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The Bridge to Esoterica pt. 2

Last month’s installment of "Insanity 101" covered the whole-tone scale. We took a quick look at the scale and then a few runs and ways in which we might apply them. This month, we’ll look at some chords based on the whole-tone scale. These are not quite as easy to inject into a piece, so it may serve you to compose a brief etude (a short piece of music written to explore a specific musical idea or technique) as a means of more deeply exploring and exploiting the sonic potential of this interesting scale.

Here are a few possible chord shapes to start you off.

Listen (midi)

Play around with those chords a bit and see what you come up with. Try using them in a clean, slow-tempo piece; then compose something at mid-tempo with lots of distortion. Note the last two chords make nice, movable chord shapes that can be used all over the neck – so experiment freely with these.

Here’s a quick study to help get the ball rolling. This is a short interlude that I wrote that forms the basis of a piece that will appear on my new CD, "Hunger". I hope you enjoy it.

Listen (midi)

You can also hear a piece drummer Mike Froedge (now the drummer for Roadrunner Records artists DoubleDrive) and I did with the band Aurora-Sen about 10 years ago. The song is called "Random Access". It’s a study of whole-tone possibilities and polymetric ideas, and has a very primal "voodoo" sort of feel to it. It tends toward the cinematic rather than the concert stage, but it expresses some interesting sonic capabilities of the whole-tone scale. To hear the piece, just punch the "Aurora-Sen" link below in my bio.

Remember, folks – feel free to drop me a line with comments, questions, and suggestions. I always dig hearing from you!


David M. McLean
is the proprietor of Skinny Devil Music Labs, former guitarist of the avant-garde fusion-metal bandAurora-Sen, guitar instructor, and columnist forTinFoil 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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