December 2017 Guitar Player Lesson Bonus Content

Here are the lessons and bonus content from the December 2017 issue of Guitar Player!
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Here are the lessons and bonus content from the December 2017 issue of Guitar Player!
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PHOTO: Cindy Moorhead

The TAB and audio files provided in the lessons below are bonus content for the December 2017 issue of Guitar Player. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs, and more, pick up the issue on newsstands now or at the Guitar Player Online Store.

How to Build Relative Melodic Lines and Chords Using Diatonic Sequencing

By Jesse Gress

Honing your chops involves much more than sheer velocity. If you want to play fast, concentrating on speed is fine, but you’ll also need to develop the ability to generate interesting melodic ideas to hold the listener’s attention. One way to accomplish this is by expanding licks and chord voicings you already know, via diatonic sequencing, whereby each note is raised or lowered to its neighboring scale step in accordance with its key center. Here’s how it works.


Guitarists often tend to think of licks and chords as individual entities, when, in truth, both belong to families and have diatonic relatives and neighbors born from the notes of a given scale. That’s why it’s important to know your major key centers and what notes and chords they contain. Regardless of key, all major scales (a.k.a. the Ionian mode) utilize the same step formula: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. In the key of C, this translates to C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, with scale steps, or degrees, numbered as 1(root)-2-3-4-5-6-7-1(root octave). The G major scale would be spelled G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G, the D major scale is D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D, and so forth.

Major keys also allow access to six additional relative modes, which are formed by re-designating each scale step as the root and relabeling the scale steps to correspond with each shift in the major scale formula, resulting in the essence of diatonic sequencing. The relative modes in the key of C and their respective scale-step formulas are as follows: D Dorian (1-2-b3-4-5-6-b7-1); E Phrygian (1-b2-b3-4-5-b6-b7-1); F Lydian (1-2-3-#4-5-6-7-1); G Mixolydian (1-2-3-4-5-6-b7-1); A Aeolian, a.k.a., A minor (1-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7-1); B Locrian (1-b2-b3-4-b5-b6-b7-1).

These modal shifts also apply to the family of chords generated by harmonizing any major scale in diatonic thirds, as either three-note triads or four-note seventh chords. The quality of each triad or seventh chord—major, minor, and diminished, or major7, minor7, dominant7, and minor7b5—always remains consistent on each scale step, regardless of key. Chord-scale steps are typically denoted using Roman numerals: Imaj or Imaj7, IIm or IIm7, IIIm or IIIm7, IVmaj or IVmaj7, Vmaj or V7, VIm or VIm7, and VIIdim or VIIm7b5.


So what’s the point? Armed with this knowledge, you can transform any major or minor lick in your current musical vocabulary into six related licks derived from the same scale or mode. (Pentatonic-based licks will only generate four additional relative lines.) Let’s take a simple four-note motif derived from the C major scale and apply the diatonic sequencing process.

Ex. 1 begins with a 6-7-5-3 motif (A-B-G-E), played as eighth notes on beats one and two.

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By raising each note to its next ascending scale step we arrive at the 7-1-6-4 lick (B-C-A-F) on beats three and four. Continuing the same process yields the remaining five relative licks in bars 2, 3, and 4. A pair of TAB staves provides two fingerings for each lick—one ascending the same string group, and one remaining in position. The chord symbols show corresponding triads and seventh chords for each four-note lick in both the key of C and its relative key of A minor (where the original motif functions as a 1-2-b7-5 lick). Each four-note motif can be used as a stand-alone lick or played as part of an ascending, descending, or intervallic sequence over any related chord. Experimenting with different rhythms and phrasing options opens up even greater possibilities.


Diatonic sequencing also works with longer modal-based lines. To illustrate, Ex. 2 puts a jazzy, eight-note, A Dorian-based 1-2-b3-4-5-b7-6-4 motif (A-B-C-D-E-G-F#-D) relative to the key of G major through its sequential paces to produce six relative lines that depict B Phrygian (bar 2), C Lydian (bar 3), D Mixolydian (bar 4), E Aeolian (bar 5), F# Locrian (bar 6), G Ionian (bar 7), and their respective tonic (root) chords.

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The same process can also be applied to any major or minor pentatonic lick. Ex. 3 commences with a standard A blues lick—essentially a descending A minor pentatonic scale—which then inverts sequentially as it diatonically ascends in accordance with the notes of the scale, until we reach the octave. (Tip: All of these lines play well with the I7, IV7, and V7 chords—A7, D7, and E7 in the key of A.)

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The next two examples follow suit with a pair of A minor pentatonic blues licks, but each diatonic ascent has been compressed into two beats, not to indicate a faster tempo as much as to save space. Ex. 4 features a b7-to-5 pull-off (G-to-E) followed by the 4, 5, b3, and root (D-E-C-A), plus its four ascending diatonic inversions, all played on the same string group, while Ex. 5 gives a lower-register 4-5-b7-b3-1 lick (D-E-G-C-A) that utilizes a legato finger slide with the same sequential treatment, albeit across three progressively ascending string groups. (Tip: Move any of these licks down three frets to transpose them to A major pentatonic, or leave them as is for C major pentatonic.)

