Easy Chord Strumming Embellishments...

Spice up your rhythm playing with these easy chord strumming embellishments...

Playing chords and strumming different types of rhythm patterns makes up the largest part of what the rhythm guitarist does within a song. And, if the rhythm guitarist plays the same chord shapes and strum patterns every time, things will tend to get quite boring.

That's why it is so important to learn how to add colorful embellishments to your chords. This  will make your rhythm playing more interesting to listen to and it will often be what separates you from other rhythm players. It can also be exactly what a song needs to give the piece just the right kind of little extra that it needs to really connect with the audience.

Although it’s fun to experiment with embellishments, the long term goal is to try to use them only when it’s appropriate. Instead of using them all over the place all the time, only use embellishments here and there to add that little bit of lift to your music.

The two examples below demonstrate how to use and apply embellishments using a basic strumming pattern.

It is good to know the common open chords of;
C, D, E, F, G, A, Am, Em, Dm.

To begin adding chord embellishments it is also good to know the chords of;
sus2, sus4, add4, 6sus4, sus2, sus4, dom7, maj7

TIP: Techniques such as; finger slides, with hammer-on and pull-off articulation devices are important additional tools for how guitar players will add in all of the various embellishments to the chords within their progressions.

Let's begin by adding some really easy embellishments. We'll apply some "major 7" at the first measure by lifting off out 1st finger from a basic open "C" style chord. The sound of a "Suspended 2nd" will come in at measure two by lifting off our 2nd finger from the "C" chord. In measure four, we'll create the suspended 4th off of a "G Major" chord by including a second string "C" tone into the layout of a "G major" chord.


(click on above image for full-screen display)

The example one progression (above) adds "Major 7," "Suspended 4" and "Suspended 2" embellishments to the chord changes.



Our next example will  carry on with more suspended ideas, but it will also add in an altered tone along with a "major 6th" chord quality.

Another important embellishment will also be added. This one applies hammer-on and pull-offs to help integrate the flow of each chord transition. The patterns used to perform almost any chord progression can be embellished further through the use of techniques like these. The effects created by adding phrasing devices will make a big impact on the sound of the lines.


(click on above image for full-screen display)

In example two, above, we added a "suspended 2nd" on the "C major" chord in measure one and then followed it up using an embellished line with notes of the "C Major Scale." Measure two adds a suspended 4th with a short phrase taking us into the "IV-chord" of "F Major." In measure three the IV-chord applies the sound of the "suspended 2nd" with another short phrase taking us into the last measure. The final measure includes a unique sound of the diminished 5th interval onto the "F" chord. the last beat moves into the sound of "major 6th" with a "D" tone being added to the "F Major" chord, thus creating a "F Major 6th" chord.

Embellishments like these are quite easy to add into any chord progression. If you spend some time raising and lowering your fretted fingers, you'll discover all types of interesting sounds can be added onto chord changes.

The effects become even more interesting when short scale runs are added to the chord changes. By experimenting with all of your standard open chords, you'll eventually stumble across some very cool sounding embellishments, with little to no effort.



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Diminished Scale Licks and Runs

Diminished Scale Licks and Runs

Spice up your Jazz lines by learning one of the coolest sounding Jazz scales on the planet...

One of the most common Jazz scales (applied in nearly all styles of jazz music), is the Diminished scale.

Often referred to as the "Octatonic Scale," its structure is very unique due to its 8-tone layout, (the 9th tone is the octave). A scale having this many scale tones is a rare occurrence in a music world of abundant with "5-tone" pentatonic and, "7-tone" scales and modes.

The Diminished scale is derived out of two interlocking 4-tone diminished seventh chords giving us those unique "eight separate tones." This rather strange symmetry of recurring whole and half-steps produces some important altered degrees in the Diminished scales structure. The associated altered tones are an augmented "9th and 5th," as well as, a diminished 5th.

In this lesson, we will explore the Diminished scale structure by studying a collection of popular scale patterns on the neck. The fun part will come in working out some Diminished scale licks

PART ONE: The first example begins by breaking down the fret-board layout of a 5th-string tonic, Pattern #2, "E Diminished Scale." Then, we will work our way through a guitar lick that will function over the "E7" chord. The lick will be targeting the "Major 6th" and "Minor 3rd" of the E7 chord's tones.

