Get Your Fretting-Hand Fingers Moving in New Ways

Posted by Scott Nygaard

One good way to learn the fingerboard is to give your fingers things to do that they’re not used to. And one easy way to do that is to create short melodic patterns and repeat them on successive steps of the major scale. 

Weekly Workout 1: Harmonized Major Scale
Click to enlarge.

This workout starts with a familiar-sounding major-pentatonic phrase in G major (measure 1). Each subsequent measure takes this phrase and moves it up a step in the G major scale from the previous measure in a mirror of the first measure. So measure two starts on an A, measure three on a B, etc.  You may notice that these phrases outline the chords in the key of G: G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F#dim, and G, again (measure 8). Since we started with a major-pentatonic sound we’re going to modify the order of intervals slightly on the minor chords to give them more of a pentatonic flavor, though minor instead of major. For example, in the middle of the measure, the initial idea moves down a third from the root to the sixth and then a second from the sixth to the fifth. But against the minor chords we’ll flop those and move down a second from the root to the seventh and then a third from the seventh to the fifth to give it more of a minor-pentatonic sound. I’ve included some slur possibilities here, but you might want to start by picking all the notes first and then adding some of the slurs as you like. 

Excerpted from Weekly Workout: Harmonized Major Scale Licks

See more Weekly Workout articles.

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