What goes up, must come down, and with that being the case, let’s try some descending ideas based on the “punching holes” concept from the April issue.
Ex. 1 starts with a three-note-per-string scale fragment. Based in the key of C, this establishes our note-skip as we cross strings. Notice how, even with the skip, the fretting-hand notes fall within typical three-note-per-string configurations (half-step/whole-step, whole-step/half-step, or whole-step/whole-step). No big stretches!
If this sort of diagonal movement when crossing strings feels strange, try practicing the string change by itself. Ex. 2 isolates this small shift. Use your ring finger or pinky to play the first note on the lower string. You can create similar exercises for every other string shift. Drill them a bit and they won’t feel awkward.
Ex. 3 carries our fragment in octaves across the remaining sets of two adjacent strings. We’re playing triplets now, but don’t let that throw you. Just get comfortable with the moves.
Sequence time! Ex. 4’s first measure sets the tone, and then descends in octaves across two string sets. Once you get this down, feel free to play with the rhythms, throwing in rests and syncopations. That will keep things fresh and musical.
Expanding on this idea, Ex. 5 skips a note at every string change. Upon completion, reward yourself by hitting that final open E and giving a wave of acknowledgement to your adoring public.
When a musical idea stems from physicality, it’s easy to overlook things like rhythm. With rhythmic variations, we can get a lot of extra mileage from our stockpile of licks. Our last example demonstrates this, by regrouping the notes as triplets (Ex 6).
With some creativity, you can apply your favorite harmonic/melodic/rhythmic concepts to these ideas and generate some cool new sounds in your diatonic scale lines. Experiment and have fun!