Shaun Baxter continues his new series devoted to extending your range on the fretboard. This month he introduces three-octave patterns.
compressing the information into a single string-pair, so that the same shape ('cell') can be shifted over different octaves via the other string-pairs.
For example, the five-note Am pentatonic scale can be arranged on the lowest stringpair as follows: (5 - 0) - (4 - 1) G (3 - 2) E-G (2 - 3) D-E-G (1 - 4) C-D-E-G (0 - 5) A-C-D-E-G
So, six configurations that can each be shifted in octaves onto the other string-pairs without having to change shape. it’s the symmetry that’s important here. Because it’s consistent the shapes are easy to remember and it’s a great way of organising notes on the fretboard.
each entity can be played in different inversions depending on the starting note. for example, in this case it’s possible to play five different inversions of Am pentatonic by starting from a different note each time: a) A-c-D-e-G; b) c-D-e-G-A; c) D-e-G-A,-c; d) e-G-A-c-D; and e) G-A-cD-e. And, like the original inversion, all of the others can be configured in the same six different ways on each string-pair.
In the first lesson of this new series, we looked at playing two- and three-note entities across three octaves via various string-pairs; in this lesson, we are going to focus on four-note entities (7th arpeggios). These arpeggios can be configured as different numbers of notes played on each string-pair, as follows: 4-0; 3-1*; 2-2; 1-3*; and 0-4. (*These are suitable for sweep picking, because there is an odd number of notes on each string.) Different ways of playing the same thing will provide us with many interesting permutations.
once you have worked through the various A-C-D-E-G A-C-D-E A-C-D A-C A examples in this lesson, try to come up with shapes of your own in each of the cAGeD patterns of the various scales that you know.
Make sure you establish the possible note-configurations (cells) in a systematic way, and audition each one against a backing track so that you can hear it in context, making a note of your favourites and experimenting with various ways of employing them in the most musical ways. But remember, you don’t have to play from the root of the underlying chord or scale that you are using; you can apply ideas starting from any note of that scale.
Also, you are not obliged to play all three
This same principle is exploited by piano players; namely, the practice of taking whatever they play and shifting it up or down over many octaves.
octaves each time, as this will severely limit you dynamically. instead, you might want to use one or two ‘cells’ instead: the important thing is that the musical idea might spring from the underlying ‘concept’ of three-octave cells. Don’t forget to work out the inversions too (four-note entities have four inversions).
You may need to use tapping for shapes played lower down the neck, whereas you may be able to pick every note when playing higher up the neck; so be prepared to adapt your approach accordingly.
finally, and most importantly, don’t only play fast ideas or you’ll sound predictable, whereas the aim is to be expressive.