MENU

Articles

GUITARGET PRACTICE #6 by Sam Russell

Compositional Ideas: Pedal Points and Ascending Tones

This is a neoclassical tool we can use in lead composition. We are going to look at extracts from Bach’s 1st Cello Suite, Prelude and Courante, see how Bach uses pedal points, then look at how we can apply this in our own playing.

Fig. 1

This extract is from Bach’s Prelude in his first Cello Suite. You can get the whole piece for free on my website here.

You can see that from the second beat of this example, Bach is using the note D (fret 7 on the G string), and then chromatically ascending from D, and going back to D each time.

Have a go at playing this extract and see how you find the sound. You should find it sounds like increasing tension. Also note the position changes we have to do, moving the ascending notes onto the next string (in beat 1 of the second bar), and shifting the pedal point (D) a string lower, which allows us to use a greater range, and also to extend the time that we can use this technique to increase the tension.

Another thing to note here is how Bach sets this up. The two notes at the start are chord tones to the pedal tone D. Bach wrote this piece in the key of G major; in this key, the chord built from D is D major, which has the notes D, F# and A. So Bach plays F#, A then resolves down to D, before using D as a pedal tone and ascending chromatically.

How can you apply this to your playing?

We can take the principles that Bach used for this section of music and apply them to our own soloing. For example, you could sweep through an arpeggio, then move from the lowest note in the arpeggio into a series of chromatically ascending notes, using the bass note as the pedal point.

Example in D minor:

D Minor

Adding another level to this idea

In the third piece from the first Suite, Courante (available here), Bach uses this technique again, with a twist on it:

Fig. 2

You can see in the second and third bar that instead of a pedal point (or single note), Bach is now using a pedal phrase (circled in blue):

Fig. 3

With the following notes moving round the pedal phrase (circled in red):

Fig. 4

Again, changing up a string with the red circled notes allows us to use a greater range – this example requires more from our hand than the first one and wouldn’t be able to (easily) stretch up to the high frets.

Here is a second example from later in the same piece:

Fig. 5

The pedal phrase is easier to see here as it is on a separate string (circled in blue, ascending tones in red):

Fig. 6

In both examples, the first moving tone (circled in red), is the next note up in the scale from the highest note in the pedal phrase (circled in blue). So when the highest note in the pedal phrase was E, our first moving tone was F# (figure 2); and when the highest note in our pedal phrase was A, the first moving tone was B (figure 5).

In both these examples, the phrase moves:

Low to high

High to low

How can you apply these ideas to your playing?

As in the last example, create a short pedal point phrase, and use the next note up in the scale from the highest note in your pedal point phrase as the first moving note.

Example in E minor:

Fig. 7

So in this example the pedal phrase is:

G A G

And we are working in the scale of G major. A is the highest note in the phrase, so my first moving note is going to be B. Simple!

Closing Remarks

So we’ve gone through an analysis of how Bach uses pedal points in two different ways in two different pieces, looked at how we can use these ideas in our own playing and also looked at a couple of examples.

I’d love to hear your thoughts/ideas – post a YouTube link or ask a question in the comments and I’ll answer it as quickly as possible!


If you want to learn more about the electric guitar and the modes, you can check out Sam’s free eBook, “The Ultimate Guide to the Modes of the Major, Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor Scales” for free on his website.


Previous

 

Next


 

Read More
LA LUZ

LA LUZ DE JESUS HOSTS SIX PERSON GROUP SHOW

June 18, 2015 • Articles, Artwork, Top News

by Frank Forte DOUG FOGELSON & DON FRITZ with SO YOUN LEE, JUSTINE LIN, MAYUKO NAKAMURA, and NAOSHI Now – June 28, 2015 Artist reception: Friday, June 5th; 8-11PM La Luz De Jesus Gallery 4633 Hollywood Boulevard Los Angeles, CA. 90027 Show link Contact Matt Kennedy, Gallery Director for

HM 275

HEAVY METAL #275 PREVIEW

June 16, 2015 • Articles, Heavy Metal News, News, Top News

We proudly present HEAVY METAL #275! This must-read release features an incredible array of multi-talented creators from Mexico (and one from Argentina)! A soon-to-be legendary magazine that was painstakingly put together by guest editor supreme, RG Llarena! There’s more exciting news about

SoylentGreen

Before MAD MAX: Post Apocalyptic Film “Soylent Green”

June 1, 2015 • Articles, Films, Top News

By Frank Forte The popularity of “Mad Max Fury Road” opens up the discussion of post apocalyptic films that came before it. None may have the impact that “The Road Warrior” and “Mad Max” did on the Gen Xers who saw them in the 1980s, but “Soylent Green” is a film worth looking at.

Cass

Pound and a Bear Hug: New Works by Bask & Tes One

June 1, 2015 • Articles, Artwork, Top News

CASS Contemporary Presents: Pound and a Bear Hug: An Exhibition of New Works by Bask and Tes One by Frank Forte EXHIBITION: Through June 6th, 2015 CASS Contemporary 2722 S MacDill Ave. Tampa, FL 33629 813.839.7135 casscontemporary.com Celebrating 10 years of collaboration, Florida-based artists

Guitarget Practice

GUITARGET PRACTICE #5 by Sam Russell

May 29, 2015 • Articles

Subdivisions of Time When playing music, one skill that is very useful is to be able to smoothly transition between different divisions of time. This is good for our lead and our rhythm playing. We’ll start off with some simple examples and then use a short etude at the end to see how good your

Olivier Ledroit

REQUIEM Game Coming to Tabletops! Kickstart That Sucker!

May 27, 2015 • Articles, Top News

The awe-inspiring REQUIEM comics by Pat Mills and Olivier Ledroit are being adapted into a blood-curdling tabletop strategy game for two or four players! The theme of the game is inspired from the “Resurrection” universe. The Kickstarter campaign is already fully funded, so here’s your chance

Roq La Rue

Travis Louis & Lauren Marx Invade Roq La Rue in Seattle

May 22, 2015 • Articles, Artwork, Top News

by Frank Forte Seattle’s Roq la Rue Gallery hosts a duo of great art this month with Travis Louis and Lauren Marx. Roq la Rue 532 1st Ave S. Seattle WA 98104 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Wednesday – Saturday Closed: Sunday – Tuesday Roq La Rue takes part in Pioneer Square’s

Dale Arden

FLASH GORDON CLASSIC Cartoon: Rob Pratt Captures Lightning in a Bottle!

May 15, 2015 • Articles, Videos

Veteran animator Rob Pratt created this awesome cartoon tribute to the classic Flash Gordon adventures of yesteryear! Rob Pratt Bio: Robb Pratt is a Disney veteran, having started at Feature Animation in 1994 as a traditional animator. After animating on such modern Disney classics as

Double Shift

SHORT FICTION: “Double Shift” by Frank Aversa

May 9, 2015 • Articles, Short Stories, Top News

“Double Shift” by Frank Aversa Bill Madsen stood in the middle of his living room, an ultra-thin cell phone pressed to his ear. “It’s a done deal my man. You’re talking to the VP of Foreign Relations.” Madsen casually walked up to the black futon, leaned forward, and straightened a