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Diminished Possibilities: Part 2

Diminished Possibilities: Part 2

February 21st, 2009 by




Hey guys! Welcome again to my “Technical Difficulties” column – this is number 6 already! As the title suggests, this is the second part of a previous column I wrote for Guitar Messenger, so feel free to check it out and leave me comments in the “Ask Francesco” section of the forum.

This time I am going to dive a little deeper into the Octatonic scale. I want to show you some of the sounds “hidden” inside the typical diminished shapes that all guitar players know and have come to love and use on a consistent basis.

It is really interesting to see all the different tensions and arpeggios/chords that can be extracted from it. You will see in particular how bluesy some of the lines sound; also, to really hear a great master on this specific subject I would suggest that you listen to Scott Henderson. Make sure to pay attention to how he creates a unique sound by mixing and constantly elaborating on these ideas.

Example 1:

This example shows some of the linear fingerings and shapes that can be used for mixing different note groupings.

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Example 2:

This example starts with a very cool sounding arpeggio (first septuplet: T 4 b5 b6 M7 T m3) that changes into one of the more blues sounding shapes I was mentioning before…this is a good example of a fast line with different and dense sounds inside.

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Example 3:

This example is based on a more traditional shape (string skipping minor thirds) but it also combines variations with adjacent figures. This one has a definite Holdsworth sound to it.

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Example 4a:

This is a pretty simple line that combines a lot of the ideas I talked about before.

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Example 4 b:

This is an Octave/Displaced variation of the previous example. Same exact notes, but very different effect… it is also very hard to play.

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Example 5:

This example is based on a series of arpeggios played in groups of quintuplets. These are the chords implied by this entire line: C7 #11 / C7 #11 13 / Eb –7 b5 13 / Eb – 7 b9 / E – b5 M7 #11.

This example shows a good variety of sounds that can be extracted from within the Octatonic Scale.

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Example 6:

This is a cyclical lick that always starts with a whole-half-whole 4 note per string 10 note group, and mixes in between the more traditional 3 note per string fingerings creating an A section-B section effect. The precise notation of the time signature shows the exact groupings, but I would suggest that you play the lick over a steady 4/4 meter to create a “moving around the pulse” type sound.

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Example 7:

This is the tapping lick of this series of licks. It is based on different patterns that create diverse groupings (3-4-7-9-….). I am using all the different patterns and combinations we talked about before.

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Example 8:

This one is more of a Holdsworth sounding lick based on a 19-note pattern that repeats symmetrically twice. The lick then varies with different mixed shapes that end at the end the highest note.

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These 9 different ideas represent just a SMALL example of the different possibilities that can be created using the Octatonic Scale. A lot of these ideas are still very much based on repeating patterns, but they show some of the potential that is often ignored by guitar players.

See you next time!

Diminished Possibilities: Part 2

About Francesco Artusato

Francesco Artusato is a guitar player/composer with a Berklee College of Music degree (major in Film Scoring). He has extensive experience in teaching guitar and music theory; his expertise is in the Rock/Metal language. Francesco is currently part of a Metal band called Hiss of Atrocities, and has also recorded three instrumental solo projects. His column at Guitar Messenger is called Technical Difficulties, and it will be focused mainly on developing different techniques such as vibrato, bending, picking, legato playing, tapping, sweeping, and every other mechanical challenges related to the guitar. The purpose of this column is to show how to incorporate all the different techniques into musical phrases, and not just seeing them as physical workouts (rhythm, melody, and harmony are always the primary concern). Music always first!

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Visit Francesco Artusato's Website: http://www.francescoartusato.com


  • Fleg

    Interesting, nothing new sadly, if a 3rd part to be made, let’s go for a more interesting approach using the different harmonization the diminished scale offer (major,minor using the same tonic etc) and lick going from it.