The Leads Are Weak: Add Some Spice to Your Arpeggios (with special guest: Greg Burgess of Allegaeon)
Hey boners, today I have a special guest player sharing a lick or two involving a technique I grazed upon in my “Easy Bake Oven” column. The technique involves using added tones to arpeggios to create unique-sounding sweep patterns and give some tonal depth to the sonic backdrop. I’ll be posting a couple of very cool exercises written by my labelmate, buddy and all-around great guitar player, Greg Burgess from the band Allegaeon.
I had the opportunity to do a short tour with Allegaeon a month ago. They’re a band steeped in melodicism, technicality and a professional appearance that was a refreshing change of sonic scenery. I asked the guys to share a lick or two with me and you guys and they were kind enough to oblige. Make sure to check out Allegaeon!
Anyway, enough blowing, here’s the meal:
The first exercise (Ex. 1) is an experiment with a minor 7th add 2 or 9th sweeping. In a convoluted mission to sound unique and different from every other fret-board masturbator out there, I’ve been experimenting with sweeps using extended tercian sonorities (eg. 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths). These don’t always work for metal but they can give some of your lead playing more life and color if you can work it out. These start out as normal minor root position sweeps until we reach the third string, where we put in the 7th and the 9th of the scale giving new color to the sweep. The second string has the usual 3rd, and then on the first string we have the usual 5th scale degree, followed by the 9th tapped on the 14th fret resolving to the root on the 12th fret. The following descend is your standard minor root position except that we end up hammering on the 7th fret on the 6th string to fill up the measure.
The second exercise (Ex. 3) is the sweep pattern from Allegaeon’s “Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst.” This came from comping some jazz charts and loving the way the major 7th chord sounded (Ex. 2) This started as just an experiment but turned out super cool. Once again to fill out the measure you will hammer on the 7th fret on the 6th string. The last measure is a bit weird, having a minor 7th chord using a major 7th as a passing tone. Some of these don’t sound particularly “METAL” but that’s where you have to come up with how to incorporate them. In this instance we used the relative minor chord “B” under the “D” major sweep.
So as you can see here, utilizing your diatonic friends above an octave in sweeping and arpeggio construction can be a great way to break up the monotony of major and minor arpeggios. By adding a few supplemental notes such as 9ths and 11ths and 13ths (2’s 4ths and 6ths an octave higher) arpeggios can still fit in the context of a metal riff, and still be interesting to your ears.
Thanks to Greg for being a pal, and thanks for checking this out. Make sure to go give Allegaeon some love on their Facebook page.