GUITARU.Com Super Lesson: 1st Supplement

Developing Melodic Material Based On The Five Positions Of F Major

This study is a focus on playing and improvising melodies in the Key of F. Being in the Key of F means that the entire song, its melody, bass notes and chords are all taken from the F Major Scale. The illustration below is the classic text book illustration of the harmonized F Major Scale, the harmonic and melodic material that comprises a song which is written and played in the Key of F.
Any song using cadences and chord progressions which employ the chords found in the harmonized F Major Scale is said to be in the Key of F. As a lead guitar player you’ll quite often be presented with a simple song or section consisting of 1, 2, 3 or 4 chords drawn directly from the key. These type of simple diatonic cadences, or major scale chord progressions can be an entire song, the verse, just the chorus or a for a breif section like an interlude or a break. In music there are a handful of tried and true cadences in heavy and constant use by Pop, Rock, Country, Jazz and Blues song writers of every era. This lesson focuses on the I – VI – IV – V progression, in the Key of F, those chords are F Maj.7 – Dmi7 – Gmi7 – D7.
In the exercises below you’ll be reading the tab and traditional notation for the Five Position Caged System in Key of F. You’ll also be studying melodic comstruction techniques ( i.e. how to make up licks) and learning interesting melodic material and how it applies to the scale shapes.

Melodizing; a common pitfall…..
Hopefully, we’re studying the guitar out of a desire to create beautiful and meaningful music. To that end, we learn and practice scale patterns and formulas to be an educated and informed as well as truly musical guitarist. Here’s the pitfall: learning to play scales does not mean necesserily mean that you’ve learned to play music. Studying and playing scales is truly a valuable and necessary undertaking. If however, the only thing a person practices is scales, you’re soloing, improvising and lead playing will sound like nothing more than a bland recititation of dry and lifeless scale sounds. The smart thing to do is to also study (and play) interesting, meaningful melodies and great guitar licks. When you practice, learn and play actual musical material and good solid guitar riffs you’ll naturally want to analyze them to see why they sounded good to you. This method of study and practice will give you the abilty to melodize or create melodic, musical material on the spot as opposed to the same old running of scales.

Melodic Analysis
To summarize, or perhaps over simplify, all great sounding guitar riffs and interesting melodies are comprised of

  • Bits Of Scales
  • Bits Of Chords
  • Passing Notes

In this lesson you’ll learn to play and analyze an interesting and useful musical phrase to associate with each one of the 5 scale shapes. As you understand the processes by which these ideas were created you’ll find it easier to develop your own unique vocabulary and repertoire of interesting licks and musical ideas. Ultimately this will lead you to develop your own system of improvising and your own sound while drafting and refining an individual style.

An Artists Pallette
Once again, any guitarist must have a firm and thorough grasp of scales and scale fingerings but simply knowing how to breeze and blow through scales does not gaurantee that you’ll develop the ability to play and improvise convinving solos. Thinkof the scales as just one of many colors on an artists’ pallette. For the first melodic solo you’ll be learning to play we based or solo on;

  • The F Major Scale
  • The Theory Of Chord Tones & Extentions
  • F 6, F Major 7 & F add 9 Chord Shapes Residing In the Vicinity

Of course, the sound of the solo is to create an interesting and musical solo that sounds exactly like it fits in the key, a solo that has a flavor and quality that is strikingkly and unmistakeably MAJOR. To that end, musicians and composers become very adept at using stepwise major scale passages and developing interesting melodic material based on strict scale movement. Using the common yet sweet sounding 7th & 9th chords as soloing shapes, to be played one note at a time, is an easy yet very effective way to introduce, explore and gain maximum effectiveness from important scale tones.


Five Shapes Of F Major; Visualization, Melodic Study & Training…..


Solo Based On Open Position F Major Scale.

The solo below employs the beautiful and quite effective F Major 7 form for the first three measures and therefore the first three chords. All the notes in the F Major 7 chord are of course scale tones, as scale tones they will usually sound very good against any chord also a belonging to the key of F Major. As a matter of suit, any chord belonging to the key of F Major is also made up of scales tones, in many case some of the same notes used to build the F Major 7 chord will be used to build other chords in the key. Think of this simple little chord shape as a ‘money’ chord because it’s a simple yet powerful and dependable way to play sophisticated, harmonious lines.

Solo Based On 12th Position F Major Scale.


Transposing the scale pattern (and chord forms) 12 frets higher puts you right back in business and affords you the opportunuity to use the same thought process (same licks) developed in the Open position. In the piece to follow you’ll be employing bits of chords and bits of scales as is illustrated in the ‘pallette’ above. The F Maj.7 and F6 chords are known for their beautiful harmonius sounds, their personalities.




Using pretty sounding chords as soloing shapes (“drawing” these chords on the guitar with your soloing fingers) enables you to take these interesting and rich musical colors (F Maj.7 and F6) and introduce these beautiful (and highly favored ) sounds into your soloing.
The last measure of the solo contains three articulations (hammer, bend, release bend) and is presented here on video for your convienance. Although this last phrase in comprised of but a few simple notes the articulations, make these few simple notes sound musical and melodious.

