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Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 9: Chordal Tapping Extensions

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 64 **

In this issues column I am going to continue on the same theme as the previous instalment of this series. I am presenting you with a short etude which once broken down to its core parts give us some inspiring ideas of how to approach chordal playing in our own music or an as accompanist. I want to showcase some unique ways of playing ‘Rhythm Guitar’ a phrase which denotes there is a difference between a Lead Guitarist and Rhythm. I feel however the lines can be blurred and as a ‘Rhythm’ player we should be able to play melodically and creatively using our knowledge of Lead technique. In this column we’re going to be taking a look at using Tapping to add to our chords and create harp like flurry’s, we’re not going to get too technical here, but we’re hopefully going to tap into some fresh ‘Rhythm’ guitar approaches.  Let’s dive in with this columns example:

The Harmony:

This examples chord sequence is very spacious and simple. We have the following chords:

DMaj9 – C#m7#5 (x3) – F#m9

These chords come from the Key of A Major/F# Minor. The D chord is the IV chord of A.

The Example:

This columns example is very simplistic but the focus here is more on space and also implementing the tapping technique into our Chordal playing. We’ve all seen many great uses of Tapping, this particular concept that we’re going to dive into in this column has been used by many great players such as Allan Holdsworth and Tosin Abasi to ‘add’ to chords in a modern sounding way.  It’s important to note that even though I am using a clean tone, I am using a touch of compression to even out the notes sound so the voicings ring through more clearly.

If we take a look at the very first chord, we have the essence of today’s lesson. I am holding down a DMaj9 chord, I hammer on to the M3rd on the B string my little finger before tapping the 12th fret B string which gives us the 13th over our D Chord. We’re using the fretted chord effectively as a Melodic Capo. Visually I am thinking about the chord voicing and what I can technically do with it in terms of fingerings then for the (in my case) right hand tapping, I am visualising inversions and extensions of the chord higher up the neck. We could also go as far as visualising whole scale fingerings higher up the neck in order to find other melodic notes. Check out the video breakdown for further explanation and thoughts on this. Be sure to refer to the TAB that comes with this lesson, analyse where the melody notes are, which ones stand out to you?

The Nature and Sound of tapping mixed with the guitars unique standard tuning gives us the ability to ‘add’ to our chords whilst they are being sounded. Almost like playing a Piano, playing a chord with the left hand and then adding to it with notes in the right (however Piano players can do much more than that) but on the Guitar it’s not as easy as we can only really sound up to 6 notes (depending on the fingerings of the chord voicings) at the same time.

Conclusion:

Tapping doesn’t have to be Van Halen’s Eruption or Michael Romeo’s Sea of Lies, with the focus on creating lead lines that cascade like molten lava over the musical soundscape (which is awesome) Tapping can be used to add to our chordal playing, give us more freedom of note choice with voice leading in our chordal playing, it also gives us a more piano like tone and attack on the notes which can lead to all kinds of inspiring ideas. Have lots of fun and I’ll see you soon at Guitar Interactive Magazine!


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