Repeating Melodic Sequences
Using Six Note Sequences with Repeating Motives
In this article we will be focusing our attention to using sequences with repeating motives. If you are unsure how 6 note sequences work, please read our past articles here, here, part 3, and part 4 here. 6 note sequences are a great way to systematically gain lead guitar knowledge and vocabulary very quickly!
Sequences simply mean, a set of notes repeated in a sequenced way. There are 5 note sequences, 6 note, 3 note, and so on. Players like Shawn Lane, Paul Gilbert, and Yngwie Malmsteen are just a few names that spring to mind when thinking of players who use these techniques. Sequences can be performed ascending (going up in pitch), or descending (going down).
In the example below, the first 6 notes are highlighted in red. This is a B minor scale sequence, starting on F#, and descending to A. Notice, in the beginning of each measure, there is a 6 note descending sequence. There is also a strong emphasis of the chord tones in B minor (B, D, F#) on strong beats of the measure.
Below you will see notes highlighted in blue. Notice first that at the end of each measure, the notes highlighted are a repetition of the notes in the next measure. What we have is a melodic sequence that repeats the incoming idea before the bar. An easy way to get your head around this is to think of a chord tone you intend to start your sequence on, then play it at the end of the line you’re coming from. This idea will be shown through many examples ahead.
In summary we have a 6 note descending sequence, and following that we have 2 more notes, that “look ahead” to the next bar. In the next bar we have exactly the same idea, although we may be starting on a different note.
Onward to the Examples!
In the first example, chord tones on strong beats (B, D, F#) are placed on strong beats. Notice that we are not playing sextuplets, we are playing eight notes in 6 note groups.
Example 2 starts on the 3rd degree of the scale (D), descending 6 notes before repeating the same sequence again.
Another example in B minor, this one starts on the root, repeating as before in measure 2, then emphasizing F# in measure 3 and 4, finally ending on D.
The 4th and final melodic sequence example is in the key of E minor. In this example, we start on the root (E), emphasizing on B in measure 2, G in measure 3, and E once again in measure 4. The same melodic ideas are here as previous examples.
Watch examples 1-4 in the video below:
Tips for Practicing:
- Practice in multiple keys, playing them similarly but starting on a different scale, and scale degree.
- Try these lines with in bursts, instead of one complete idea.
- Always pick cleanly! If you’re having issues with playing these, slow down, really learn them before trying to ramp up the speed.
- Pull up your favorite tunes, and play these lines over them. Or, even better, create some backing tracks specifically for this purpose.
- Track your progress! Remember that these 6 note sequences are only one small side of the improvisation coin.
- Download the PDF of all the exercises, and add them to your practice routine.
- Jam with other people! This is most important. You will never know what works and what does not work unless you perform with other people. Something that works at home doesn’t always work perfectly in the moment.
If you still are unsure on sequences, feel free to download the FREE Ebook we offer.
Thanks for reading!