Example two studies the 6th and 4th-string layout of a combined Pattern #4 and Pattern #5 "C Diminished Scale." In the example lick we perform lines over the "C7" chord and practice targeting the sounds of altered 5th's. Our study will include both a diminished and and augmented 5th.

PART TWO: Example three introduces a 6th-string tonic Pattern #4 "B Diminished Scale" fingerboard layout. The guitar lick we'll study is organized around a run that covers the interesting sounds of a "Triad Over Bass-Note" chord type. In our case, we're making a study of an "A#/B." This chord gives us intervals of a "Major 7th" and suspended tones of a "9th and 11th." The "B Diminished" works fantastic in covering this dissonant sound of this chord.

Example four uses a 5th and 3rd string tonic combined pattern "D Diminished Scale." This layout combines both Pattern #2 and Pattern #3 scale layouts. The guitar lick will focus on the sound of an altered dominant chord of "D7(#9)." This is a popular chord used in a number of music styles including Jazz, Blues, Jazz-Fusion and even Classic Rock. The Diminished Scale is excellent for covering this chord type since it contains the; "b7," "Major 3rd," as well as, the "raised 9th."

Diminished Scale Licks and Runs

Related Videos:

Diminished Scale Licks and Runs

Making the Diminished Scale Sound Bluesy

Diminished 7th Arpeggio



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Guitar Chords | F Chord | Guitar Notes | G Chord | C Chord | D Chord | Guitar String Notes

10 "Tips from the Pros" to Keep You Motivated...

Famous teachers and guitar players will tend to inspire us to take the next step in our playing. If you need some inspiration to go a little further, to move yourself into a new direction or to simply motivate yourself to practice more (keeping the passion alive), then you're in luck. Read on for a list of fantastic quotes to get yourself motivated and keep yourself motivated...

I thought I’d share some indispensable tips from the masters that will keep you on top of your game.

1 – “Identify what you really want
~ Steve Vai

2 – “Learn every note on the guitar
~ Joe Satriani

3 – “Learn the pentatonic scale all over the neck
~ Robben Ford

4 – “You don’t yell at everybody everytime you say something, you’d scare them, so I think dynamics are very important
~ BB King

5 – “Have an arsenal of different musical styles to bring to any session you're in
~ Larry Carlton

6 – “Learn the harmony and theory behind the chords
~ Steve Lukather

7 – “I warm up like a football player, the fingers have to be warmed to play.”
 ~ Paco de Lucia

8 – “You can write all the music down you want, but playing music with others is what brings music to life
~ John Williams

9 – “work up to the dynamic of your solo
~ John Mayer

10 – “You’re either willing to put into the work and the time or you’re not. It’s as simple as that. How good you wanna be is up to you
~ Tommy Emmanuel

Do you have some great tips from your guitar heroes. Please share them in the comments below.



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GUITAR EVOLUTION: The Descending Bass-Line...

There are a lot of ways to make chord progressions sound more directed as well as more interesting. Techniques like  using embellishments, articulation and phrasing devices are some of these. But, another way is through the use of chord inversions...

Inverted chords can be used to incorporate descending and ascending bass lines into your songs. It gives the listener the impression that a bass player is playing along with your guitar.

A slash chord chord symbol is used to notate the chord inversions. Slash chords are a type of chord symbol that includes a slash between two letter names like G/B (hence the name “slash chord”).

Slash chords work to specify a bass note other than the root. The bass note is the lowest sounding note in the chord and is shown at the right of the slash. While normally the root note of the chord is the bass note, now the note at the right of the slash is the bass note.

In our stated example earlier of G/B, the chord itself is a "G major chord" with a B note in the bass. It is written as G/B which is pronounced as “G slash B”. The G/B chord is usually played between "C Major" and an "A Minor." Let’s take a look at why that is.

One common place to apply a slash chord is within a I-V-vi chord progression, where the V chord is the slash chord and used as a passing chord.

