E Diminished Lick

Today I’m excited to present you with this new guitar lick, in E Diminished. The pattern takes advantage of the symmetry within the Diminished Chromatic scale, and can be used to add some spice to your playing.

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In the example at the start of the video, I’m improvising over 2 bars of Em, then playing the above pattern, improv’ for 2, then the pattern.

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Arpeggios 1 – Maj, Min & Dim Triad Arpeggios

Arpeggios form a neat middle-ground between chords and scales – you’ll be voicing chords in a manner similar to playing a scale. Today we’re going to cover the three different triads that appear in the Major Scale. A Tonic Triad, as you should know, is built by stacking thirds in your given scale, so the formula for each is as follows:
Major:              R          3        5
Minor:              R        m3      5
Diminished:     R        m3      b5
In each of these we start with our root note, (the 5th fret on the E string), and then play the third. In the case of A Maj this is the 4th fret on the A string, but the 8th fret of the E string for the other two. Our fifths are on the 7th fret of the A string, but flattened to the 6th fret for A Dim. All our Octaves are on the 7th fret of the D string.
We’re playing all of these arpeggios in A, which should allow you to see the differences between each triad. As with scales, it’s important to keep to the one-finger-per-fret rule.

           Well, now what? I’d suggest trying out each of these in various positions on the neck, remembering that they are moveable shapes, (you can play them rooted on the A string as well).
Once you’re happy you can move them around a bit, try applying them to the Nashville Numbering System and see if you can play arpeggios for every chord within a given key using both the E and A string as roots.

Chromatic Scales

All the scales you’ve learnt so far have probably been Diatonic ones. A Diatonic Scale is one that ascends and descends in a pre-ordained pattern of Tones and Semitones. A Chromatic Scale is derived from a much smaller pattern. In this lesson we’re going to learn the two Chromatic Scales that have the most musical potential, (that doesn’t mean they sound great by themselves though!)

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As implied by the brackets, the Whole Tone Scale can comfortably be played over an Augmented Chord.


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It’s much easier to play this scale outside of a box pattern.. If you attempted to learn the pattern starting on roughly the same fret, like we normally do, you would probably struggle as there’s basically no memorable pattern.
The Whole-Half Scale can be used over a Diminished Chord.

Many guitarists will try and tell you that Chromatic Scales are only useful as an exercise to improve finger dexterity and left-right hand coordination.  There are, however, some much more rewarding applications – try out the following:
– Ascend a Major or Minor Scale, but descend with either of these Chromatic Scales.
 – Play normally over a chord progression, but dip in to either of these scales when you reach a Diminished or Augmented Chord.

The Locrian Mode

(Occasionally spelt “Lochrian” by awkward people)

The modern Locrian is interesting. It exists more as a theoretical entity, but derived just the same as the other modes. It’s very seldom used in music, as there’s not much in it that listeners want to hear, but it does exist and can be applied nonetheless. Moreover, if you’re going to learn the modes, you may as well learn all the modes.

Locrian is the 7th mode in the Major Scale, and most closely resembles the minor formula, so that will be our starting point.

B Natural Minor
R    2    m3   4    5   m6   m7
B   C#    D    E   F#   G    A

In the Locrian mode we flatten the 2 and the 5, (we usually call that a diminished fifth)

B Locrian Mode
R   b2   m3   4   b5   m6   m7
B    C    D    E    F     G     A

The oddness of this mode is largely down to the lack of the natural 5th, which can make resolutions just plain difficult. Below is the tab for B Locrian.

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As mentioned in the video, entire songs in Locrian are very rare and often unpleasant. The only example I’ve come across of a good-sounding song in the Locrian Mode is John Kirkpatrick’s Dust To Dust.

The Locrian Etude is currently being written, so in the mean time enjoy this 1, 4, 5 progression.

   I                                    IV                                    V
Cdim                               Fm                                 Gb
Cm7b5                            Fm7                             GbMaj7