Home Forums Improvisation Grover Washington's Mister Magic/Improvising

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    Michael Bishop
    Michael Bishop

    Hey Johnny,

    I was listening to Grover Washington’s ‘Mister Magic’; seems like this would be the perfect song to apply with your lessons from the Major Scale Course of Improvising with Modes over the chord changes? When I listen to this song, I think I’m hearing the key of F minor? I tested it against my wife’s organ and that’s the key it sounds like. Seems like what you teach in the Major Scale Course/Improvising can be used in so many kinds of situations 🙂 Up until now, I’ve been mainly focused on Blues Improvising. As much fun as it is to play in the style of the Blues (it’s my bread-and-butter), it does seem like there’s times when Improvising with modes is a better way to go? Seems like Major and minor pentatonics works almost all the time 🙂


    ah, Mister magic…played this with my band many, many times, an old fave of mine!
    it’s in the key of C minor.
    the main 2 bar groove goes from C minor to F7 like this: | Cm | F7 |
    the solo section of this tune is played entirely over these 2 chords so…

    simplest way to approach the solo is using the Cm minor pentatonic scale: C Eb F G Bb

    both the guitar soloist and Grover are using the entire C minor scale: C D Eb F G A Bb
    it’s just a couple more notes than the pentatonic but this means more options so eventually just think about using that scale.

    Here is the full explanation but don’t let it confuse you! (keep it simple as I said above)…

    You don’t need to think about modes here because it’s a repetative 2 bar pattern. But if you want to get a little more technical…
    it’s the Bb dorian mode. Why? Because that C minor scale is made from the notes of the Bb major scale: Bb C D Eb F G A Bb
    we call it the dorian mode of Bb because the Dorian is the 2nd mode (of Bb) so you just play the Bb scale starting on it’s 2nd note which is the C. when we play a dorian mode of any scale we are simply playing the major scale of the note that’s a whole tone below that 1st note of the dorian
    make sense?



    another interesting thing, if you are improvising with the Bb major scale,
    not only can you use the Bb major pentatonic scale (built on the Bb
    major scale), but you can also use the F major pentatonic scale (built on
    the F major scale) as both major pentatonic scales contain the same notes.

    Michael Bishop
    Michael Bishop

    @ Johnny–Oh yeah, it is in C minor, my bad 🙂 Been working really hard on being able to hear a scale and know what key they’re playing in, hasn’t been so easy to do–it’s slowly getting better. From what I’ve been told, it takes many years to have your ears developed to a point where you can hear what someone is playing and know what scale they’re in. I’m really jealous of people who can do that LOL I’ve been trying to test myself by having my wife play a scale, with my back turned, and trying to guess what scale she played. She’ll do the same thing for me with intervals. She’ll play a minor 3rd, perfect 5th, etc., using different scales, and won’t tell me what she played–then I have to tell her what I heard. I’m slowly getting better at it, still got a long way to go. Ear Training is the one thing I’ve always needed to work on. For those of us who are Premium Members, could you eventually think about making some ear training lessons available for us?

    Yep, that all makes sense, thanks 🙂 Seems like Pentatonics always work 🙂 Have you ever thought about making a Sax cover available for Mister Magic? Sounds awesome on the Saxophone 🙂 On a side note, I thought your recent Sax cover of ‘The Stripper’ was awesome 🙂

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