To add more harmony in between the positions, we can connect minor triads with diminished triads. In Ex. 5, we alternate between Bdim triads and Am (A-C-E) triads. This approach creates a horizontal movement that can work nicely in a traditional setting like the minor blues or a I7-IV7-V7 progression.

Since the key of A minor is relative to the key of C major, we can also add C major triads for more diversity. In Ex. 6 we move up and down the neck by combining minor, diminished, and major triads. Try creating your own motifs with this approach as a way to add energy to a static vamp.

Whenever I compose or perform, I always pay attention to how I can incorporate the open 1st, 2nd, and 3rd strings. Adding tension with open strings really takes advantage of the guitar’s unique design. Ex. 7 begins with a series of C major triads, but we make one important change: We replace every note that would fall on the 2nd string with an open B, all while keeping the rest of the C major triad intact.

To make things a little more moving and interesting in Ex. 8, we’ll use an up-down-down-down picking pattern that is common in folk music and Gypsy jazz. The open 1st string will serve as an alternative to the expected fretted note. This creates a more arpeggiated sound and our open-string antics bring out some unusual accents.

We’ll take the same approach in Ex. 9, but this time I’ll throw the open 2nd string into the mix as well. Overall, I think this makes for a more intriguing listen.