** As featured in issue 52 **
Hi guys and welcome back to my column for this issue. Today we’re going to be using the concept of ‘Triad Pairs’ to create five very cool licks that should give you some new ideas to play with. A triad pair is literally a pair of triads utilised together to create lines. Constructing phrases from triads tends to give us a different sound compared to scalar based ideas since the intervals are usually larger.
The most common triad pair to use is the IV and V chords in a major or melodic minor key. In the case of C major or C melodic minor, this would give us an F major and G major triad (although we have a few more options in melodic minor should we wish to utilise them). Since each of the triads contain 3 notes, pairing them together gives us six notes from the possible seven in the parent major or melodic minor scale – sometimes referred to as a Hexatonic scale. I prefer to keep my terms as simple as possible, so we’ll just refer to this as a triad pair. In the case of our major scale, the triad pair omits the 3rd of the scale (the note E in C major) and for the melodic minor scale, the flattened 3rd is omitted (Eb in C melodic minor). This gives our lines a unique sound and organises the notes in a logical manner that gives our phrases a particular shape and flow. As you’ll see, all the lines have a very characteristic sound to them.
Another quick note – I taught all of the licks in my ‘all 4ths’ tuning, where the top two strings are tuned up a semitone from B to C and E to F. You will find tablature for both ‘all 4ths’ and ‘standard’ tuning to accompany this lesson, so just use the tab that fits your needs. Since the triad pair used for these licks comes from the C major or C melodic minor scales, these licks will work over any of the diatonic chords from those keys/scales, except for chord I in C major.
Lick 1 – The first lick outlines the F and G major triads in an obvious manner to get us started. We are using each inversion of the F and G triads rising up the neck on the A, D and G strings, moving from the 2nd fret all the way up to the 22nd fret. The picking is a little odd or idiosyncratic here, so feel free to find your own way of executing the right-hand element of this lick. We start with a 2nd inversion F major triad and then move up the neck with a 2nd inversion G major, Root position F major, Root position G major, 1st inversion F major, 1st inversion G major and so on. The position shift between each triad is facilitated with a slide with the first finger and the lick is tagged with a phrase that rises to the 24th fret in standard tuning. A lick that really uses the entire range of the guitar!
Lick 2 – In a similar fashion to lick 1, the second lick moves up the neck in a sequential manner, but utilises the triad pair in a less obvious way. The pairing is disguised slightly because we start on a note from one triad and then play three from the next, giving us sequential 4-note arpeggios that still sound very much like a triad pair sound, but with a less predictable note grouping. This lick has a couple of difficult position shifts in where the first finger must tuck underneath an already fretted note on the D string. Take it slow and bear in mind that there are many ways to execute this lick from a technical standpoint, from all alternate picking to adding hammer-ons in as you see fit.
Lick 3 – This lick is extremely tricky to execute well due to some very difficult position shifts. As with lick 2, the triadic nature of this line is disguised somewhat by the change in direction after the first two notes. Again, we play a single note from one triad before playing three from the next triad to add interest to the phrase. Go very slow with this one and try to make those position shifts as accurate as possible.
Lick 4 – This penultimate lick is very much influenced by Steve Vai. It has a slippery quality due to the large slides that need to be executed very accurately for this lick to sound effective. Essentially, we are taking the root and 3rd of an F major triad and sliding it to a 1st inversion G major triad, skipping out the root position G major triad in between for a wider interval sound. We then slide back to next F major inversion before sliding up to another G major triad in 2nd inversion. This process is repeated all the way up the neck for a very cool sounding lick that is quite different to your standard triad pair phrases.
Lick 5 – This is classic ‘fusion’ triad pair territory, utilising a descending line that is mapped through each of the inversions of our G and F major triads. Be sure to use the correct TAB for your tuning, since the fingerings are quite different between my ‘all 4ths’ and ‘standard’ tuning. The line is executed using a combination of sweep picking, slides and pull-offs. Just watch that your slides are accurate and that you execute the lines with good timing for an even feel.
I really hope that you’ve enjoyed these five triad pair ideas and that they give you some food for thought in constructing your own lines. As ever, good luck with your practice and I will see you all in the next issue!