Chromatic Stupidity

Hello! In this lesson we will looking, at the use of chromatic notes in order to spice up your playing. Shredding around on the guitar all day can do something to a person (and to those of a nervous disposition) and these lessons shouldn't be looked at lightly. For those of you who have been learning wide stretch interval playing on the guitar, this is going to feel strange as all the notes (more or less) are close together, making it a bit of a cramp to move around the frets fluently.

And, as I always say to my students, observe the lesson deeper than just what you see on the surface. In other words learn these licks, then "rip them apart", make them your own, create your own ideas from them.

Lick 1

This lick is based around the E Aeolian (Natural Minor) scale, which for those of you that don't know, is the 6th mode of the G Major Scale family. In the first bar I've added a chromatic note (or in this case we'll call it a passing note). It enriches the lick so much by adding just one chromatic tone. Please feel free to experiment!

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MP3 - Lick 1

Lick 2

This lick is a cool one to play; it feels really nice on the fingers and although I used alternate picking throughout, please feel free to try it legato. The pattern is quite similar by comprising a group of three semiquavers and one quaver for each group. One of the secrets to a good sounding guitar lick is rhythm and creating a groove within the lick's structure. Enjoy!

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MP3 - Lick 2

Lick 3 & 4

Lick 3 and 4 are variations of the same idea; they are quite similar to each other but comprise of a different ending. Again, use your creative thinking! This lick is strictly chromatic throughout and uses strict alternate picking. One of the hardest points to learn when playing chromatic licks is the chord(s) to which they are to be played over. Think; beginning and end, i.e. the note to which you start the lick and the note in which you end the lick!

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MP3 - Lick

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MP3 - Lick

Well, that's it for the lesson. But remember that just because a lesson seems small doesn't mean that you can master it in a day or week. It's merely a guideline for you to work on. Even if you lived to be a hundred you should still be finding ideas for this lesson, because if you don't, then someone else will! The laws of evolution - we borrow and we create! Chromatics are a strange thing and you will have to play them reasonably quick for them to work, but in the words of Allan Holdsworth (a master of chromatic playing), "Anything will sound good if you play it fast enough!" Bye for now!

Alan Williamson is a British instrumental guitarist/composer who paints his musical portraits for all to visualize his thematic landscapes.

His latest CD is entitled "Across Angry Skies", featuring his vivid musical journeys.

Alan Williamson

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