Watch the Scale Harmonizing Exercises online guitar lesson by Tony McManus from The Celtic Journeyman

An important aspect of learning any music is playing scales and it can be as tedious as it is fundamental but it’s part of the process.

What I’d like to do is combine two of the ideas above- the jig rhythm and arpeggiating chords. So let’s arpeggiate chords, but in jig time. There’s a D power chord and to play that in jig time, hear the rhythm? What I want to do is slow that down and think about how you would play a scale in that pattern- a scale consisting of chords. The next chord is an E minor- with or without the thumb hooked over. Then a D/F# which is a D chord with an F# in the bass. Then G and then A or and Asus2 with a B in the chord. Then a B minor or Bm7 and then A/C# bring us back to D.

Let’s look at these in sequence. What I’m trying to get to is that these chords and the links between them will crop up in arrangements of melodies and ballads in particular. So let’s combine that with the notion of the jig rhythm

You can mix the picking pattern. It doesn’t have to be “root, 3rd, 5th root”. You can mix it up. It’s still jig rhythm.

Another thing I was doing there instinctively is to lean on some notes. Dynamics! You don’t want every not be the same volume. You don’t just want to play a melody you want to articulate the melody so certain notes have to be front and centre. As you do this you can choose which notes you want to lean on. One more instinctive thing- I was not just playing the chords mechanically, I was linking then sometimes through the bass, sometimes chromatically, sometimes through hammer ons.

So, that’s a way of playing a scale that teaches you a couple of things- one is jig rhythm 6/8, the other is these chord shapes that are going to be used a lot.

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