Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Position Studies and Guide-tones on "Four"

    To assist me in getting to know this tune I created a few position studies which are really just voicings for the chords so that they can all be played in one position.  The first set of voicings I used allow me to play through the entirety of the progression in the first position (within the first few frets of the guitar).  As always, good voice-leading is a must.  This means choosing voicings that have the least amount of movement between the individual notes in the chords.

    Position study in the first position:

    If you have read my article on Drop-2 voicings and experimented with them you'll probably see some familiar friends scattered throughout the position studies.  In this next study I was focusing more on keeping all the chords on the top 4 strings (string set [4 3 2 1]) while maintaining good voice leading as opposed to staying in one position.  That being said, every chord in this example is played on the top 4 strings resulting in an overall motion down the neck (away from the bridge).

    Study on string set [4 3 2 1]:

    Creating and playing exercises like this is good for a few reasons.  First, it helps to get the sound and a general "feel" for the progression in your head because you are playing and hearing the harmony in different ways.  Second, it helps to build and strengthen your chord vocabulary because it forces you to come up with chord voicings you may not have come up with otherwise.

    The best way to gain a feel for the general harmony of a progression is to play and listen to the guide-tones of the chords.  An introduction I wrote on guide-tones can be found here.  Instead of constructing a guide-tone line consisting of single notes, here I will use 2 notes at a time which will be the 3rd and 7th of each chord.

    Here's a simple guide-tone line based on the changes to "Four":

    As described in a previous article on guide-tones, lines like this can be really effective in constructing a great solo.  Play it over and over again until the sound of it is firmly embedded in your mind, and next time I will talk about some ideas for soloing over these changes.


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