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Give your playing some organ-style flavor with these fresh melodic approaches

Last month, we took an introductory look at an early composition of mine, 2.65, a bluesy shuffle that was originally recorded for my 1994 album, Strat’s Got Your Tongue

As I mentioned, the guitar part is intended to emulate the block-chording sound of a Hammond B3 organ via the use of descending and ascending triads played against syncopated bass notes, just as a B3 player will add rhythmic accents with the left hand in the “spaces” left by the right hand. Together, the two hands create a swinging groove that’s free to alternate between simpler or more complex rhythmic syncopations.

In the previous column, I detailed the tune’s first theme, or “A” section, which is centered in the key of A and features triadic forms built from the A Mixolydian mode (A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G). Following the initial eight bars, I modulate down one whole step to chordal forms based on G Mixolydian (G, A, B, C, D, E, F) for four bars then return to the original musical idea played in bars 1-8. 

At this point, the arrangement modulates once again, this time up one and one half steps, from A to C. This section of the tune is the focus of this month’s column.

(Image credit: Future)

As shown in bars 1-4 of Figure 1, this third element in the tune modulates the chordal-melodic idea up to triadic forms based on the C Mixolydian mode (C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb). 

The first two chord voicings in this section have been moved over to the top three strings, after which I return to triadic forms played on the D, G and B strings. In bars 5 and 6, the idea modulates once again, this time up a whole step to D Mixolydian (D, E, F#, G, A, B, C), played in a manner nearly identical to bars 1-4. 

Then the last two bars of the eight-bar form present a resolution that brings us back to our original “home” key of A major, via the V (five) chord, E7#9, followed by G9, three frets higher, capped off with chromatic chord movement, from G#9 to A9.

(Image credit: Future)

Figure 2 offers a slightly different take on the introductory triadic forms that are based on C Mixolydian. Here, I remain on the top three strings as I descend through five different voicings. I first learned this type of guitar phrase from the Beatles song, Yer Blues, included on The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album).

Bars 3 and 4 of Figure 2 show the lick in the key of B, which is how it appears on the Beatles record. When I get to the final G9 chord in Figure 1, I like to sound a staccato bass note before adding vibrato to the higher notes, as shown in Figure 3, which then leads us back to our tonic chord, the A9. 

(Image credit: Future)

I encourage you to memorize these Mixolydian voicings and then begin to incorporate them into your own compositions and musical excursions, as “mobile” chording invites new avenues for both songwriting and improvisational ideas. 

Greg Koch

Greg Koch is a large human who coaxes guitars into submission in a way that has left an indelible print on the psyches of many Earth dwellers. Visit GregKoch.com to check out his recordings, instructional materials, signature musical devices and colorful hats.