song seemed to stick and I have revisited it many times.

I recorded a version of Tico Tico on my old Akai Professional DPS16 recorder. This was many years before the ease of recording on a computer as we have nowadays, although I was able to record myself playing the chords and then playing the melody and improvising over the chord progression.

My Biggest Supporters - So Deeply Missed

My mum and dad (who were always my biggest supporters) loved that recording of Tico Tico and would often proudly play it to people who visited them.

My dad unexpectedly passed away in 2015, and my mum sadly passed away a few years after this. I thought I would upload the version of Tico Tico as it was to YouTube as they would have liked this.

My dad started making archtop jazz guitars when he retired and the hand-carved masterpieces he created are truly outstanding.

Tico Tico Chord Progression

The chord progression I used for this version of Tico Tico is in three separate sections.

  • The first section is a minor chord progression in Bb minor.

  • The second section moves to the relative major key of Db major.

  • The third section is a parallel major key of Bb major.

What Is A Parallel Major Key?

The parallel major key is when the root remains constant and the key moves from major to minor or minor to major. If a song moves from the key of Bb minor to Bb major, this is considered to be the parallel major key.

The relative major or relative minor is when the major and minor keys are separated by three semitones. The minor key is the lower of the two. If a song moves from the key of Bb minor to Db major, this is considered to be the relative major key.

Download The Tico Tico Chord Chart

The chord progression I used for the Tico Tico recording is below. If you would like to download the chord progression as a pdf file, click on the download button at the bottom of the image. You may need to hover over the image if the toolbar is not visible.

You can also view a full-screen version of the chord chart by clicking on the enlarge button in the toolbar (4 arrows pointing outwards, to the corners).

If you would like to know how these, and all the other licks I have uploaded were created, with an analysis of each lick, enter your details below and sign up for my free weekly newsletter.

If you understand what it is you are playing instead of only learning where to place your fingers, your musicality will develop exponentially.

Tico Tico - Lick 1

This lick can be used in many situations when you are soloing over a minor chord progression.

A few techniques are involved here such as a pedal tone idea and other melodic phrases that could be thought of as 'jazz' licks, although they work great whenever you are soloing over chord changes.

Tico Tico - Lick 2

A nice little diminished arpeggio lick that works well over the v7 chord in a minor key.

When transcribing this lick, I found the rhythmic phrasing interesting in the second bar. Just goes to prove that not only is it important to transcribe the ideas of other musicians but transcribing your own improvised solos can teach you a great deal.

Tico Tico - Lick 3

Now, I am not going to lie... This lick took a bit of figuring out how I actually played the idea. I have no idea if the fingering I have written down is as I played this lick, although it works for me now.

It was a long time ago when I recorded this version of Tico Tico and I have no idea what I was thinking at the time.

My guitar playing has gone through many transformative stages over the years - at one point, I was obsessed with economy-picking everything I played. Simon, from the now legendary (if only!) acoustic duo 'Guitars R Us' told me a few years ago that alternate picking was my thing when we played together. I cannot even remember this, but it probably was.

It took a few takes to recreate this lick and it was pretty tricky to play on my telecaster. I find this type of lick so much easier to play on an acoustic or archtop guitar as I have heavier strings. Having less string movement makes this type of lick easier to play, for me.

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To improvise over minor chord progressions or any type of chord progression, great ears are essential if you want to play great guitar solos.

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