Inverted Pedal Tones

If you ever find yourself letting the low E ring open while playing various chords above it on the higher strings, you’re employing the harmonic practice known as pedal point. Specifically, that hypnotic, droning low E is a pedal tone. What many budding guitarists don’t realize is that inverted pedal tones—notes sustained above a series of chords—can be equally mesmerizing. You may recognize inverted pedal tones in the famous Antonio Carlos Jobim standard, “One Note Samba,” which is typically played using a chord progression comprising the first five grids below. (The F held at the 6th fret of the second string in Dm7, Db7, Cm11, B7b5, and Bb6/9 is the inverted pedal, and it approximates the tune’s one-note vocal melody.) Piano players also have fun with this approach. Try playing the chords from Herbie Hancock’s 1969 gem “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” with the F# at the 2nd fret of the first string acting as a chiming inverted pedal throughout the lower row of chords.
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