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Melodic Devices: Chordal Licks

Thought you could get away from Blaster Master music did you? Think
again! We have not yet begun to stray from that
Well, we covered linear movement last time. It’s simple stuff. Now
we’re going to cover one of the big ruts people have. How to you turn a
chord into something that moves melodically?

Simple, manipulate the chord. There comes a time when you play, and you
just can’t find a lick that’ll fit over a chord – then what do you do?
Simple, play that chord, and mess with it. Here’s what I mean.

Take this simple F major form:


So how do you make it get up and go? – Take parts of them and phrase

Here comes Stage 3 from Blaster Master ^_^



Three whole chords and all the sudden we’re movin, and the second chord gives a rhythmic device for the third chord to mimic. To take it even further and full up some space the third chord, which is double voiced is repeated one octave higher, phrasing in the whole thing, creating melody with out playing note for note. – And you all thought solos had to be these big huge note after note monstrosities that only guitar gods could play.

Lesson here is when you can’t make note for note stand on it’s own ground use your head and remember that its the phrasing of the notes that gives you sense of movement, not the notes them selves. Knowing you can arpegiate through a sticky spot is a handy thing, but that’s basically all sweep picking shredders do, mimic the same chords or a voicing there of with an arpeggio. While it’s an awesome tool and when used well it’s got a phenomenal impact on the listener, it can become kinda tedious to listen to and to play after a while, the groves where in and you’re stuck with the same kind of movement over and over and you can’t break free.

Most of us learn blues based rock, and when we can belt out blues licks continuously we think we’re the best, but then we realize we’re just treading water in the same pond, no matter what key it is. A lot of us throw in the towel right there. Then we hear about the modes and think – finally I can do something truly different, and we do, for a time…

But again, the groves wear in and all the sudden we’re stuck with the same kinds of progressions, even though their different, we can’t break free. Using a tool like this, you can always break free because you can always count on something to sound different – it’s not an arpeggio, and it’s not a blues lick. It’s chunky, it behaves accordingly, and it can add an unparalleled texture to your playing when used in context.

So make up a 4 chord progression you like, do your note for note alternate picking burns, you’re arpeggiated screams, and then take a few runs with some harmonies, then try and combine these compositional techniques – see what you come up with.

Good luck to you all, and take care!

– Tachi

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