IT’S A RESOLUTION, BABY!
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.