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Magic with melody Fragments

Let’s say we start with a basic melody line. Then let’s say we cut out a signature section, something like this:

Play this a few times through and improvise for a while. Now, amid whatever shred-fest you’ve jammed out to go along with this, try referring back to this fragment. Seasoned guitarists like Neil Schon, George Lynch, and Steve Stevens are known for this sort of repeated reference, often spicing it up with octave displacement and micro-themes played between long scalar runs. Try these following examples, which feature octave displacement:

Scalar runs:

And even “alien” harmonies:

This last fragment uses the initial
melody fragment plus a parallel harmony (minor 3rd). Using
“perfect’ parallel movement, rather than diatonic movement, is a great way to
achieve bizarre harmonic effects – though it’s probably easier to pull it off
either by double-tracking (when recording) or using a harmonizer (when playing
live), rather than playing such odd diads. Experiment with different intervals
and get a feel for the flavor of each.

Meditate on this for a while, and next
month we’ll explore a little game invented by Mozart.

David M. McLean
is the proprietor of

Skinny Devil Music
, former
guitarist of the avant-garde fusion-metal band

guitar instructor, and columnist for

TinFoil Music

(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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