Shaun Baxter continues to delve into the Mixolydian mode, stacking triads to create new and interesting blues-rock lines.
Part two of Shaun Baxter’s exploration of Mixolydian triads
In the previous lesson, we looked at ways of deriving triads from A Mixolydian to be used as the basis for new musical lines. Triads introduce harmonic motion into your line by imposing one chord sequence on top of another (in this case, the sound of moving triads over a static A7 vamp) making your lines sound a lot stronger than simple scale-step-based ideas. In this lesson, rather than play a triad from each note of the scale (as we did in the previous one), we are going to look at ways of stacking triads on top of each other within the confines of a single scale shape; however, before we dive into the musical examples, we’ll need to revise the principles studied so far.
Triads comprise three successive scale ‘3rds’. Here are the ones that exist within A Mixolydian (A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G): A C# E A triad – 1 3 5 B D F# Bm triad – 1 b3 5 C# E G C#dim triad – 1 b3 b5 D F# A D triad – 1 3 5 E G B Em triad – 1 b3 5 F# A C# F#m triad – 1 b3 5 G B D G triad – 1 3 5
It’s not important to think of the name of each triad as you extract them from a scale when you improvise. Instead, it’s possible to merely recognise triad ‘shapes’ within each scale. Every one of the above triads is created by taking any one of the notes of A Mixolydian (A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G) and then playing every other note from that point (A-C#-E then B-D-F# then C#-E-G etc).
When exploring ways of constructing single-note lines from triads, it’s important to acknowledge that we can play any of the following mathematical permutations from the scale. Three-note sequences (order of notes: 1-3-5 1-5-3 3-1-5 3-5-1 5-1-3 5-3-1 Four-note sequences (order of notes): Criteria: all three notes used; only one note repeated; same note cannot be played in succession, in other words consecutively. 1-3-5-1 1-3-5-3 1-3-1-5 1-5-1-3 1-5-3-1 1-5-3-5 3-1-5-3 3-1-5-1 3-1-3-5 3-5-1-5 3-5-1-3 3-5-3-1 5-1-3-5 5-1-3-1 5-1-5-3 5-3-1-3 5-3-1-5 5-3-5-1
Although we will only be applying these permutations to root inversion shapes in this lesson; it is also possible to apply them to first and second inversion shapes:
First inversion – 3 (lowest pitch), 5 (middle pitch), 1 (highest pitch)
Second inversion – 5 (lowest pitch), 1 (middle pitch), 3 (highest pitch)
Most players who are new to using triads find it difficult to make music using leaps rather than steps; however, through perseverance, it’ll soon become possible to use triads as a natural vehicle for expression. The ideal scenario is to be able to play sequentially using scales and intersperse arpeggios in a seamless and musical way – just as the great jazz-rock guitarists do.
Finally, remember to try working at creating ideas that have some form of rhythmic interest, as this is a great way help to make triads more musical and less mechanical, or like exercises.
it’s not important to know the name of each triad in every scale, but recognise ‘shapes’ in each scale as you play them