Two-Note Chord Riffs in "G Major"

NEW: QwikRiffs Series - Video (001)

The latest QwikRiffs video, Two-Note Chord Riffs in "G Major" is available in the members area. Includes PDF handout!

QwikRiffs are a new lesson series available to members at Creative Guitar Lessons in the QwikRiffs Series run through collections of rhythm guitar riffs covering all types of playing styles, different famous artist playing approaches and rhythm guitar techniques...

Episode #001 covers three "G" Major Riffs.

Riff one runs through a key of "G" double stop idea applied within a "pop guitar (indie)" style. a series of two note chords played on the lower strings create a linear groove.

Riff two switches things over to a "Country Rock" style rhythmic idea based off of the higher register fret locations.

Riff three adds a Caribbean flare to the double stop sound with a two-note chord riff in the lower fretboard region.

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3 Fantastic Chromatic Tricks...

If you feel that your solos are getting a little bland, and you want to add a bit more color to your scale phrases why not try adding chromatic passing tones. The effect of these tones will not only help your solos, but they'll also beef up the sound of the harmony contained in your backing chords...

Chromatic notes introduce outside tones, (notes that are not in the key). Some of these "outside" tones would sound dissonant if they were to get stressed in our solo. But, if passed over quickly, they can end up sounding pretty interesting. What makes them sound so good (when applied correctly) is how they can be used to resolve up or down to an inside, (correct diatonic) scale /chord tone.

When we resolve quickly from dissonance to consonance the effect can dramatically impact the listeners ear. However, if we blend the tones smoothly while maintaining the identical rhythmic contour, we can add chromatic elements in an almost seamless way while having the flow of our line still remain very well connected.

Here's a consonant melodic phrase played using the notes of the "A Natural Minor" scale. It is entirely in the key (diatonic) and does not contain any chromatic passing ideas.

Below is the same melodic phrase, except this time the phrase contains passing tones (on the 3rd guitar string) that work to connect sections of the scales diatonic notes.

Since chromatic lines are most commonly used in blues, country and jazz, we can learn the most from them at first buy testing their application within this genre.

The sound of a well designed chromatic passage can offer us more unique ways to better connect our statements. However, before we can learn to create chromatic phrases outside of the most common styles, it is best to study their application in what is probably the most popular style - blues.

In order to have success with adding chromatic ideas it is beneficial to understand how the chromatic process works in a general musical sense. Let's start with what is probably the most recognizable use of chromatic ideas, which is their use in blues licks.

This chromatic lick is a basic Minor Pentatonic scale phrase from the key of "G Blues."

(click above image to enlarge to full-screen)

The next "G Minor" lick is another example of the use of chromatic passing tones applied this time to reflect an even greater inclusion of "outside" melodic phrasing.

The main thing to develop in the application of chromatic tones is to never dwell on the passing tones. The chromatic sound works best when it is applied before a resolution to a more stable tone.

When the chromatic passing tone technique is mastered, the use of these chromatic phrases will produce a great way to spice up your licks. And, it is also common to hear chromatic lines used as a primary part of playing pentatonic licks. The use of the flat 5th (b5) or "blue note", is a chromatic, passing tone and it will tend to resolve quickly, either up to the 5th or down to the 4th.

In our final example, I wanted to introduce the sound of chromatic ideas applied within the basic everyday major scale. As long as the general use chromatic principles we've discussed are upheld, we'll be able to apply chromatic sound anywhere. Even in the most everyday musical sounds like the basic major scale.

This chromatic lick is tied to the harmony surrounding a basic key of, "A Major" scale phrase. Notice how the chromatic effect occurs to pull in the resolution of the line.

(click above image to enlarge to full-screen)

Try your own chromatic phrases based on the scales you know, filling in the interval gaps of the scale along the way. If you're confident with the idea of scale tone resolution and hitting into the safe landing notes, you should be able to make most of your chromatic movements sound fairly natural and effective when you insert them into your solos.

