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Michael Casswell - Pro Concepts Season 3 - Part 2 - Building A Run

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 25 **

Hi everyone. In this Pro Concepts guitar lesson we are going to look at building a guitar run. In previous Pro Concepts we have done this using different themes and approaches. We have looked at runs constructed with finger tapping, Country pedal steel type string bends, alternate picking, whammy bar tricks, chord tone highlights, Country four note picking licks, all of which show there are many approaches you can take if you are creative enough and have a guitar technique that is able cover many styles. Even if your technique needs a lot work, you can still grab interesting things to practice from what we are doing here.

So for this Pro Concepts I have decided to use 'Legato' and 'Hybrid Picking' as my approach, simply because they seem to be popular buzz words around the GI office, and because that combination works well together to create a more 'fusion' sound (which is another buzz word).

Runs are obviously different to licks. Without being able to travel across the fretboard in a cool way, your improvisations could possibly sound static or laboured, rather than interesting and fluid.  Just playing licks does not make the best solo, in my opinion, but you may disagree. Muscle memory plays a big part in the more complicated ways of playing a run, and playing in general, but once your hands know the formula, then they can apply the approach to different keys, feel and tempos. Which is totally the idea with this and previous Pro Concepts tutorials where I have constructed runs on the spot using a certain approach. Once you have the concept and a certain amount of muscle memory with it, you can then take snippets of it and chuck it in there when you are playing your own solos.  Or you could simply copy what I come up with and play it in its entirety, and if you can put it in context, then have it on me!

So our run is based largely on E Dorian, which is where I am taking my note information from. But I am also using that sly trick of including passing tones to make the run slightly more chromatic without sounding totally chromatic! As long as you can see the notes that belong to E Dorian, then passing notes become more controllable and musical, rather than just random notes that you are guessing at. If you don't know the E Dorian mode yet, then think of it as a D major scale played over a song in E minor. If you don't know your D major scale yet, then get it in your fingers before attempting a hybrid picked legato run using chromatics and the Dorian mode. It's always best to walk before you can run, especially when it comes to the guitar.

I have also taken the approach of thinking about an A, B, C section to the run, pieced together to make the complete phrase. This gives your brain and hands a chance to absorb separate components without the pressure of thinking you have to play the whole thing faultlessly. Because you don't,  and each section has its own character and colour that you could treat as smaller licks, phrases or runs (whichever label you want to put on them) to use in your own solo.

As usual, this run is pretty much composed in front of the camera, with just the approach that I am going to take as preparation. I quite like the result and feel it falls just the right side of 'widdle' retaining some cool and musicality. I hope you agree and as usual we can talk about it on my Licklibrary forum or my Facebook band musician page.


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