In part two of his series Allen Hinds demonstrates some smooth lead work over our slick-sounding backing track, Jon Bishop is your guide.
Last month, we started with the first in a series of six video masterclasses with LA guitarist Allen Hinds. In each issue one of the six performances will be transcribed and then analysed from a technique and music theory point view. You can learn the techniques and concepts with a view to broadening your vocabulary. The backing track by Jason Sidwell is included to practise over as an MP3 file on the CD.
In this instalment, we are going to look at the second track entitled Monkey Swagger. As Allen explains, his main focus at the beginning is on creating simple, memorable motifs and phrases that people could sing along with. As the tonality is D minor, the main scale of choice is D minor Pentatonic (D-F-G-A-C) and it is possible to make a lot happen with just these five notes. If a seven-note scale were to be used, D Dorian mode (D-E-F-G-A-B-C) would be perfect as it contains no ‘avoid’ notes (tones that are dissonant against the chord).
(Bb When the chords change major 7, A minor 7, G minor 7) Allen skilfully changes to
(D-E-F-G-A-Bb-C), D Natural minor which contains the same notes as the F Major scale from which all three chords are derived.
Allen hammers home the concept of playing chord tones (arpeggio notes) on the first downbeat of the bar as the chords change. This helps the melodies to fit in with the chords and sounds very informed. Many players do this by ear, but it’s also worth establishing a pathway or fretboard roadmap to navigate these target tones.
Allen also reminds us of the handy concept of using the Lydian mode over non-diatonic major 7 chords. In the case of this
Eb track, it’s the major 7 chord
Eb (Eb-F-G-ABb-C-D) for which the Lydian mode is his scale of choice. Allen finishes up with a couple of nuggets of wisdom: the first is to play a solo without the backing to make sure you can hear the chords being
implied and the second is when playing slowly and melodically, always sing along. The notation contains all of the fingerings, articulations and phrasing from the video performance. It would be well worth taking a close look at the way Alan fingers and picks the phrases. He has an incredibly smooth and efficient way of playing – no unnecessary energy is spent with fingers flailing around all over the place; each digit falls exactly where it’s needed, allowing him to then add personality and feel to each note or phrase.
There’s bound to be a new technique, lick or phrase in here for you to perfect. If so, memorise it and use it wherever the Dorian sound would be appropriate.
Once you have mastered some of Allen’s ideas, you could try creating a solo of your own over the backing track. Have fun and see you next time.
When playing sloW and melodic ideas, alWays sing along
Allen Hinds: one of the smoothest techniques around