Test several different ways of resolving the chromatic tones up and down. Try including them as part of a quick succession of passing tones before landing on a safe tone from the scale. It won't take long for you to develop inspiration to explore adding in your own chromatic licks to all that you do musically.



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The First Step to Guitar Fingerboard Mastery...

There's no Doubt that Learning the Guitar Fingerboard Will Make You a Better Guitar Player. From chord and scale function to comprehending the musical alphabet on the neck, your knowledge of the guitar fingerboard will be your ultimate long term key to success...

It's unfortunate, but most guitar players neglect to learn the fingerboard notes. On some intrinsic level every guitar player knows that the learning of the notes on the neck is an important task, but few take that next crucial step to actually learn it.

In order to fully comprehend scales, arpeggios and to understand chord construction - the ability to relate one note to another through how they sound and how they appear on the fingerboard is the key to unlocking success on the guitar. This is the study of "Basic Intervals."

You need a solid grounding for developing your composing and your improvisation skills. If the neck is a mystery to you, then the ability to jam freely and intuitively cannot exist for you.

That is why learning intervals across the guitar neck is so important. Intervals are the building blocks of music. They are important because they define the distances between two notes. Once you understand intervals, you'll find that all aspects of music theory will become much easier to digest over time.

Starting with the basic fret to fret intervals, you'll know where to move a "half step" or "whole step" up or down from the note you're on. You'll also understand exactly what it means when you see a scale written in the following format: W W H W W W H.

Start by learning to move along each string with natural notes:

The next step is to break down all of these notes into smaller (more manageable) intervals. The way to begin is by learning about the simple whole-step (2 frets) and the half-step (1 fret) distances.

You'll need to be able to learn to both see and hear the intervals referenced within chords and scales. This is the connection that so many overlook. But, it is vital to understanding the neck.

The whole-step (Tone) and half-step (Semi-Tome):

These steps have an interval name. It is "major 2nd" for the whole-step and "minor 2nd" for the half-step.

A major 3rd in a chord connects to a major 3rd in a scale. And, a minor 3rd operates the same way. When soloing over chords and writing songs that flow naturally, (diatonic) you'll benefit from knowing the 3rd intervals.

MAJOR 3rd:
MINOR 3rd:

Once you know what they look like, spend time learning to map the 3rd intervals on the neck so that you can visualize them from any position on the fingerboard.

The perfect intervals exist in both major and minor keys. They include the Unison, 4th's, 5th's and the Octave.

The important fingerboard shapes to learn in the beginning are the; Octave, 4th and 5th. See below for their fingerboard layouts...

PERFECT 4th and 5th:

There are other intervals that affect color, (Major or Minor tonality). These include both the 6th and the 7th degrees. These distances are found to provide our music with various levels of tension.

NOTE: The sixth provides more for tonal color since it is the inversion of the 3rd interval. 

MAJOR 6th:
MINOR 6th:

The 7th degree is another coloring interval. It affects resolution and tonality against the major and minor third. These two intervals will often work together (Major and Minor 3rd and 7th) to create various color changes in both chords and within melody.

MAJOR 7th:
MINOR 7th:

The final area is the area of unstable sound. This category is often referred to in music as "Dissonance." The primary interval for this sound is the "Diminished." It is also a harmonic equivalent of "Augmented." They both create dissonance. The "Diminished 5th" is the most popular for initial study across the neck.

NOTE: These terms (Diminished and Augmented) are also used to describe interval distance within a scale. Therefore, they can be applied in other more advanced ways to describe musical steps and motion.

In order to develop the skill required with intervals a series of fingerboard memorization exercises will be needed to help you internalize this knowledge and prepare you for your journey towards a greater understanding of music on guitar.

Each day you sit down to practice guitar, set aside 3 min. to apply a series of specific intervals along the guitar neck. Choose different intervals each day and move them all over the neck while saying the notes out loud.

