The­ory God­mother

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

David Mead ad­dresses your tech­ni­cal, mu­si­cal and the­o­ret­i­cal is­sues.

Post your play­ing posers and tech­ni­cal teasers to: The­ory God­mother, Gui­tar Tech­niques, 30 Mon­mouth Street, Bath, BA1 2BW; or email me at info@david­mead.net - ev­ery wish is your God­mother’s com­mand!

Break­down On A6? Dear The­ory God­mother

I’ve just bought the Play Gui­tar Now: Rock & Roll and on Lick 1 of Danny Ce­drone you have an A6 chord. How­ever, due to its shape, which is the same fin­ger po­si­tion as a open Dm just five frets up, why isn’t it a F#m?

Cyn­thia The rea­son be­hind this is that F# is the rel­a­tive mi­nor key to A ma­jor and A6 and F#m share many of the same notes. Let’s look at the two scales (Ex 1): in A ma­jor, the triad is made up from the notes A, C# and E - and if we add the 6th to turn it into a ma­jor 6th chord, we need the note F# as well. Now check out F#m: once again we need the root, 3rd and 5th of the scale which adds up to F#, A and C#. So the two chords are near as dam­mit the same thing to be­gin with. In fact, if we add the miss­ing E to the F#m we’ll pro­duce F#m7, then the two chords would be an ex­act match.

In the case you’re quot­ing, a Dm shape at the 5th fret would pro­duce the notes C#, F# and A - the 3rd, 6th and root of A, and just enough in­for­ma­tion to con­firm it as an A6 chord. I sus­pect there would be a prom­i­nent A in the bass to con­firm this so all would be well.

This sort of thing crops up many times in mu­sic - we’ve only got 12 notes in the chro­matic scale and thou­sands of chords that can be made from them. So it’s in­evitable that many shapes are ei­ther go­ing to look sim­i­lar or, as we’ve found here, ex­actly the same!

Yngwie B Goode Dear The­ory God­mother

I’ve played for years and stuck to rock/blues type songs where I can use the pen­ta­tonic or blues scales to im­pro­vise a solo. How­ever, I want to learn to play more like Yngwie Malm­steen as I love the sound of the har­monic mi­nor scale.

My prob­lem comes in the songs I play. I can’t play Malm­steen’s style light­ning fast so how would I in­cor­po­rate his style licks into a solo to Johnny B Goode or All Right Now? Please help, as I’d love to change my so­los to sound like his.

Andy I’ve been do­ing a lit­tle re­search and found that when Yngwie takes on ei­ther straight­for­ward rock or blues based ma­te­rial, he doesn’t ven­ture into the har­monic mi­nor at all. He’s far more likely to leave that for his own ma­te­rial where the un­der­ly­ing chords call for it.

The rea­son for this is that the har­monic mi­nor scale is an ex­tremely awk­ward fit for a lot of pop or rock ’n’ roll. The two songs you men­tion are both in ma­jor keys and the har­monic mi­nor would just sound wrong un­less you did a lot of re-ar­rang­ing; you might be able to make it fit, but you’d have to bend both songs out of shape first.

If we look at the har­monic mi­nor scale (Ex 2), the thing that gives it its es­sen­tial flavour - that ‘mid­dle east­ern sound’ - hap­pens at the top end of the scale, as de­tailed in Ex 3. This is go­ing to clash ter­ri­bly if you drop it into a solo over Johnny B Goode!

What Yngwie tends to do is to make use of the mi­nor pen­ta­tonic or blues scale with some notes from the Do­rian or Ae­o­lian modes thrown in (Ex 4). This would sound quite run-of-the-mill un­less you played it at high speed, adding the Yng’s char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally wide vi­brato at the end

If you want to use the har­monic mi­nor in your so­los, find some tran­scrip­tions and back­ing tracks of Malm­steen ma­te­rial and prac­tise that un­til you can get it up to speed. And as far as that speed is con­cerned, I’m afraid that there’s no quick so­lu­tion. Play­ing scales and ex­er­cises against a metronome is re­ally the only way and it takes time and pa­tience. But if you stick at it and do your speed-in­creas­ing ex­er­cises on a daily ba­sis, you’ll see re­sults af­ter a short pe­riod of time.

So, leave the har­monic mi­nor for songs that are in a mi­nor key, but when play­ing the ma­te­rial you men­tion like Johnny B Goode or All Right Now, stick to your pen­ta­ton­ics or blues scales.

Time On My Hands Dear The­ory God­mother

OK, I’ll ad­mit it: my tim­ing sucks. The prob­lem isn’t ac­tu­ally play­ing in time - that I can do. But when I’m work­ing out a tran­scrip­tion I’m mainly us­ing the tab and while the more straight­for­ward stuff doesn’t give me any prob­lems, some of the more com­plex rhythms floor me ev­ery time. I lis­ten to the track, but some­times that’s just not enough to get it in­side my head. I want to do things prop­erly and work the rhythm out from the mu­sic, but I get eas­ily flus­tered. Is there a way around this sit­u­a­tion?

Ian Or­di­nar­ily, I’d say that it’s a ques­tion of work­ing out the maths of the sit­u­a­tion and sit­ting there with a metronome, tap­ping rhythms out with a pen­cil. But we live in mod­ern times and these days there is help out there.

If you look around the net, you’ll find that there are free no­ta­tion pro­grammes with cut-down fea­tures that will al­low you to type in rhythms and hear them played back to you. One that I know of is Fi­nale Notepad, but there are oth­ers and I’m sure a quick search will re­veal them all. Then, when you find a rhythm that you have trou­ble with, copy it into the pro­gramme to hear it played back to you. I would rec­om­mend that you don’t bother about the pitches of the notes - copy it all onto a sin­gle line on the staff so that you can hear the rhythm of the phrase in isolation. Af­ter a while, you’ll be­gin to recog­nise rhyth­mic phrases at sight as more and more of them be­come fa­mil­iar to you.

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