F Major Scale – 2nd Position.
The next logical extention in the Key Of F is the D TYPE of fingering pattern. Although a little awkward to play the D TYPE has an easy to remember logical shape that can inspire new and creative ways of playing melodically. The note “C” (Fret I String 2) appears in blue as an optional way of playing its identical twin note located of Fret V of String 3. This optional, identical twin note is thought of as part of the position because it may be a more comfortable or obvious note choice for certain passages.


Solo Based On 2nd Position F Major Scale.

Composing interesting melodic materal based on the D TYPE fingering pattern can be easy, interesting and at times, virtually automatic because of the physical shape of the scale. By skipping down and alternating between the top two strings the solo gains a bouncing and tuneful quality because of the skips, or intervallic leaps along the scale pattern. Again, the deeper insight here is that the physical layout of the Major Scale pattern is in a large way, responsible for the sound of the solo, the pattern isresponsible for the style of melody and also the compositional approach taken for creating a solo with this certain sound. In this case, the musical device being used is quite simply leaps along the Major Scale, skipping one, two or three notes to create


a bright and bouncing musical quality. Learning to play and melodize (create nice tunes) with leaps and skips is another way to avoid the non-musical running of scales.
Finally, pay attention to the use of silence in the solo. The rests are actually what causes your ear to hear a musical phrase, that is one musical sentence or thought.

F Major Scale – 5th Position.
Below is the C TYPE of fingering pattern for an F Major Scale. Although a little awkward to play the D TYPE has an easy to remember logical shape that can inspire new and creative ways of playing melodically. The C TYPE is often thought of as easy and comfortable to play in because the Open Postion C Major Scale is often the first scale we learn as guitar students.


Now you’re going to learn how to melodize (improvise tuneful and and melodious solos) using theC TYPE of fingering pattern. One interesting approach to scale playing is thinking of each individual note and the character and musical personality of each note when used in the key or a melody based on the key. For example, the first note of the scale, the Root Note has a strong and stable sound a sound which is bright and melodic but sounds at home and restful. Jazz and Blues musicians have ling been fascinated by the sweet and tuneful sounds creatred by three special major scale tones: 3, 6 and 9. in the Key of F these notes are “A”, “D”, and “G” respectively. The recorded solo was conceived by thinking of these ‘sweet ‘ scale note in relation to the F Major Chord residing in the 5th position. The diagram below clearly illustrates this concepts and provides a simple visual organizer for repeated study.


Solo Based On 2nd Position F Major Scale.
In addition to the use of all 3 ‘sweet ‘ scale notes the solo below has another point of interest; the chromatic passing note (C#) used in the pick up notes to the solo.


F Major Scale -7th Position
In our system, we’re suggestng that the A TYPE of major scale fingering pattern be thought of as a multi-position scale. Remember, the large numbers in white, the fingering indications (finger numbers) shows the position shift caused by using finger one on the 8th fret for the “B” string and “E” string portion of the scale pattern


Major Scale In 3rds.
Constructing a musical line with a logical, directional series of skips is a time honored and powerful melodic tool found in the toolkit of all accomplished composers and improvisors. The interval of a third -the distance between the first and third note of the scale can be applied to each and every note in an ascending or descending scale pattern. The resulting logical up and down, back and forth melodic motion is incredibly musical and an easy to use yet powerful musical device.


Solo Based On 7th Position F Major Scale.
Here this logical up and down, back and forth, every other note motion (called movement by 3rds) is used to create a tuneful descending phrase. This solo does indeed have a sweet musical sound but it also has a convincing and very polished sound. The hallmark then of this compositional technique (movement by thirds -every other note) is fast and reliable development of professional sounding melodic solos. We’re suggesting that you think of this technique as the Instant Melody it can be a real powerhouse for you and yet another way to avoid the same running up and down of the same old scale.


F Major Scale -10th Position
To complete the neck in the Key Of F we’ll next study the G TYPE of major scale fingering pattern.


Articulating & Accenting
Interestingly enough, learning to use scales also means learning to get the most out of each and every note. Note the different personality and musical effect each one of the “F” notes assumes when it is articulated or accented differently. The indications of “short” or “long” do not change the actual time value of the notes, they really mean slight shorter or as long as possible without going over the written time value of the note. An accent is a slight increase in the sharpness and the volume of a note. A slur or slide means coming into the note by starting on a lower note and then quickly bringing the note up to pitch. Accenting and slurring are easy yet, often overlooked ways to add a professional sparkle to your soloing.


Solo Based On 10th Position F Major Scale.
Our final solo in this study starts out with a nice wide interval leap from the Root (“F”) to the 6th (“D”) -a sweet note. This solo does a good job at demonstrating and teaching this sweet and pretty sound quality. Another sweet note, the 9th (“G”) is also illuminated in this way as it returns our melodic line back to the Root (“F”).


This challenging and in-depth study was designed to provide insights and practical technique regarding the composition, creation and ultimately, improvisition of musically meaningful and convincing melodic lines and guitar solos. To achieve this we’re working with the scale patterns and adapting them to high quality melodic material. Remember, your goal is not only to learn scales but to learn how to use them. In our system we’re looking at each of the 5 scale shapes as a new source of the raw musical materials you’ll need to be a song writer or lead guitarist. Before learning the solos, practice running the scales to get the sound of the scale in youe ear and the feeling physical movement of the scale (the ‘finger dance’) in your hands.

Return To Lesson


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