You could start on day one with the major and minor 3rd. Then, move onto the perfect 4th and 5th on the next day. On the day after that, switch to the Major and Minor 7th.

Select different note names and different areas of the neck, (low, middle and higher). Over time, (a few months) your neck will become more familiar to you in both note name and fret layout. The sound of each interval will also become more recognizable to your ears. This will help you in all of the most vital playing areas, (especially in your soloing and composing).



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5 Must Know Seventh Chords on Guitar...

Seventh chords are fantastic sounding chord types that will appear in many different styles of music. There's no need to get confused with their names, they are all just derivatives of the basic major and minor sounds...

If you narrow your focus down to getting to know how each seventh chord is built and the unique sound that each seventh chord creates, you'll find yourself playing seventh chords in all kinds of musical situations.

A lot of the seventh chord knowledge and application will come naturally if you know how these shapes look and feel across the fret-board. Here's a useful introductory video on 7th chords and what the extended "7th" chord degree actually refers to... "Understanding the 7th and Extended Chord Types."

Major 7th chords have been described as "dreamy" and relaxed or resolved (i.e. lacking tension) and are therefore most often used for resolutions in chord progressions.

Remember that a major triad was the Root, 3rd and 5th notes from the major scale which means that a major 7th chord is the major triad with an added major 7th tone...

1 3 5 7 

The Root (1), 3rd (3), 5th (5) and 7th (7) form a major 7th chord. For example...

"A major 7th" chord contains "A, C#, E, G#." Analyze the chord voicing shown below and map out each chord tone to understand how the fingering is voiced on the neck.

Minor 7th chords are a minor triad (1 ♭3 5) with a flattted /minor 7th (♭7).

1 ♭3 5 ♭7 

Make a study of one of the most common Minor 7th chord forms, (shown below). Our example has its root located off of the fifth guitar string at the third position, (C Minor 7th)...

"C minor 7th" chord contains "C, E♭, G, B♭." Analyze the chord voicing shown below and map out each chord tone to understand how the fingering is voiced upon the neck.

Dominant 7th chords include a flatted /minor 7th (♭7) instead of a major 7th (7).

An easy way of visualizing this is if you lower the 7th chord tone from the major 7th chord voicing (its natural major scale position) by one semitone down in pitch (the equivalent of one fret), you will achieve the chord layout of Dominant 7th.

1 3 5 ♭7

Make a study of one of the most common Dominant 7th chord forms, (shown below). Our example has its root located off of the sixth guitar string at the fifth position, (A Dominant 7th)...

"A Dominant 7th" chord contains "A, C#, E, G." Analyze the chord voicing shown below and map out each chord tone to understand how the fingering is voiced upon the neck.

7th CHORD TYPE #4). MINOR 7th(♭5) CHORDS
The name "Minor 7th(♭5)" is also often referred to as the half diminished chord and it is made up of the diminished triad (1 ♭3 ♭5), plus an added minor 7th interval.

The half diminished chord is the diminished triad plus a flat 7th tone. It can be a bit of a confusing name because of it's title being applied differently by some musicians. Just make sure that you learn the elements that make up this chord to clarify it in your own mind...

1 ♭3 ♭5 ♭7

Make a study of one of the most common Minor 7th(♭5) chord forms, (shown below). Our example has its root located off of the fifth guitar string at the seventh position, (E Minor 7th ♭5)...

"E Minor 7th (♭5)" chord contains "E, G, B♭, D." Analyze the chord voicing shown below and map out each chord tone to understand how the fingering is voiced upon the neck.

Diminished 7th chords involve the 7th being flattened twice from its natural major scale position. Incidentally, this puts it in the position of a major 6th. However, in the context of diminished chords (1 ♭3 ♭5) we label it as a double flat 7th (♭♭7), also known as a diminished 7th...

