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Martin Goulding - Modern Rock Techniques Part 10: Sweeping & Tapping Techniques Applied To Extended Arpeggios Part 1

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 35 **

Hi there and welcome to this month’s Modern Rock Techniques guitar lesson, with the tenth part in our series looking at legato-based ideas. Following on from our guitar lesson, where we looked at integrating the sweeping and tapping techniques with our legato licks, this time we are going to start the first part in a mini-series looking at the application of these modern rock guitar techniques to a framework of harmonically extended arpeggios. By superimposing the diatonic 7th arpeggios from the b3rd, 5th and b7th degrees of our ‘home’ ii A minor 7/A Dorian tonal centre, we’ll see how we can create a range of colourful extended sounds, and with the combination of guitar techniques resulting in a smooth, almost synthesizer-like effect.

I’ll be demonstrating the ideas as sixteenth-notes at 160bpm over our backing track Full Roller (taken from the issue 30 solo study). This track features a hard-rock feel in A Dorian, and is downloadable along with the tablature by following the link on the page.

Get the tone

To get a good modern Rock tone, set the gain on your amp to maximum, with the bass and treble set slightly boosted (1 o’clock), and the mid-range either slightly scooped (10 o’clock) for rhythm or boosted (1-2 o’clock) for lead. For the lesson, i used my Ibanez J Custom with Bare Knuckles VH II pick-ups, through an Axe-FX II - set up with the Brit Super amp (based on the Marshall AFD head), along with a Tubescreamer style overdrive pedal and some stereo delay.

Superimposing diatonic arpeggios to create extended sounds in A Dorian

All of the arpeggios we’ll be looking at in this lesson are demonstrated over our backing track Full-Roller, which is based around the ii A minor 7/A Dorian tonal centre, in the key of G major. Up to now, we’ve mainly been applying ‘home’ concepts to our backing tracks - for example applying an A minor or A minor 7 arpeggio over an A minor 7 chord. This month, we’ll be superimposing the diatonic arpeggios built from the b3rd, 5th, b7th and 9th degrees of our ii A minor 7 ‘home’ chord. This will create sounds that extend the harmony of our 4-note minor 7 chord up to the 9th, 11th and 13th degrees.

To understand extensions, remember that the major scale or any of its modes is comprised of an odd number of notes - 7. This results in intervals being used in the second octave that were skipped in the first octave when building chords or arpeggios sequentially in thirds. Let review figure 1, which sets out a two-octave A Dorian mode. The chord tones in the first octave are highlighted in red, and continue as extensions in the second octave.

Figure 1

To understand how we can use extended sounds in our playing, it becomes necessary to develop a broad knowledge of the key system and its harmonised scale. Let’s now review the G major scale, harmonised as diatonic (which means relating to a key) 7th chords. In this ‘diatonic’ system, with all chords derived from the parent G major scale, the term harmonised as 7th chords refers to a succession of 4-note chords built from the root, 3rd, 5th and 7th degrees of each consecutive note of the scale.

On the following figure 2, the major chord types are displayed in upper case Roman numerals, with the minor and minor 7b5 chords in lower case. Underneath the chords, we can see the notes of our parent G major scale viewed as intervals from the perspective of the ii A minor tonal centre or A Dorian mode.

Figure 2

       I                  ii                  iii                IV            V             vi                 vii      

Gmajor7      Aminor7      Bminor7      Cmajor7      D7      Eminor7      F#minor7b5

                (Home chord)

    b7th               R                2nd             b3rd          4th           5th               6th

Example 1

Our first example presents a G major 7 arpeggio in position 4 (A-shape), relative to the CAGED/5-position system. The technique integrates a 3-note-per-string legato roll on the high E string, which includes the additional 6th or 13th degree. After extending the range with a right hand tap on the high root note - G, the example then descends using left hand tapping, otherwise known as hammer-ons from nowhere.

As we can see from figure 2, our G major 7 arpeggio can be viewed as starting from the b7th degree of the A Dorian mode, and when superimposed over our ‘home’ A minor 7 chord, gives us a colourful sounding A minor 13 sound. Let’s review this superimposition so we can see how the notes of the G major 7 arpeggio extend the intervals of our ii A minor 7 chord:

The diatonic arpeggio built from the b7th of our A Dorian mode is G major 7, with the following notes:

G(R)  B(3rd)  D(5th)  F#(7th)

When viewed from the perspective of A Dorian, these notes give us the following intervals:

b7th(G)  9th(B)  11th(D)  13th(F#)

As a formula, we can remember that over our ii minor 7 chord in any key, we can superimpose the diatonic major 7 arpeggio starting from the b7th degree. This extends our basic minor 7 tonality to include the 9th, 11th and 13th degrees.

Try to ensure that the sweep stroke is played lightly and in one single motion. To keep the notes well separated, and to avoid any dissonant clashes - focus on the fretting hand with the finger pressure released as you play the next note. Practice the exercise slowly until memorised, before finding your base speed on the metronome and repeating continuously for five minute per day as part of an overall routine. During this timeframe, and in general when repeating exercises continuously - always shake out the hands and arms as soon as you feel the onset of any tightening sensations, fatigue or tension.

After a week or so, and when the exercise can be repeated continuously with good accuracy, timing and tone - try increasing the metronome slightly and again practice daily for another week or so before any further increase.

