Char­lie Gri­ifiths is at the end of his al­pha­bet­i­cal odyssey. Here he brings you the sym­bols X and Y, the Yo scale, Zortz­ico rhythm and Zil­toid­ian tun­ing.

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

Char­lie Grif­fiths winds up his A-Z with X, Y and Z for X sym­bol, Yo scale and Zil­toid­ian tun­ing!

The sound can be ap­plied to ei­ther a sin­gle string or mul­ti­ple strings and is most com­monly utilised in funk mu­sic as it lends it­self to the syn­co­pated rhythms of play­ers like Nile Rodgers or Jimmy Nolen. The tech­nique is re­liant on plac­ing the fret­ting hand fin­gers lightly on the strings so as to stop them from res­onat­ing. Plac­ing more than one fin­ger on the string pre­vents any nat­u­ral har­mon­ics from sound­ing

Yo Scale The Yo scale is a pen­ta­tonic scale orig­i­nat­ing from tra­di­tional Ja­panese Koto and Shamisen mu­sic. The in­ter­vals of the scale are 1 2 4 5 6, which trans­lates to the key of C as fol­lows: C D F G A. This is es­sen­tially the same as the C ma­jor scale with the 3rd and 7th notes (the E and B notes) miss­ing. That means that there are no semi­tones present, only tones and mi­nor 3rds; giv­ing the scale an open sound. An­other way to look at the scale is as a mode of the gui­tarist’s best friend the mi­nor pen­ta­tonic scale. For ex­am­ple if you play the D mi­nor pen­ta­tonic scale, D F G A C, but start from the 5th note, you will get C Yo scale. This scale is also known as ‘sus­pended pen­ta­tonic’ and ‘Egyp­tian pen­ta­tonic’.

Z Sym­bol The buzz roll sym­bol is usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with drum no­ta­tion and is seen as a small ital­i­cised let­ter Z placed on top of the note stem. We can re ap­pro­pri­ate the tech­nique on the gui­tar us­ing sim­i­lar ‘out­side the box’ think­ing used by cre­ative gui­tarists such as Mat­tias IA Ek­lundh, Tom Morello and Ron ‘Bum­ble­foot’ Thal. All of these gui­tarists have ex­panded upon what is con­sid­ered ‘nor­mal’ tech­nique by hit­ting, tap­ping and strum­ming their gui­tars with such items as thim­bles, Allen keys and hair combs to pro­duce new ex­per­i­men­tal sounds. A drum­mer cre­ates a buzz roll by drop­ping the stick onto the drum head and al­lows it to re­peat­edly bounce at high speed. On the gui­tar we can use the same tech­nique us­ing the whammy bar and a string.

Zil­toid­ian Tun­ing Ok we ad­mit it, Zil­toid­ian tun­ing isn’t com­mon ter­mi­nol­ogy on this planet, but this ten­u­ous link gives us a chance to talk about the open C tun­ing used by Zil­toid’s main earthly cham­pion Devin Townsend. Devin was in­spired to use the tun­ing af­ter hear­ing Jimmy Page’s play­ing on the Led Zep­pelin track, Friends. Open tun­ings are a great way to dis­cover new av­enues of cre­ativ­ity and will make you play things you might not have thought of in stan­dard tun­ing. The idea is that the open strings are tuned to the notes of a chord which means all of those notes can be in­cor­po­rated and al­lowed to ring out to cre­ate a rich, open sound. Devin’s (and there­fore Zil­toid’s) ap­proach is based on the open C tun­ing which is es­sen­tially the notes of a C chord, C G C G C E from low to high. One cool side ef­fect of this tun­ing is that scale shapes use the same fin­ger­ing on each string; ex­per­i­ment and see what you come up with.


Zortz­ico is a tra­di­tional dance rhythm orig­i­nat­ing from Basque which is in a 5/8 me­ter. The sim­plest way to count 5/8 is a bit like a bar of 3/4, but with an 8th note re­moved. 3/4 time is counted: ‘one and - two and - three and’, so 5/8 would be: ‘one and - two and - three’ and so on. This way it is easy to see that 5/8 is es­sen­tially a trun­cated 3/4 bar. The notes can be di­vided up into smaller sub groups to cre­ate ac­cents. The Zortz­ico rhythm is typ­i­cally di­vided into ‘1, 2, 2’, but can also be re­versed ‘2, 2, 1’.

Mat­tias Ek­lundh uses a comb to cre­ate buzz rolls

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