1 ♭3 ♭5 ♭♭7 

This chord can also be analyzed as a "Minor 7th(♭5)" chord (half diminished chord) with the 7th flattened one more semitone lower (dropped by one fret).

Make a study of one of the most common Diminished 7th chord forms, (shown below). Our example has its root located off of the fifth guitar string at the fifth position, (D Diminished 7th)...

"D Diminished 7th" chord contains "D, F, A♭, C♭." Analyze the chord voicing shown below and map out each chord tone to understand how the fingering is voiced upon the neck.

Since the seventh quality chords are used in so many different styles of music, they are a "must know" group of chord quality to develop in your playing. From classical pieces, to jazz standards, as well as, soul music, Country music to R and B, (and almost everything in between), the seventh quality chord types tend to shine when music needs that smooth dreamy sound that only the seventh chord types can provide.

Spend time with a good chord book, or chord app to learn and then constantly review the different shapes. Work at planning out rehearsal examples for gaining the five different 7th-quality chord fingerings. Set an initial goal of developing a shape for each 7th-chord quality off of the lower three strings, (6th, 5th and 4th).

Once you are familiar with their shapes, place them to work in different songs. Jazz standards are one of the very best ways to fully develop 7th quality chords. Classic jazz numbers like "Autumn Leaves" or "Misty" will help you to apply most of these 7th chords in practical playing situations.

The Creative Guitar Studio "Advanced Guitar Players Program" covers all of these chord types in detail with practical playing studies to help players develop a high degree of skill with their fingering and application.



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BOT Dylan: The World's First Computer Folk Artist

Researchers have created a 'Bot Dylan' computer that is capable of writing its own folk music. The system uses artificial intelligence to compose new songs - after it was trained using 23,000 pieces of Irish folk music...

This allowed the machine to learn the patterns and structures that make for a "catchy folk tune," before it created its own pieces of music (that were showcased at a concert in London this week).

It marks a significant step forward for the capabilities of artificial intelligence.

Creative and artistic expression has long thought to be beyond the capability of AI, and many have insisted it will be one of the few areas where humans will have an edge over machines.

But the new computerized composer, (developed by scientists at Kingston University in London and Queen Mary University of London), suggests the line between man and machine may not be so clear.

Dr Oded Ben-Tal, a senior lecturer in music technology at Kingston University in London, said: 'We didn't expect any of the machine-generated melodies to be very good.

'But we, and several other musicians we worked with, were really surprised at the quality of the music the system created.

'People are reluctant to believe machines can be creative – it's seen as a very human trait.

'However, the fact of the matter is, technology and creativity have been interconnected for a long time and this is just another step in that direction.'

It is the latest in a number of AI technologies now capable of producing artistic work.

Dr Ben-Tal and his colleagues chose to use Celtic folk music to teach their AI composer as it has a relatively well-defined structure and plenty of material to train it from.

They used transcriptions of folk tunes that use a reduced form of music notation known as ABC.

Their machine is able to take one ABC symbol and suggest the next by drawing on the patterns it learned from the tunes it was initially fed, so far it has created more than 100,000 new machine 'folk tunes'.

But he adds that the machine does not appear to be able to generalise what it learned about music to other contexts.

For example, it still has no concept of how rhythm works, but replicates it from the songs it has learned.

Dr Ben-Tal believes the AI system may never be able to completely replace human composers but it could provide a tool to help amateur musicians write their own music.

He said: 'For beginners, a system like this would help get you started and avoid the intimidating aspect of composing your own tune as you could work interactively together.

'An experienced composer could work with the system to generate new ideas by using their own musical concepts as a starting point.

'This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for music making.'



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Fingerboard Quantum Leap (3 Note Chords)

May 26, 2017:
Fingerboard Quantum Leap (3 Note Chords)

PART ONE:  In example one, the exercises take a key of "G Minor" riff and demonstrate how the 3 Note Triads can offer two sound options on the fingerboard. The first explores how the riff can be performed in the necks lower register, (example 1a). And, the second example (1b), takes the riff up into a higher playing position.

