Fret­board flu­ency

This month Martin Gould­ing be­gins a new mini-se­ries ex­plor­ing ex­tended har­mony. In his first ar­ti­cle he in­ves­ti­gates the ma­jor 7, 9 and 13.

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON | FRETBOARD FLUENCY -

Wel­come to this month’s col­umn on de­vel­op­ing fret­board flu­ency, with the first in a four-part se­ries ex­plor­ing ex­tended har­mony. Start­ing off with our ba­sic tonic ma­jor 7 chord, we’ll work through the ma­jor 9 and ma­jor 13 forms ar­ranged in five shapes. We’ll then study two ap­proaches for cre­at­ing ex­tended ar­peg­gios: the first – sim­ply adding the triad from the next con­sec­u­tive scale de­gree to our ba­sic ma­jor 7 arpeg­gio; and the sec­ond – su­per­im­pos­ing other ar­peg­gios from the key. In ad­di­tion to our ex­tended chords and ar­peg­gios, we’ll also be look­ing at some of the other com­mon four-note forms such as the ma­jor add 9 and ma­jor 6th, which we can use to add colour to the ba­sic tonic chord tonal­ity. Through­out the les­son, we’ll be fo­cus­ing on a range of ideas that we can ap­ply to our arpeg­gio forms, in­clud­ing the use of chro­matic en­clo­sures, ex­tended range shapes and se­quences.

On all arpeg­gio-based ex­am­ples, we’ll be us­ing our usual legato ap­proach, which com­bines ham­mer-ons and pull-offs with sweep strokes for a smooth and even tone. As well as pick­ing lightly and ham­mer­ing down firmly and from a height, the qual­ity of your ex­e­cu­tion will also de­pend on ef­fec­tive use of mut­ing, so fol­low the rule that the first fin­ger on the fret­ting hand mutes the lower ad­ja­cent string, while the pick­ing hand palm mutes off any unat­tended strings be­neath the fin­gers.

The di­a­gram op­po­site gives an over­view of our stan­dard G ma­jor 7 chord, along with G ma­jor 9 and G ma­jor 13 ar­ranged across the fret­board in five shapes. The the­o­ret­i­cally pos­si­ble G ma­jor 11 is not gen­er­ally used, as the 4th (11th) – which is a semi­tone higher than the 3rd in the chord, is con­sid­ered dis­so­nant. The ma­jor 9 can be heard in many con­tem­po­rary jazz and rock styles, whereas the ma­jor 13 is pre­dom­i­nantly used in jazz, due to its fully ex­tended and more so­phis­ti­cated sound. The in­ter­vals of our ma­jor 13 chord, with all the con­sec­u­tive 3rds in­cluded, give us the for­mula: R-3-5-7-9-11-13. With too many notes in this for­mula for us to be able to play all at once, we’ll omit cer­tain notes to ar­rive at a voic­ing.

The 11th is our ‘avoid’ note and is there­fore omit­ted. The 5th de­gree, which func­tions pri­mar­ily to sup­port the root note is of­ten left out, as well as the 9th de­gree. The most im­por­tant in­ter­vals that de­fine the sound of the ma­jor 13 chord are root, 3rd, 7th and 13th.

Work through these root based maj7 ideas slowly un­til mem­o­rised, be­fore prac­tic­ing over this month’s back­ing track. Re­mem­ber that the mut­ing tech­niques de­scribed are vi­tal to this style, so make sure you give them their own prac­tice time if they are not fa­mil­iar.

Next time we’ll look at ex­tended ideas based around the ii mi­nor 7 tonal cen­tre.

NEXT MONTH Martin looks at more fret­board nav­i­ga­tion, in­tro­duc­ing more ex­ten­sions

Jim Hall was a master at us­ing ex­tended chords in his play­ing

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