Pattern-playing in Bebop Scales – not just for Jazz

Picking up where we left off in the first column, Chromaticism, and with the foundation acquired through it, it becomes very easy now to get into some great lines that weave in and out of those inside chord tones. I want to illustrate this on two examples, which, when developed patiently over several days of practice, will give you incredible speed and metric control in your playing. When I have to shed some rock guitar lines, maybe on a studio gig, I tend to fall into those, and it sounds great. If you really like the result, I can only encourage you to apply the concept to other chords, such as dominant sevenths and half-diminished shapes.

First, let’s again take the example of Dm7. Below are two sequences that sound great over this chord:

Sequence 1

Sequence 2

Notice how once again the chord tones (boxed in the first example) fall on the downbeats and the chromatic approach tones on the weaker upbeats.

1. Work this out in a few steps to ensure getting it right and progressively engrained in your finger movement. First play the arpeggio shape:

Boxed Example(lower root is on 5th string, 5th position)

2. Then review the chromatic ascending approach from the previous column installment; this will make it much easier to apply the sequences, so here it is again:

Example 2

3. Sequence one plays this very approach backwards while keeping the chromatic notes the same. Players like George Benson really get into these types of lines. When you have that line up to playing speed (several days of practice, I’m sure), work on combining it with previously worked out material such as a D minor (Dorian or Aeolian) or the basic ascending chromatic approach as shown below:

Ascending chromatic

4. Sequence two uses an eight-note grouping running up the initial chromatic-style line, starting on every step of the chord. Work this one through the same progressive steps, and then, for kicks, play it fast with high gain on the signal: A cool rock sound with a different kind of bite.

Start with just one of the sequences first and work that out until you can do it technically with ease. Make sure to use alternate picking: Down strokes for chord tones (downbeats) and upstrokes for the chromatic color tones. When comfortable, create a play-along track to experiment over, or use any modal jam, jazz of funk, and adjust the arpeggio shape to the key. The mere fun of this type of line should encourage you to work out this example in all positions on the neck. That applies also to other types of chords as mentioned in the beginning.