Every musician should have a clear understanding of the fundamentals of rhythm. Even if you consider yourself an “ear player,” knowing how to count and play different rhythms while keeping a steady beat is a valuable skill that will help you in a variety of real-life musical situations. By learning the arithmetic of rhythm on paper, you’ll be able to accurately read and learn music from transcriptions, and you will no longer have to rely entirely on the recording for the timing and phrasing of the notes.
Back by popular demand, it's Jimmy Brown's classic Guitar World column, Guitar 101. In the first installment, Jimmy begins a 3-part series on one of the first things a new guitarist wants to do: play fast!
Over the past three columns we’ve looked at several cool-sounding hexatonic (six-note) scales and learned how to create new ones by combining two triads (three-note chords) that don’t duplicate any notes. Now I’d like to show you an easy way to transpose your favorite hexatonic scales to different keys and get more musical mileage out of them by viewing them from different harmonic perspectives.
At the end of my last column I promised you that we would continue surveying some more cool-sounding hexatonic (six-note) scales, with the emphasis gradually shifting toward the exotic. But first I need to address a small, but important, mistake that accidentally got printed in that lesson (June 2001 issue): the final chord in last month’s FIGURE 1, which was correctly labeled E, should have been tabbed two frets higher up the neck, as depicted here in FIGURE 1E. Sorry about that!
Last time we learned how to combine two completely different triads (three-note chords) to create a six-note hexatonic scale. Using E major and F# minor triads to illustrate, we generated the blissful, gospel-flavored E major hexatonic scale (E F# G# A B C#) and looked at some neat examples of the many things you can do with it. As I mentioned at the end of the lesson, there’s a virtual mother lode of cool and unusual hexatonic scales waiting to be unearthed. All you have to do to find them is combine any two triads that don’t share any common tones (hint: combining E major and E minor won’t give you six different notes because both triads contain E and B).
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.
In part 4 we covered quarter-note triplets, 16th-note triplets and sextuplets and learned how to create tricked-out hemiola licks by taking a repeating note pattern and changing its rhythm so that the pattern begins, or "pops," on a different part of the beat each time it's repeated (rhythmic displacement). Now we're going to dive deeper into the rhythmic realm and explore a new subdivision, quintuplets-five evenly spaced notes per beat-and learn how to create psychedelic "nightmare" licks.
Another relatively easy way to play fast is to use sweep picking, a technique in which the pick is dragged or "raked" across the strings, playing only one note per string. Sweep picking can be very useful for playing open-voiced arpeggios, as in FIGURE 16, and weird wide-interval licks, as in FIGURE 17, quickly and with minimal effort. When sweep-picking, be sure to mute each string with the left hand immediately after picking it to prevent the notes from ringing together and sounding like a strummed chord.