Shaun Baxter replaces the 3rd of each triad with a 4th for a modern, ear-catching variation that will inject a different flavour into your solos.
Shaun Baxter replaces the 3rd in each triad with a 4th for a modern, infectious sound.
So far in Creative Rock, we’ve looked at ways of deriving triads from A Mixolydian and using them as the basis for new ideas: an approach that can be duplicated for all other scales too.
Triads can introduce harmonic propulsion into your single-note lines by implying chord motion; producing results that sound both ear-catching and powerful. In this new series, we will explore the use of a contemporarysounding variation where the 3rd note of each triad is replaced by a fourth in order to create a suspended 4th triad.
It is called suspended because, when played as a chord, it sounds like it’s hanging in the air, needing to resolve. For example, if you play Asus4 (A-D-E) it sounds like the D note needs to resolve to a C# or C in order to create a ‘stable’ A triad (A-C#-E) or A minor (A-C-E).
Because they sound ambiguous (no 3rd to state major or minor), suspended chords are used a lot in modern styles like jazz-fusion, which tend to be more abstract in nature. Let’s start by establishing the list of suspended 4th triads available to us within A Mixolydian: [same notes as C#dimsusb2]
As with many of the concepts that we’ve explored, it is important that you separate the academic deliberation involved in the ‘research and development’ process from the more instinctive use of the shapes that you have established through that study. In other words, although useful in establishing your theoretical options at the start, it’s important to reduce the information down to familiar shapes as soon as possible, rather than being overtly aware of the name of each particular triad being played in the heat of the moment. To do this, it is useful to break sus4 triads into their component parts so that we can learn to recognise what they look like on the guitar. A sus4 triad comprises an interval of a 4th from root to 4th, followed by an interval of a 2nd from the 4th to the 5th.
Within any mode of the Major scale (such as Mixolydian), there are three possible forms of suspended 4th triad (see Diagram 1), depending from which note of the scale you are constructing the triad.
Now, let’s look at transferring this information on to the guitar, so that we can start to recognise what it actually looks like on the fretboard. Start with your first finger on any note of A Mixolydian on the second string. In your mind’s eye (if you know the scale properly), you should be able to see if there is a scale note on the second string within the same fret (perfect 4th) or a fret higher (augmented or sharp 4th).
If the first interval is a perfect 4th, then the following interval will be either a semitone or a tone higher on the first string (again, you should be able to see this in your head if you know the scale well enough). If the first interval is an augmented 4th, then the following interval will always be a semitone.
For example, if you place your first finger on the D note at the 3rd fret of the second string (root of our triad), your next note in the scale will be within the same fret on the first