Watch the Blues for Symmy 4 online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Juiced Blues
WARNING: This segment gets a bit heady so get yourself another dose of Ginkoba and let's get down
As mentioned, the comping in Blues for Symmy makes use of a concept called harmonized scales. Simply put, harmonized scales are an order of elements (that's a great way to describe what a scale actually is--you heard it here first!) where the components are made up solely of notes from a given scale. Once complete you could say the chords contained within the harmonized scale are 'diatonic'. For our purposes the D, G and A symmetrical diminished scales were used to construct harmonized scales that feature stacked 4ths. While this is not the first instance of quartal harmony here in Juiced Blues, it is however going to be very different than what we've worked with thus far. Starting in Super Dom Blues, instances of stacked P4ths have been dropped here and there and to great effect. Here in Blues for Symmy, we're going to juice that approach by making playing with stacks that contain altered 4ths--tritones (remember, while a tritone is commonly referred to as a b5th, it is also enharmonically a #4). Why? Because it's jui-licious! Seriously, aside from sounding downright awesome, it's what the symmetrical diminished procreates. Watch.
Assuming you've read the text included with the Blues for Symmy Soloing segment you have a handle on the ins and outs of the symmetrical diminished scale itself. If not, no sweat, the video portion of the segment breaks it down for you once again. On top of that, here's a quick review:
The symmetrical diminished scale is an octatonic (8-note) scale whose formula creates a succession of consecutive half and whole steps, which is why the alternative name for the scale is the half-whole (H/W) scale. This succession is the reason why the scale is symmetrical--it's an endless cycle of consecutive half and whole steps. The degrees are as follows: 1 b2/b9 b3/#9 3 #4/b5/#11 5 6 b7. In D that would be D Eb F F# G#/Ab A B C D. Nested within this scale is a dom7 arpeggio starting from the root as well as a dim7 arpeggio both from the root and b2nd/b9th degree. Since we now know dim7 arpeggios are symmetrical, thus making every note in the arp a root that makes eight dim7 formulae! That's every note! Now, let's get stacking.
*** Be sure to look on with the Power Tab and/or PDF chart in the Harmonized Scale Vision section where the "D Symmetrical Diminished harm. scale from the root" resides as you read through this next section.
Starting with the root degree, D, the first stack of 4ths will be D-G#-C. OK, this is where it gets tricky--remember, this is an octatonic scale and as a result conventional interval protocol will be bent a little, but it's all good in the end. The D-G# combo was utilized as the lower 4th because that's actually a 4th of some kind (a #4 to be exact) even though in the scale it's the 5th degree. The upper half of the 3-note stack is a 4th, too, though it's one that is not recognized as such since it comes out to be a diminished 4th (dim4), which is enharmonically a major 3rd. Nowhere in music is there an instance where that kind of 4th is appropriate--trust me, I combed the scriptures and only in the headiest classical pedagogy did I encounter it. So, if you recall back in the previous segment's text I mentioned some of the intervals would be major 3rds--this is what I was alluding to. If we followed suit with how the bottom half of the chord was created, thereby skipping the dim4 conundrum, and went with a G#-D interval we would be what I call "textbook correct". Problem is that puts a repeated D--yes, an octave--in the chord on the outer border and that sound is just plain boring with a capital "B". Going back to this newly formed stack, notice the altered 4th, D-G#, is on the bottom of the chord while the more consonant sounding major 3rd (disguised as dim4) is on the top. With symmetry in tow, this will be the structure for half of the chords in this harmonized scale in all three instances of the D, G, and A symmetrical diminished harmonized scales and will consistently be a b3rd apart. The second one--the Eb-A-D stack--is comprised of yet another #4 at the bottom, but with a P4th on the top. This structure will make up the other half of symmetrical diminished harmonized stacks of 4ths and will of course also be a b3rd apart throughout.
Up until this point in Juiced Blues, in every Vision chart, I've given you the full neck vision. Due to the complexity and inherent snow blinding effect these shapes have when first getting your hands on them, this time around I outlined the one octave zone where I played the chords for both the Comping Performance and the Variations. To be clear, the D symmetrical diminished harmonized scale starts on the stack that was built upon the root, the G symmetrical diminished harmonized scale starts on the #4th/b5th degree and the A symmetrical diminished harmonized scale starts on the b3rd/#9th degree. They were organized as such for maximum voice leading potential. Notice the convenience of half step distances between each harmonized scale (holy chromatic, Batman!). That's due in part to the fact that the tritones contained within each chord in ANY I-IV-V are only a half step apart. The I7 will always be the anchor while the IV7 will be a half step below and the V7 will be a half step above.
Putting the geek element aside, the crunch in the ice cream cake is in the top note melodic voice leading coupled with altered textures in the lower end. If you play just the top notes of each chord I played in the Comping Performance, you'll hear some simple, yet tasty minor blues licks. Those lines get their scruff from the #4's that stacked below them and THAT is the real deal. As stated previously here in Juiced Blues, you're outside playing will be that much more effective if whatever you're playing can stand on its own when played by itself.
Cool stuff, right?!