In this lesson I want to talk about the many ways we can adapt expressions to a melody. Vocal melodies in songs tend to be concrete. They may have some variation, but they have a reoccurring theme. That makes them great for articulation study.
There isn’t anything you can’t learn from a melody. The best solos are built from melody. So, the best way to write great solos is to study great melodies.
For the purposes of this lesson, I’m going to use a melody I love from the Beatles Song “Tomorrow Never Knows”. We will start with the melody in the most basic form. Next we will play the melody with one chosen articulation and observe how it changes our approach.
“Tomorrow Never Knows” is in the Key of C and has a modal vibe. It’s just one continuous C chord the entire song. The melody is Mixolydian (for those of you that don’t know it’s a C scale with a flat 7th).
Here are four examples:
Excercise 1: Bend in from the diatonic note before your destination note.
Excercise 2: Slide in from the diatonic note before your destination note.
Excercise 3: Hammer On from the diatonic note before your destination note.
Excercise 4: Pull Off from the diatonic note above your destination note.
As you go through these exercises, you’ll notice the occasional change in note position. This is to allow access to the different articulations. This is one of many reasons I may step out of a scale “box”. Notes are the words, but articulation is the punctuation. I often adjust position based on articulation.
As we’re working through all of these exercises, it’s good to be thinking about the note/chord relationships that are happening. The melody in bar 1 starts on the 3rd of the chord and ends on the 5th of the chord in bar 4.
See that? Now we’re using theory as another exercise.
You may have gotten through the 4 examples and feel like you have a good handle. But, wait… There’s more!!
What about moving the melody and articulations around to different octaves? How about a modulation? Perhaps you can harmonize the melody? Tremelo pick? Try a different position? Add vibrato? Play with no vibrato? Play staccato? Whammy bar bends?
So far in this article I mentioned 14 ways you can practice one 8 bar melody. I haven’t even talked about combining articulations together.
Why practice with melodies and not scales? Well, scales are not music. You don’t get a sense of how you can apply the expressions in real word situations with scales.
Next time you feel like you don’t have anything new to learn, ask yourself if there is a new way to approach something old.