Half’n’Half

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Yessir, that culinary staple at the local pizza shop. But, you say, that doesn’t have anything to do with the guitar, other than making your strings greasy if you don’t wash them before playing. Well, actually it does.

Here’s why.

Half ‘ n ‘ half is usually to try and keep 2 or more people happy. Like, someone doesn’t like anchovies, or someone only eats ham and pineapple. How it relates to the guitar (or music in general, as this is a theory thing, applicable to any instrument) is this. What if you had 2 different sets of toppings that were complimentary? Then you could have a slice of one, then the next. I’m making an assumption that if it was all the same topping, it’d be somewhat busy on the palette. I’m not saying anything about fucking Vegans moaning cos the meat on your is too close to the dried twigs and lettuce leaves they knew from birth on their side of the pizza. Some people spoil everything.

Okay, so these days I’ve got some specific sorta things I’ll use as sonic building blocks, much like a pizza as a standard base and sauce. Like, a rosso, verde, sometimes a bianco. That’s our scale or arpeggio over a chord. Let’s say we have a static vamp going on, like a C9/13 chord.  Some funky-ass beat with it. Let’s say 100bpm or so.

So if you know anything about chord substitution, you’ll know what this is all about. If you don’t, it’s like this. If I play a C9 with the root on the A string, 3rd fret, then play the same chord but with the bass note as a G on the 6th string, it’s now either a C9 with a 5th (the G) as the root, or, it’s a Gmin6 chord. Same notes up top (E, 2nd fret D string, Bb, 3rd fret G string, D, 3rd fret B string) so the bass can mean everything or nothing, depending on whether your bass player is treating it as a C chord or following it to the G. Let’s say he thinks it’s a C chord. So, if it’s a C chord, but Gmin is also the same chord effectively, you could then play a Gmin scale over the top. If you know your modes, you could treat the C as a V chord, and the G as IImin chord, the parent scale being F Major. But that’s a discussion for another day.

So what does treat it like Gminor effectively mean? Well, most players tend to resolve their phrasing, like saying something with emphasis, then pausing, or saying something that makes it obvious you’re done talking. Follow?

I like to play a scale I call ‘The Bebop Minor’ a lot. Maybe it has an actual name, dunno. Don’t care. Over Gminor the notes are, G, A, Bb, C, C#, D, E, F. 8 notes, not your typical 7. Also, I use the b9th, Ab, as well as the Maj7th, F#, as passing tones to build a phrase or lick with. Another way of looking at it is, I’m superimposing a D minor Blues Scale (D, F, G, Ab, A, C) over the Bebop Minor scale.  If you’re going ‘WTF?!’ right now, then..

A simpler way of looking at it is this.  If you have a C7 chord, (C9 is a 7th chord with a 9th as well) you can play a Pentatonic Minor scale off the V chord of C ( G ), or off the II chord (D). That’s all from the Major scale.

C      D          E          F              G           A             B                  C

I        IImin   IIImin IVmaj    Vb7th   VImin    VIIminb7    Octave

G in relation to C is a 5th. D in relation to C is a 2nd.

What I DON’T mean is, play random Gminor licks over C with no regard for the C at all. You can play G minor scales, arpeggios, D minor scales or D min 7/9 arpeggios, sheeeeit, F maj 7 arpeggios go okay too. What it all does is, you get a different sequence of notes if you think that it’s something else, just keep an ear out for clashes with notes that are ok in passing, but not okay to dwell on. Your ear is guide. Sounds good? It is good. Sounds bad? Doesn’t matter if the book says it’s correct, or whatever. It IS bad. Or inappropriate, at the least.

So why is that relative to pizza, again? Simple. Doesn’t matter what ingredients you have on your pizza, if someone drowns it with industrial ‘Tastes-Like-Ass’ sauce, all you’re gonna get from it is that it tastes like ass. Maybe that’s a drawcard for some, but probably not most.

You have options, if you have  knowledge. You COULD just play a Pentatonic Major scale over a C6, with the odd bent minor 3rd to a 3rd. Cool. If you can do something tasty with that, then do it. But I personally like a li’l mo’ chili, or pepper, or something left of centre, but still cool. This one time I had – no lie- a wood fired pizza with Wild Venison And Cherry on top. Whut?! I told someone about it this one time, said it was awesome. They thought I was smoking mah-ridju-arna. And that it never happened.

Well, actually it did, and it was lovely. So there. I don’t care, more pizza for me. Haterz gon’ hate. Hate hate hate. Whatever.

Be creative, do whatever, just remember, if you’re making a pizza, someone has to eat it. If you’re playing music, someone has to listen to it. Get a practice groove going, play all the bad notes you want at home, til you figure out which ones you can bend to make work. Just remember, if it tastes like ass, it might as well be ass, whether ass is a major ingredient or not.

My Top Practice Tips

Be honest with yourself if you fucked up. Practice with little or no distortion. Work on the bits you CAN’T do easily, not the ones you can.

Told you I tend to get sidetracked a bit. But it’s all relevant in the end.

B   🙂

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