Composing Without Your Guitar, Part 2

Welcome back! I hope you had a chance to go through last months lesson and experiment with some of the exercises I gave you. In this lesson I would like to show you just a few small examples that I came up without a guitar that were written on a laptop and a notation program. Even though I have written full tunes and many musical ideas this way, I will be just picking out a few lines from a couple of songs off my latest CD, "Chameleon" and I will break them down for you. Sometimes I will put down a bunch of ideas on one page and then I will pick out the sections I like. I will turn them into musical ideas that I may use in tunes or solos. Like I mentioned before, this is a way to generate different types of ideas that you may not think of when you are playing your instrument and this can be a great way to get out of a rut. Even though this a technical way of coming up with ideas, use your ear, and put feel into it to make it musical. A lot of my music I write is by ear and I may use some theoretical aspects.

This first example is track 3 of the "Chameleon" CD, which is called "Raise the Bow". This song is mainly derived from the E minor scale (E, F#, G, A, B, C, D). This example is a line that I played at about (0.22s) and it is a series of chordal arpeggios. I came up this on a airplane with just a laptop and a notation program without a guitar. This line was constructed from the notes (E, F#, G, A, Bb) and I constructed chords from only those notes. I came up with the first chord (Emb6), which could also be the first inversion of a C maj7th chord. From there I just inverted that chord that generated the next set of chords and then I arpeggiated them. Be sure to alternate pick all the notes in this example.

MP3 - Composing Without Your Guitar, Part 2, Example 1, Slow
MP3 - Composing Without Your Guitar, Part 2, Example 1, Fast

Example 2 is taken from the next tune, which is called "Do It For The Cats" and it is track 10 from the CD. These next couple of examples are from the end of this tune at about (2m37s) and they are 2 bar phrases that I played in the solo section. I have a very special guest playing on this song, and it is Vernon Reid. Vernon and I are trading solos back and forth in this section and we are soloing over mainly just two chords, Cm7/6 or Cm13 to G7 Alt. I just think of this progression as C Dorian mode (C, D, Eb. F, G, A, Bb) to the G altered scale (G, Ab, Bb, B, Dd, Eb, F). This example is a G altered line that I came up without my guitar and I'm just using the notes of the G altered scale. I octave-displaced the notes in different places and that created some tricky string skips, so you may want to follow some of the suggested fingerings.

MP3 - Composing Without Your Guitar, Part 2, Example 2, Slow
MP3 - Composing Without Your Guitar, Part 2, Example 2, Fast

Example 3 is from the same song in example 3 and it occurs at about (2m48s). This line is derived from the C Dorian scale and it is a 2 bar phrase that moves fairly quickly. This one can be tricky to play and to get the phrasing right, especially in the first bar because it moves from a quintuplet pattern to a sextuplet pattern. I alternate pick this whole thing, but you could use sweep picking as well.

MP3 - Composing Without Your Guitar, Part 2, Example 3, Slow
MP3 - Composing Without Your Guitar, Part 2, Example 3, Fast


OK, that is it for now! The next time you don't have your instrument with you or you are looking for new ideas, try to write lines or complete tunes with this approach. Don't forget to visit and check out my "Chameleon" CD.

Mike Campese is an all-around music performer, session artist and teacher competent in many musical styles, electric and acoustic. He has studied at G.I.T. (Honors Graduate), and with Paul Gilbert, Norman Brown, Stanley Jordan, Scott Henderson and Keith Wyatt.

Mike Campese: The Fire Within

His latest CD is entitled "The Fire Within", brand new for 2018.

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