Last month we expanded our
guitaristic bandwidth with Stan Samole,
inspired by his master class at the Whistler
Jazz Fest. Samole walked us through a
line that used the entire range of the guitar
over the first eight bars of the classic “All the
Things You Are.” This month we’ll tackle
the next eight bars using the same concept.
“Up and down exercises are just that:
Start at the bottom of the instrument and
work your way up to the top, then back
down and repeat,” says Samole. “The benefits
are clear: We’re forced to learn all the
notes everywhere on the guitar. There’s
no hiding in comfortable positions. Sound
theory is required to find both the ‘correct’
and the interesting notes to play. On the
dominant sevenths, for example, seek out
the flat 9 or 13, or other intriguing intervals—
avoid playing just basic triad notes.
Arriving at the top or bottom of the neck
can happen on any chord, and anywhere in
any measure or phrase. Just reverse when
you run out of frets!”
The line presented here is melodically
simple, but the tricky part is the fingering.
The slides and position shifts—if you get
comfortable with them—will pay dividends
in all your improvising, whether it be over
jazz changes, a I-IV-V, or a pedal tone. The
provided fingerings are logical enough, but
don’t hesitate to mix them up—or to shift
strings to hit the next note—if that feels
“There’s another even greater hidden
benefit to this exercise,” Samole continues.
“Playing in one direction is unnatural,
melodically limited and restrictive. The only
way to make it sound good is to use other
less obvious tools like creative phrasing,
grace notes, dynamics, and articulation.
The deeper lesson here is it’s not which
notes are played, but how they’re played
that makes a creative performance.”
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