For example if you play a I-V-vi progression in the key of C you get: C – G – Am.

For the V chord (in this case a G chord) we use the third note of the chord as the lowest note / bass note. The third note of a G chord is “B” (G major chord = G, B, D).

The progression with the slash chord becomes: C – G/B – Am. Playing the chords like this will create a descending bass line, also sometimes called a walk-down. The bass notes of the three chords are C – B – A, which creates the descending bass line.

Example #1).

Acoustic guitarists who perform as soloists, will tend to apply slash chords around added filler lines. This method allows for an impression of having three players... the chord harmony, chord inversion ideas and lead playing. It can be a powerful tool in establishing a solid effect during a performance.

In example two we'll look at taking a progression from the key of "D Major" and adding these chord moves with the slash chords as well as, some filler lines.

The progression will move in the same harmony as was shown in example one, however our new key center will be that of "D Major." Pay particular attention to the filler lines.

Example #2).

– Practice every new slash chord thoroughly

– Make sure every note sounds clean and clear

– Practice the progressions slowly

– Gradually build up speed and make the transitions sound smooth

– Pick a song with no slash chords and convert it to slash chords

– Implement slash chords in your own songs

– Try to use slash chords to spice things up

– Practice the chord progressions given here in the opposite direction

–  Learn how to make an ascending bass line progressions



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GUITAR TACTIC: Modal Melody Swapping


GUITAR TACTIC:  Modal Melody Swapping

Modes for guitarists can be quite confusing. But, when the intervals for each mode are individually focused on their sound will start to open up. By performing each mode through just one guitar lick, players can learn to hear the unique differences of each mode... 

Modes can be extremely confusing to guitar players studying scales. But, when you take the approach of altering the different intervals of each mode (from off of the same tonic) while playing the same lick through the modes, you gain a fantastic perspective for the unique sound of each one. 

When this type of "Mode Swapping" study is done (along with isolating the major tonality modes from the minor's), it becomes a great exercise to realize all of the different sound characteristics that can occur. 

Plus, this type of scale /tonality swapping study can also help players focus a lot more on the individual intervals that make up each mode. This is a really important factor in learning how to apply each of the modes in all types of different musical situations.

In this episode of the Guitar Blog Insider, we'll take one guitar lick and move it through each of the seven major scale modes. The result will be developing a greater level of focus for each of the modes. Understanding their intervals will help with creating all kinds of melody from the various modes. 

Watch the video below... "Modal Melody Swapping."

Modal Melody Swapping



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GUITAR HACK: Learning the Modes Through Intervals

Are you interested in learning how to use the seven major scale modes on the guitar? If so, this modes breakdown will help you better understand the differences between the modes and how they're used musically...

Most of us begin learning scales by studying the Ionian mode (basic major scale). Then we tend to move on to the Aeolian (Natural Minor). Dorian is generally the first mode we encounter and from there we might go on to progress randomly through the other modes until we’ve learned all seven modes of the major scale.

While this can be an effective way of learning modes, there is another method that will allow you to understand the intervals better.

Learning Modes Through Intervals
We will organize the modes from the tonic of "A." Each mode relates to sounds of major and minor differently by way of intervals. Once you can understand how the intervals alter from one mode to the next, you'll not only better comprehend modes, you'll be able to use them easier.


Major quality modes all contain a "Major 3rd." This sets the modes tonality to major. The foundational scale for the major quality of sound is the "Ionian Mode," (Basic Major Scale).

IONIAN MODE: (The basic major scale)

Key of "A" =  A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A

In the basic major scale shape above, the red dots are the tonic notes. Place them at the 5th fret to attain the note of "A." Take notice of the blue dots, these are the perfect 4th intervals of the scale. If you play the same shape from those blue dots, you attain the first major mode of the Basic Major Scale, it is called "Lydian Mode."

Notice the difference to the intervals from that 4th step. As we travel along through the tones from step 4, we have a different interval at the 4th degree. This is the "unique" note of Lydian.

