Modern The­ory

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

Irec­om­mend to my stu­dents that they break up their prac­tice time into four parts. The first area of prac­tice is tech­nique, which is to cre­ate a mus­cle mem­ory of scales, arpeg­gios, tri­ads and dou­ble stops. Mus­cle mem­ory is cru­cial if you want to play fast or im­pro­vise. Con­stant rep­e­ti­tion of tech­ni­cal ex­er­cises will al­low you to re­call scale pas­sages or arpeg­gios in­stantly, while think­ing about what key or chord you are play­ing over, at the same time as you lis­ten to what is be­ing played around you.

Ear train­ing is the next area. This means lis­ten­ing to other gui­tarist’s so­los and writ­ing down or tran­scrib­ing what they are play­ing. Tran­scrib­ing other peo­ple’s so­los will al­low you to build up a li­brary of ideas that you can tweak to make your own. If you have never tran­scribed be­fore, start small with just one phrase or a cou­ple of notes, then work your way up to tran­scrib­ing whole so­los and songs.

If you can’t read mu­sic, learn how to. It doesn’t take long to learn, and a good start­ing point is Hal Leonard’s

Gui­tar Method Book1. Buy it, then prac­tice for ten min­utes per day – you’ll be read­ing in no time.

The third area is to de­velop your un­der­stand­ing of mu­sic the­ory. Un­der­stand­ing ma­jor scale har­mony is a good start­ing point, as it helps you un­der­stand how chord pro­gres­sions work. Un­der­stand­ing the ma­jor scale is also the first step in un­der­stand­ing how to use the modes when im­pro­vis­ing. Modes are es­sen­tially the ma­jor scale start­ing and fin­ish­ing on any other note than the first note of the ma­jor scale.

The fourth area is to im­pro­vise, and record your­self while you do it. Lis­ten back to what you have done and find your own voice through self-eval­u­at­ing. Jam with as many peo­ple as you can in as many dif­fer­ent styles as you can. Be­ing great at tech­ni­cal ex­er­cises is im­por­tant, but in­ter­act­ing with other mu­si­cians is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent skill and it needs just as much prac­tice.


Ex­er­cise #1 is purely a tech­ni­cal ex­er­cise I like to use to build up co-or­di­na­tion be­tween my fret­ting and pick­ing hand. Make sure you play this ex­er­cise to a metronome. For years, I prac­ticed tre­molo pick­ing, or al­ter­nate pick­ing. I de­vel­oped my al­ter­nate pick­ing to the point where I could al­ter­nate pick 32nd notes faster than I could down pick 16th notes. I de­vel­oped this ex­er­cise to prac­tice my down pick­ing. This ex­er­cise should be crab-walked. This means you should only ever move one fin­ger at a time on your fret­ting hand, the idea be­ing it will help you with fin­ger in­de­pen­dence.

This ex­er­cise should build co­or­di­na­tion be­tween your hands, work on your al­ter­nate and down pick­ing speed, and also help you with fin­ger in­de­pen­dence – it’s like the NutriBul­let of tech­nique ex­er­cises.


Sweep pick­ing may not be a tech­nique you wish to ap­ply to your own mu­sic. It is, how­ever, a tech­nique that re­quires a lot of con­trol and pa­tience to learn. Pretty much, if you can work out how to sweep, there is not much you can­not do on the gui­tar.

Ex­er­cise #2 builds on arpeg­gio ideas from my pre­vi­ous two ar­ti­cles. The arpeg­gio we play is an A mi­nor arpeg­gio. To make the pat­tern fit neatly into the bar, I have started the arpeg­gio on an E note, which is the 5th de­gree of the A mi­nor chord. The up and down strokes are no­tated so you can see how I like to sweep this arpeg­gio.

You can pick the notes on the high E string, but I pre­fer to ham­mer-on and pull-off these notes, par­tic­u­larly at faster tem­pos.

The first bar out­lines the arpeg­gio in eighth note triplets. The sec­ond bar halves that time value to 16th notes triplets. Try com­bin­ing this arpeg­gio with some of the other mi­nor arpeg­gios we have al­ready cov­ered.


Ex­er­cise #3 out­lines a di­min­ished arpeg­gio. Again, the notes val­ues are halved for the sec­ond bar to 32nd notes, so its best to star t out at a slower tempo.

I also rec­om­mend play­ing with less dis­tor­tion than you might nor­mally use. You want to make sure that each note is clear and ac­cu­rate, and this is eas­ier with a cleaner tone. Be­ing a di­min­ished arpeg­gio, the same pat­tern can be re­peated up and down the fret board a mi­nor third higher or lower.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.