In last month’s column, we learned
how scales and arpeggios can be combined
for the construction of line forms
(“Linear Transformations,” May 2011
). This month, we’ll continue exploring
the concept as an ongoing extension
of that information.
Similar to chord forms, linear structures
are based upon inversions, and
those inversions not only have identifiable
shapes, but also position themselves
in vertical and horizontal positions across
the fretboard. The linear arpeggios in our
previous study were vertical chord forms
that were “flattened” horizontally across
the staff with their “skeletons” functioning
as the arpeggios of the chord forms
themselves—specifically Em7 and Gmaj7
as relative forms.
Often, we use inversions that embody
identities that are very recognizable. These
shapes are the very skeletons that reside
within an improvisation. In Fig. 1
can see how we move from Ab dim to E7
and then Em7 on the lowest four strings.
(Note: In Ab dim, we’re spelling Cb enharmonically
as B to make it easier to see
the 6th-string common tone shared by all
Download Example Audio 1...
In Fig. 2
, we shift this same chordal
movement to the 4–3–2–1 string set. The
voice leading is exactly the same in both
examples, with F moving to E and then
Ab (or G#) moving to G. I have placed
arrows to indicate these movements.
Download Example Audio 2...
We can see the result of combining
both Em7 (or G6) voicings in Fig. 3
upper bracket indicates the shape from
Fig. 2 and the lower bracket indicates the
shape from Fig. 1.
Download Example Audio 3...
Chord forms and linear patterns are
very similar. Both have specific shapes,
and once they become familiar, these
shapes begin to appear as inversions and
transpositions across different areas of the
fretboard. You can see Fig. 4
as an example
of how to combine two separate linear
arpeggios—both of the forms illustrated
with vertical brackets in Fig. 1 now appear
horizontally. The arpeggios appear in red
(vertically beamed lower) while the upper
beams hold melodic additions completing
the full pattern.
Download Example Audio 4...
Once again, it’s essential to remember
that the pattern in Fig. 4 is not in any way
related to scalar or modal techniques. It is
the result of many years of familiarity with
chordal inversions, their shapes, substitutions,
as well as their positions. Fig. 5
the pattern we’ve discussed when viewed in
a standard format. It includes the addition
of an Em9 as the improvisational topic
because within the pattern we have an F#,
and it suggests a shape that’s very close to
that particular chord form.
Last but not least, it’s absolutely
essential to bring to your attention that
although this particular study on pattern
construction is effective, it’s not how I
build a solo. What I’ve chosen to share is
more like the analysis of a pattern after it’s
been played. Remember, it emerged at a
moment’s notice and the most important
facets of its description hopefully convey
greater insight on alternatives, as well as
on the prerequisites that have prevailed.
I’ll see you next time!
Since his first recording as a leader in 1967, Pat
Martino has constantly pushed the limits of jazz
guitar with his flowing technique and powerful,
muscular tone. Showing no signs of slowing
down, Martino still travels the world performing
and giving lectures about his approach to
the guitar. Currently, Martino is working on an
autobiography and serving as adjunct faculty
at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
For more info, visit patmartino.com