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A great method for creating inventive lines for primary riffs, rhythm parts or solos is to limit one’s focus to just two strings and maintain this two-string approach in the development of long melodic phrases. I have found that doing this forces me to think and play “outside the box,” so to speak, and usually yields surprising results and very cool licks that I may not have otherwise discovered.
Let’s look at an example of this concept. FIGURE 1 is in the key of E minor and is played entirely on the B and high E strings. The line is based on a combination of the E Aeolian mode, also known as the E natural minor scale (E Fs G A B C D), and the E Dorian mode (E Fs G A B Cs D).
Notice that the only difference between Aeolian and Dorian is the sixth scale degree: within the structure of Aeolian, the sixth is minor, or “flatted” (C in the key of E minor), and in Dorian, the sixth is major (Cs in the key of E minor).