CREATIVE rock

In this is­sue Shaun Bax­ter con­tin­ues to ex­plore ways of ap­ply­ing dif­fer­ent in­ter­vals to cre­ate ear-catch­ing Mixoly­dian lines.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Shaun Bax­ter with an­other les­son on us­ing blues-rock’s favourite Mixoly­dian mode.

In this cur­rent se­ries, we’ve been look­ing at ways of us­ing var­i­ous scale in­ter­vals to cre­ate a va­ri­ety of medium-paced ideas to fit in with your Mixoly­dian vo­cab­u­lary. So far, we’ve stud­ied 2nds, 3rds and 4ths, so log­i­cally in this les­son it’s the turn of 5ths.

Within the modes of the Ma­jor scale, each 5th in­ter­val will be one of two types: Di­min­ished fifth = three tones

Per­fect fifth = three and a half tones

To il­lus­trate this, have a look at Di­a­gram 1, which rep­re­sents the notes of D Ma­jor (and any of its modes, of which A Mixoly­dian is the fifth). If you start from any note, and then move in any di­rec­tion (clock­wise or an­ti­clock­wise) to an­other note that is four notes away (in other words, with an­other three scale notes in be­tween), the dis­tance is ei­ther (usu­ally) a per­fect 5th or a di­min­ished one (in this case, only be­tween C#-G).

Per­fect 5ths sound open and con­tem­po­rary, rather like 4ths. In fact, a per­fect 5th is an in­ver­sion of a per­fect 4th: for ex­am­ple, A up to E is a per­fect 5th (seven semi­tones), whereas A down to E is a per­fect 4th (five semi­tones).

As we saw in the pre­vi­ous les­son, the wave­forms cre­ated by 4ths and 5ths are more sta­ble and less dis­so­nant than other in­ter­vals (apart from oc­taves) when used with dis­tor­tion; con­se­quently, they work well when played as dou­ble-stops, and form the ba­sis of many clas­sic rock riffs.

Once you have ab­sorbed the var­i­ous con­cepts fea­tured within this les­son’s demo ex­am­ples, you should aim to ap­ply the same prin­ci­ples to the other scales that you know - shift­ing ideas up and down the length of the neck (lat­eral mo­tion), as well as stay­ing within the same neck area (ver­ti­cal mo­tion) - in or­der to de­velop use­ful reper­toire that you can draw upon when im­pro­vis­ing.

Also, by this stage in our study of in­ter­vals, you should be aim­ing to ex­e­cute each and all of the fol­low­ing ba­sic per­mu­ta­tions both up and down through each shape of a scale:

• A se­ries of as­cend­ing 5ths.

• A se­ries of de­scend­ing 5ths.

• A se­ries of 5ths that al­ter­nate be­tween as­cend­ing and de­scend­ing.

• A se­ries of 5ths that al­ter­nate be­tween de­scend­ing and as­cend­ing.

As well as try­ing other per­mu­ta­tions, such as: ‘Up, up down’ etc; and of course the many and var­i­ous con­fig­u­ra­tions on each 5th in­ter­val... • Low note + high note + low note (three-note mo­tif).

• High note + low note + high note (three-note mo­tif).

• Play­ing ideas that are a mul­ti­ple of two (2, 4, 8) to a triplet count.

• Play­ing ideas that are a mul­ti­ple of three (3, 6 etc) to a du­ple count (eighth-notes, 16th-notes etc).

Fi­nally, make a note of the most suc­cess­ful or use­ful ideas ac­cord­ing to your tastes, and try to see each one as a tem­plate that can be adapted: it’s bet­ter to have a few flex­i­ble friends that can be edited (ex­panded or com­pressed) to fit your pur­poses at any given mu­si­cal junc­ture than hun­dreds of rigid licks and lines that are set in stone; con­se­quently, you should prac­tise by lim­it­ing your ap­proach to just us­ing one line only and see­ing how much va­ri­ety and ex­pres­sion that you can cre­ate by vary­ing the rhythms, omit­ting notes, adding notes, ap­ply­ing bends and vi­brato to dif­fer­ent notes, etc.

Dur­ing this se­ries, the ob­ject is to build up a va­ri­ety of in­ter­val-based ap­proaches over the same dom­i­nant back­ing track us­ing A Mixoly­dian in con­junc­tion with the A Mi­nor Blues scale (that’s why the mu­si­cal ex­am­ples have been writ­ten out in the key of A rather than the par­ent key of D).

It’s bet­ter to have a few fle xi­ble frien ds that can be edite d to fit yo ur pur­poses than hun­dre ds of rigi d lick s

in each of this les­son’s demo ex­am­ples, are all taken from with A Mixoly­dian, and each of these sec­tions is flanked by A Mi­nor blue­sori­en­tated ideas. Note that, although var­i­ous 5th in­ter­vals might also be played within sur­round­ing mi­nor blues-based ideas, we are go­ing to ig­nore them, as they are purely in­ci­den­tal, and not part of the main con­cept high­lighted in each line.

Re­gard­ing this month’s back­ing track, most drum­mers would write out the drum part in 6/8; how­ever, for ease of read­ing on gui­tar, I have stuck to 4/4, view­ing the bass drum pat­tern as a quar­ter-note triplet rhythm. If your rhythm read­ing isn’t great; don’t worry about it: just read the tab and use your ears.

Fi­nally, once you have ab­sorbed the var­i­ous con­cepts stud­ied here, you should also aim to ap­ply the same prin­ci­ples to the other scales that you know in or­der to de­velop use­ful reper­toire that you can draw upon when im­pro­vis­ing. For ex­am­ple, you can also pro­duce A Do­rian equiv­a­lents for each of the GT ex­am­ples ideas (or your own) sim­ply by re­plac­ing any C# notes with C notes.

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