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Repetition and Redundancy

Every so often you’ll come up with a really great riff or series of riffs and find your self not knowing how to fill in the gaps, or end the song. Its about as annoying as it gets. You’ll sit there thinking – “what can I do to fix this, I need more chords!” and as you’ll probably notice, you can run out pretty quick if you’re using power chords. A lot of people has this pre-conceived notion about what makes a good chord progression.

Ladies and gents, it’s time for yet another epiphany: You don’t have to have a new chord for each bar of music! You can create truly awesome solo’s and lead melody work over just two chords! It’s one of my favorite tricks to use – and it is complimented nicely with the use of the Relative Major / Minor transition that we discussed last time. One of the best things about understanding this is that when you’ve truly come to terms with the potential that’s locked within an oscillating riff you’ll be able to completely and totally out do yourself.

There is an entire zoo of chords out there, in all sorts of keys and scales. Pick two that sound good to you when you play them back and fourth, play one chord for 2 measures of any time signature that you like or feel comfortable in, and then switch to the next chord, then play it for 2 measures, then back. Just keep repeating them -switch it up a little, try progressing on each chord individually, but keep the same root note, and try to make the same alterations for each chord.

Example:

Cmaj

e---0------------------
B--1-------------------
G--0-------------------
D--2-------------------
A--3-------------------
E--0-------------------

Amin

e---0------------------
B--1-------------------
G--2-------------------
D--2-------------------
A--0-------------------
E----------------------

Going back to last lesson – the C major chord and the A minor chord. They run into each other perfectly and separate just as easily, and make playing the Modes in C a piece of cake. If you made it through 1st lesson you know all 7 modes in C, so just practice walking through the modes while those two chords above repeat.

If you practice enough, you will eventually realize what’s going on and either feel really stupid, or way cool. Now lets see if you really did your home work.


E minor

e-----------------------
B-----------------------
G-----------------------
D--2--------------------
A--2--------------------
E--0--------------------

CminAdd9
e----------------------
B----------------------
G--0-------------------
D--2-------------------
A--3-------------------
E--0-------------------

Now try and solo over those two. After a while it gets pretty fun, but it can also get pretty tired and old repeating the same damn thing. This is where redundancy comes in. You can change a tired old riff that just repeats on end for ever by simply moving the riffs location – Metallica is infamous for this trick, just listen to “…And Justice For All” – that entire CD is a perfect example of how to stretch a rif for all it’s worth, both the notes and the rhythms.

Here are a few examples.



E--------------------------------------------------
B--------------------------------------------------
G--------------------------------------------------
D---------5p0-------4p0------2p0----2--------------
A---0-0--------0-0-------0-0-------0-0-------------
E--------------------------------------------------

It’s fun, it’s grooving, but it’s going no where. What it needs is a little bit of intuition, something that shows there’s more at work here than just a simple working knowledge of the basics. It doesn’t have to be something that will make angels sing or the earth to stand still, it just needs to change a little, needs to move a little.

So lets try this


E--------------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------3---------
G---------5p0-------4p0------2p0----2--------------
D---0-0--------0-0-------0-0-------0-0-------------
A--------------------------------------------------
E--------------------------------------------------

Hey,now there’s something new… except for the new part. All we did was chuck a little good old fashioned chromatic attitude in with our Modular playing (mode based playing). Now, if we repeat the two, we’re using more than just a chord change. We’re using Pedal points, ChordProgression, and Chord shifts. May not seem to impressive, but the sound is there that gives you a whole lot of different things to play with as you’re soloing.

Try playing one and then the other, and just keep alternating, see what happens…

There are lots of “walking” riffs and runs and lines you can play that repeat like this, experiment and look around for them, their all over and lots of them sound very interesting. Don’t just look for modal patterns, you will notice that certain “shapes” on the fret board will become more visible to you as you play, you’re fingers will develop a memory of their own and you’ll find certain things will repeat in a continuous pattern.

Now I could go on for ever with the patterns, but I’m going to leave that up to personal discovery, that way you can do some actual learning instead of being a mindless student.

What I will do though, is give you a tab out of one of my songs that utilizes these concepts in a lot of different ways.

Below you’ll find the chord progression, and it’s tangent progressions, as well as my lead work that accompanies it. I think you’ll like it. The song is called “Olympian”. The idea istwo track runners competing – trying to show up the other. That means they are given the same set of track and told to do their stuff, – when I recorded this song I used two different guitar tones so as you listen you can distinguish the two different track runners.



Here is the main progression:

E--------------------------------------------------
B--------------------------------------------------
G---5-------7--------------------------------------
D---5-------7--------------------------------------
A---3-------5--------------------------------------
E--------------------------------------------------


Heres a 3rdtangent on the same progression

E--------------------------------------------------
B--------------------------------------------------
G--------------------------------------------------
D---2--------4-------------------------------------
A---3--------5-------------------------------------
E--------------------------------------------------


Andhere’s a whole major third

E--------------------------------------------------
B--------------------------------------------------
G---0-------2--------------------------------------
D---2-------4--------------------------------------
A---3-------5--------------------------------------
E--------------------------------------------------


Between those variations and the main theme it’s self you should be able to have lots of fun with it, just practice running through the modes. Just make sure you have 2 measures of each chord, be it any rhythm you want – just keep the notes the same. Below are a few of my favorite licks to help you see what I mean.


C5
E-----------14-----15----14--------|----------14-----15----14----------|
B-------13---------------------15--|-------13--------------------15----|
G---12-----------------------------|---12------------------------------|
D----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
A----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
E----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|



D5
E------------14-------15----17------|-----------14------15----17--------|
B--------15---------------------15--|-------15----------------------15--|
G---14------------------------------|---14------------------------------|
D-----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
A-----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
E-----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|



C5
E---------19----------19---------|---------19---------19----------------|
B---17---------17----------------|---17---------17----------------------|
G--------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
D--------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
A--------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
E--------------------------------|--------------------------------------|



D5
E---------17---------17-----------|---------17---------17----------------|
B---15---------15-----------------|---15---------15----------------------|
G---------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
D---------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
A---------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
E---------------------------------|--------------------------------------|



Starting to see how this works? Those two chords, and their variations can have quite a powerful effect on the listener, and since they’re predictable – you as a soloist know –exactly- what you have to work with, and you can really shred it up with out having to pound your brains out over and over again trying to find a way over a chord progression that is a complete mystery to you. A hint for ya is this – regardless of how complex something may seem, it will almost always be made up of smaller, simpler parts. That goes double for music – remember, only 12 tones to work with. Don’t make more work for yourself than you have too, keep it simple to start with, then work on trimming it to fit, Mozart didn’t write Symphony 40 on the first take, and it’s not likely that you’re gonna rock the charts on your first time playing a guitar, so don’t expect an instant gratification. Music takes time, and dedication, those of you who make it through each lesson and understand thing will come to understand that more with each passing lesson.

I will now leave the concepts of repetition and redundancy in your hands. Go fourth and make music, learn to use the tools of music to your advantage. They’ll help your song writing become a little bit more structured, or at least, allow you the option to structure it or not… That choice is up to you. Once again the fable comes…. – It’s better to have the knowledge and choose not to use it; than want to do something, and not know how…

That said, good luck and I’ll see you next month!

-Tachi

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