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Lesson Series

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Sam Bell Rhythm Guitar Concepts Part 10: Using Sus and Add Chord Fragments

Lesson Notes

•• Featured in issue 65 ••

In the next few instalments of my column based upon rhythm playing I am going to be taking a look into the world of utilising suspended chords and add chords over various bass notes that create ethereal textures within our rhythm part writing and playing. In this issues column, I have

created a track that demonstrates various usages of these type of chords mixed with wide interval ‘modal’ voicings that can be moved around to create different chordal extensions, some of which are outside of our traditional ‘7th’ chord extensions. Be sure to check out the video section of this column to hear the example itself and hear what I have to say about the piece of music I have prepared for this column. I have also made a TAB available as PDF or Guitar Pro so you can see some of the voicings on paper. This can be helpful for really ‘seeing’ how these modal voicings move around and how they look on a traditional music stave.

BARS 1 – 8 The first section of this column, I started with a simple bass line. Eb, F to A. Over the top of the first two root notes, I used a specific voicing that when played over the bass note of the Eb and F would give us a 6/9 chord. A 6/9 chord is built from the following intervals:

1 – 3 – 5 – 6 – 9

These chord voicings may appear a wide stretch if you find them challenging to get to then try and voice only the top G, B and E strings of the chord voicings in order to highlight the 5th, 6th and 9th intervals. The Minor Second relationship between the 5th and 6th intervals creates a nice crunch, which makes these particular voicings of the 6/9 chord sound particularly beautiful. It’s close to how maybe a piano player would voice these chords. When the bass line in this first section moves to the note A, I play a small shell voicing which implies the notes C, D and F#. These intervals over the note A spell out 1 – m3 – 11th – 13th. This is a very Dorian sound. Within the riff I swap between the high F# note and the open E string. When played with the open E string we are simply voicing the 5th over our Tonic A root note.

BARS 9 – 16 This is where the harmony gets very interesting. It’s also where I stress that chords can be named a numerous amount of different technical names. For guitarists its best to simply these voicings, so they are understandable for musicians. As the guitar is often playing over instruments that can play a lower register, I feel it’s best to notate these as slash chords for simplicity. As far as the voicings I am using here; they were chosen based on the top note melody of each chord. The basic melody here moves between E, D back to E then to G over the descending root notes C#, G, F# and F. In the video I analyse each of these voicings over the root note. Over the first voicing, we have an Asus2 over C# followed by a Gadd9. This is then followed by an Asus2 over F#, then what could be seen as Am7 (no 5th) over F (giving a Fadd9 tonality) This sequence is repeated, but on the G note, I play what could be seen as a CMaj7th over the G note, making it a first inversion CMaj7. The piece is finished off with an arpeggiated chord moving down an Fadd9#11 arpeggio with the final note on the 14th fret A tapped with the right hand in order to keep a legato flowing feel to the cascading slow arpeggio.

In Summary:

Hopefully, at the very least you’ve picked up some tasty new voicings for some very cool, abstract modal style voicings that you can use over fairly straight diatonic harmony. Be sure to check out the video section of this column for some interesting pointers on choosing voicings in different areas of the guitar for different harmonic situations. It’s important to break some of these fingerings down into smaller chunks, especially if you’re finding some of the stretches tricky. Either try them in different registers or using your new found knowledge, take some of the less important intervals out over the bass note. Until then, have fun and I’ll see you in the next instalment of my look at rhythm guitar concepts, enjoy!

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