When looking at musical notation it can seem like random notes. But if we break down each group into 4 note groupings called “Tetrachords” we can break down the music theory and play each group on our instrument.
We can then remember the “Sound and Shape” of each cell and then join them together. In turn we can then apply these cells to our own instrumental playing/improvisations.
FULL SOLO LINE/PHRASE
1st Grouping of 4 notes [Tetrachord]=E flat Pentatonic shape/sound [Mixolydian]
2nd Tetrachord=A flat Minor triad and 4th interval [or #11 #9 and #5]
3rd Tetrachord=Minor scale fragment [#11 Lydian]
4th Tetrachord=Changing cell. [From flat 9 to C Jazz melodic minor]
5th Tetrachord=Very “Outside” D major pentatonic/4ths
6th Tetrachord =D major Pentatonic sound/shape [very “Out”]
7th Tetrachord=C minor arpeggio and 4th
8th Tetrachord=B flat major Pentatonic sound/shape
9th Tetrachord=C Melodic “Jazz” minor [Augmented] sound/shape [same as 4th Tetrachord]
10th Tetrachord = Perfect 4th and major 3rd creating triad pairs sound/shape [or E flat minor 11 implication or G FLAT/a flat]
Lastly= Flat 6 for C minor
In terms of fingering and musical application on our instruments learning shapes and “Connections” and breaking phrases down into 4 note cells [Tetrachords] is really useful because complex lines can be understood and learnt quickly.
In turn this gives us lots of patterns for improvisation and theoretical knowledge to improvise with as opposed to just playing scales and arpeggios.
If you found this easy then try and break this little solo down into” Hexatonic” scale application. You might find it really interesting!
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Today we will look at a John Mclaughlin alternate picking Jazz/Fusion improvisation cadence employing the altered dominant chord! Please watch the video below and then try it out yourself.
As you will see this cadence employs the Altered scale. It is a 2 [minor 7 flat 5] going to 5 [ “Altered Dominant”] 1 [major 7th]. This being Dm7 flat 5 G7 altered resolving to C major7.
I also employ a flat 5 substitution on the Dm7 flat 5. All of this resolves though and slips nicely into the altered dominant 5 chord. I also use pentatonics within the altered scale for rhythmic flow. Please look at the TAB/MUSIC below and play through it yourself to see and feel how it all “Naturally” unfolds. I employ alternate picking the same as John Mclaughlin.
John Mclaughlin alternate picking altered scale line Music/Tab
VARIATION With an A flat Pentatonic shape replacing A flat minor/Major Arpeggio for the flat 5 substitution.
Going back to our negative harmony web page CLICK we had a scale extension of Ionian and Phrygian.
Employing our old friends “Tetrachords” we can build complete 2 octave scales when the octave [or repeated starting note] is missed. In this case the whole tone scale and its transposition builds the scale extension.
We can also build 2 octave scales by joining together two “One octave” scales.
Many composer like Tcherepnin, Messiaen, Boulez along with more modern improviser/composers like Keith Emerson and Allan Holdsworth have applied this for its rich polytonality, modal expansion and textural counterpoint.
This idea along with Negative/Mirror harmony is really well suited to the piano both in terms of improvisation and composition. If you are looking for originality then there is a whole new world waiting here to be discovered and applied.
Many people learn modes and scales and arpeggios and copious amounts of music theory. They are then confronted with the biggest problem of all. How to make music out it!
The key to all of this is to look at the rhythm. Rhythm is the key to fluid professional sounding lines. But, how to we do this from a beginners perspective?
Firstly: The most important thing to do is outline the chord tones that are “On” the beat. This way the ear can follow. Because the chromatics on the “Off beat” will then sound correct, interesting and colourful.
The 2 little chromatic set ups/melodies below detail this.
Play through the exercise below and you will hear and see the C7 arpeggio outlined on beats 1 and 3 in all bars. Also, notice the “Up beat”. This sets up the rhythm by targeting the “On beat” chord tone.
Here is another example in double time. Notice that this time the complete C major scale is played on each 1/4 note beat of the bar. Again we have the upbeat to create forward motion.
This doesn’t mean that we do this every time but it shows how to create and then develop really hip lines that are “Musical”. From here on in you can manipulate it.
Jazz/Fusion Line: Don Mock classic “Anacrusis”
John Mclaughlin Classic beginning “In the bar”
Below is a variation using a John Mclaughlin phrase. Notice how Mclaughlin starts on the second semiquaver [off beat] of the second beat of the bar.
Here are a couple of other rhythmic set ups to try out,
Notice the off beat to triplet arpeggio. This is a very common rhythm but it always sounds good and works well.
This line starts “On the beat” but the rhythm gets pushed.
This is just a taster of what makes Jazz sound like jazz. Looking and learning about rhythm is "Everything" because without understanding where the "On' and "Off "beat are it is impossible to syncopate and anticipate musically. All the theory in the world won't help without good forward moving rhythm.
The best book that I have ever read and studied on the subject of enclosure/approach notes/rhythmic set up is,
"Target" Tones by Don Mock.LINK DON MOCK
For a deeper and intellectual look there is a book called "Forward Motion" by pianist Hal Galper. This book is for someone really wanting to go deeper into the rhythm of jazz.LINK HAL GALPER
This little exercise works on the development of another basic guitar fingering idea. This fingering [as you will find out when playing through the notation/tab] lends itself well to the rhythmic development of John Mclaughlin’s alternate picking guitar technique.
As always keep the alternate picking rhythmical and tight and count in groups of “Tetrachords” [four 16th notes or “TA KA DI MI” Konokol ]for fluency and good timing tap your foot as you play the Raga line.
Good luck and thanks for reading this post. I hope it has been helpful, Oh and don’t forget to subscribe to us on youtube. Many Thanks from GuitarGti!
Performing in the style of the Guitar Trio with the plectrum requires strict ALTERNATE PICKING for the solo lines that are picked at a very high velocity. You need to be able to “Jump” straight into the rhythmic flow. The patterns below detail the best key alternate picking patterns to gain mastery for this.
The key to all of this is to “Count Time/Groupings”and “Tap your foot” as you do so. If you count time you will play what you hear. It is the key to performing this guitar trio music.
Line 1-“16ths” Alternate Picking starting on a “Down” stroke
Line 2- Extended version of the previous line above, again starting on a “Down” stroke
Line 3-Groups of “4” with strict Alternate Picking but this time starting with an “Upstroke” creating a “Rolling” effect as the plectrum glides across the strings.
Groups of 6 VARIATIONS:
Line 4-This is a “Variation” of our very first pattern but this time played in “Sextuplets” starting on a “Down” stroke.
Line 5-This line can be heard as Triplets or Sextuplets. This time though we are starting on an “Upstroke”. Again, because we are starting our alternate picking on an up stroke there is a fluid rolling effect as we cross the strings.
Line 6-This is a key signature line of Pace de Lucia and Al di Meola. It is an ascending G major scale in double timed triplets [or Sextuplets]. We are starting our picking on an “Upstroke”and ascending passionately up the scale, The better the rhythm of the alternate picking the more clean and powerful this little lick becomes.
Line 7-Here is another variation of the 16th note line. This time we start “Upstroke and roll the line along with tight rhythmical alternate picking. The key as always is to count good time when picking and tap your foot for precision.
Line 8-“Spanish” descending 2 string line. Really it is an ascending “Down” stroke alternate picking pattern followed by an ascending “Up” stroke rolling alternate picking pattern. If you treat it like that then it is easy to play and learn.
For a closer look there is a complete transcription of “Friday Night in San Franscisco” Book available AMAZON