Shaun Bax­ter con­tin­ues his se­ries on map­ping out the fret­board us­ing two-string clus­ters of notes called ‘cells’. This month: five-note cells.

Guitar Techniques - - TALK BACK -

Shaun Bax­ter con­tin­ues on his quest to give you to­tal knowl­edge of the finger­board.

string-pairs, the fin­ger­ing will re­main the same in ev­ery oc­tave (per­fectly sym­met­ri­cal), pro­vid­ing both phys­i­cal and vis­ual con­ve­nience: e& A; D & G; and B & e.

For ex­am­ple, an Am triad (three­note en­tity) can be ar­ranged on the lower string-pair (sixth and fifth strings) as fol­lows: (3-0) A-C-E (2-1) A-C E (1-2) A C-E (0-3) - A-C-E So, that’s four pos­si­ble con­fig­u­ra­tions that can each be shifted up in oc­taves onto the other string-pairs (fourth and third strings, and sec­ond and first strings) with­out chang­ing shape.

Fur­ther­more, each en­tity (here, Am) can be played in dif­fer­ent in­ver­sions depend­ing on the start­ing note. For ex­am­ple, in this case, it is pos­si­ble to play three dif­fer­ent in­ver­sions of Am by start­ing from a dif­fer­ent note each time: A-C-e; C-e-A (A has been taken off the front and placed on the end); and e-A-C (A and C have been taken off the front and placed on the end). And, like the orig­i­nal in­ver­sion, all the oth­ers can be con­fig­ured in the same four dif­fer­ent ways on each string-pair (3-0, 2-1 etc). In the first few lessons of this se­ries, we looked at play­ing two, three and four-note cells across three oc­taves via var­i­ous string-pairs. To­day we will fo­cus on five-note cells.

Th­ese can be con­fig­ured as fol­lows within each string-pair: 5-0; 4-1; 3-2; 2-3; 1-4; and 0-5. note that dif­fer­ent ways of play­ing the same thing will pro­vide us with dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties. Also note that five-note cells are par­tic­u­larly ap­pli­ca­ble to pen­ta­tonic scales (all of which have five notes per oc­tave).

As usual, once you have worked through the var­i­ous prac­ti­cal ex­am­ples in this les­son, you should es­tab­lish some use­ful shapes of your own in each of the CAGeD pat­terns of the var­i­ous scales that you know.

es­tab­lish the var­i­ous pos­si­ble note­con­fig­u­ra­tions (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 the fol­low­ing:

You don’t have to play some­thing from the root of the un­der­ly­ing chord or scale that you are us­ing. You can ap­ply ideas start­ing from any note of that scale. You are not obliged to play all three oc­taves each time, as this will se­verely limit your mu­si­cal ap­proach. in­stead, you might want to use two ‘cells’, or even just one: the im­por­tant thing is that the mu­si­cal

Note that dif­fer­ent ways of play­ing the same thing will pro­vide us with dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties via new tech­ni­cal op­por­tu­ni­ties.

idea might spring from the un­der­ly­ing ‘con­cept’ of string-pair cells.

Don’t for­get to work out the in­ver­sions too (five-note en­ti­ties have five in­ver­sions). You may need to use tap­ping for some shapes when they are played lower down the neck, whereas you may be able to pick ev­ery note when play­ing higher up; be pre­pared to adapt your tech­nique ac­cord­ing to the sit­u­a­tion. Also, don’t just play fast ideas, or you’ll sound bor­ing and repet­i­tive - the point of learn­ing any new tech­nique is to use it ex­pres­sively.

The fol­low­ing ex­am­ples are all based around five-note string-pair ‘cells’ that ex­ist within A Ae­o­lian (A-B-C-D-e-F and G). The in­ten­tion is to help you to start build­ing up a use­ful reper­toire of shapes and lines for you to be able to draw upon when im­pro­vis­ing.

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