When first learning to solo over 7th chords, most guitarists will begin by checking out the pentatonic and blues scales we all know and love, followed by the Mixolydain mode, which completes the fundamental trifecta for blowing on unaltered dominant chords. But what about altered dominant chords? When adding in b9s, #9s, b5s and #5s, all the “altered” notes of a 7th chord, suddenly these three scales just don’t cut it on the bandstand.
My approach to guitar is tonally a little different than most modern shredders, as I base all my playing around the pentatonic scale. Players like Shawn Lane and Eric Johnson do this better than anyone on the planet. But my approach is a little different again. I use the combination of sweep picking and three-string arpeggios to get around the guitar rather than focus on the scales in their natural form.
Working on scales in the practice room can sometimes seem like a one-handed event. Sure, the picking hand is there, and it may even be focusing on alternate picking, sweep picking or other picking technique, but beyond that, how deep do we really go with our right hand when practicing scales?
This style developed from the late 1960s, reaching its peak of popularity in the mid 1970s, and showcased the highest levels of musicianship through lengthy, epic and often highly intricate compositions. Bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Yes, Caravan, King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Rush would push the conventional boundaries of rock music, drawing inspiration from folk, classical, jazz and eastern styles, usually heavily themed around a central story, each track an element in an overall concept.
Fretboard tapping was a novel technique when Eddie Van Halen recorded his groundbreaking, legendary shred showcase piece “Eruption” for Van Halen’s 1978 debut album. With its spectacular application of fretboard tapping, the song quickly established tapping as an essential element within a new modern vocabulary of flash licks and tricks.
In last month’s column, I demonstrated a variety of ways to transform standard A minor pentatonic-based licks into modal runs and patterns using the A Aeolian mode (a.k.a. the A natural minor scale: A B C D E F G). This month, I will expand on the concept by applying a slight rhythmic variation to a standard A minor pentatonic pattern, again transforming it to A natural minor, and then examine these newly realized melodic shapes in different areas of the fretboard. We will then transpose the new melodic ideas to another very commonly used mode: A Dorian (A B C D E Fs G).
San Antonio's Upon A Burning Body are gearing up for the release of their new album, RED.WHITE.GREEN., which hits stores next week, and were nice enough to send over this exclusive video lesson featuring guitarists Chris Johnson and Sal Dominguez showing you some key riffs from the new album.
As much as I love guitar parts built from fast and hyper-syncopated power-chord figures, some of the heaviest riffs I’ve ever heard are built from single-note patterns alone. Legendary metal bands such as Metallica and Megadeth, as well as relatively newer groups like Children of Bodom, At the Gates and In Flames, have used crushing single-note riffs as the centerpieces of their most powerful songs. In this month’s column, I’d like to focus on how to construct interesting, heavy and deceptively complex single-note riffs.
American music—blues, jazz, R&B, country and all the rest—were formed from the blending and reblending of African, Caribbean and European musical elements in the social cauldron of these United States. New Orleans, Louisiana—a.k.a. NOLA—was a crucial first point of cultural contact and cited mainly as the birthplace of jazz, but by the early Fifties, New Orleans was also home to a distinctive style of rhythm and blues. The difference was in the rhythm itself. Records coming out of the city began featuring an unusual blend of ingredients like tresillo, triplets, backbeat, two-beat and second line (or parade beat).