In The Wood­shed

This month, Rockschool’s Char­lie Grif­fiths looks at the tri­tone or ‘Devil’s In­ter­val’ as a dou­blestop, aka diad, aka chord frag­ment. Let’s go dark!

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON | IN THE WOODSHED -

the notes in a trit one doubl e-stop can be seen as eit her a frag ment of a di­mini shed chord or of a dom­i­nant chord

Last month we in­tro­duced the tri­tone in­ter­val and used it in a va­ri­ety of mu­si­cal set­tings both melod­i­cally and har­mon­i­cally. The tri­tone is an in­ter­val span­ning three whole tones, or you could think of this as two notes six semi­tones apart. If you al­ready know a root-5th pow­er­chord, you can start with that, then drop the higher note down one semi­tone. When played si­mul­ta­ne­ously, these two note cre­ate a dis­so­nant and dra­matic sound which can have a lot of ap­pli­ca­tions in var­i­ous gen­res.

This month we will fo­cus on us­ing the tri­tone dou­ble-stop as a chord frag­ment. These two notes can be seen as a frag­ment of ei­ther a di­min­ished chord, or as part of dom­i­nant chord. The first ex­am­ple is in­spired by Robert Fripp’s King Crim­son style and uses the E tri­tone dou­ble-stop over an E bass note, so in this case we hear this chord as an E di­min­ished sound us­ing the in­ter­vals 1-

Bb

(E and notes). The jazzy Ex­am­ple 2 shows that by play­ing the tri­tone a tone be­low the root we can cre­ate a dom­i­nant 7th sound, us­ing in­ter­vals 1-3-

We have five ex­am­ples from ‘70s prog, to jazz, to funk, to metal-core. These var­i­ous gen­res re­quire var­i­ous tone shap­ing el­e­ments so these should be con­sid­ered in or­der to get the best re­sults from each spe­cific tri­tone sound.

Ex­am­ples 3 and 5 use a dis­torted tone, in this case best achieved by us­ing the bridge pickup for a nice present, cut­ting at­tack. Set your amp for a nice high-gain sound with lots of mids and enough low end to add punch, but not too much that it be­comes flabby. You may want to go easy on the tre­ble for Ex­am­ple 3 so those high dou­ble-stops don’t sound too pierc­ing; ex­per­i­ment with get­ting the bal­ance right be­tween the low and high chords.

For the re­main­ing ex­am­ples a clean sound is best. You should try dif­fer­ent pickup op­tions. Does the part sound best with bridge, neck or an in-be­tween set­ting? You can also try ad­just­ing your vol­ume and tone con­trols to help shape the sound. That jazzy Ex­am­ple 2 might sound smoother with the tone rolled down, but the funky Ex­am­ple 4 could ben­e­fit from lower guitar vol­ume so the chords don’t sound too harsh and brit­tle.

Play each ex­am­ple slowly and con­cen­trate on mak­ing the notes crisp and clean, tak­ing time to re­peat tricky ma­noeu­vres un­til they en­ter your mus­cle mem­ory. Prac­tise with a metronome and speed up grad­u­ally un­til you can com­fort­ably play along with the back­ing tracks we’ve pro­vided. Lastly, since tri­tones are dis­so­nant any­way, as dou­ble-stops they can sound very ugly if not per­fectly in tune.

NEXT MONTH Char­lie looks at all the voic­ings and ex­ten­sions of the 7#9 ‘ Hen­drix chord’

Robert Fripp’s King Crim­son style in­spired Ex­am­ple 1

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