In Bed With Mr And Mrs Awkward

Spending time in the most awkward areas.

Ultimate Guitar
A doctor that deliberately chooses to practice in an area where people rarely get sick, is not much of a doctor' The concept behind this short article is one that says, if it feels awkward, it's worth spending heaps of time there until it's cured. For example, try playing around with scale patterns using just two fingers. Play them with fingers 1 and 2, then 2 and 3, 3 and 4, 2 and 4, 1 and 3, 1 and 4. Some of these, such as 3 and 4, and 2 and 4, are going to feel really awkward if those fingers that don't function too well independently are underdeveloped. You may think, what's the point of playing a whole scale with just fingers 3 and 4 when it's never going to come up in a musical situation. The fact is that it comes up all the time in small doses, and so you don't truly appreciate how much it's screwing you up. By playing the whole scale in this way, you get a large dose of just how awkward you find that particular fingering. A small amount of awkwardness is all it takes to disrupt a solo, so that's why it's worth totally immersing yourself in it to remove it. If you become completely comfortable with using fingers 3 and 4 alone, whenever they come up during a solo, you'll breeze through them with no disruption to your flow. Using fingers 3 and 4, try playing this Eb mix Lydian scale which extends through three octaves and begins and ends on the 5th scale degree. Note: I don't suggest using the standard approach of playing consecutive single notes using identical note values. Instead, hang around on a note, skip back and forth, use different note values, in short, play around with the scale in a more musical way.
So why this unusual scale in Eb mix Lydian? Well, remember the concept that lead to it, it's about awkwardness. So not only is it awkward to play a whole scale using 3 and 4, it's also going to involve constant position shifting, and it's in a key containing flats, which is something that I think can become a bit of a void zone for lots of guitarists. It's certainly true in my case. That's why I'm spending all my time there. If you have a key you can't think in such as Gb, spend a week or two there. A poor way to approach the 12 key signatures is to try to learn them all in one go. Imagine you visited 12 different towns in a few days, and then tried to recall from memory which towns contained which streets and stores etc. It would become a jumbled mess. Better to really get to know just one town before exploring the next. How weak is your upstroke? Try playing a whole scale using upstrokes. Is it really awkward? The fact is that the awkwardness doesn't go away when you play alternate picking, it just gets diluted, but it's still there screwing you up. So that's the concept, hang around in awkward areas until they become comfortable and familiar, and your playing will benefit hugely.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Great article! I just read something along these lines in Vai's workout
    Well, this is the kind of practise which should be obvious but is rarely done(at least by me).