STRING SKIP­PING In a range of styles

Play­ing on non-ad­ja­cent strings can make you sound sur­pris­ing and so­phis­ti­cated. And it’s not just a rock thing, as Richard Bar­rett ably shows.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS - Richard Bar­rett

As as­pir­ing soloists, we gui­tarists are given plenty of ad­vice in­volv­ing the learn­ing or prac­tis­ing of scales, or per­haps play­ing melodic lines to pol­ish our skills, if we’re not quite so ‘aca­dem­i­cally’ in­clined. Though all of th­ese ap­proaches are ab­so­lutely sound – and struc­tured lines are ar­guably an es­sen­tial part of any solo, they don’t take ac­count of the fact that in­ter­val­lic skips can play a very im­por­tant role in melodic de­vel­op­ment. In­ter­vals that may not al­ways fall eas­ily un­der the fin­gers, but sound nat­u­ral to the lis­tener - who may not play guitar, but ap­pre­ci­ates a great melody or solo.

The ap­proach I have taken in this ar­ti­cle is to pre­sume some scale knowl­edge; pri­mar­ily the five Pen­ta­tonic shapes and the Ma­jor and Mi­nor scales, both ‘in po­si­tion’ in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions on the fret­board, and in a more linear fash­ion along a sin­gle string. It’s not that you would need to go and study th­ese scales be­fore be­ing able to learn or use th­ese ex­am­ples, but it is un­de­ni­ably use­ful to have some sort of con­text to base our­selves on, or the range of pos­si­bil­i­ties is some­what daunt­ing. The trick (if there ever truly is one) is not to be­come sub­servient to pat­terns, sys­tems or con­ven­tions (un­less they make you par­tic­u­larly happy). Even then, it would be wise to keep an open mind – most peo­ple’s play­ing de­vel­ops in phases, and favourite licks can come and go. Some­times it’s when we play un­char­ac­ter­is­tic things and take risks that we lis­ten back and feel sur­pris­ingly pleased with what we hear. On other oc­ca­sions, we might feel cer­tain that we’ve ab­so­lutely nailed it, only to lis­ten back and be strangely unin­spired. Ei­ther way, it will have been a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – so if you don’t reg­u­larly record your­self im­pro­vis­ing, start to­day. It doesn’t need to be high qual­ity, as the record­ings would be purely for your ref­er­ence. And if you’re re­ally se­ri­ous about rais­ing your game, use a metronome, drum ma­chine or beat­box to give your­self a rhyth­mic struc­ture. It’s far too easy to be for­giv­ing when you’re able to shift the tempo freely.

You’ll no­tice that some of th­ese ex­am­ples in­cor­po­rate some very wide jumps across the strings. All but the si­mul­ta­ne­ously picked notes are pos­si­ble with reg­u­lar al­ter­nate style pick­ing, though there are def­i­nite ad­van­tages to hy­brid or fin­ger­pick­ing; more on this later. The 12 ex­am­ples are de­signed to show a range of pos­si­bil­i­ties, skip­ping one, two, three or even four strings. You will no­tice that wider jumps re­sult in more un­usual and non-linear phrases, though there are cor­re­spond­ingly fewer pos­si­bil­i­ties if we limit our­selves purely to play­ing four strings apart. Th­ese ideas are de­signed to be­come a part of your style, rather than a re­place­ment for the more con­ven­tional ap­proach. The two ex­am­ple so­los aim to show a few string skip­ping ideas in con­text, firstly in a rock style, then tak­ing a leaf out of Steve Howe’s book with a much cleaner tone and a more ‘prog rock’ feel . All the ex­er­cises can work over ei­ther back­ing track. I hope you en­joy them!

th­eSe IdeaS are de­SIgned to be­come a part of your Style, not a re­place­ment for the more con­ven­tIonal play­Ing ap­proach

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