** As featured in issue 60 **
We’re all just playing notes on the fretboard so why do some players sound like they’ve got it more together than others? Tone, feel, bends, stylistic influences and overall knowledge of the basics like scales and arpeggios all play a huge role, and sequences are a part of the vocabulary every player should have. Think about it like learning a language; the scales are the letters and you need to put those letters together to form words. Words turn into phrases, sentences, paragraphs and eventually an entire story. The more words and phrases and context you can give the better able you are to tell your story. Sequences are a natural part of a musicians vocabulary and the more of them you know the more you will be able to say on the your instrument.
As we learned last lesson a sequence is when you play the notes of a scale in a specific repetitive pattern as opposed to randomly playing scale tones. Using the E major pentatonic scale we played 2 sequences; The first used every other note and the second was a sequence of 5th intervals. Check the video lesson and downloadable pdf files.
And now let the games begin…
The Group of 3
EX 1 In this first example we are going to descend the E major pentatonic scale 3 notes at a time. If this is new to you I would recommend practicing the first 3 notes over and over, then add the next 3 notes and put those 6 notes together. This is a very cool lick by itself! Check out the tab and the video and go slow at first.
EX 2 Things get interesting when you mix up the rhythm a bit. This is the exact same group of 3 sequence as in ex 1 but it sounds completely different! Learn the lick or use it as motivation to create your own.
EX 3 shows yet another way to mix up a group of 3 sequence. Here we ascend 3 notes and then descend 3. This 6 notes pattern then repeats beginning on each string.
EX 4 is a reverse group of 3. Kind of like climbing up a flight of stairs backwards. If we give each step a number we would play 321, 432, 543, etc.
The Group of 4
EX 5 Another common sequence is a group of 4. Using the same E major pentatonic scale we’ll go down 4 notes at a time. If you repeat the first the first 4 notes you’ve got a pretty useful lick.
EX 6 Now mix up the rhythm to sound less predictable. Notice we do not start on the downbeat either.
The Group of 5
EX 7 shows how to descend the E major pentatonic scale 5 notes at a time. If you play even 16th notes you won’t start on the downbeat again until after playing the group of 5 four times. Try it out for yourself.
EX 8 shows hot to connect the fretboard with this group of 5 sequence on the top 2 strings.
And now your homework:
Over these past 2 lessons we have done a lot of work with the 5 note pentatonic scale. Could there be some diatonic scale sequencing in our future? We will find out in part 3.