Monday, 8 October 2012

The Melodic Spider

Hi folks, hope you're all well.

Today I thought I'd share a little warm up idea I've been using recently. I'm sure we've all come across the "spider" exercises in same form or another, various combinations of all four fretting fingers which are generally chromatic in nature and not particularly melodic, or of much use other than as an exercise.

I was messing about with some of these ideas recently and realised, by playing the first two notes on the G string, and the then the third and fourth finger notes on the D string, I was playing a fragment of the half whole diminished scale!

The half whole diminished scale is made up of alternating half and whole steps (or one fret and two fret intervals), so starting on A you get:

A Bb C C# D# E F# G

Another joy of the diminished scale is that patterns repeat inside it in minor thirds so you can play a pattern, move it up three frets and play it again and still be in the same scale.

So that's where this exercise comes from, simple as that. On the PDF below you'll find four exercises, all based around the A half whole diminished scale and all using all four fretting fingers. Each exercise features two patterns , one ascending and one descending but try switching them round and seeing what you like the sound of. They all make very handy diminshed licks too!

Ex 1. This was the first exercise I came up with, prtty basic two notes per string up and down.

Ex 2. As handy as I find the first exercise for fretting warm up, because it has two notes per string it means that you always start each string with the same finger/pickstroke (assuming you're alternating two fingers or up and down strokes). Yes, you could just repeat the exercise starting on the other finger/stroke but I wanted an exercise I could quickly play and get maximum benefit so this exercise uses three notes on one string and two on the other to ensure that you are swapping back and fore on each beat.
I must credit Laurence Cottle for giving me the idea of using groups of five to work on picking (he is also a master of the diminished scale and a great source of associated ideas!).

Don't be put off by the quintuplets ( 5 notes to a beat) in this exercise.This is more for conveniently outlining the groups of 5 than anything else but if you do want to play it as written, take it slow and make sure the notes are evenly spaced within the beat. To get used to the feel of five even notes, try saying "hippopotamus" on each beat (any five syllable phrase will work though, I just like that one).

Ex3. Back to groups of four, but this time skipping from the A string to the G string.

Ex4. And finally here's some string skipping quintuplets! No home is complete without them.

So there we have it, a few diminished licks which are really handy quick warmups and, to my ears anyway, a little more interesting than the standard chromatic patterns.