LYDIAN MODE: (the 4th mode of the major scale)

Key of "A" =  A, B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A 

In the Lydian fingerboard diagram above, you can clearly notice this altered 4th degree. It is referred to as a "Raised 4th." It is the unique color tone of Lydian.

Lydian mode, contains one raised tone in its construction, the #4. When learning the modes in this way, (through intervals), take notice of how individual degrees are changing by 1/2 steps in-between each subsequent mode.

MIXOLYDIAN MODE: (the 5th mode of the major scale)

 Key of "A" =  A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G, A

Mixolydian mode lowers the 7th note of the Ionian Mode. This 7th tone is the color defining note of Mixolydian. You'll also notice that the 4th degree has returned to its original position as it was applied in the basic major scale. The interval system of learning focuses on the study of one note of the mode. By learning how the position of various degrees will shift mode to mode you will better comprehend the ways that modes can be utilized musically.


Minor quality modes all contain a "Minor 3rd." This sets the modes tonality to minor. The foundational scale for Minor Modes is the "Aeolian," (the Natural Minor Scale).

AEOLIAN MODE: (The Natural Minor scale)

Key of "A" =  A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A

The Aeolian mode contains lowered intervals of a 3rd, 6th and 7th compared to the basic major scale. This establishes the foundational sound of minor in Western music. The Aeolian mode's 6th degree is the unique coloring note of this scale.

DORIAN MODE: (the 2nd mode of the major scale)

Key of "A" =  A, B, C, D, E, F#, G, A

Dorian mode has a blended sound of both major and minor. This occurs due to its minor 3rd and its major 6th. These colors define the quality of this mode and need to be attended to when composing or improvising using this mode.

PHRYGIAN MODE: (the 3rd mode of the major scale)

Key of "A" =  A, Bb, C, D, E, F, G, A 

The Phrygian mode is a strong minor flavor that lays a heavy effect upon the scales lowered second degree. Essentially the scale itself  is simply an "Aeolian," mode scale. However, the 2nd degree has been lowered by way of a 1/2 step. This tone is so predominant that it cannot be overlooked. It must be attended to when using this mode in music.

LOCRIAN MODE: (the 7th mode of the major scale)

Key of "A" =  A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A 

Locrian mode is the most individual mode of the major scale modes. It has a strong character that resembles a lot of the natural minor color, yet it contains a lowered 2nd step that sets it off to the direction of Phrygian. But, what really has this mode stand alone is its lowered 5th degree. The lowered 5th of Locrian is a distinct sound that is overwhelmingly the single most powerful effect available from all of the modes.


Start by learning the modes by way of their individual patterns, memorizing them in the order above so you can use the intervals method. Separate them by way of tonality, (Major and Minor). Study the modes together off of the same tonic note at first. This will make it easier to track the intervals movement. After that, you can go back and play them in any order.

Exercise #1).
Ionian Mode from Lydian:
Lower the 4th note of Lydian to produce the Ionian fingering.

Exercise #2).
Locrian Mode from Phrygian:
Lower the 5th note of Phrygian to produce the Locrian fingering.

Exercise #3).
Phrygian Mode from Aeolian:
The 2nd note of Aeolian is lowered to create the Phrygian fingering on the fretboard.

Exercise #4).
Aeolian Mode from Dorian:
Lower the 6th of Dorian to form the Aeolian fingering.

Exercise #5).
Dorian Mode from Mixolydian:
Lower the 3rd of Mixolydian to form the Dorian mode fingering.

Exercise #6).
Mixolydian Mode from Ionian:
Lower the 7th of Ionian to form the Mixolydian mode.


Here is the most popular order of the major modes for daily practice:
• Ionian
• Dorian
• Phrygian
• Lydian
• Mixolydian
• Aeolian
• Locrian

Here is an interval based daily practice order:

• Lydian (Basic Major with the 4th raised)

• Ionian (Basic Major Scale)

• Mixolydian (Basic Major with the 7th lowered)

• Dorian (Natural Minor with the 6th raised)

• Aeolian (Natural Minor /Lowered 3rd, 6th and 7th from major)

• Phrygian (Natural Minor with a lowered 2nd)

• Locrian (Natural Minor with a lowered 2nd and 5th)

Now that you understand the interval based method of viewing modes, you can practice them in different ways to further develop their sound. Most importantly, you can work the modes into your playing by way of tonality. This will help you apply modes in compositions easier and with greater success.



