“Practice Up”With Denis Taaffe
Written by Plexus Radio on 20 July, 2017
With Denis Taaffe
To hear the audio file for each lesson, click the
normal” or “slow” link for either the MP3 or WAV version
at the beginning of each example.
Denis Taaffe From Bloomington, IN is a guitarist in search of unique guitar sounds and unusual approaches to guitar to enhance conventional guitar playing. He has been playing guitar for the last 24 of his 31 years. He also teaches at Vance’s music in Bloomington, IN. He focuses on perfecting his unique multi layered guitar style and has just released his new CD “modern rock guitar Vol. II ‘Alien Guitar’. Visit http://www.dtguitar.com for more info. Past audio examples can be found at www.musicianshotline.com/practice_up/index.htm.
Poor Man’s Music Theory
(sorry, audio examples are not available for this lesson)
While music theory can be quite complex and confusing especially when applied to scales. I do find it difficult to apply music theory on the spot when improvising or soloing. Just to work things out takes a long time and honestly the results are usually very predictable. One method that helps me to discover unusual shapes and sequences within a scale especially when I am improvising is the “One note per string rule”. This rule has really helped my playing by unlocking many shapes within a scale that are not immediately obvious and in fact are by themselves not very musical, but in context of the scale you are playing they can create complex lines that fit the situation. This is also a great method to find unusual chord shapes and scale sequences and string skipping riffs and the best part is that the concept is rather simple. I am always amazed at the possibilities using this method.
Let’s begin by picking a scale shape to work with. For simplicities sake we will work with a common position of the A Aeolian scale (A natural minor). The key is A and the A minor chord would work well with this scale. I mention the A minor chord because we will use this chord as a reference point for the next examples. For the “one note per string rule” to work, it is important that you memorize the scale shape below and try to visualize it as a shape rather than individual notes. The scale shape looks like this:
Using the scale shape above we will apply the “one note per string” rule using only notes form the A Aeolian scale shape above. We will pick a 3-note sequence first where each of the three notes are notes found in the scale in Example 1 above and each note lies on a different string. Those are the only rules to abide by, so you can skip strings. As a point of reference to see how are sequence sounds we will end the riff with an A minor chord.
Now, let’s expand on Example 2 and choose 3 different 3 note” one note per string” sequences and play them one after the other to create A lead line in A Aeolian. The example still end’s with the A minor chord. This is a really exciting technique, as linking these small 3 note sequences together can yield some really neat lead lines and don’t forget that you can also play these 3 note sequences as chords of sorts (triads):
Let’s find another series of 3 note “one note per string” sequences while still Using the A Aeolian scale and ending with the reference chord A minor. This time we will experiment and play six consecutive 3-note sequences to create a lead line. Remember that as long as the note you play lies in the scale shape than it is ok to use it:
Now up till now, we have been using 3 note “one note per string rule” sequences, but you could also use 2 notes, 4 notes, 5 notes and 6 notes “one note per string” sequences as well. In this example we will use three separate 4 note sequences and end with our reference chord of A minor. All the notes are still found in the scale in example 1:
Here is another 4-note sequence in A Aeolian .Try this example as both single note passages as well as chord passages. One thing to remember is the key and context you are playing in as it is easy to get carried away with this technique. This example is quite major sounding, but we are still in A minor and the sequence still resolves to A minor:
Let’s try the same thing again, this time with three 5 note “one note per string” sequences, still using A Aeolian for the scale and A minor as the reference chord. The more notes you add the more complex the sequences get and this requires more thought and experimentation:
For the previous examples we have been using the reference chord A minor to end each passage as we are playing in A Aeolian (A natural minor). Remember that A Aeolian has 7 chords associated with it, which are: A minor, B diminished, C major, D minor, E minor, F major and G major. These chords all contained within the A Aeolian scale:
Now that we are not limited to ending in A minor, we can combine the chords above along with the “one note per string” sequences to create song ideas, chord passages or fills. Using the one note per string sequence is also a great way to transition between these chords. In this example we will use three 3 note sequences to transition between Fmajor and C major, remembering that we are still in the key of A minor:
For this final example, we will use the combination of chords and “one note per string” sequences to create a chord melody type line, as always in A Aeolian (A natural minor). This time the chords used are A minor, G major and D minor and sequences for the transition between each chord.
The “one per string rule” can be used with any scale and can be used for fills, lead lines, chord melody and riffs of all varieties of course. I think the key to using this technique is just to think about the scale more as shapes than single notes. Now, it does take some experimentation and when using this technique, you may run across some shapes that you really like and others that belong in the trash can. But, eventually, you discover these shapes that are pleasing o the ear and that will definitely seep into your playing and you will find shapes that you use often. I have found some of my favorite riffs and chords in this manner and I am always surprised at the possibilities when experimenting with this idea. So experiment and I will see you next time!!!!
Be sure and visit Denis Taaffe’s website at http://www.dtguitar.com