Repeating note ‘cells’
Shaun Baxter continues to increase your range on the electric guitar by exploiting the symmetry of the fretboard using seven- and eight-note cells.
helps physically and visually.
For example, a C maj triad can be arranged on the lower string-pair (sixth and fifth): Cell Sixth Fifth (3-0) C, E, G - (2-1) C, E G (1-2) C E, G (0-3) - C, E, G That’s four configurations that can 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, Cmaj) can be played in different inversions depending on the starting note. in this case, it is possible to play three different inversions of Cmaj by starting from a different note each time: C-E-G; E-G-C (C has been switched the end); and G-C-E, (C and E have been switched to the end). And, like the root position inversion, all the subsequent ones can be configured in the same four different ways on each string-pair (3-0, 2-1 etc).
In the first few lessons we looked at playing two-, three-, four-, five- and six-note cells across three octaves. For this lesson, we are going to focus on seven- and eight-note ones.
The seven-note cells can be configured as follows within each string-pair: 7-0, 6-1, 5-2, 4-3, 3-4, 2-5, 1-6, and 0-7. The seven-note cells are particularly suitable for any sevennote scale, such as modes like Aeolian, Dorian and Mixolydian.
The eight-note Cells can be configured as follows within each string-pair: 8-0, 7-1, 6-2, 5-3, 4-4, 3-5, 2-6, 1-7 and 0-8. The eight-note cells often feature unisons (due to comprising a seven-note scale with one note duplication); however, they can also be a convenient means of playing eight-note scales, like Diminished. Note that different ways of playing the same thing will provide us with different musical possibilities via new technical opportunities.
Once you have worked through the examples, try to establish some useful shapes of your own in each of the CAGED patterns of the scales that you know. 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. Make a note of your favourites, and experiment with various ways of employing them in the most musical ways.
remember you don’t have to always play from the root of the scale that you are using. You can apply ideas starting from any note of that scale. You are also not obliged to play all three octaves each time, as this will severely limit your musical approach. instead, you might want to use just two ‘cells’ or even just one: the important thing is that ideas spring from the ‘concept’ of string-pair cells.
You may need to use tapping for shapes lower down the neck, whereas you may be able to pick every note when playing higher up; so be prepared to adapt your approach. everything does not need to be played at top speed, so above all be expressive.
The following examples are all based around ‘cells’ that exist within A Aeolian (A, B, C, D, E, F and G), and can be taken over three-octaves via the various string-pairs. The intention is to help you to start building up a useful repertoire of shapes and lines that you can draw upon when improvising.
Seven-note cells are very suitable for any seven-note scale, such as aeolian, dorian, Ionian and Mixolydian.