cre­ative rock

In the lat­est les­son in this re­cent mini-se­ries, Shaun Bax­ter cranks up the tempo and dif­fi­culty rat­ing by ex­plor­ing 16th-note triplets.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Shaun Bax­ter ups the ante in this ex­plo­ration of the Mixoly­dian and the mi­nor Blues scale.

In this se­ries we’ve been build­ing a work­ing vo­cab­u­lary in all five CAGED shapes, com­bin­ing Mixoly­dian with the mi­nor Blues scale over a dom­i­nant chord or tonal­ity. Be­fore we start dip­ping into the lines we should start with a re­cap, so that you un­der­stand the har­monic prin­ci­ples in­volved.

Strictly speak­ing, the Mixoly­dian mode fits best over a 7th chord be­cause it con­tains all the rel­e­vant chord tones; how­ever, the mi­nor Blues scale is also used as a form of ten­sion. This is be­cause many play­ers find the 'cor­rect' Mixoly­dian sounds too pretty when used ex­ten­sively over a dom­i­nant 7th chord: the mi­nor Blues adds a bit of ‘edge’ that creates a more or­ganic and earthy ef­fect.

Ba­si­cally, the mi­nor Blues scale (with its mi­nor 3rd) sounds dis­so­nant against a dom­i­nant 7th chord, whereas Mixoly­dian (with its ma­jor 3rd) sounds more re­solved; hence, both scales pro­vide us with the means to pro­duce ten­sion and re­lease in our licks.

We’ve seen in pre­vi­ous lessons how the dis­tinc­tion be­tween the two tonal­i­ties isn’t al­ways clear, as most blues, rock and coun­try play­ers will oc­cupy a tonal­ity some­where be­tween the two. In the tran­scrip­tion of the var­i­ous ex­am­ples in this les­son, you will see a mi­cro­tonal ‘curl’ that only hap­pens on the mi­nor 3rd. It’s where the mi­nor 3rd starts slowly inch­ing its way up to a ma­jor 3rd, but never quite gets there; lin­ger­ing in a har­monic no-man’s land be­tween mi­nor and ma­jor.

Di­a­gram 1 shows the neck in five dif­fer­ent ar­eas (in ac­cor­dance with the CAGED sys­tem). Make sure that you can ex­tract all of the fol­low­ing sounds in each po­si­tion - Dom­i­nant sounds: Mixoly­dian scale (1-2-3-4-5-6b7; dom­i­nant 7th arpeg­gio (A7) b7); (1-3-5- ma­jor Pen­ta­tonic scale (1-2-3-5-6). And mi­nor sounds: mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic b3- b7); (1- 4-5- mi­nor blues scale b3- b5- b7) b5 (1- 4- 5- [the is a ‘pass­ing’ note that needs to be han­dled with care]; Do­rian b3- b7), (1-2- 4-5-6- Do­rian blues b3- b5- b7) scale (1-2- 4- 5-6- Shift­ing up through the gears, di­a­gram 2 shows some stan­dard rhyth­mic sub­di­vi­sion in 4/4, start­ing rel­a­tively slow with eighth-notes and shift­ing up through the gears to 16th-note triplets. You don’t al­ways have to lock in to spe­cific rhythms like this, but it sets a good foun­da­tion, al­low­ing you to de­velop con­trol. If you’re al­ways float­ing above the mu­sic, you can’t prac­tise play­ing ac­cu­rately (in time). So far, we’ve gone through all of the rhyth­mic de­nom­i­na­tions in Di­a­gram 2 apart from the fi­nal one: 16th-note triplets, the fo­cus of this par­tic­u­lar les­son.

Even at mod­er­ate tem­pos, 16th-note triplets can be fast; con­se­quently, a lot of labour-sav­ing tech­ni­cal devices need to be em­ployed, such as sweep pick­ing and le­gato. Also, be­cause there’s less time on each note, there’s less time for ar­tic­u­la­tion, such as slides, bend­ing, vi­brato etc – th­ese can be in­tro­duced ei­ther side of each line. We can use other devices that will help to pro­vide ex­pres­sion and avoid pre­dictabil­ity such as pushed notes (notes played in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the down­beat) and rhyth­mic dis­place­ment (where, due to its odd length, a lick changes rhyth­mic em­pha­sis as it is re­peated).

All of the mu­si­cal ex­am­ples in this les­son are played over an A7 chord vamp. One of the fun­da­men­tal things to look out for in each is the in­ter­play be­tween C and C# (the mi­nor and ma­jor 3rds of A), as they de­note the main dif­fer­ence be­tween mi­nor ten­sion (here rep­re­sented by A mi­nor Blues scale) and ma­jor (or dom­i­nant) res­o­lu­tion (here rep­re­sented by A Mixoly­dian).

Both scales pro­vide us with the means to pro­duce ten­sion and re­lease in our sin­gle-note lines

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