Thursday, April 20, 2006

Building tension using 'parallel' lines

This post is targeted at guitar players, mainly because the "bidimensional" design of the guitar makes it easy to visualize those parallel lines, but you can apply it also to "unidimensional" instruments like sax.

'Parallel lines', as I have called this technique, is just as simple as playing a lick, (most of the times a short one) and then repeating it in the next string (or strings) exactly as we played it before. This is one of the tricks I use the most when I want to introduce some outside notes in a phrase. The way to do it is very simple, and you will find that all those notes fit perfectly into the song context, because they have the same 'resolution' as the original line, which is supossed to contain inside notes, and your ear gets used to the intervallic structure of the lick.

A very easy example of this, is the following pattern, which you have probably heard before or even played yourself:

|3-2-0-----------------------------------|
|------3-2-0-----------------------------|
|------------3-2-0-----------------------|
|------------------3-2-0-----------------|
|------------------------3-2-0-----------|
|------------------------------3-2-0-----|

Say we are playing in E dorian mode. The licks on strings 1,2 5, and 6 contain no outside notes, the one on the third string includes a blue note, and the one on fourth string includes a b2.

That's not too much tension yet, but it brings an easy jazzy sound if played fast. (try to play it legato with pull-offs)

Have a look at the next lick in A minor.

|10/11-10-8----8h9p8-------|
|-----------10------10-8---|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|

It includes a blue note, and a C#, which is a 3 from the A major scale, instead of the b3 (C) from the minor scale (aeolian mode) This C# is used as a passing note. I learnt it from Clapton who uses it constantly (just have a look at the solo in Crossroad blues, with Cream). I love how it sounds.

Now let's change this two-strings lick into a four-strings one. We get the next pattern, which is quite colorful.

|10/11-10-8---8h9p8---------------------------------------------------|
|----------10------10-8-10/11-10-8---8h9p8----------------------------|
|----------------------------------9-------9-7-9/10-9-7---7h8p7-------|
|-------------------------------------------------------9-------9-7---|
|---------------------------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------------------------------------------|

The next lick, in D dorian, is sometimes used by Brian Setzer. It's is not exactly
parallel, but i guess the concept is the same (i haven't asked Brian himself, but...)
Try to play it fast and with plenty of swing.

|10p9p8--------------------------|
|------9p8p7---------------------|
|------------8p7p6---------------|
|------------------7p6p5---------|
|------------------------7p6p5-5-|
|--------------------------------|

Brian May plays something similar in "Let Your Heart Move Your Hand", and I guess that many other guitarist use similar ideas.

Now it´s time for you to make your own licks and make them grow by using this little trick.!

1 comment:

oc said...

Mathematics and music are clearly linked... We are seeing that better every day!
Until next week! ;)