Beyond E Major (Part 8)
more solo styles
This is the Minor example of last month's lounge lizard C6-9. Striking the middle four strings only, you'll play C (the tonic), E flat (flattened third), A (the sixth), and D (ninth).
As with all 'C' shapes, the tonic is dictated by the note pressed on the 5th string, in this case with the third finger. The first finger is placed two frets behind on the D string; the second finger plays the second fret on the G string; the fourth finger the D on the third fret, B string.
It's an excellent chord to use as a melodramatic ending. Try this little cadence using it to turn a minor into a major conclusion:
4/4 I Cm6-9 /// Eflat m6-9 /// Cma7 /// II
The Eflat m6-9 is the same shape as in the photograph but played with the tonic (ie the third finger) on the E flat, sixth fret, 5th string. The major seventh is the 'A' type shape shown in the July issue of OTT using a barred first finger across the neck on the third fret.
Remember to keep your l.h. thumb directly under the middle of the neck so that your fingers can address the strings like an alert crab.
Got any speed then? Are a Faster Master Blaster?
If the answer is yes, you've been reading, digesting, and putting into practice 'Beyond E Major'. But this month I will definitely keep within E Major and unravel the easiest way to solo from the top E string down to the 5th string. The September column glanced over a pattern running from the 2nd string to the 4th. That sequence and the one I'm about to show you can be played in any key by simply starting on a different fret (i.e. when playing over an F chord you'd start from the F on the third fret of the D string).
Place your third finger on the 5th string at the seventh fret. By now you should instinctively know that this note is E.
Give it a tickle with your plectrum — perhaps a little fast trilling. Bend the string crossways pulling it down so that the 5th string almost touches the 4th.
Just one note, and already it can take on different characteristics. Moving the finger about on a fret like this will lengthen the sustain of the note.
Now place your first finger two frets down on the 5th string (fifth fret, D). Keeping it in place, pull the third finger on and off. If you're familiar with the Groundhog's 'Cherry Red' off the LP 'Split' (United Artists) you'll know the sound — a fast warble a tone apart between the E and D, with the third finger sounding the note by hammering on and off. The left hand fingers should strike with enough impact to allow the right hand to reach for a refreshing glass of beer.
Having got the perspective of that mix in the third finger on the seventh fret of the 6th string (B), the first finger on the fifth fret, 4th string (G); and the third finger on the seventh fret, 4th string (A), the first person to play 'Black Night' by Deep Purple gets a karate stun blow in the neck.
Just concentrate on these five notes for a while, adding character by pulling crossways with l.h. fingers, or by vibrating your l.h. This violin-style vibrato also helps to lengthen and enrich the sound of a note.
Although I'm trying not to move out of E this month, try this finger shape on different parts of the neck. For example, strum a Csharp chord to get the tonal perspective, then repeat the pattern starting from the Csharp on the fourth fret of the 5th string. The all round guitarist must be able to play anything in any key!
When you're satisfied that you understand the relationship of the notes being played and their possibilities, slide the third finger from the A on the 4th string (7th fret) up two frets to the B, from where you can reach the octave via the first finger on the D, 3rd string (7th fret); to the E with the third finger, 3rd string (9th fret). The sliding of the third finger between the A and B (or fourth and fifth notes of the scale) adds a nice bluesy touch. Alternatively you can 'pull' the A held on the 4th string towards the 3rd string so that the note rises a tone to the B.
Once again, when doing this type of exercise, thoroughly explore the potential of every single note/finger combination, as well as inter-note relationships. Don't always hit then bend a string. Try bending first then plucking it, so that the 'whine' descends. It's a tasty little gimmick that requires quick and forward thinking when dropping it in the middle of a run.
Try a descending run doing a 'backwards bend' on every note. A great way to strengthen the fingers!
Having reached the E on the 3rd string (ninth fret) with the third finger, replace it by sliding the second finger up behind it. You are now in the 'Alvin Lee Triangle' position.
This second finger forms the centre point of a triangle made between the first finger on the eighth fret of the 2nd string and the third finger on the tenth fret.
Scalewise the second finger is the tonic, the first the flattened third, and the third finger the fourth — in the key of E this being E, G, and A.
Compare these three notes with the same notes using different finger positions, an octave down on the 5th string. Alternate from one to another to improve the speed with which you can jump positions. A good exercise for target practising.
When ready, slide the third finger up two frets to add the fifth note of the scale, as you did on the lower octave. With your third finger so positioned (in the diagram, the twelfth fret, 2nd string), you can play the D (tenth fret, 1st string) with your first finger and the top E (twelfth fret, 1st string) with the third.
Each of the three Es (or tonics) you have played with the third finger. Likewise the D (or flattened 7th) two frets back you played with the first finger, and the B (or fifth) with the third finger a string lower. Practice a fast repetitive pattern of EDAEDA in each of the three positions. Now strike an F chord and repeat the same exercise. When comfortable with that, work chromatically (semi-tone by semi-tone) through the twelve tones. That'll keep you occupied for a good few hours.
On the way down in both octaves, it is better to play the A with the first finger rather than sliding the third back. This is because a simple pattern like this is a well known scale of sorts, and to deviate successfully requires enough knowledge to be able to resolve an improvised melodic pattern. Dropping the third finger down from the fifth note of the scale (B) to the fourth (A) could make the A sound weak. But playing the A with the first finger means E, D, B and A can be played all that much faster, and by virtue of the flattened third (G) being by nature a weak note (the minor note in a three note Minor chord of tonic, flattened third, and fifth), it actually enhances its vulnerability.
Practice the following at length:
Going UP the lower octave.
Going DOWN the lower octave.
Going UP the lower, making the switch from 3rd to 2nd finger on the middle E then playing the higher octave run.
Going DOWN the higher octave, switching from 2nd to 3rd finger, then descending the lower octave.
Speed up as and only when your understanding of finger placement and melodic continuity increases.
May I leave you burning the midnight lamp
With a lyrical afterthought over which you might vamp
I've changed my mind about keeping things in E
So try it once more in every other key
Beyond E Major is where you gotta be.
Feature by Billy Jenkins
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