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Watch the Riff Generator online guitar lesson by Brad Carlton from Guitar Lab: Riff Generator

Welcome to Riff Generator. In this course you will learn to see the entire fingerboard in terms of scale degrees. We will begin with the A minor pentatonic scale viewing it in a linear sense along the string axis. This will enable you to clearly see the intervals that occur in this scale. The first five lessons will present slur exercises to develop your speed, articulation, and endurance. Lessons six through ten will focus on choosing a specific note out of the minor pentatonic scale as a target. This is critical for having mastery over the tonal gravity of your melodies. The last two lessons is where we start building riffs by utilizing formulas as a framework for our melodies. We will explore various technical approaches to playing a specific formula as well as our options as guitarists to how we lay out the information on the fingerboard.

This concept of viewing riffs and melodies according to a scale degree formula approach has many advantages. You will learn to hear melodic lines and know where they are on the fingerboard no matter what key you are in. This is a foundational group of lessons upon which we will build more advanced melodies in different harmonic environments in subsequent courses. Probably the most appealing aspect of this approach is that you won't get into the rut of playing the same old tired licks.

In the second half of Riff Generator, we will explore various formulas drawn from the blues composite scale. These formulas constitute standard frameworks for riffs applicable over dominant and blues-based harmonies. The blues composite scale can be viewed as the sum of the major pentatonic scale and the blues scale. The formula for the major pentatonic scale is: 1 2 3 5 6, and for the blues scale it is: 1 b3 4 5 b7. As you can see, both scales share your two strongest tones, the root and the fifth. In these lessons you will learn how to hear various colors to enhance your blues-based playing and where to find these sounds on the fingerboard.

As we rap up Riff Generator we continue with the melodic formula concept which is the foundation of the riff generator series. In these lessons we’ll focus on the principle of pitch direction which allows for variations within a given formula. If a formula contains two different notes, there will be two possible pitch directions for the second note, either up or down. If the formula contains three different notes, there will be four possible pitch directions for the second and third notes. Each formula will be diagrammed over the entire fingerboard thus allowing various layouts of the notes. You may then take a given formula and apply pitch direction, layout, phrasing, and all the various guitar techniques that we have available to truly generate a huge variety of licks. Each formula is based on strong tones which will increase your confidence when soloing.