We're looking at another lick from Canadian guitarist, Nick Johnston. Its a cool sounding arpeggio sequence that you can move up and down the neck and use as a basis for other lines.. It has a clever fingering that flows really well and offers more insight into his approach towards the guitar neck. You’ll see how it connects to the last lick we looked at and how you can take the concept even further.
Let’s start with the line:
You can see Nick playing it and walking through it here.
It’s a cool line in C major that flows really nicely and is a good workout for your legato and hybrid picking chops. It even has a little sweep in there for good measure.
Technically, take the first measure. You start with a downstroke (the upside down "u" symbol), hammer to the next note, downstroke again and then pluck the last of that group of 4 notes with your middle finger (marked "m"). The next 4 notes (still 1st measure) you have two consecutive downstrokes which you sweep, then grab the third note with your middle finger followed by a hammer on. That fingering pattern repeats nicely for every new position you move to.
Musically, you could think of it two ways. Each measure has two chords (Cmaj7 and Em7, Dm7 and Fmaj7, etc.) like this:
Or, every measure is basically a major or minor 9 chord like this:
If you think of the chords as being C, D, F and Am (like Ex. 2b), you have I7 - ii7 - IV7 - iv7. Can you find those chords in different keys? Try G, Eb, etc. Also, it sounds cool as is but try moving it out of sequence like this (Ex. 3):
Anyway, you get the idea. Get it into your fingers. Move it around. Change up the sequence. This will help you nail the technique and come up with creative ideas.
Alright, let's take this just a little bit further. Since we've moved up in 4 note groups, how about trying it backwards? Take the shape and play it backwards (just play the first note with your middle finger and hammer-on/pull-off everything else):
Get used to going backwards and try that out on all the chords. Next, try going up (like the original) and then back down like this:
Or, here's an alternate version where you don't re-strike the string on the way back down. I think it flows a little better:
Try that for all of the other chords in the sequence too (Dm, F and Am).
One more thing, you can take that concept one step further and get a really cool melodic idea by going up one shape, sliding up into the next and then coming back down. Try this:
I love the sound of the line sliding up and coming back a different chord. Here's that idea applied to the original arpeggio sequence:
Again, like we looked at in Ex. 3, try mixing up the chords. Go from the lowest to the highest. Isolate two chords and loop them. Even try changing string sets. Its a great little idea that sits really nicely under your fingers.
Until then, practice up, let me know if you have any questions and don't forget to make it musical,