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10 Steps to Become The Best Guitar Player You Can Be...

We all want to become great guitar players. In fact, we want to become the best guitar player that we can be. And, while this might sound obvious, for many it isn’t obvious on how to get there...

A lot of guitar players have the tendency to compare themselves with other musicians. The fact is, we are all destined to become different kinds of guitar players. Your mind, taste, anatomy, emotions and daily life are all unique. These things will determine how you play, what you play, and they determine the musical path that you will follow.

You’ve got to stop making excuses! Stop telling yourself or anybody else why you can’t do it, why don’t have the time, why you’re not fast enough or why you’ll never be a killer player. You are unique, and if you cut all that out, you can become the best guitar player you can be. And that is what you need to focus on.

No matter what kind of guitar breed you are, there will be specific keys that will improve your playing no matter what - so make sure you become aware of what they are.

Grab a pen and paper and write down what you want to accomplish as a guitar player. Why do you want to learn to play guitar? What song or songs do you want to be able to play? What kind of music makes you feel good? Do you want to play like John Mayer, Eddie van Halen or Tommy Emmanuel? Do you want master a repertoire of songs off the top of your head or do you want to write your own songs? Do you want to play in a band or become a solo artist? No limits here.

Write down all your favorite songs, guitar players, songwriters, guitar techniques and skills, riffs, solos and dream goals that get you excited. Once you’ve got everything down on paper, narrow it down to the five most important goals you want to achieve. Then get very specific and choose one or two goals that you are going to focus on.

For each goal, break it down into smaller chunks. Write down what small steps you can take each day to come closer to your goals? What is it that you need to practice? What skills do you need to develop, work on and improve? Who and what do you need to get to the next level? Write it all down and take one small step every day. Each day will get you closer to your goal. One step at a time.

The internet is an awesome tool and without a doubt can help you achieve big things in many ways, but the combination of good online guitar teachers and a personal guitar teacher that is right in front of your nose is the best approach. A good guitar teacher can point out clearly what you need to improve, work on and what path you should follow to get where you want to be.

Make sure you have a connection with your guitar teacher and that he or she feels and understand what you want and where you want to go with your playing. If you’re not happy, find another teacher.

Take weekly guitar lessons if you can afford it. It will be a driving force that keeps you in the saddle at all times.

Set a fixed time and place for each day to practice. Put practice reminders in your mobile phone, computer or write it on your wall calendar.

Regular practice keeps you motivated and creates solid progress. If you don’t schedule the time to practice, you won’t keep at it, you’ll skip a few days and before you know it your guitar playing is going down in skill.

Also find a place where you can practice quietly without getting interrupted. Put a “don’t disturb” sign on the door if you need to and make sure you turn off all electronic devices to avoid any distractions. You want serious progress? Then practice seriously.

Besides your fixed practice time, there are always more minutes in a day, and do not allow them to be the minutes you waste time. Practice when possible or when you think it’s impossible. Play guitar before school or work, play after school or work, before lunch, after lunch, before dinner, after dinner, play when you’re watching TV or better turn off the TV.

Practice your music theory in the dentist or doctor’s waiting room or when you’re dozing off to sleep. Play when your family has gone off to bed. Wake up earlier to practice some more. Practice when you feel tired or when you can’t sleep. Play every minute you can possibly spare. Play even more guitar on your weekends.

Guitar playing is a lifestyle. So stop making excuses and practice!

Put your Smart-Phone, Tablet, computer or any recording device in front of you and start recording yourself. There’s a big difference in listening while you’re playing and listening to what you’ve recorded.

Listening back to your recording can be confronting, but it also points out exactly what you need to work on. You can also make a video of yourself which reveals the positioning of your fingers, hands, arm, shoulders and back.

