I know I’ve been posting a lot of gear related items lately – and based on the statistics for site visits – this seems to be what people are primarily interested in – so this has driven the posting content recently.
While I’m happy to blog about gear (not incidentally, my 8 string Bare Knuckle Cold Sweat pickup came in last night and I squealed like Bobby Hill); I don’t want to get too far away from playing. With that in mind I’m putting a concentrated effort to get more lesson/performance posts up to rebalance the site a bit.
I’ll have a new chord-scale lesson up next week but in the meantime wanted to explain my performance/pedagogical approach to navigating the fingerboard with a fleet fingered pentatonic lick (yes, it’s reposted – but just like Thanksgiving leftovers – aren’t they still good on day two?).
GuitArchitecture? Sonic Visualization?
I wanted to take a moment and talk a little about GuitArchitecture, sonic visualization and re-examine a chestnut from the lesson page as a little – three for the price of one post.
In broad strokes, the GuitArchitecture concept is that the nature of the guitar’s fretboard and tuning lends itself to visualizing fingering patterns.
While patterns performed mindlessly can be a bad thing, they allow people to realize ideas more readily.
Through these patterns, musical structures can be realized and worked into larger sonic arrangements. More importantly, patterns can be associated with sounds and visualizing how to realize a sound by seeing its shape on the fretboard makes performing it easier. Hence the term Sonic Visualization.
In my forthcoming books – I have a lot of information on this topic as it applies to scales. When approaching scales – I see them as a series of modular two-string patterns that connect the entire fingerboard.
The GuitArchitecture Approach
Here’s an applied example of sonic visualization:
Let’s say I’m playing a solo over an E minor chord. As mentioned in a previous post – when soloing over a minor chord you can substitute a minor chord a 5th away (in this case B minor).
So if I’m thinking of using E pentatonic minor over the chord (E, G, A, B, D) I can also use B pentatonic minor (B, D, E, F#, A).
If you look carefully – you’ll see the only difference between the two is the F# and the G. Both notes sound good against E minor, so if we combine them we get a six- note scale (E, F#, G, A, B, D). Here is a sample fingering of the combined scales in the 12th position.
If that scale were fingered as a 2-string scale instead of a six- string box pattern – the same fingering pattern can be moved in octaves – thus eliminating the need for multiple fingerings. (This is the same approach I’m using on 8 string guitar btw).
Here is an mp3 (note mp3s are a little glitchy in Safari – if it doesn’t play you may just have to reload the page) and notation/tab for the descending scale:
* Fingering Note: I finger both patterns with the 1, 2 and 4 fret hand fingers on both string sets.
* Descending Picking Note: I play this with a modified sweep picking pattern
E string: up-down-up
B string: up-down-up
The picking pattern is the same for each string – but when I switch strings – it’s two up picks in a row.
Here it is ascending:
* Ascending Picking Note: I also play this with a modified sweep picking pattern
E string: down-up-down
A string: down-up-down
The picking pattern is the same for each string – but when I switch strings – its two down picks in a row.
If you’re used to alternate picking – you can use that approach as well but I try to apply the same picking pattern to all three-note per string patterns.
Practicing the pattern
In addition to focusing on the timing of the notes – it’s very important to practice slowly and only increase speed when both the timing (are all the notes being played with rhythmic equivalence?), tone (i.e. can you hear all of the notes clearly?) and hand tension (is your hand should be as relaxed as possible?) are all working together.
I’ve written a whole series of posts on practicing (Post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4, post 5, post 6 and post 7) that I’d recommend checking out if you haven’t already done so – but the simple principle here is to pay attention to what I call the 3 T’s in Performance: Timing, Tone Production and Tension.
This particular approach is challenging – particularly if you’re not used to the stretch. Just remember to practice in small focused increments and try to increase steadily over time.
For those of you who are interested, tone on this recording was the same AU Lab/Apogee/FNH combination that I detailed here:
Here’s a screen shot of the Pod Farm setting (The tone can be downloaded from line 6 here):
That’s all for now
I hope this helps! You’re free to download and distribute any of the lessons here but I maintain the copyright on the material.
I’m always looking for feedback on what people find useful and what they don’t so if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org