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Intro and Chromatic Madness

In many of my past instructional texts (“The Art of Scalar Magic” and even “Sonic Dance & Secret Weapons”) I strived to be meticulous and exacting and, above all, structured and sequential. This series will be just the opposite, as I intend to break patterns, not build them. We’ll leap about from topic to topic with little rhyme or reason, where random flights and chaos will be our friends. I hope we can both enjoy the ride!

This month’s installment: Chromaticism.

The chromatic scale:

Here are a few bits of chromatic spice to add to your arsenal. The first example is a run I got from my buddy Kenny Stump who wanted an “alien” sound in the middle of an otherwise very melodic solo.

The below example is a weird little lick that sounded cool when I performed it live. It was doubled by a keyboard player using a cheesy 70s fusion sound, but had a cool Jeff Beck/Jan Hammer effect.

This last segment can be viewed in 2 sections. The first is just plain batty! Be sure to slide slowly enough to hear each note cleanly, but you can ignore the notation and just play the notes freely to see what you get. Have fun with it – the octave displacement will give you plenty of ideas!

Section 2 is a standard for all shredders. I think I got it first from Paul Gilbert, but everyone has a run similar to this. Be sure to play this at blistering speeds.

Have fun with these and be sure to come up with a few of your own. Next month, we’ll play around with melody fragments and alien harmony.

David M. McLean is the proprietor of Skinny Devil Music Labs, former guitarist of the avant-garde fusion-metal band Aurora-Sen, guitar instructor, and columnist for TinFoil Music Magazine (where he conducts interviews in the on-going series “Guitar Gods”). His new solo album, “Hunger”, will be released later this year.

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