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The Woodshed : More on Improvisation: Multi striking and duration

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JJ Rocks Article # 143:
From St. Croix Music Magazine, Issue # 29, February, 2009
This month I want to go back to some simple improvisational techniques for not only guitar, but for any instrument. And the number one on my list is choosing the right scale to extract phrases from. So first lets choose a minor pentatonic scale which is root, b3, 4, 5, b7.

Now lets play a phrase from that scale like root, b3, 5, and 4. The first thing I want you to try is double striking the first note. Now I know that I have covered something similar to this in a previous article, but I just want to elaborate a little more on the subject.

When you double strike the first note just use 8th notes for now. You can bring in the first note as a pickup, or play it after your original first note (root). You will hear a slightly different sound to the phrase. Now only double strike the second note and not the first. You will hear a phrase thats different from your first one.

Continue changing the notes that you double strike until you reach the last note in the phrase. Now try double striking two different notes in the phrase and so on. Dont forget that using too much of any technique is like using too much spice on your meal so keep a good balance that you are happy with. Also I would like you to try multi striking a note as many times as you wish. Start with two, then three, and so on. Just be ready for the feel change and make it fit into your musical goal at the time.

Now lets try the opposite of the previous technique which is duration. This is when you hold a note longer than the rest in the phrase. Obviously this will give you a different timing of the line, but just deal with it and make it feel the way that you want. First try the root, and then the other notes one at a time. You can hold a note for different lengths of time depending on what you want it to sound like.

The next step is to combine multi striking your notes and letting some of them ring longer within the same phrase. You will find that your original phrase can be changed in many ways just by applying these simple techniques. And since the phrase that I gave you is a generic line and not very melodic, now you can choose one of your favorite licks and use the same approach.

This will allow you to take one lick and turn it into many different licks. But hey, thats only two approaches. Later we will add slides, Chromatic coloring, interval jumping, and much more to your new spice rack. Just remember that your original lick is your main meal and these techniques are only used as additives to expand your musical taste buds!
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