Australian Guitar - - Technique -

This is­sue con­tin­ues along the theme of the last one, where we used in­ver­sions along one string, but this time we’re go­ing to look at the Bm7b5 (or halfdi­min­ished) shape. We are look­ing at some ways of re­solv­ing phrases to di­min­ished chord tones us­ing in­ver­sions of the Bm7b5 arpeg­gio. We will start off by map­ping out one oc­tave pat­terns of the Bm7b5 arpeg­gio along the E string. This will help us see, and more im­por­tantly hear, the notes be­long­ing to the B half-di­min­ished arpeg­gio and see how they fit into our three-note-per-string modal pat­terns in C ma­jor. Some­times we learn pat­terns with­out re­ally know­ing or un­der­stand­ing where the notes that be­long to the chord we are play­ing over ac­tu­ally are. Learn­ing and us­ing arpeg­gios helps us to cre­ate phrases that sound mu­si­cal and re­solve, or sound fin­ished. Once we have played a phrase, we can make it sound com­plete by re­solv­ing to a chord tone, so it’s im­por­tant to know where they are.


Ex­er­cise #1 out­lines a one-oc­tave pattern of the Bm7b5 arpeg­gio. There are a few dif­fer­ent pat­terns we can map out based on the CAGED sys­tem, but these ones work well be­cause they fit neatly within the three­note-per-string modal pat­terns that many gui­tarists al­ready know and use. Bar #1 shows the root po­si­tion chord tones of B half-di­min­ished – BDFA. Bar #2 out­lines aBm7b 5 arpeg­gio, but the notes ap­pear in a dif­fer­ent or­der–in­stead ofBDFA, we haveDFAB.Th isis called the ‘first in­ver­sion’. In­ver­sions are of­ten used when play­ing chords to cre­ate smooth voice lead­ing, but they can also be used with arpeg­gio or scale pat­terns. Bar #3 out­lines the se­cond in­ver­sion with the note or­der be­ing FABD. The last bar out­lines third in­ver­sion of an Bm7b5 arpeg­gio with the notes be in gAB D F. Try loop­ing aB half-di­min­ished chord vamp and play through this ex­er­cise. It is a great way to come up with new phrases by shift­ing to a dif­fer­ent in­ver­sion with­out vary­ing the pattern you are play­ing. Once you have them un­der your fin­gers, try vary­ing the note val­ues and phras­ing – it can be an in­valu­able tool for cre­at­ing new riffs.


Ex­er­cise #2 out­lines the three­note-per-string pat­terns that these arpeg­gio shapes sit within. The first bar out­lines the B locrian shape in the root po­si­tion. This is the last mode of the C ma­jor scale, and con­tains all seven notes of C ma­jor, but be­gin­ning and end­ing on a B note. Rhyth­mi­cally, this ex­er­cise uses six notes per beat, or sex­tu­plets. This one flies by at 120 beats per minute, so make sure you use sweep pick­ing. Play each group­ing of three notes as down–up–down when as­cend­ing through the scale, and up–down–up when de­scend­ing. We usu­ally think of sweep arpeg­gios when­ever the word ‘sweep’ is men­tioned, but sweep pick­ing is just as ben­e­fi­cial to speed when play­ing scales.

Bar #2 out­lines the C Io­nian or ma­jor scale pattern and our first in­ver­sion Bm7b5 fits neatly within this pattern. Try play­ing the scale, and then the arpeg­gio from ex­er­cise one to hear how Bm7b5 sounds against C Io­nian. The third bar is the F Ly­dian pattern.

The last bar out­lines A Ae­o­lian, or the mi­nor scale. Lis­ten to the sound of Bm7b5 against these pat­terns. This is an­other very ef­fec­tive method for writ­ing new phrases and great riffs.


Ex­er­cise #3 out­lines two oc­taves of the Bm7b5 arpeg­gio in all in­ver­sions. Af­ter play­ing through ex­er­cise #3, you should start to see how these shape sits within the dif­fer­ent modal pat­terns of C ma­jor. The se­cond bar out­lines the first in­ver­sion Bm7b5 and it fits neatly within the C Io­nian pattern. The third bar out­lines the se­cond in­ver­sion of Bm7b5, which fits neatly within the F ly­dian modal pattern. The last bar out­lines the third in­ver­sion fit­ting within the A Ae­o­lian mode. Once you have these shapes un­der your fin­gers, try improvising your own phrases us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of scale runs and the Bm7b5 arpeg­gio in­ver­sions.

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