Shaun Baxter continues his look at the neoclassical influences on electric soloing .
within a series of notes, and usually relates to one or more notes of the underlying chord.
For example, one could play an A minor arpeggio (A, C, E) using E as a pedal point throughout (a bit like an anchor, that helps to unify things).
Targeting is the practice of introducing a chord tone via a note or notes, known as neighbour or auxiliary tones. These may belong to the parent scale or be chromatic, and can occur in a variety of combinations. The commonest method is to target a chord tone from a note above or below it (a good way of introducing non-scale notes into your playing).
In neo-classical music, it is common to extend major and minor triads by adding either a 2nd or a 4th. If we do this over each of the chords in our backing track (Am, G and F) we can create any one of the following arpeggios (the F has a #4 added in the key of C, as it is the Lydian chord IV): Am add2: A B C E - 1 2 b3 5 Am add4: A C D E - 1 b3 4 5 G add2: G A B D-1 2 3 5 G add4: G B C D-1 3 4 5 F add2: F G A C -1 2 3 5 F add#4: F A B C - 1 3 #4 5
To get the most out of this month’s study, you must place everything you play within a clear visual context. This means seeing how each note relates to the major and minor arpeggio shapes that we learned last month (see Diagram 1 for the Am and G shapes. For F, just play all the G shapes down a tone).
If you lose sight of the underlying chords, the whole thing will be musical gibberish. You may be able to learn the piece parrot-fashion,
To get the most out of this study, you must place everything you play within a clear musical context.
but you’ll be getting little out of the study.
When guitarists try to work out the harmony part they will often try to play an equivalent melody three notes higher or lower on the same scale. This is parallel harmony, and it works because it is based on 3rds, which is the basis of Western harmony; however, it is often only an approximate way to generate the harmony; the true method is by realising how the melody relates to chord tones, and then transposing that information up or down to another inversion of the same chord. We will explore this later in this series; however, in the meantime, if you analyse the chord tones involved, it will explain why the first five notes over each G chord in bars 1, 2 and 18 relate to each other, even though, strictly, they are not parallel in terms of the scale.
This month’s Am, G, F, G progression is typical in rock; and you could improvise over it using any one or all of the following scales: A minor pentatonic: ACDEG 1 b3 4 5 b7 A minor blues scale: A C D Eb E G 1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 A Aeolian: ABCDEFG 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 But listen to how different the musical language is in the demo piece. We haven’t started exploring phrasing yet, by adding rests and varying the rhythms (doing so would obscure the principles being studied), so rhythmically things may sound pretty robotic. But the melodic vocabulary is utterly different to standard blues-based rock, precisely because it’s based more around the chords, rather than one particular scale. This helps to give harmonic strength to our lines, as well as legitimise the use of chromatic passing notes (neighbour tones).