Shaun Baxter concludes his series looking at using sus4 triads to create contemporary-sounding blues-rock lines drawn from the Mixolydian scale.
Shaun Baxter with the last in this present mini series looking at sus4 triads in the Mixolydian.
The current series has been devoted to extracting various suspended 4th triads from within A Mixolydian as an antidote to just playing straight up and down the scale (ie using every note rather than extracting distinct flavours by being selective). In other words, working within the restrictions of a single concept like suspended 4th triads will help to force you out of your ‘usual’ step-based approach to scale playing and into less familiar, but fresher-sounding areas.
Suspended 4th triads sound modern, angular and airy and are created when the 3rd note of each triad is replaced by a 4th. Before we look at the musical examples within this lesson, let’s start with a reminder of how a suspended 4th triad is created. It’s 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 C# to create an A triad (A-C#-E). Because they sound ambiguous and non-committal, suspended chords are used a lot in modern styles like jazz-fusion, which tend to be more abstract in nature.
Here’s the list of suspended 4th triads available to us within A Mixolydian scale: A B C# D E F# G 1 2 34 56 b7 ADE Asus4 – 1 4 5 B E F# Bsus4 – 1 4 5 C# F# G C#dim sus4 – 1 4 b5 DGA Dsus4 – 1 4 5 E A B Emsus4 – 1 4 5 F# B C# F#sus4 – 1 4 5 G C# D Gsus#4 – 1 #4 5 Working out suspended 4th triad shapes from within a scale isn’t as difficult as it may look on paper. Basically, you just follow a logical progression: once you have established the notes of one sus4 triad, you simply move each note up or down to the next note in the scale in order to get the neighbouring sus4 triad within that key (scale). Commonly on guitar, you will get each one-octave triad fingered in one of four different ways: • Three notes on one string (3 configuration) • Two notes on one string and then one note on a higher string (2-1 configuration) • One note on one string and then two notes on a higher string (1-2 configuration) • One note on each adjacent string (1-1-1 configuration)
In this lesson, we will be focusing exclusively on lateral movement (up and/or down along the length of the guitar neck) as well as moving on to larger shapes.
Although we will be occupying different
scale positions, we are going to consider ‘lateral’ motion as involving the movement of equivalent ideas either up or down along the length of the guitar neck.
Once you have mastered the examples in this lesson, you should aim to establish similar ideas stemming from every one of the CAGED shapes of Mixolydian (and, eventually, every other scale that you use). Diagram 1 shows each of the CAGED shapes of A Mixolydian, and Diagram 2 shows how all of these shapes link up along the neck.
Remember, your aim, through formal experimentation with suspended 4th ideas, is to establish a series of friendly and flexible shapes (rather than theoretical concepts) that exist within each particular scale pattern, allowing you to use the information in a more instinctive and intuitive way. As with any other technique, it’s ultimately your own taste and discretion that will dictate which of these sus4 ideas work best for you.
Finally, and with that in mind, when experimenting with your own ideas remember to work at creating ones that have some form of rhythmic interest, as this is a great way help to make things sound more musical and less mechanical.
AS WITH ANY OTHER TECHNIQUE IT’S YOUR TASTE AND DISCRETION THAT DICTATE WHICH IDEAS WORK FOR YOU