Monster Licks: Chaotic Combinations — Pentatonic Variations in the Key of A

by Glenn Proudfoot
Posted May 22, 2014 at 2:35pm

In this Monster Lick, I'm using a combination of pentatonic variations in the key of A.

This is a very powerful and aggressive-sounding lick.

The interesting thing here is that I'm using a combination of the major 3rd (C#) and the flat 5 (D#). When you analyze this, you see this creates a chromatic run starting from the C note moving through to the E. This is a valuable thing to note, especially if you're applying this kind if approach to fusion, blues or jazz.

Although I don’t actually fret the notes in a chromatic form in this lick, you can still hear the slight dissonance the flat 5 and major 3rd create when played in the same lick. What's happening here is you're using notes from the major and minor scales together.

This is nothing new. Blues guys do it all the time (that's where I got the idea from). All I do is apply it to my style of playing. I use this kind of combination for the heaviest of heavy solos. The intensity it creates never ceases to amaze me!

The other important thing to note is how much one note can drastically change a scale. You might be thinking it's not worth the time or effort to learn all the different patterns of the pentatonic with the added notes, but I can't express how crucial it is to take the time to learn each variation of the scale. To truly master this approach, you need to know all these scales inside and out.

The great thing about this, though, is that you can do this slowly. I'd recommend starting in the first position of the pentatonic and learning the scales there first. For example, the minor pentatonic, the flat 5 pentatonic, the major 3rd, then the major 6th. Once you're comfortable in this position, move to the next position (or box) of the pentatonic. This is the way I did it. There is an incredible amount of work in that, so don’t get deterred by it; simply take your time and have fun with the idea.

This lick is an example of how far you can take the idea once mastered. There's no need to take this approach and play it this fast. What's important is that you understand how it is created. It is then up to you to express your own version of it!

The Lick:

This lick is created by a combination of three-, four- and five-string arpeggios. The important thing to look out for on the transcription below is how I transition between these different arpeggio groupings. They are easily identifiable; they all run diagonally across the transcript. Simply count the notes running in the diagonal, and you'll know the arpeggio grouping count.

I hope you enjoy this Monster Lick! Please join me on YouTube right here! Or contact me at glennproudfoot.com or my Facebook page.

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Australia's Glenn Proudfoot has played and toured with major signed bands and artists in Europe and Australia, including progressive rockers Prazsky Vyber. Glenn released his first instrumental solo album, Lick Em, in 2010. It is available on iTunes and at glennproudfoot.com. His latest album — a still-untitled all-instrumental release — will be available in March 2014.