Shaun Baxter shows how to use inversions of the same triad in order to shift along the neck and create exciting new Mixolydian lines.
Shaun Baxter blends more bluesy ideas with the Mixolydian – this month, stacking triads.
In previous lessons, we’ve looked at ways of deriving triads from A Mixolydian to be used as the basis for new lines. Triads can introduce harmonic propulsion into your lines by implying chord motion, creating results that sound ear-catching and powerful.
So far, we’ve looked at the ‘vertical’ use of triads whereby ideas have been confined to a single area of the neck; however, now we’re going to look at playing ‘lateral’ ideas: ones that take us
along the neck. Rather than deal with all the potential triads within a scale, we’re just going to focus on the ‘parental’ triad: the one that stems from the root note. In A Mixolydian, the parental triad is A: A-B-C#-D-E -F#-G b7 1-2-3-4-5-6- A Mixolydian: A-C#-E 1-3-5 Here, the A triad represents the most stable notes: the notes of rest as far as the ear is concerned; consequently, it should act as the backbone or basis when building lines.
Diagram 1 shows the various CAGED shapes of A Mixolydian and the dark notes represent the A triad notes in each shape. It is vital to start building your lines around these notes, so why not take your existing vocabulary in each shape and forge the two together in various ways.
Diagram 2 shows how all the CAGED shapes link together along the neck, and it’s this particular scheme that forms the basis of this lesson.
Most players who are new to using triads find it difficult to make music using leaps (intervals of a minor 3rd or greater) rather than steps (intervals of a tone or smaller); however, through perseverance it’ll soon become possible to use triads naturally. Because of their vertical nature (often featuring just one note per string), sweep picking is a recommended approach if you want to play triads (especially large ones) at speed. Also, where consecutive notes on different strings occupy the same fret, you will have to employ a barre roll. This technique involves using the same finger to play two consecutive notes on different strings within the same fret. When following a note on a thicker string with a note on a thinner string, you would fret the note on the thicker string with the tip of the finger and then play the note on the thinner string by flattening the same finger against it. The pressure on the fingertip should be released so that you don’t end up holding both strings down at once: you should aim to make only one note sound out at any particular time.
Conversely, when following a note on a thinner string with a note on a thicker string, you would fret the note on the thinner string with the underside of the finger so that you have enough finger left over to play the following note on the thicker string by pushing the elbow forward so that the fingerprint part of the same finger can be flattened against it. Again, only one finger should be held down at any one time so that notes do not run into each other. This separation can be helped by using the side of picking hand to rest lightly on the bridge in order to slightly palm mute throughout.
Finally, when experimenting, you should work at establishing vocabulary that stems from each of the five CAGED shapes on, not just Mixolydian, but every other scale that you know – all these ideas are perfectly transferable to any other scale. Also, remember to work at creating ideas that have some form of rhythmic interest, as this is a great way help to make triads sound more musical and less mechanical. And seamlessly infiltrating triads into your regular scalic licks is definitely the way forward.
In the following lesson, we look at ways of taking the principles that we have used here with the parental triad and applying them to the other triads that exist within the scale.
many players new to using triads find it difficult to use intervals of a minor 3rd or greater