Every guitarist comes across licks that you just fall in love with. After learning one the next question invaribly is, "Now, how can I use this?" What I'd like to cover in this column is a very useful and effective method of developing new ideas so they can become a functional part of your repertoire. Let's face it, no matter how scary a lick is if you can't use it on demand in a song, it's a useless lick.
The basic idea is to take whatever pattern you've learned and mold it to fit in a chord progression. I use a circle of fifths chord progression because it contains a variety of chord types: Maj Min, Dim, 7, Maj7, m7 and m7b5. You can use another chord progression, but just make sure there are a lot of different chord types and that the progression will take you through the full range of the neck.
In this column I'll take some standard arpeggio and scale techniques through the chord cycle. I'll also use little bits and pieces from other columns on this site for some material. The first example is just a standard 4 note arpeggio form.
The next example comes from the CFH column 'Don't Fear The Sweeper'. In measure 5 the fingering is slightly more difficult. Those of you with big hands won't find the stretch from the 8th fret to the 14th fret too difficult. I don't have large hands and the stretch is a challenge.
Next I get a bit jazzy with some tapped scales based off of the material in Tom Kopyto's 'Alternative Legato Techniques' column. I go up during one chord and down the next.
I stick with some tapped arpeggio patterns for the fourth example. Always keep in mind which note is the root, third, fifth, etc. so that you can effectively modulate the pattern into any key, over any chord. This way the lick truly becomes a part of your lick repertoire that you can call upon whenever you wish. I stopped this one's tab after the first five measures to save space.
Finally, I end with a simple scale pattern winding between the third and root of each chord. There's a passing note to lead to each new chord as well. I couldn't help but add the harmony to make it sound more cool.
As you can see by taking a lick and running it through this sequence you learn something about it and possible ways you could use it. You'll learn how a lick may or may not be useful to you. It's interesting to note that even simple patterns of two and three notes can become something very intense when modulated through a chord cycle . Try taking some of your own licks and running them through this cycle or any other chord cycle you can think up. You'll get a feel for what tempos certain licks feel comfortable at and in what types of meters they fit best.
the following bio material provided by Aaron Harris
Aaron Harris is one of Chicago's top guitar instructors and head of the guitar department at O'Day Music Studios. He has a degree in guitar performance from the University of Evansville where he studied with Renato Butturi who also taught guitar virtuoso Andy Timmons and concert classical guitarist Joseph Fratiani.
In 2000 Aaron's first instrumental LP 'In Essence' made waves in the online guitar community. He is sponsored by Dean Markley Strings and is a contributing columnist for Chops From Hell as well as New Music Edge (newmusicedge.com). Aaron is hard at work recording both a new instrumental album and a band album. Aaron can be found online at: