Randy Rhoads: Rhoads to Success
FIGURE 7 illustrates how Rhoads took the concept of alternating sixth-string-root and fifth-string-root scale patterns and applied it to a hybrid scale that combines the minor pentatonic with the Aeolian mode on the top two strings. This mode, which is also known as the natural minor scale, is intervallically spelled 1 2 f3 4 5 f6 f7. In this example, Rhoads begins each position on the fifth string with the D minor pentatonic scale (D F G A C), switching the D Aeolian mode (D E F G A Bf C) for the top two strings. Once you get the hang of connecting these scale patterns, apply this concept to different keys and starting points on the fretboard.
In one of Rhoads’ lessons, he outlined scale patterns delineated as being based on the “melodic minor scale.” Melodic minor, in the traditional sense, is intervallically spelled 1 2 f3 4 5 6 7, the same as the major scale but with a minor third in place of a major third. The scale patterns illustrated in FIGURE 8 are actually based on a combination of the E Dorian (E Fs G A B Cs D) and E Aeolian (E Fs G A B C D) modes, with both the major and minor (flatted) sixth used. In two of the four positions shown, these scale shapes fall symmetrically on the fretboard, which makes them very comfortable for improvisation.
In order to expand on the previous material, Rhoads introduced the concept of chromaticism by adding a “chromatic note” to minor pentatonic scales. As shown in FIGURE 9, the flatted fifth is added to the C minor pentatonic scale, yielding what’s commonly called the C minor blues scale (C Ef F Gf G Bf).
Another thing Rhoads stressed to LaFond is the importance of learning to play major triads across and up and down the entire neck. FIGURE 10 illustrates a few of the many A major triad (A Cs E) shapes on the fretboard, starting in second position and culminating in 18th position.
In covering both minor and major scale patterns, chord forms and musical concepts, Rhoads discussed the “importance of being able to write, arrange and solo utilizing the blues scale, major scales and minor scales.” He also stated that, while major scales have a “happier” sound, minor scales convey a feeling of “tension.”
One of the last things Rhoads showed LaFond was the “soloing tips” shown in FIGURE 11. LaFond received this lesson when Rhoads returned home from being out on the road with Ozzy Osbourne. He recalls, “I got a call from Delores Rhoads that Randy would be back in town briefly and wanted to get together with a few students. I felt privileged to be one of those few. I think Randy loved teaching as much as playing.”
FIGURE 11 presents a few different ways to get more mileage out of the basic scale positions previously shown. In bar 1, the major third is added to riffs based on the G minor pentatonic scale, along with an indication of which notes in this position can be bent up one whole step. In bar 2, G minor pentatonic is moved up to sixth position, and includes the flatted fifth, Df (first string, ninth fret). Bar 3 represents a shift to the parallel G major pentatonic scale (G A B D E), and bar 4 demonstrates a way to move up to G Dorian in 10th position, as well as a G major (G B D) triad shape played up in 15th position.
“I must admit,” says LaFond, “I had built up quite a bit of confidence as a result of studying with Randy Rhoads. I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to get that final lesson with Randy to review all that I had accomplished.”
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