Cliche Busting Moves, Part 1

Hello there, it's Nick Andrew (the Mad Scotsman) here with the first in a series of lessons in cliche busting musical ideas for the bold axe men and axe women out there, looking for something more than the latest licks.

I'm going to use very simple and accessible ideas, showing you how to get the most out of things you probably already know. We'll start by looking at that standard amongst guitarist cliches, the minor pentatonic and the standard blues licks.
In this first lesson example I have played a wee solo over an Am funky/bluesy-backing track.

Audio track - MP3

You'll notice that the first lick is a common blues lick using the Am pentatonic scale. I repeat the lick with a different ending then go on to play a few more cliches. This is all played at the 5th position using the standard Am pentatonic scale shape for the first 16 bars. It's OK! Won't win any prizes, it fills some time. But...

You want to be able to turn heads, bend ears and have your playing on everybody's play lists, not just fill time within your solos or compositions! So here is the idea.

First, get familiar with the other pentatonic shapes.

Next, take any cliche or pet lick you do and use it lots, but change where you play it. You can play the same lick, just move it to the next scale shape. For example the 1st lick in the second 16 bars is a copy of the first lick, but I then for the second lick, I move it to the next scale shape in the pentatonic sequence (C maj penta). Sound a wee bit different? Throughout the second 16 bars I am only using standard blues licks, but playing them in all the pentatonic mode shapes!

If you want to know which ones then just convert the lick into its 5th position Am pentatonic form using the same strings and bends etc. You should see that what I'm playing is not that complex, but it sounds a lot more interesting than the same old solo again and again!

I am using the modes of the pentatonic scale, which you will have to learn. Even if you just get 2 or 3 under your belt then you will notice the difference. If you know them already then start to put together sequences of licks moving through each scale shape.
Right - no more cliches!

Get offline and get practicing!

Nick Andrew is a unique guitarist, MIDI guitarist, and composer who has a wealth of experience playing concerts and performing sessions with various people including people as diverse as the Stylistics, Simon Dinnigan and members of Paul Weller's band, Mott the Hoople and Napalm Death.

Andrew's debut release is entitled "Solo?"

Nick Andrew