I was always pretty into rock and heavy metal as a whippersnapper. As I grew older though I found myself getting very used to the sound of pentatonics, diatonics and arpeggios working “in key.” It wasn’t till my mid-20s that I got infatuated with jazz and “outside notes” and of course “grace notes.”
I once heard the outside note/grace note concept explained particular well by another amazing YouTube teacher Ben Eller. In one of his lessons he was playing a basic major arpeggio that had 4 chromatic notes in it. He said (and I’m paraphrasing whilst keeping the spirit and theme accurate) “As long as you start on a good note and end on a good note, you can just put a bunch of sh-t in between.” God bless that man (Check him out, he’s gold).
The lick I use in today’s lesson is based around a simple G Ionian 3 note per string scale across all 6 strings. On every string I’ve including a cheeky slide to provide an outside note or grace note which can give the phrase a moment of chromaticism, and also an interesting entry. Let’s get acquainted with the G Ionian scale shape as a 3 note per string descending pattern across all 6 strings.
Okay so nothing fancy there… It’s actually quite boring on the ear. Like vanilla ice cream or an undressed garden salad… Anyway let’s zazz this up a bit and use some sexy grace notes and make this otherwise bland sounding scale more listenable!
As you can see I’m not very subtle with this idea in that I do it on every string with every available opportunity. With this thought process I’ve been able to add a lot more flavour to my solo and lead phrasing in metal, rock jazz and proggy djent contexts.
I hope this little lick opens your minds and inspires some win. Happy shredding!
By Chris Zoupa
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