Australian Guitar - - Technique -

The ma­jor­ity of rhythms in West­ern mu­sic are grouped into di­vi­sions of three or four. This is par­tic­u­larly true of the fast licks you of­ten here in ‘ shred’ gui­tar solo­ing. For this col­umn, I’d like to show you how to shred us­ing quin­tu­plets (five notes per beat).


This is an ex­er­cise I have de­vised to help you be­come com­fort­able with play­ing five notes per beat. You must play to a click track or metronome, and start off very slow (around 60-80bpm). De­scend­ing through a hy­brid Do­rian and Blues scale in the key of E mi­nor, start by play­ing a re­peated se­ries of four 16th notes, fol­lowed by a quar­ter note (as in bars #1 and #2). Then, with­out paus­ing, try play­ing quin­tu­plets by slightly speed­ing up, and in­stead of hold­ing the last note, go straight back to the first note and keep re­peat­ing the pat­tern (as in bar # 3). Make sure that the first note of the group­ing is al­ways played on the beat, and that the five notes are spaced evenly. Af­ter a while, play­ing five notes per beat should start to feel more nat­u­ral – that’s when you can speed it up.


This is the same con­cept as in ex­er­cise #1, only here, we as­cend though the hy­brid Do­rian and Blues scale. As with the first ex­er­cise, I’ve only no­tated three bars. Of course, you can prac­tise the first and sec­ond parts as many times as you like. The key is to try and make a seam­less tran­si­tion be­tween play­ing in di­vi­sions of four, and then play­ing in di­vi­sions of five.


For this ex­er­cise, I’ve joined the quin­tu­plet runs from ex­er­cises #1 and #2 into a re­peated, cir­cu­lar lick. I feel that this cre­ates a very smooth and fluid ef­fect – even though you’re play­ing a lot of notes, when played fast, they blend to­gether to cre­ate a dif­fer­ent sound than stan­dard threeor four-note rhyth­mic group­ing ‘shred’ licks would pro­duce.


Once you have the quin­tu­plet lick from ex­er­cise #3 mas­tered, try your hand at play­ing it in a mu­si­cal con­text, as I’ve done here by us­ing dif­fer­ent po­si­tions of an E Do­rian scale over an Im-IV-III-Vm-IV-III chord pro­gres­sion. If any of this sounds too con­fus­ing for you, head over to aus­tralian­gui­tar­ where you can hear me play these ex­er­cises fast, slow, and to a click. As an ex­am­ple, I’ve also in­cluded an ex­cerpt from one of my own songs, “Shin­ing Brightly” (from my 2015 al­bum,

Ame­lio­ra­tion), where I use a loop­ing quin­tu­plet lick to bring the solo to a cli­max.

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