Try both options separately, because watching can distract the ears. Watch, listen, study, learn and fix your weak spots. Then record again and again until you’re satisfied. This will really improve your playing.

Once you’ve done this a couple of times, you will start to listen with new ears, and you’ll be more aware of your own playing. Once you record yourself, you will start to notice how small changes in your playing can make a huge difference.

Learning to keep time is one of the most important skills you need to acquire as a musician. You can practice and improve this by playing along with jam tracks and songs on Youtube. You can also visit my Blog-Site's JamTrack page and play over the tracks provided there. Learn to play along and lock in with the beat. Play along as much as you can, the jam-tracks will make a huge difference to your personal feel and your sense of time.

When learning scales, use a metronome to practice with. Start slow, (and I mean real slow). Once you feel comfortable playing clean and clear in a certain tempo, gradually build up speed.

Find other musicians to play with, and hang out and jam together. There is so much to learn from playing with other people, it’s indescribable. Ask to meet up for regular jam sessions and play your favorite songs. I still do this every week!

Another step is to join a band. If you can’t find a band who needs a guitar player, start your own band. Find musicians that have similar interests and skill levels and get ready for the real thing.

Playing in a band is the ultimate learning process for musicians. You will learn and develop, along with trial and error, many important skills that you need, to become an accomplished guitar player and musician.

Once you have other musicians to play with, find a gig. Start small. Learn to play in front of a live audience is a skill you have to cultivate. You will make mistakes, it’s part of the deal. Face the fear, play your heart out, build and improve your performing skills, and learn to become a better musician.

If you don’t have musicians to play with, play solo. Learn to play in front of people as much as you can, no matter how small the audience. Gaining experience is your best teacher.

Repetition is good, but don’t just stick with what you already know. Get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Learn songs from different styles of music. What guitar magazines haven’t you read yet? Check out a different guitar book or online guitar course that will expand your skills and horizon.

Learn new scales, chords, finger-picking patterns and rhythm playing, that don’t fit your particular style of playing. You might be surprised how it will improve your chops. In the end all styles of music are interwoven with each other. Also try different guitars, picks, strings, amps, effect pedals, teachers and musicians to play with. It will all enrich your playing. Challenge yourself constantly!

Every day write down what you are practicing. What songs, scales, chords, riffs and solos you are working on. During practice observe your playing carefully. What is improving and what needs improvement? What are your flaws, struggles and challenges? Find a way to solve your issues. If you’re using a metronome, write down your beats per minute every time you practice. Make notes of your overall progress and how you feel.

Are you on track? Are you meeting your goals? Do you want to change course or are you still determined?

Evaluating and reading back on your progress keeps you focused and more aware of what and why you are practicing. Noticing progress (however small) is what will keep you going and it will give you the confidence to achieve your guitar goals.

Whatever path you choose to become the best guitar player you can be, make sure you’re having a lot of fun along the way. Fun is what keeps you going, making you long for more and giving you the fastest progress. If you don’t like practicing scales, chords, triads and arpeggios, find a way to make it fun. There’s always a way!

Playing along with a metronome, gradually increasing the bpm, often makes practicing scales a lot more challenging and fun. With everything you practice, there is a way to make it more desirable. Find the right guitar that suits you, learn songs from a great songbook, enjoy a nice cappuccino while you’re practicing and make your practice space inspirational.

Reading how your guitar heroes have built their skills and achieved their goals can also be a trigger and motivation for you to practice whatever is necessary. Think creative and out of the box and make practicing exciting and exhilarating.

Guitar playing is all about enjoying the path you are on right now, because the musical path is infinite.

Find out what makes you tick!

Hang in There!
Now and then, there are setbacks in guitar playing. It’s two steps forward and one step back, and things in life don’t always go the way you planned. Don’t worry about it. Just keep listening to your heart.

What is it that makes you feel good about guitar playing?

There is a path for you and you’ve just got to stick to what you believe in. Believe in your playing, in your progress and in your goals. Believe in yourself as a person and a musician. And believe in what you feel is good and right for you.

Opportunities will find you and life will lead the way to your musical goals. Just keep at it!

Every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it.



