Shaun Bax­ter shows how to use tri­ads that ex­ist within the Mixoly­dian mode in or­der to cre­ate lines that shift lat­er­ally along the neck.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Shaun Bax­ter ex­plores more ideas around the Mixoly­dian – this month, di­a­tonic shapes.

Re­cently, we’ve looked at ways of de­riv­ing tri­ads from A Mixoly­dian in or­der to use them as the ba­sis for new musical lines. Tri­ads can help to in­tro­duce har­monic propul­sion into your sin­gle-note lines by im­ply­ing chord mo­tion, cre­at­ing re­sults that sound both ear-catch­ing and pow­er­ful. In the pre­vi­ous les­son, we looked at cre­at­ing Mixoly­dian lines by tak­ing the scale’s parental triad (the one start­ing from the root) and shift­ing it lat­er­ally along the neck. In this les­son, we’re go­ing to ex­pand on that by look­ing at how all of the tri­ads within the Mixoly­dian mode can be used in this man­ner; how­ever, first, we should start by re­vis­ing the con­cept of tri­ads and how to de­rive them from any given scale.

Tri­ads are con­sid­ered to be the pri­mary colours of West­ern mu­sic. De­vel­op­ing the abil­ity to ex­tract them from a scale and play each note in­di­vid­u­ally as part of a sin­gle-note line will help to give your play­ing a fu­sion-like so­phis­ti­ca­tion. When im­pro­vis­ing, many self-taught play­ers use a ‘lin­ear’ ap­proach com­pris­ing ‘steps’ (in­ter­vals of a tone or less), whereas tri­ads are com­posed of big­ger in­ter­vals, called ‘leaps’ b3rd (in­ter­vals of a or greater). This ‘ver­ti­cal’ ap­proach in­creases the har­monic con­tent to each musical idea, help­ing it to sound both stronger and fresher. Tri­ads com­prise three suc­ces­sive scale ‘3rds’. Here are the ones from within A Mixoly­dian (A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G): A triad: A C# E 1 3 5 Bm triad: B D F# 1 b3 5 C#dim triad: C# E G 1 b3 b5 D triad: D F# A 1 3 5 Em triad: E G B 1 b3 5 F#m triad: F# A C# 1 b3 5 G triad: G B D 1 3 5 Be­cause they are ex­tracted from the scale, the above tri­ads are known as be­ing ‘di­a­tonic’ to A Mixoly­dian. De­spite the list, it’s not al­ways im­por­tant to think of the name of each triad as you ex­tract it from a scale when you im­pro­vise. In­stead, it’s pos­si­ble to merely recog­nise triad ‘shapes’ within each scale. All the above tri­ads are cre­ated by tak­ing notes of A Mixoly­dian (A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G) and play­ing ev­ery other note from that point (A-C#-E then B-D-F# then C#-E-G etc). Your aim, through for­mal ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, is to es­tab­lish a se­ries of friendly shapes (rather than the­o­ret­i­cal con­cepts) that ex­ist within each par­tic­u­lar scale pat­tern; al­low­ing you to use the in­for­ma­tion in a much more in­tu­itive way.

Di­a­gram 1 shows the var­i­ous CAGED shapes of A Mixoly­dian and the dark notes rep­re­sent the parental A triad notes that ex­ist within each shape. Of all the tri­ads in the scale, this is the strong­est, and many of your lines should hinge on th­ese notes.

Di­a­gram 2 shows how all the CAGED shapes link to­gether along the neck, so that you can see how ev­ery­thing is con­nected. Note that many ideas will strad­dle two dif­fer­ent CAGED shapes at the same time. It’s im­por­tant to be able to vi­su­alise this or you’ll get lost. 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.

Fi­nally, when ex­per­i­ment­ing, you should work at es­tab­lish­ing vo­cab­u­lary that stems from each of the five CAGED shapes of ev­ery scale that you know: not just Mixoly­dian. Also, re­mem­ber to work at cre­at­ing ideas that have some form of rhyth­mic in­ter­est too, as this is a great way help to make tri­ads less me­chan­i­cal – af­ter all, we’re play­ing mu­sic, not ex­er­cises. Have fun!


tri­ads can help to in­tro­duce har­monic propul­sion to your sin­gle-note lines by im­ply­ing mo­tion

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