Anyone who’s ever made an effort to learn some music theory knows that one of the biggest turn-offs is the sound of the major scale harmonized in triads (three-note chords). But before you dismiss the intellectual approach to learning music as being hopelessly tedious and uninspiring, realize that it doesn’t have to be that way.
One of the first progressions many guitarists tackle when learning to improvise in the jazz idiom is the ii-V-I. This common three-chord progression can be found in countless jazz tunes, and improvising over these chords in a convincing fashion is a must-know skill for any budding jazz guitarist to have under their fingers.
Veil of Maya released their latest album, Eclipse, back in February on Sumerian Records, and just in case some of those guitar parts have you scratching your head, we're kicking off a series of exclusive lessons with guitarist Marc Okubo to show you some key cuts off the album.
In this Sick Lick, I use a combination of the blues scale (Pentatonic flat 5) and the Diminished Scale in the key of E Minor. These two scales are, by far, my favorites. They create very aggressive sounds and are adaptable to all kinds of music. I'm incorporating the use of my left thumb to actually fret notes on the neck. Now I'm not doing this in the traditional form where we may use our thumb to play bass notes; rather, I'm bringing my thumb from around the back of the neck to fret on top of the fretboard.
Last month, we analyzed the densely layered rhythmic blend of tresillo, backbeat and triplets that powered many classic New Orleans-based R&B hits. This month, we'll look at the city's unique spin on one of the fundamental grooves of humanity itself: the two-beat.
Before Dream Theater took off I used to teach a lot, and one of the things my students often asked me was how to apply the chromatic scale to practical playing situations. You see, their other teachers would give them chromatic warm-up exercises without providing any explanation of how important and versatile this scale actually is. For the next few months, I'd like to show you how to use the chromatic scale, not just as a tool to build chops but as a melodic device to add color to your playing.
In this Sick Lick, I am using the E diminished scale. This is one of my favorite scales. Not only does it create a powerful sound; it also works very well with the pentatonic scale and can be adapted to anything from jazz to metal. I incorporate a lot of three- and six-string arpeggios while using the diminished scale. It's a great way to move around the guitar at speed, and it creates a real intensity in your soloing.
In this lesson, we are going to learn a chromatic pattern that will allow you to shred over blues, country and any other scenario that could call for a major pentatonic sound. It works over major and dominant chords, particularly around I-IV-V scenarios and other similar progressions.
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.