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Chord families (a.k.a. chord scales) operate on the same principles and are also the result of diatonic sequencing, with each chord tone ascending or descending to its diatonic neighbor. Harmonizing a G major scale in triads produces G (I), Am (II), Bm (III), C (IV), D (V), Em (VI), and F#dim (VII) chords, all of which can be made much more interesting by applying appropriate suspensions, i.e., the 2, b2, 4, or #4 in place of each chord’s 3, as illustrated in the root-position (root-3-5) voicings notated in Ex. 6.

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Here, each ascending triad is preceded by first its sus2 and then its sus4. These can be used to add harmonic motion to static chords, or arpeggiated as single-note lines. Note how the IIIsus2, IVsus4, and VIIsus2 voicings must be altered to Bsusb2, Csus#4, and F#susb2 in order to remain diatonic to the key of G. The same rules apply to the first-inversion (3-5-root) and second-inversion (5-root-3) triads and suspensions shown in Examples 7a and 7b, respectively.

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Finally, giving the Rundgren-esque Gmaj7, C, G, and C chords in bar 1 of Ex. 8 the sequential treatment yields the lovely third-less Am7, Bm7, Cmaj7, D7, Em7, F#m7b5, and octave Gmaj7 close voicings in bars 2 – 7, with each one followed by its respective IV, Im, and IV chords. Some will sound familiar, while others will seem foreign, but all are related and useful in stand-alone or sequential contexts. Now it’s your turn to run with the concept and make the exploration of single-note and chordal sequencing part of your practice routine, keeping in mind that any chord voicing or major, minor, or modal melody qualifies. Beautiful surprises await and your chops will thank you!

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Leppard’s Layers—Uncovering the Sonic Sweetness of Def Leppard’s Iconic Hysteria
By Vinnie Demasi

For a band to sell tens of millions of copies of an album, you can bet they must’ve found a winning formula. For the same outfit to survive tragedy then sell even more copies of their follow-up album, it’s a pretty safe assumption that they rank among the all-time greats. Such is the case of Sheffield, England’s, Def Leppard. Hot off their 1983 breakthrough release Pyromania and subsequent world tour, drummer Rick Allen was involved in a car crash that resulted in the amputation of his left arm. Undaunted, Allen fashioned a clever electronic kit that allowed him to utilize his feet to cover parts traditionally played by hand, and the band hunkered down with veteran producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange to write and record their next album. The result was 1987’s Hysteria, a record that would spawn seven hit singles and sell 25 million copies worldwide.

Although initially categorized as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, by the mid ’80s the Leppards had forged a sound that artfully blended power chords with power pop and power ballads. The layered guitars of Phil Collen and Steve Clarke—the bulk of which were recorded through SR&D Rockman headphone amps—were the perfect wall of sound driving the band’s huge choruses and catchy hooks. To celebrate Hysteria’s 30th anniversary, let’s dig in to some of the classic album’s sweetest moments.

Life is short, so we’re going to eat dessert first; Ex. 1 depicts the catchy, instantly recognizable opening riff to “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” arguably one of the greatest rock anthems of the Eighties. Here it’s written for one guitar, but in live performance both axmen would perform the melodic riff in unison. To get the muted “scratches” (indicated by X’s) on the second and third 16th notes of beat two in each bar, keep your fret hand’s first finger on the G string at the fourth fret but relax your grip, then pick the deadened string.

Although the Def ones can rock power chord riffage as hard as any metal outfit, they also have keen pop sensibilities. They would often juxtapose two musical terrains to create ballads that were moving and memorable, without being sappy or maudlin. Case in point is one of Hysteria's biggest hits "Love Bites." Ex.2 lays out the chord structure for the verses, shown here in block form but arpeggiated in the actual part.

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Try grabbing the root note of the Fsus2 grip with your fret-hand thumb and add plenty of chorus and delay for atmosphere. These kinds of jazzy-sounding chord voicings would be just as much at home in a Burt Bacharach tune, but what keeps things in the Leppard’s hard rock domain is their song’s powerful chorus, which is somewhat similar to Ex. 3.

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Notice how the Guitar 1 part, like the one originally performed by Clark and now handled by Vivian Campbell, following Clark’s untimely death in 1991, delivers meaty power chord punches while Guitar 2, à la Collen’s part, adds a high-string countermelody. To bring this example more in line with the original, change the chords in the second bar to F5 and Bb5 (played on beats one and three) and adjust the countermelody to follow and start each melodic line on the second 16th note of beats one and three.

For our final example, let's focus on Hysteria's title track. Ex. 4 employs some of the open chord voicings and similar progressions featured in the song’s verse and chorus sections. Again, our Guitar 2 part plays an overdriven high-voiced part, but this time the Guitar 1 is sounding rolling, ringing arpeggios. The end result is an accompaniment that’s both rhythmically and harmonically interesting, with various notes seeming to leap out of the arrangement in different places.

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During their heyday, Steve Clark and Phil Collen were known as the “Terror Twins” because of their prodigious talent and skill. By combining their musical gifts and complimenting each other in their band’s arrangements, they created some of the most celebrated and memorable hard rock ever recorded.


Yeah. It’s a bass lesson from our March 1974 issue. But it’s by session legend Carol Kaye, and if you don’t know about her, you’ll get your mind blown when you Google her. It’s also a missive on “creative bass lines,” so if you want your bassist to stop smirking behind your back when you pick up his or her bass to mess around, I’d recommend absorbing Kaye’s tutorial. Hey, your bass player might even start asking you for bass-line tips!—Michael Molenda

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