** As featured in issue 59 **
Well I had to do something to spice up the title of this lesson because let’s face it, ’pentatonic sequencing’ sounds a bit bland. However, and I kid you not, the amount of ideas that can come from a few well-practiced sequences can be awesome. So, what is a sequence? Good question; a sequence is when you play the notes of a scale in a specific repetitive pattern as opposed to randomly playing scale tones. The equations can be very mathematical. You may have heard players referring to certain sequences such as a ‘group of 3, group of 4, diatonic 3rds', etc. In this lesson we’re going to take a look at 2 sequences using the E major pentatonic scale and how you can ‘make them your own’.
In this first example we are going to descend the E major pentatonic scale skipping a note each time. If this is new to you I would recommend practicing in pairs of notes until you get a feel for the pattern. Check out the tab and the video and go slow at first. (see EX 1 on the PDF)
The magic starts to happen in EX 2 when you mix up the rhythm a bit. Here’s one example but the possibilities are endless! Mess around! Try starting on a note other than the downbeat of ‘1’.
For our next adventure in EX 3 we’ll take this sequence and expand it on the neck using the top 2 strings.
Now we’re going to skip 2 notes. The interval we end up with is a 5th. If you’ve ever played a power chord, you have played a 5th interval!
Check out the video and read through EX 4 on the PDF. This idea is also a great alternate picking exercise due to the string skipping.
I also love the sound of 5ths when played together (just as in a power chord). These chord bits in EX 5 can be useful in your rhythm playing as well as in your lead playing.
Until next time, some things to remember:
• Take things at your own pace. One sequence can go a long way! Mix up the rhythms and repeat some of the notes to create licks. Start on beats other than the downbeat of 1.
• Expand the fretboard to play these sequences in other positions. Sequences are a great way to familiarize yourself with scale patterns.