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String Theory: How to Compose and Improvise Melodies Over a Chord Progression, Part 2

The following content is related to the March 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

String Theory: How to Compose and Improvise Melodies Over a Chord Progression

Welcome to String Theory, a new column dedicated to imparting guitar-centric music theory concepts in a practical, useful way that you can readily apply to composing and improvising. Rather than show you a bunch of dry, abstract textbook examples of how chords are built from and live within various scales, I will try to keep things interesting and inspiring by presenting etudes.

The Aftermath: My SG's Snapped Headstock Is Repaired and Ready to Rock

So last Thursday, I brought my Gibson SG Faded Special with the snapped-off headstock to my pal Matt Brewster, luthier extraordinaire, all-around great guy and owner-proprietor of 30th Street Guitars in New York City. He had the guitar completely fixed, restrung and ready to rock by Monday ...

Man Down at Guitar World HQ: Don't Lose Your Head(stock)

I had just gotten to work in the morning and went to sit down at my desk, right next to where I had precariously balanced my Gibson SG Faded Special before leaving work the previous day. I inadvertently bumped into the guitar, causing it to slide and fall sideways onto the floor, which is concrete covered with a thin carpet.

Guitar 101: Mastering Rhythm and Syncopation, Part 2 — 16th Notes, Rests and Dotted Rhythms

In part 1, we learned how to count and play basic rhythms in 4/4 time and subdivide beats into eighth notes by counting "one and, two and, three and, four and, one and, two and, three and, four and," etc.

Guitar 101: How To Play Fast, Part 1

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!

Book Review: 'Sound Innovations for Guitar' by Aaron Stang and Bill Purse

Finally, somebody came out with a beginner instructional guitar method book series for adults and teenagers that’s not an outdated, depressing turn-off that makes you want to throw your guitar off a cliff after having struggled to learn embarrassingly unsatisfying versions of the audience favorites “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Three Blind Mice.”

Guitar 101: Learning Harmony Through Six-Note Hexatonic Scales, Part 4

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.

Guitar 101: Learning Harmony Through Six-Note Hexatonic Scales, Part 3

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!

Guitar 101: Learning Harmony Through Six-Note Hexatonic Scales, Part 2

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).