Con­tin­u­ing his look at nav­i­gat­ing the fret­board in string-pair cells, Shaun Bax­ter re­veals a neat way to play longer lines that hold the lis­tener’s in­ter­est.

Guitar Techniques - - NEWS -

Shaun Bax­ter con­tin­ues to ex­plore his string­pair cells – this month, it’s larger note group­ings.

avoid­ing the awk­ward third to sec­ond-string jump), pro­vid­ing phys­i­cal and vis­ual con­ve­nience. it’s a tech­nique that is very con­ve­nient on guitar and al­lows us to adopt a mu­si­cal ap­proach that’s used by ev­ery pi­ano player.

When com­pos­ing the ex­am­ples for the pre­vi­ous se­ries, i soon be­came aware that a lot of them fea­tured large group­ings (6,7, 9, 10, 11, 12 etc); so, i de­cided to save those up for this par­tic­u­lar les­son. The rhyth­mic note-group­ings that we are go­ing to look at in this les­son are not di­vis­i­ble by the un­der­ly­ing count (in this case, 16th-notes played to a 4/4 time sig­na­ture). So each one cre­ates an ef­fect known as ‘rhyth­mic dis­place­ment’; a phe­nom­e­non that oc­curs when a dif­fer­ent note ap­pears on the down­beat each time a mu­si­cal fig­ure is re­peated (thus chang­ing the fo­cal point for the lis­tener).

For ex­am­ple, in Di­a­gram 2 on the op­po­site page, look what hap­pens when we re­peat a five-note fig­ure to a 16th-note count (four notes per beat).First the 1 is on the beat, then the 5, then the 4, the 3 and then the 2, be­fore even­tu­ally re­turn­ing to the 1 to start the se­quence all over again (in this case, from the sec­ond beat of bar 2).

The ad­van­tage of us­ing this ap­proach with string-pair cells is that we can re­peat ex­actly the same idea (in this case, over three oc­taves) while avoid­ing sound­ing pre­dictable. It’s an ap­proach that pro­vides us with range, length of line, melodic in­ter­est and rhyth­mic in­ter­est; and pro­duces an in­ner mu­si­cal logic to each line, which helps to make it sound co­he­sive and ‘right’ for the lis­tener. In other words, the notes sound as if they be­long to­gether. Another bonus is that it re­duces the amount of thought re­quired. In­stead of hav­ing to keep think­ing and cre­at­ing for the whole du­ra­tion of the line, we merely have to con­struct a sin­gle mu­si­cal mo­tif and then shift it up or down in dif­fer­ent oc­taves.

Although it brings many mu­si­cal ad­van­tages, it can be tech­ni­cally chal­leng­ing if you are new to this par­tic­u­lar tech­nique as it re­quires a form of rhyth­mic spa­tial aware­ness. The acid test is that you must be able to tap your foot on each quar­ter-note through­out. This means that, rhyth­mi­cally, you re­main well-grounded; a bit like an ac­ro­bat who knows where the floor is mid som­er­sault!

If you ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fi­culty do­ing this, you should break down each ex­am­ple beat by beat, es­tab­lish the con­tents of each quar­ter-note, and then prac­tise inch­ing your way from one beat to the next. As in the pre­vi­ous se­ries, all of the fol­low­ing ex­am­ples are based around string-pair ‘cells’ that will work in A mi­nor

(see Di­a­gram 1). 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. Once you have done this, make sure that you can trans­pose your new vo­cab­u­lary to any key. Note, in the fol­low­ing ex­am­ples, although string-pair cells are used in each ex­am­ple, it is the rhyth­mic group­ing, not the string-pair cell, that is en­cased in a rec­tan­gle within the tran­scrip­tion. Fi­nally, where ac­cents are shown in the tran­scrip­tion, do your best to make these notes louder than the rest: it’ll make all the dif­fer­ence to the over­all ef­fect and make it sound less like ex­er­cises.

although it brings many mu­si­cal ad­van­tages, it can be tech­ni­cally chal­leng­ing if you are new to this par­tic­u­lar tech­nique.

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