Seasons greetings and Happy New Year Premier Guitar readers and welcome back to Lethal Guitar! Let’s start out the New Year with a bang in our fourth installment of “The Shredders Ph.D.” I recently learned that this is one of the most popular series ever featured on premierguitar.com. I’m thrilled that you guys are getting into it and I love all your comments! Thank you guys, I really appreciate it. And while I’m at it, I’d also like to thank Rusty Cooley for his comments on my myspace page. Thanks Rusty, you rock!
So far in our shredding series we’ve covered some pretty challenging picking drills. This month we’ll continue in that vein but we will also explore some melodic possibilities within a major key. Hopefully by now you’re acclimated to the basic chords within a key i.e. I, IV, and V are major, ii, iii, and vi are minor and vii° is diminished (thus the degree° sign symbolizing diminished, the + sign for augmented). If you’re not familiar with the concepts of a key check out previous editions of Lethal Guitar in the Premier Guitar archives or my web site.
So, we can gather from this that since there are seven chords per octave we’re only utilizing seven tones out of the potential twelve per octave. In this lesson we’ll center on the seven available tones/chords and the other five present in the octave. The five tones that are not present in the major scale are considered passing tones. These passing tones are typically harmonized with diminished chords when ascending and augmented chords when descending. The examples given here today illustrate two-string arpeggios covering a major key (D) with diminished arpeggios ascending and augmented arpeggios when descending, over the passing tones. Technically, the difficulty is in that each of the arpeggios consists of three notes or an odd number. Thus your picking pattern reverses with each repetition, i.e. down-up-down on one repetition and up-down-up on the next. This is tough but well worth the practice for awesome picking development. I’ll give two approaches to today’s lesson, both equally as challenging as the other. Buckle up…
1. First we cover the major key of D ascending and descending, strictly alternating our picking pattern with each repetition. As we ascend we cover all the common and uncommon tones in the octave- D, d#°, em, f°, f#m, g°, G, g#°, A, a#°, bm, c°, c#°, D. When we descend D, c+, c#° a#+, bm, g#+, A, f#+, G, f+, f#m, d#+, em, c#+, D. Notice that when ascending we’re dealing with straight chromaticism but when we descend we break the chromatic pattern in order to properly resolve the augmented arpeggios up one half step to a chord/non chord tone. This can present more of a challenge for the fretting hand but that’s a good thing. Since any note can be the root in an augmented chord an easier resolution is to think of the augmented chord as the dominant of the chord it’s resolving to. This exercise does not lend itself to this vantage point but illustrates the nuts and bolts resolution.
2. In this example we follow a similar idea but with a twist in how we move from one chord/non-chord tone to another. I suggest trying this approach first starting with a down stroke and then starting with an upstroke, for maximum picking benefits.
There you go Lethal Guitar readers, another edition of The Shredders Ph.D. Remember when you practice these, use a metronome and practice with a clean tone first. Start out at a slower tempo and gradually build speed. Usually no more than five beats per minute increase on your metronome per week. If this is a challenging workout for you, consistent practice (every day) over an extended period of time is the key to success. Thanks for tuning in and keep those emails and comments comin’. See you next month.
Jeff Beasley holds B.A. degrees in Music and Classical Guitar. He offers his readers 30 years of experience in studio, teaching and performance. He is on the National Guitar Workshop faculty in Nashville, TN. Jeff's CD "Tiebreaker" is available through CD Baby, Guitar 9, and Jeff's website; GuitarSource3.com
. Jeff holds endorsement agreements with Peavey, DiMarzio, RKS, THD, Ensotec, Robert Keeley, Knucklehead and In Tune.