Creative Chords: Drone Voicings

author: crjh date: 03/17/2009 category: chords
rating: 9 / votes: 18 
To begin with, let's take a look at the two note chords were going to be using to move up and down the fretboard with. They are all in the key of C Major. Each chord consists of the Tonic (bottom note) and it's third (top).
  Em   F    G    Am   Bm   C     Dm    Em
|--------------------------------------------||
|--------------------------------------------||
|-0----2----4----5----7-----9----10----12----||
|-2----3----5----7----9----10----12----14----||
|--------------------------------------------||
|--------------------------------------------||
The open strings we will utilise for the time being will be the 5th(A) and 2nd(B) strings.
|---------------||
|----------0----||
|---------------||
|---------------||
|-0-------------||
|---------------||
Now to combine the two. This first example is an 8th-note sequence starting on the open 5th string playing through an Em/A chord to it's open second string at which point we move to the next chord shape, starting again on the open 5th string and down to the open second string then changing again, continuing in this fashion until the end. You should be playing 2 notes per beat so practice to a metronome or drum machine if you need to. Alternate picking is good to use but downstrokes are OK at a slow to medium speed. With regards to LH fingerings, the first finger should fret all the notes on string 3 whilst the middle and third fingers can do the job for string 4. Chords with fretted notes side by side (2, 3 and 6) would use the middle finger, whilst Chords 4, 5, 7 and 8 would use the third finger. The Em/A chord at the beginning should use the middle finger.
  Em/A    A+sus2  G/A     Amadd9  Bm/A    Cmaj7/A  Dm6/A     Em/A
  E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E  E E E E  E  E E E  E  E E
|----------------------------------------------------------------------||
|-------0-------0-------0-------0-------0--------0---------0---------0-||
|-----0-------2-------4-------5-------7--------9--------10--------12---||
|---2-------3-------5-------7-------9-------10-------12--------14------||
|-0-------0-------0-------0-------0-------0--------0---------0---------||
|----------------------------------------------------------------------||
As part of good practice, it would be a good idea to play the sequence backwards too. Here's what that would look like.
  Em/A      Dm6/A       Cmaj7/A  Bm/A      Amadd9  G/A       A+sus2  Em/A
  E  E  E E E  E  E E   E  E E E E E E E   E E E E E E E E   E E E E E E E E
|---------------------|------------------|-----------------|-----------------||
|---------0---------0-|--------0-------0-|-------0-------0-|-------0-------0-||
|------12--------10---|------9-------7---|-----5-------4---|-----2-------0---||
|---14--------12------|---10-------9-----|---7-------5-----|---3-------2-----||
|-0---------0---------|-0--------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------||
|---------------------|------------------|-----------------|-----------------||
The next idea is to mix up the arpeggiation pattern a little, just to make things more interesting. Here's something you could do that employs a string skipping pattern to the same sequence of chords, creating a different sound.
  Em/A    A+sus2  G/A     Amadd9  Bm/A    Cmaj7/A  Dm6/A     Em/A
  E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E  E E E  E  E E E  E  E E
|----------------------------------------------------------------------||
|-------0-------0-------0-------0-------0--------0---------0---------0-||
|---0-------2-------4-------5-------7-------9--------10--------12------||
|-----2-------3-------5-------7-------9-------10--------12--------14---||
|-0-------0-------0-------0-------0-------0--------0---------0---------||
|----------------------------------------------------------------------||
Ok. So far we've used strings 5 and 2 as the drone notes, but we could also use the high 'E' string if we wanted to. The next example is similar to the previous ones, only this time we're going to arpeggiate a little longer on each chord by using the extra drone string. If you use alternate picking for this sequence and aim for greater speed, it can make for good practice. It's also useful as a warm up exercise.
  Em/A              A+sus2            G/A               Amadd9
  E E E E E E E E   E E E E E E E E   E E E E E E E E   E E E E E E E E
|---------0-------|---------0-------|---------0-------|---------0-------|
|-------0---0-----|-------0---0-----|-------0---0-----|-------0---0-----|
|-----0-------0---|-----2-------2---|-----4-------4---|-----5-------5---|
|---2-----------2-|---3-----------3-|---5-----------5-|---7-----------7-|
|-0---------------|-0---------------|-0---------------|-0---------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|