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Delta Blues Licks in "key of E"

NEW: QwikLicks Series - Video (024)

The latest QwikLicks video, "Delta Blues Licks in the key of E" is available in the FREE members area. Includes PDF handout!

QwikLicks are a FREE lesson series for all membership levels at Creative Guitar Studio.com. Lessons in the QwikLicks Series run through a short collection of guitar licks covering all types of playing styles, famous artist's playing styles and guitar techniques...

Episode #024 covers three key of "E Blues," Delta Blues licks. The first lick focuses on coverage of the tonic chord of "E7." This coverage is one of the most important types for this style since it is used most often throughout the songs. 

In lick two, the application of intermixed harmony is applied using several chords outside of the key as a way to stress the arrival of the diatonic chords.

The final lick takes a look at one of the principle ideas used in Delta Blues, which is the turnaround phrase. These statements operate as intro's, progression repeat phrases, and song outro statements. They are critical to learn for playing the songs of this style.

Sign into the website with your free members account to watch the lesson, and be sure to download the PDF lesson handout. 

If you're not currently a FREE member of the website, sign up today!


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3 Examples of Condensed Jazz /Blues Chords...

Standard chord shapes will offer guitarists one direction of sound but when we learn to break away from the common shapes new colors emerge and new possibilities will arise...
To understand condensed chord shapes, we need to consider the nature of chord tones. Not all chord tones are necessary to form the color-tone notes of a functional chord.  For example, if the 5th chord tone is dropped out, a chord can still function in harmony. And, if a chord is larger chord (such as a; 9th, 11th or 13th), is condensed the chord will still able to function.

By developing a chord vocabulary to suit this style of greater chord flexibility, guitarists can use inversions and this condensing chord process to retain a chords essential ‘flavor notes’ and cover a surprisingly wide range of chords.

Here are some examples of ways for you to try this chord condensing approach.

The Condensed G6:
Built from the; root, 6th and major 3rd.

You can easily adapt this to cover major 7th, dominant 7th, minor 7th and minor 6th, just by moving one or both of the two upper notes. What’s more, this shape will also work as an (inverted) E minor chord.

Condensed "G6" - Chord Tones: G, E, B (Root, 6, 3)
Conversion example: G6 to G7 by moving one chord tone (4th string)
Condensed "G7" - Chord Tones: G, F, B (Root, b7, 3)

The Condensed Am6:
Built from the; root, 6th and major 3rd.

A nice chord quality variation of our Major 6 chord is switching it over to the minor quality. The major 3rd has dropped to a minor 3rd, and the 6th has risen to the minor 7th. The compact nature of this shape means that guitar players can feasibly play it with two fingers.

Condensed "Am6" - Chord Tones: A, F#, C (Root, 6, b3)

Conversion example: Am6 to Am7 by moving one chord tone (4th string)
Condensed "Am7" - Chord Tones: A, G, C (Root, b7, b3)

The Condensed Dom. 7 Altered Chord:
This one is a bit more advanced, taking this approach into more subtle territory. Assuming you’d have a bassist playing the root (E), this shape adds the major 3rd, b9th and 5th. The lack of 7th means it’s not strictly correct, but it will work in context.

Condensed "E7(b9)" - Chord tones:  G#, F, B  (3, b9, 5)

Conversion example: E7(b9) to E7 by moving one chord tone (4th to 2nd string)
Condensed "E7" - Chord Tones: G#, B, D (3, 5, b7)

By moving away from the popular fundamental chord shapes - found in most of the guitar chord books, guitar players can step out of the popular patterns and create new sounds using inversions, and chords lacking a root (the root can always be provided by the bassist).

Drop the middle note, drop the top note, analyze a chord without a root in the bass, and you'll create dozens of new chord shapes. As we've seen, you have a one tone difference between a chord like the minor 6th to a 7th. And, in most of our examples, by moving or retaining the middle note and raising the top note gives a variation on the type or quality.

It's all about experimentation with chord tones. And, when you spend the time, you'll not only learn new chord shapes, but you'll also build a better vocabulary for the fingerboard as well.

- Andrew Wasson



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