Some Slonimsky Patterns and Variations

I've been doing a lot of theoretical work recently on Slonimsky's famous Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. I'll have more to say about the book's contents in some upcoming posts, but here are some phrases derived from this material that I was playing around with today.

What is a Pitch Class Set?

This is the first in a series of posts introducing pitch class set theory at a very basic level. In this post I'll say a few things about what the theory's for and why it's useful, and give some of the most basic definitions.

Feed Your Ears: Sonny Sharrock

This installment of Feed Your Ears is dedicated to the late free jazz guitarist Sonny Sharrock. As usual, you might not like what you hear right away, but open your ears and see if you can learn something, or be inspired, or both.

Feed Your Ears: Remember the '80s?

If you spend some time looking at guitar videos on YouTube you can easily start to feel as if you've fallen into a wrinkle in time where it's still 1988. All those sweep-picked arpeggios! All that tapping! All those alternate-picked scales! Yes, it seems that among guitarists shred is still very much in style even if leather trousers no longer are.

Harmonic Minor Modes: The Locrian Natural 6

In previous posts we've looked at three of the less well-known modes of the harmonic Minor scale. We'll now move on to more dissonant material than we've seem previously with the Locrian Natural 6. It's a rarely-heard sound, although unlike the other scales in this group it's actually more consonant than its relative in the major scale group.

Practicing Improvisational Fluency

If, like me, a lot of your real-life playing involves improvisation then it can be tricky to know how or what to practice. Of course we can learn licks and patterns, but if we're not careful all our solos will start to sound like a collage of the same stuff played in a different order, and that's not really improvising. This lesson describes a simple practicing strategy to help you build fluency when playing off-the-cuff.

The Harmonic Minor as a Pair of Augmented and Diminished Arpeggios

In the Encyclopoedia I advocate experimenting with the arpeggios that common scales contain as a way of both understanding the scale better and making your playing more interesting. Here we look at the two symmetrical arpeggios that are embedded in the common Harmonic Minor scale.

Some Interval Map Visualizations

For the past few days I've been experimenting with circular representations of chord, scale and similar kinds of structure. Laying them out in a circle is the right thing to do because then rotation of the circle is equivalent to finding all the modes of the scale or arpeggio.

Some 3-String Ladder Patterns for Diminished Scales

Recently we looked at 2-string ladder patterns for the Whole-Half and Half-Whole Diminished scales (since they're modes of each other, the patterns work equally well for both scales). Here we'll look at some similar patterns covering three strings.

Feed Your Ears: Pat Metheny

Most guitarists have heard of Pat Metheny. This post is just an invitation to watch and hear him playing in a few different contexts. See if it inspires you to play something different.