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With Chromatic Embellishments (Part 1)

A couple days ago, one of my students at GIT brought in this recording he had of a Jason Becker guitar clinic. OMIGAWD! One of the several insane things that came up through the course of this listening experience was a SICK arpeggio thing he did, completely unaccompanied. As far as I could tell, he was taking arpeggio shapes and breaking up the occurence of the notes within them in a manner similar to what I'm presenting below. Needless to say, his stuff was waaaaaaay cooler, but I wanted to present the overall arpeggio “concept” he was using in the form of this Psycho Licks installment.

Don't know who Jason Becker is? Get with the program!! For an introduction to the man, direct your browser to his personal website. (For the curious, the opening interview w/Jason on his “Articles” page was conducted by me!)


Basically, the barrage below is nothing more than taking lateral arpeggio shapes (shapes played across the neck, as opposed to along), approaching each “chord tone” from the interval of 1/2 step below (via a “hammer-on”), and skipping between different string pairs. All of the arpeggio shapes used in this exercise—D (D-F#-A), G (G-B-D), C (C-E-G), F (F-A-C), and A (A-C#-E)—are indicated over the notation/TAB staves. Once you familiarize yourself with the location of all the notes within these shapes, simply embellish them with the aforementioned “lower chromatic neighbor” tones (again: hammering onto the targeted chord tones from the interval of 1/2 step below). On the accompanying MP3, I'm playing the figure using slight pick harmonics (i.e., “semi-harm”) throughout.

For maximum benefit, try implementing this concept into other arpeggiated chord progressions. For instance, since this particular exercise starts off progressing through the cycle of fifths (the “D-G-C-F” portion of the progression), see if you can complete the circle [e.g., “D-G-C-F,” followed by “Bb (Bb-D-F)-Eb (Eb-G-Bb)-Ab (Ab-C-Eb)-Db (Db-F-Ab)-F# (F#-A#-C#)-B (B-D#-F#)-E (E-G#-B)-A (A-C#-E)”]. Go get 'em!

(*You can hear the lick FAST by clicking HERE*)

(*You can hear the lick SLOW by clicking HERE*)

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