  Bm/A              Cmaj7/A             Dm6/A                 Em/A
  E E E E E E E E   E  E E E E E E  E   E  E  E E E E  E  E   E  E  E E H
|---------0-------|----------0--------|-----------0---------|-----------0----*|
|-------0---0-----|--------0---0------|---------0---0-------|---------0------*|
|-----7-------7---|------9-------9----|------10-------10----|------12--------*|
|---9-----------9-|---10-----------10-|---12-------------12-|---14-----------*|
|-0---------------|-0-----------------|-0-------------------|-0--------------*|
|-----------------|-------------------|---------------------|----------------*|
The next example I going to show you is a variation that is a little more challenging and unconventional, starting on the high 'E' string and performing a few string skips here and there.
  Em/A              A+sus2            G/A               Amadd9
  E E E E E E E E   E E E E E E E E   E E E E E E E E   E E E E E E E E
|-0---------------|-0---------------|-0---------------|-0---------------|
|-----0-----------|-----0-----------|-----0-----------|-----0-----------|
|---0-----0-----0-|---2-----2-----2-|---4-----4-----4-|---5-----5-----5-|
|-------2-----2---|-------3-----3---|-------5-----5---|-------7-----7---|
|-----------0-----|-----------0-----|-----------0-----|-----------0-----|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|

  Bm/A              Cmaj7/A             Dm6/A                  Em/A
  E E E E E E E E   E E E  E E E  E E   E  E E  E  E E  E  E   E E  E  E H
|-0---------------|-0-----------------|-0--------------------|-0--------------*|
|-----0-----------|-----0-------------|------0---------------|---0------------*|
|---7-----7-----7-|---9------9------9-|---10------10------10-|-----12---------*|
|-------9-----9---|-------10-----10---|--------12------12----|--------14------*|
|-----------0-----|------------0------|--------------0-------|-----------0----*|
|-----------------|-------------------|----------------------|----------------*|
Lastly, here are two ideas written as Riffs and which utilise some of the patterns and chords we've covered in the lesson. Note the strumming at the end of Idea 2 instead of any picking. Idea 1
    Amadd9            Cmaj7/A             Dm6/A                 A+sus2
    E E E E E E E E   E  E E E E E E  E   E  E  E E E E  E  E   E E E E H
||----------0-------|----------0--------|-----------0---------|---------0----||
||o-------0---0-----|--------0---0------|---------0---0-------|-------0-----o||
||------5-------5---|------9-------9----|------10-------10----|-----2--------||
||----7-----------7-|---10-----------10-|---12-------------12-|---3----------||
||o-0---------------|-0-----------------|-0-------------------|-0-----------o||
||------------------|-------------------|---------------------|--------------||
Idea 2
    Em/A                  Dm6/A
    E E  E  E E  E  E E   E E  E  E E  E  E E
||----------------------|---------------------|
||o---0---------------0-|---0---------------0-|
||---------12------12---|--------10------10---|
||------14------14------|-----12------12------|
||o-0---------0---------|-0---------0---------|
||----------------------|---------------------|

  Amadd9            A+sus2G/A
  E E E E E E E E    H     H
|---------0-------|-^0----^0-----||
|-------0---0-----|-^0----^0----o||
|-----5-------5---|-^2----^4-----||
|---7-----------7-|-^3----^5-----||
|-0---------------|-^0----^0----o||
|-----------------|--------------||
And so concludes this lesson. I hope it's opened your mind a little, and encourage you to experiment with these ideas and come up with your own sounds. You can even add in extra fretted notes to go with the Drone strings if you'd like, further expanding the voicing possibilities. Through my own experimentations, I have learned that virtually any combination of open string / chord fragment combination moved up into the higher reaches of the fretboard can help to create wondrous and unconventional sounds. Regards and Happy practice
More crjh lessons:
+ Legato Concepts: Single String Ideas Soloing 03/17/2009
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