Example two explores the application of "Inversion Position." These 3 Note Triads can invert, (the notes flip string sets) to create different variations of each chord voicing. In example 2a, the key of "D Major" riff is performed in the lower range of the neck using inversions of "1st" and "2nd." In example 2b, the inversions include "2nd" to "1st" in the mid-range area of the neck.

PART TWO: The second half of the lesson starts with a breakdown of triad stacks and how they can be used vertically within positions across the neck. Triad stacking is a way to generate rapid movement in a position while keeping lateral fretboard coverage down to a minimum. A selection of chord shapes from the key of "D Major" are displayed in both 7th position (example 3a) and in the 10th position (example 3b).

In example four, the use of our 3 Note Triads taken along the neck (using phrases and filler licks) helps in demonstrating how these 3 Note chords can be a tremendous help when it comes down to composing short statements around a chord. The rhythm guitar riff in example four uses a key of "A Minor" progression that integrates short passing filler licks based on a lateral theme.

Paid members can download the handout along with the MP3 jamtrack in the members area at:



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How to Practice Arpeggios - 6 Step Method

One of the most connected ways a musician can perform a melody directly over a chord in a progression is to use an arpeggio. 

Arpeggios allow a musician to directly connect into the chord tones for each chord change. When a musician develops their ability to use arpeggios, they can hit the best notes of every chord. And, the best part is that this works whether a musician is composing a melody or playing a lead...

Performing an entire solo with arpeggios can be a challenge since the player will need to change arpeggios with each chord. Not an easy task to execute. However, once a player develops a solid understanding of the arpeggios on the neck through effective exercises, they’ll be able to start nailing chord tones more easily over time.

This lesson presents guitar players with a study guide for the foundational triad arpeggios. The guide that I have for you will stress the ability to comprehend multiple fingerings for each shape, how to drill the shapes using arpeggio exercises, and a few guitar licks will be shown to help players add arpeggios into the daily guitar practice routine.

NOTE: These arpeggio shapes and many more are a part of the Creative Guitar Studio Advanced Guitar Program

Keep in mind that it's not enough to just drill on the shapes. Anyone can do that. The best practice approach applies arpeggios in guitar melodies.


Pick an arpeggio family to study, (for example; Major)
Learn the lowest shape on guitar, (pattern #4).
Play a static chord (ex. G Major) into your loop pedal, (or record it).
Move on to other chords of the same quality (Major).
Make an effort to invent /compose melodies.
When you have some shapes and phrases memorized, move on to the next quality, (for example; Minor).


Step 1). Learn the "Pattern #4" arpeggio shape shown below off of a "G" root from the 6th string. Memorize the shape, understand how it sits on the neck and be able to play it in time with a metronome set at 92 b.p.m. Build your time up to the duration of 16th-notes at 92.

Step 2). Using a loop pedal or any type of audio recorder, record a "G major" chord in a loop and start working at creating melody over the chord jam using the arpeggio shape above.

Step 3). Compose a melodic idea. Below is an example melody I composed that covers the sound of the "G major" vamp from step #2. Once you have a sense for creating melody, move onto recording and studying other chord types as well.

Step 4). Now, we will begin work on another arpeggio pattern. We'll select a 5th string root pattern next. The layout from the Creative Guitar Studio curriculum for this pattern is referred to as, "Pattern #1." Practice the pattern below with the same study guidelines that were discussed back in Step 1, with the "Pattern #4" shape.

Step 5). Using a loop pedal or any type of audio recorder, record a "G major" chord switching to "D Major" chord in a loop and start working at creating melody over the chord jam using the arpeggio shapes, (Pattern #4 for "G" and Pattern #1 for "D").

Step 6). Compose a melodic line using both of the arpeggios. Below is an example melody that covers the sound of the "G major" to "D Major" vamp from step #5.




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