CRE­ATIvE ROCK

Shaun Bax­ter con­tin­ues this se­ries with some fine licks us­ing the Dom­i­nant Pen­ta­tonic scale.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

What’s the best Pen­ta­tonic scale to use over a straight­for­ward Dom­i­nant chord? If you’re not sure, try a few op­tions over each of the chords in the fol­low­ing pro­gres­sion.

(1-b3-4-5-b7) The Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic scale will work as a bluesy ef­fect in an ex­tended static one-chord vamp but, be­cause of the Mi­nor 3rd, it will sound strange if you try this scale from the root of each chord in the pro­gres­sion shown above. Ma­jor Pen­ta­tonic (1-2-3-5-6) works bet­ter, but its 6th note doesn’t re­ally fit each chord. Try it! It’s a scale that works well in coun­try mu­sic but, of­ten the 6th de­gree is also in­cluded within the chord (so, the above pro­gres­sion would be G6-F6-A6-F#6). How­ever, when it comes to play­ing over static Dom­i­nant chords in dif­fer­ent keys, there’s only one safe choice: the Dom­i­nant Pen­ta­tonic scale. Dom­i­nant Pen­ta­tonic 1-2-3-5-b7 It works well be­cause it con­tains all the es­sen­tial chord tones for a Dom­i­nant chord. In fact, it’s got the same notes as a 9th arpeg­gio. We can also think of the Dom­i­nant Pen­ta­tonic as be­ing like the Ma­jor Pen­ta­tonic with a flat­tened 7th de­gree, in­stead of a 6th: A Ma­jor Pen­ta­tonic: A-B-C#-E-F# 1-2-3-5-6 A Dom­i­nant Pen­ta­tonic: A-B-C#-E-G 1-2-3-5-b7 By tak­ing the tra­di­tional two-notes-per-string shapes of A Ma­jor Pen­ta­tonic, and rais­ing each 6th (F#) a semi-tone higher (keep­ing it on the same string), so that it be­comes a flat­tened 7th (G), we get the five shapes shown in Di­a­gram 1. Note that each one is based around a ba­sic G7 chord shape and fits per­fectly within the CAGED sys­tem.

The mu­si­cal ex­am­ples for this les­son are based around var­i­ous CAGED shapes of the A Dom­i­nant Pen­ta­tonic scale, and are medium in pace. As men­tioned pre­vi­ously, most rock play­ers have far fewer mid-paced ideas than they do very fast or slow ones, so this will be a good op­por­tu­nity to start build­ing your mid-paced Dom­i­nant line vo­cab­u­lary. For every prin­ci­ple stud­ied, try to come up with your own vari­a­tions, and make sure that you can also play equiv­a­lent se­quences in all of five CAGED shapes of the Dom­i­nant Pen­ta­tonic scale.

Fi­nally, if you are in­ter­ested in jazz and fu­sion, note that the Dom­i­nant Pen­ta­tonic can also be used over other chord types:

m7b5 • From the of a chord • From the 4th of m7 chord • From the and of a 7alt chord • From the 2nd of a 9#11 and a maj7#11 chord

Lis­ten­ing back to the au­dio that ac­com­pa­nies this les­son, and you might agree with me that some of the lines evoke the late Alan Mur­phy. Alan, an English rock-fu­sion gui­tarist, who died in 1989 aged only 36, was ac­tive as a ses­sion mu­si­cian in the 1980s – at a time when there was still a ses­sion scene in Lon­don. I re­mem­ber see­ing him play reg­u­larly with his jam­ming band SFX (who were also Fender’s demo band) at The Crick­eters, Ken­ning­ton, in the early to mid 80s (there is a link to a live gig recorded in 1981 at www.alan­mur­phylive.com/au­dio/ au­dio.html). SFX acted as an ef­fec­tive call­ing card for Alan and from it, word got around, help­ing him to end up as a side­man to acts such as Nick Hey­ward, Go West, Mike & The Me­chan­ics (lis­ten to his solo from Silent Run­ning), Kate Bush and Level 42.

G7 / / /, / / / / A7 / / /, / / / / F7 / / /, / / / / F#7 / / /, / / / /

For this se­ries, I have gone back to a more ba­sic bluesy sound, whereby the amp is clean and all the dis­tor­tion comes from a pedal: in this case, a Wam­pler TUMNUS with the gain set at 2pm, the level at 2:30pm and the tre­ble at 11pm. Licks like the ones in this les­son tend to sound bet­ter with­out too much gain, so opt for a sim­i­lar sound us­ing your own set-up.

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