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Gables Guitar Journal #005

SATURDAY

Saturday mornings are always a good time to get some serious hours in the studio. I got in early (for the weekend), grabbed my Telecaster and dove into my electric guitar technical routine:

[7:30-10:30am] : Electric Guitar : (with Drum Machine @ 88bpm)
– Left Hand Solo Exercises – (1/4 – 1/8) [15 min]
– Right Hand Solo Exercises (1/4 – T/16) [15 min]
– Chromatic Exercises – (1/8 to 1/16) [30 min]
– Diatonic/Modal Scales – (1/8 to 1/16) [15 min]
– Chord Bouncing (V7-I progressions 12 keys) [15 min]
– Legado Scales – (1/8 to T/16) [15 min]
– Arpeggios (up to 2 Octaves) – 1/8 to T/16 [15 min]
– Improvisation in A Major [1 hour]

I slowed the tempo of the drum machine to 88bpm so I could really get inside the sextuplet (aka T/16) rhythms. For the past few weeks I have been practicing this routine at 100bpm, and while I can hit the sextuplets at that tempo, it’s a bit manic and I can tell that there is muscle tension building up in both of my hands at that speed after about 1 measure of straight sextuplets. While the sextuplets were still difficult at 88bpm, it seems most of the difficulty was in my LEFT hand and the timing of my RIGHT feels very relaxed and controlled.

To improve the response of my LEFT hand I devised some chromatic sextuplet exercises. I’ll write them up in guitar pro later today. The gist is that you start with just 4 adjacent chromatic tones (one position on one string) and you play 7 sextuplet starting on one beat and ending on the onset of the next beat. Then you let that second beat be a quarter note. So it basically alternates 6-sextuplets and 1 quater note

One measure of this rhythm would count something like:

||: ONE-&-uh-2-&-uh-TWO THREE-&-uh-2-&-uh-FOUR ||

Then you run this pattern different ways in that one position starting on different fingers. I found it made sense to first work on patterns going in EITHER ascending OR descending chromatic directions, and then try bidirectional patterns.

As you can see, this simple concept for an exercise immediately yields dozens of technically interesting permutations, all of which need a bit of attention in order to fully prepare the LEFT hand fingers for sextuplets.

After working these 4-finger chromatic exercises for about 15 min, I moved on to diatonic scales and found that I could breeze through the generally 3-notes-per-string diatonic scales even at the densely packed sextuplet rhythm. There is certainly something to be said for pushing yourself into areas that feel too difficult at first. If nothing else it makes all the skills one notch below feel like a walk in the park!!

I was so excited by this new high-speed freedom that I barely managed to get in 15 minutes of the remaining skills (Chords, Arpeggios and Legato Scales) before testing out these new skills via an hour long improvisation over a A – Asus4 Chord vamp.

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