In this lesson we’re going to look at bending into chord tones within a riff. A great example of that is in the song “The Rover” from Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin. It’s great to observe riffs instead of solos as you get to see their function on a more structural level. Let’s take a look at the riff over the verse.
Upon inspection we’ll notice the song is in E major. Jimmy is implying an E7 chord as we can see on the “and” of beat 2 (D natural is the b7). Normally there would be a D# in the key of E.
On Beat three we have our first bend into a chord tone. He bends from the b5 (Bb) into the perfect 5th (B). It’s a half step bend into the 5th of an E major chord and it happens as a grace note. It’s a quick bend but It still creates some nice tension and resolution.
A very similar move happens on the “and’ of beat 3 except this time we’re bending from the 2nd into the b3 of E major (F# to G natural). Again it’s a grace note so it’s quick. Incase you don’t know what a grace note is: Grace notes occur as notes of short duration before the sounding of the relatively longer-lasting note which immediately follows them.
We have one of these moves left in bar 2 on beats 2 and 3. This time Jimmy uses a grace note to bend from the 6th to the b7 (C# to D). If you think about it it’s not that from the blues but it doesn’t necessarily sound like blues. He’s managed to accent the all the “blue” colors.