Char­lie Grif­fiths chal­lenges the fin­gers with some stim­u­lat­ing se­quences and atyp­i­cal rhyth­mic phrases, but all based in the Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic and Blues scales.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Char­lie Grif­fiths gets to grips with some atyp­i­cal rhyth­mic phrases that will pro­vide a nice chal­lenge for the fin­gers.

You know the sce­nario. Just when you start to think you are pretty good at play­ing the Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic and Blues scales, you de­cide to cel­e­brate by lis­ten­ing to guys like Scott Hen­der­son, Eric John­son and Robben Ford. And then you re­alise that per­haps there’s more to it than clos­ing your eyes and bend­ing from the b7th

to the root. We jest, of course, but this month we’ll spend some time re­vis­it­ing two of the first scale shapes we ever learnt and ap­ply­ing some new con­cepts to them.

Eric John­son has an in­ter­est­ing way of us­ing un­usual se­quences and in­ter­val skips that sounds very fresh. One John­son trade­mark is the ‘se­quence of 5’. That means that you start from each note of the scale and as­cend or de­scend five notes. This cre­ates a cool re­peat­ing pat­tern, which can be a cool way of ex­pand­ing upon an idea dur­ing a solo and giv­ing the lis­tener some­thing to fol­low. Typ­i­cally in blues and rock mu­sic, se­quences of three and four are very com­mon, but the five is less utilised. The Pen­ta­tonic is made for a se­quence of five (the clue is in the name – Penta be­ing ‘five’ in Greek).

In Ex­am­ple 1 we have tran­scribed a de­scend­ing se­quence of five in shape 1 of the

(1-b3-4-5-b7). A Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic A sim­i­lar train of thought is con­tin­ued in Ex­am­ple 2, which is a de­scend­ing se­quence of six which moves through each note of the six-note A

(1-b3-4-b5-5-b7). Blues scale This time we have an added el­e­ment called ‘rhyth­mic dis­place­ment’. This means that the melodic pat­tern is grouped dif­fer­ently to the sub­di­vi­sion. In this case we have a six-note pat­tern played through­out a 16th-note struc­ture, so the ‘start­ing point’ of each group of six ends up mov­ing through and across the bar lines. Start­ing a rhyth­mic fig­ure on ev­ery down­beat can sound quite stale and pre­dictable so this is a fan­tas­tic tool for gen­er­at­ing cre­ative phrases and ex­pand­ing your rhyth­mic per­cep­tion in gen­eral. Just lis­ten to Scott Hen­der­son or Robben Ford and no­tice how in­ter­est­ing their phrases are.

Ex­am­ple 3 shows how you can make a stan­dard phrase more ex­it­ing us­ing rhyth­mic dis­place­ment. The melodic pat­tern here is a ‘se­quence of four’ start­ing on each note of the A Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic. The most ob­vi­ous ap­proach is to start the on the down­beat ev­ery four notes, but let’s ap­ply a bit of cre­ativ­ity and add a rest af­ter ev­ery four notes, so you play ‘1 2 3 4 rest’ and re­peat. Sud­denly, a very typ­i­cal pat­tern be­comes a less ob­vi­ous five-note phrase, which sounds much cooler and more cre­ative.

In Ex­am­ple 4 we take that con­cept fur­ther and re­use the se­quence of six we saw in Ex­am­ple 2 but this time we’ll add a rest af­ter ev­ery sixth note ‘1 2 3 4 5 6 rest’. This makes a seven-note phrase, which moves against the 4/4 back­beat in a very in­ter­est­ing way.

At first th­ese odd phrases will take some get­ting used to, but they very quickly be­come nat­u­ral with plenty of prac­tise. And, cru­cially, they will make you sound great. NEXT MONTH Char­lie chal­lenges your pinky’s pulling power with fourth fin­ger bends


Robben Ford: al­ways sounds in­ter­est­ing and so­phis­ti­cated

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