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Shaun Baxter shows how bridging the gaps between notes close to each other, and further apart, can help us to create sophisticated lines.
Shaun Baxter bridges scale tones with chromatic passing notes for long, flowing lines.
Chromatic notes are non-scale notes that can add interesting forms of spice and tension to your playing. Significantly, you need to know how to resolve such tension if you are to apply it with control and avoid tuneless chaos. In the previous lesson, we learned how the easiest application is to approach a target note (scale or chord tone) either from a semi-tone below or above (note that, of the two, approaching from a semi-tone above is the most dissonant-sounding option). In this lesson, we’re going to look at developing things a bit further by seeing how two notes can be linked via a chromatic ‘bridge’.
The simplest form of chromatic ‘bridging’ is where a chromatic note is used to link two notes a tone apart. For example, a B note
Bb could be linked to an A note via a note.
It’s also possible to think in much bigger terms whereby we take two notes quite a lot further apart and simply fill in all of the gaps in between. For example, if travelling from a B note down to a G note, we
Bb- Ab- could go B- A- G.
The musical examples from this lesson all demonstrate how this chromatic bridging technique can be applied, combined with the chromatic approach note techniques studied in the previous lesson, to create some new line vocabulary for each of the CAGED shapes of A Mixolydian ( see Diagram 1).
Each CAGED shape provides unique physical opportunities to execute musical ideas that are more difficult to play in the other four and, for many practical reasons, it makes musical sense to have a different lick and line vocabulary in each shape (as opposed to transposing and learning the same idea in all five).
In the transcription of this month’s examples, the chromatic notes are shown in square brackets, just so that you can visually distinguish them from the ‘correct’ notes (in other words, that ones that belong to A Mixolydian and are not ‘outside’ it). However, this does not mean that they should be played as a ‘ghost’ notes (no rhythmic value): each chromatic note has a full note-value (usually a 16th-note in these examples) and should be played as loud and proud as any other note within the line.
It is important to remember that speed is an issue when applying chromatic notes. The longer you linger on a chromatic note, the more it will prolong the agony for the listener; conversely, the quicker you play, the more liberties can be taken as any tensions created are brief. The musical examples are generally based on 16th-notes played at 120bpm, which is suitably fleeting. As you reapply these same sorts of ideas at lower tempos, always remain mindful of the amount of tension being produced and adapt your approach accordingly.
Finally, also bear in mind that, due to the nature of the backing track, the examples could have been written out in 2/4 at twice the tempo (240bpm). This means that there would have been be four times as many bars and all lines would be written as eighth-notes rather than 16ths; however, each example is shown as being in 4/4 at 120bpm, as it’s easier to consider these lines as 16th-notebased since this is how you will most likely use them in most other musical settings.
Now get bridging! I’ll see you next time!
it’s possible to think in much bigger terms, whereby we take two notes much further apart and fill in all the gaps