Concepts For Playing "Outside": Part 1

Using some "outside" phrases will inject a nice fusion touch to your soloing.

In general, playing "outside" means playing notes that are not contained in the diatonic scale. This will create tension and can help make a phrase sound more exciting. An "inside" phrase may sound even better if it succeeds an "outside" phrase because of the contrast. This technique is one of many keys to get a jazz or fusion sound.

One cool way to play "outside" is using the whole tone scale. It works best over dominant7-chords like G7 and altered dominant7-chords like G7b5 or G7#5.

Let's take a look at the patterns for this scale:


There's a short form (in one position) and a long form that spans three octaves (and twelve frets). The whole tone scale is symmetrical so there are no other patterns: It repeats every two frets.

For example the G whole tone scale consists of the following notes:

G A B C# D# F

Due to the symetrical nature of this scale, the A whole tone scale would be: A B C# D# F G.

That's just 6 notes in contrast to the major scale's 7 notes. The resulting intervals are:

1 2 3 #4 #5 b7 or
1 2 3 b5 #5 b7

Now let's try some whole tone scale licks:


MP3 - Lick 1

This lick starts and ends on the (inside) chord tone B as the third and in the middle goes through a sequence in fourths, so it goes "in and out" and can be played over a regular G7 chord.


MP3 - Lick 2

In the third bar of Lick 2, bend from C to D then hold the bend and tap on the fifteenth fret, pull off to the thirteenth fret and finally release the bend back to C. Bar two is whole tone scale and the ending phrase is all Mixolydian mode.


MP3 - Lick 3

Lick 3 has a more rhythmic approach and is a completely whole tone scale. It ends on a short G7#5 arpeggio.

I hope you had some fun with these licks. I'll be back in June with another concept for playing "ouside". Feel free to contact me via email with any questions or comments. Also, check out the soundfiles of my two solo CDs and my web site.

Martin Behr is a guitarist from Germany who has studied at M.G.I. (Munich's Guitar Institute), released two solo CDs, and stays busy with studio sessions.

His latest CD is entitled "Law Of The Jungle", which documents his command of many musical styles, his great technique, his tone and feel.

Martin Behr