Odd Note Groupings

author: StB date: 03/26/2009 category: soloing
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A lot of players have problems with feeling odd note groupings and playing them in time. I'd like to share with you some of my tactics that will hopefully make the whole idea a little easier to understand and perform. First of all - what exactly are odd note groupings? Simply - irregular groups of notes that are meant to be played in the space of a beat. For example, instead of playing regular sixteenth notes (4 notes per beat) to make it more fun you could play five or seven notes per beat (pentuplets & septuplets respectively). You could also play any other weird number of notes but groups of 5 & 7 seem to be the most common. It looks pretty simple on paper but in reality it is a little bit tricky to perform. The problem is that it feels far less natural to play an odd number of notes per beat, but as always, with a little practice, it's nothing you couldn't do. 1. This is a pentatonic pentuplet lick, Eric Johnson style:
e 8p5_____________________________________
b ____8p5___8p5___________________________
g ________7_____7p5___7p5_________________
d __________________7_____7p5___7p5_______
a ____________________________7_____7p5___
e ______________________________________8_
There are four groups of fives in this lick. The first note of each group should fall exactly on the "click" (yes, practising this without the metronome is pretty much useless). Notice there's just one five note pattern which is repeated within the minor pentatonic scale box. 2. A legato pentuplet run:
e _______________________________________
b _______________________________________
g ______________________________2h4p2h4h5
d ____________________2h4p2h4h5__________
a __________2h3p2h3h5____________________
e 2h3p2h3h5______________________________

Again, it's basicaly one pattern that gets repeated on every string. Try playing it descending as well. 3. Ever tried adding a tapped note to a sextuplet lick?
e 15p12p8h10h12p10p8_________________________________________________________
b ___________________15p12p8h10h12p10p8______________________________________
g ______________________________________14p12p9h11h12p11p9___________________
d _________________________________________________________14p12p9h10h12p10p9
a ___________________________________________________________________________
e ___________________________________________________________________________
  t                  t                  t                  t

Seven notes per beat - one pattern. The faster you play it, the easier it gets - just focus on tapping the first note precisely on the beat. 4. Sweeping time! A six string septuplet minor arpeggio:
e __________________12_15p12_______________
b _______________12__________12____________
g ____________12________________12_________
d _________14______________________14______
a ______14____________________________14___
e 12h15__________________________________15
 [---------7---------] [---------7---------]
This one's meant to be played in the space of two beats. Again, it feels easier played fast. Give those licks a little of your practice time and you will soon discover that odd note groupings don't seem odd to you any longer. StanB is a rock guitar player, composer and guitar instructor. For more lessons & guitar related info check out his Free Guitar Lessons blog.
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