Site Meter

February 16, 2009

Countdown To Mardi Gras



It's a coming! We still have to dig out our old (prized!) beads from storage, pack, book a taxi to the airport... lots of things! BUT, the countdown to Mardi Gras has started. In just 4 days we'll be on a plane, headed west to Dallas then back east to The Big Easy.

Woo-hoo!!!!

First stop hotel room (to be decorated appropriately with a selection of beads!)

Next stop Bombay Club for a martini or two, perhaps rendezvous with friends old and new

Next stop? Maybe a parade... maybe a bar!

Next stop? Rebirth Brass Band at the Howlin' Wolf!

Wooooo-hoooooo!!!!

Meanwhile back in Guitar Land, UK. Teach from Rockschool suggested that a good strategy for improvising was to follow the changes and to try to emphasise the chord notes within the framework of, say, the minor pentatonic.

Now, I've had decent success with pentatonics in the past, but I've never really put any effort into targetting chord tones for emphasis. SO! I made a map! Do you want to see it? Do you? DO YOU?!?!

I started off by plotting out the minor pentatonic shape (G minor in the example). I then overlayed the I, IV and V chords along with the root note for each case. The idea was that I wanted to split up the big 'across the fingerboard', 2-octave boxes into smaller chunks which could then be used over each chord.

Here's an extended pentatonic pattern that I tend to use:

  0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13
e |---|---|--R|---|---|--O|---|--O|---|--O|---|---|--O|
B |---|---|--O|---|---|--O|---|--R|---|---|--O|---|--O|
G |---|---|--O|---|--O|---|--O|---|---|--O|---|--R|---|
D |---|---|--O|---|--R|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A |---|---|--O|---|--O|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E |---|---|--R|---|---|--O|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

The I chord overlay would look like this, where O represents notes in the chord and ':' represents a non-chordal tone which you would try to use as a passing note only.

  0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13
e |---|---|--R|---|---|--O|---|--:|---|--O|---|---|--:|
B |---|---|--O|---|---|--:|---|--R|---|---|--O|---|--:|
G |---|---|--O|---|--:|---|--O|---|---|--:|---|--R|---|
D |---|---|--:|---|--R|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A |---|---|--:|---|--O|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E |---|---|--R|---|---|--O|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Okay, so the I chord has lots and lots of options for mini-boxes to make licks out of. You're pretty much sorted as all three chord notes are represented within the minor pentatonic.

For example, a good box might be:

  0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13
e |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
B |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
G |---|---|--O|---|--:|---|--O|---|---|---|---|---|---|
D |---|---|--:|---|--R|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A |---|---|--:|---|--O|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Where you can do a 5-7 bend or slide on the G-string.

The IV and V chords are a bit more problematic, as the minor pentatonic only contains two of the three chord tones.

So here's the IV chord mapping:

  0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13
e |---|---|--R|---|---|--:|---|--O|---|--:|---|---|--:|
B |---|---|--:|---|---|--:|---|--R|---|---|--:|---|--O|
G |---|---|--:|---|--O|---|--:|---|---|--:|---|--R|---|
D |---|---|--:|---|--R|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A |---|---|--O|---|--:|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E |---|---|--R|---|---|--:|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Hmmm... slim pickings, eh?

If we wanted to stay put on the fingerboard we might stick with a similar box to the I chord, but with a different emphasis, for example:

  0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13
e |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
B |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
G |---|---|--:|---|--O|---|--:|---|---|---|---|---|---|
D |---|---|--:|---|--R|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A |---|---|--O|---|--:|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Or perhaps we might move up an octave to the following:

  0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13
e |---|---|---|---|---|--:|---|--O|---|---|---|---|---|
B |---|---|---|---|---|--:|---|--R|---|---|---|---|---|
G |---|---|---|---|---|---|--:|---|---|---|---|---|---|
D |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Starting to get tricky, eh? But sometimes limiting yourself means that you have to be creative with what you have!

Let's do the same for the V chord.

  0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11  12  13
e |---|---|--R|---|---|--:|---|--:|---|--O|---|---|--O|
B |---|---|--O|---|---|--O|---|--R|---|---|--:|---|--:|
G |---|---|--:|---|--:|---|--O|---|---|--O|---|--R|---|
D |---|---|--O|---|--R|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A |---|---|--:|---|--O|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E |---|---|--R|---|---|--:|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Hey, maybe that's not to bad. Again we have a box right back where we started on the A, D and G strings, then another similar to the second, higher box for the IV chord. We also have a pretty cool box up around the 12th fret which looks like this once it's been extended up to the 15th fret:

  8   9  10  11  12  13  14  15
e |---|--O|---|---|--O|---|--R|
B |---|---|--:|---|--:|---|--O|
G |---|--O|---|--R|---|---|---|
D |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
A |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
E |---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

So, we can get some great repeating licks from the root note on the G-string to the 11th and 13th on the B. We can bend the 13th on the B-string up to 15 to get up to a chord tone. Pull in the 13th on the high E with your pinky and you add a touch of country twang. Hell, as long as you don't dawdle between the 13th and 15th on the B-string then you should be golden.

Instinctively I know that this stuff should all work as penatonics are so generic that they generally work in 90% of cases anyway. I need to actually sit down with them and listen to the tension/release they generate over a I-IV-V, though, to see how practical this approach is for effective soloing!

UPDATE!

Teach just emailed me a couple of points to ponder. Consider thinking about the chord shapes themselves when soloing, so in this case the G would be an Em-shape barre, the C (IV) would be an Am-shape, but then the D in this position would be a Cm shape! Also, obviously you're not restricted to the Gm pentatonic, you could also add in Gm blues and G natural minor scales, all of which work just fine.

1 comment:

Ja said...

Madi Gras this year will be great :)
You can get more info and product at

http://mardi-gras-party.blogspot.com/