Magazine article Guitar Player

Pentatonic Paradiddles

Magazine article Guitar Player

Pentatonic Paradiddles

Article excerpt

ONE OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE things about the guitar is its capacity to be a puzzle and a game. As complex as the fretboard is, there are a ton of simple rules that can unlock your capacity to create cool and unique ideas without a ton of effort. I love coming up with limitations for how I can play and then setting out to solve the riddles, making music and stretching my brain in the process. In this way a single lick can turn into a whole "family" of ideas, more conceptual, but accessible to all of us who are looking to not play the same licks over and over again.

I am a horrible drummer. Even so, I love to sit at a kit with sticks in my hands and try to make things happen. While my technique is poor, my concept of rhythm and time continually inform and elevate my guitar playing. One helpful rudiment is a basic sticking technique that all drummers learn called the paradiddle. It's an eight-beat combination of left- and right-hand sticking. The basic pattern is: RLRRLRLL. Try tapping it out with your hands on your legs at an even tempo to get a sense of it.

So let's drop this paradiddle concept onto the guitar. The idea transfers easily from two hands to two notes or two strings. I'm using the A minor pentatonic scale for simplicity. In Ex. 1a you see the pattern represented as two notes, G and A, both on the same string. Turn on a metronome and give it a shot in eighth-notes at a slow tempo. Ex. 1b is the same notes but now on two adjacent strings. Work with these two beginning examples until you start to feel the alternating pattern naturally--without thinking about it.

In Ex. 2a we will apply this concept in a more advanced way, moving all the way up the A minor pentatonic scale in the fifth position. …

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