On the fretting hand - keep the thumb in the middle of the back of the neck, and with plenty of space from the underside of the neck to the cup of the fretting hand. For the left hand taps - hit down hard and from a height at first to encourage good timing and accuracy, and concentrate on an equal velocity between all the notes.

On the picking hand - hold the pick as normal for the sweep strokes and use the second finger to tap, so as to provide a seamless transition from sweeping to tapping. Position the hand flat with the heel/thumb-pad resting on the bass strings over the fretboard in order to mute, and close to where the tap is played. Try to minimise any movement in the right hand as you rest on the strings, so as to prevent any unwanted noise.

Example 2

This next example expands upon our first example, and applies our sixteenth-note sweeping pattern to an ascending cascade of extended arpeggios. In the first bar, we have the diatonic arpeggio built from the b3rd degree of our ‘home’ ii A minor 7 chord - C major 7. This gives us the following notes:

C(R)  E(3rd)  G(5th)  B(7th)

When viewed from the perspective of A Dorian, these notes give us the following intervals:

b3rd(C)  5th(E)  b7th(G)  9th(B)

As a formula, we can remember that over our ii minor 7 chord, we can superimpose the diatonic major 7 arpeggio starting from the b3rd degree. By doing this, we extend the intervals of our basic minor 7 chord a third higher to include the 9th degree, giving us an extended minor 9 sound.

In the second bar, we have the diatonic arpeggio built from the 5th degree of our ‘home’ ii A minor 7 chord - E minor 7. This gives us the following notes:

E(R)  G(b3rd)  B(5th)  D(b7th)

When viewed from the perspective of A Dorian, these notes give us the following intervals:

5th(E)  b7th(G)  9th(B)  11th(D)

As a formula, we can remember that over our ii minor 7 chord, we can superimpose the diatonic minor 7 arpeggio starting from the 5th degree. By doing this, we extend the intervals of our basic minor 7 chord by two extra consecutive thirds - giving us the 9th and 11th degrees for an extended minor 11 sound.

In the third bar, we have the G major 7 arpeggio superimposed over our A minor 7 tonality, and which as we’ve seen already - gives us the fully extended A minor 13 sound. In the fourth bar, we have the diatonic arpeggio built from the 9th degree - B minor 7. This gives us the following notes:

B(R)  D(b3rd)  F#(5th)  A(b7th)

When viewed from the perspective of A Dorian, these notes give us the following intervals:

9th(B)  11th(D)  13th(F#)  R(A)

As a formula, we can remember that over our ii minor 7 chord, we can superimpose the diatonic minor 7 arpeggio starting from the 9th degree. By doing this, we extend the intervals of our basic minor 7 chord by three extra consecutive thirds. This gives us the 9th, 11th and 13th degrees, for a variation in the voicing of our extended minor 13 sound in comparison to the G major 7/A. The cascade finishes with a return to the initial C major 7 arpeggio (A minor 9 sound) played an octave higher.

This example gives us a gradual unfolding of all three extensions up to the 13th degree as the idea ascends, and provides a framework which can then be broken down and integrated with other ideas and concepts when improvising.

Example 3

This next example starts in the first bar using the sweeping technique to ascend a G major 7 arpeggio (A minor 13 sound), and with a legato full-roll including a right hand tap on the high E string. The example then descends using the left hand tapping or hammering-on-from-nowhere technique.

In bar 2, the example then ascends our ‘home’ A minor 7 arpeggio. Be aware of the use of the first and fourth finger hammer-on over the first two sixteenth-notes, as this provides the seamless transition from the previous G major 7 arpeggio. Although unusual in conventional playing, this combination will occur from time to time when moving through arpeggio-based cascades.

Isolate beats 3 and 4 of this second bar, and in particular - be aware of the targeting of the fourth finger on the first sixteenth-note of beat 4, and just before the final tapped note. This will help set up a seamless transition into bar 3, with the example then descending the notes of the E minor 7 arpeggio, and resolving on the 5th degree of A. This method of moving from one arpeggio to the next is similar to the descending cascade that we studied in our issue 30 solo study ‘Full Roller.’

Example 4

Our fourth example is similar in structure to our previous example, although starting higher up on the fretboard with an ascending and descending C major 7 arpeggio. As we’ve already seen, this gives us an A minor 9 extended sound when superimposed over our underlying A Dorian tonal centre. As a visual landmark, try to recognise the first note - C as the b3rd relative to our underlying A root note (viewed on the low E string at the 17th fret in this position). In the second bar, the example ascends the B minor 7 arpeggio, before descending the notes of the A minor 7 arpeggio in position 4 (A-shape relative to the CAGED system).

Example 5

Our fifth and final example for this month features another colourful sounding cascade, this time starting in bar 1 with the ‘home’  A minor 7 arpeggio. The example then moves from a superimposed B minor 7 arpeggio in bar 2, which gives us an A minor 13 extended sound, to a C major 7 arpeggio in bar 3, which gives us an A minor 9 sound.

That’s all for this month, thanks for joining me and I’ll see you next issue for the eleventh part in our series, which will continue to look at applying the legato, sweeping, and left and right hand tapping techniques to our extended arpeggio framework.


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