Friday, November 4, 2011

Seeing both sides of the Root - paternal twins

To continue on with my series of related posts designed to help you understand the fretboard, I wanted to examine different approaches to any root note. The gist of it is this:

Any chord or scale can be viewed from either side of the root note. 

What I mean by "side" is moving up the neck in the direction of the guitar's body OR moving down the neck in the direction of the guitar's headstock/tuning machines. This series of interlocking shapes can really help you in your playing relatively quickly. This is one of those little "tricks" that can instantly make you sound more pro.

You've Got Rhythm
Blues and soul players have been using this technique for years to give them options in their rhythm playing. Jimi Hendrix, despite being an incredible improvisor, was probably best known for his rhythm skills. He regularly employed this way of seeing the neck in his revolutionary rhythm style.

Jimi (and others) would pivot off the centre of both chords using notes from the shapes on either side to add embellishments. Take a look at Fig 1:

Figure 1

This major chord can be approached from either side allowing you to slide or hammer into it (a la Hendrix) adding melodic content to what could otherwise be just a simple chord vamp.

See the chart at the top. I have demonstrated Major, minor & Dominant chord shapes as viewed from either side of the root note.

Going Solo
This same concept is also applied to scale forms. Viewing scales this way can similarly open up your single note or lead playing. To make this clear, at the bottom of the chart I included how a major scale can be viewed from either side of the root.

The Assignment
Spend time with all the forms presented here. Most importantly, mix and match during songs to add embellishments or even just a different timbre to a mundane, old progression. Play all the chords you normally play... only this time from the 'other side'. This can really open things up for you or, at very least, give you an enjoyable way to approach basic chord changes.

Almost forgot! I should mention that the same principal stands; no matter which string the root resides on. So spend some time playing the above forms. Then write out the major scale on neck paper and work out what forms lie to either side of each note.

Like every lesson, you will get MUCH more from it if YOU do the investigation. All I hope to do is open doors for you with these concepts. You must walk through them.

Hit me up with any questions by way of a comment below.

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