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Stretch It !


Hi and welcome to my newest column for iBreatheMusic.com. First thing I´d like to tell you: if you do have any questions or comments regarding this or other articles, or if you just wanna discuss them with others ( not only me, but the other visitors and "advisors" of Ibreathe Music ), you can do so in the forums, too. That´s what they´re there for, and it´s fun.

So anyway, this time I would like to talk about the pentatonic scale... hey... hold on ! Stay there ! Don´t dare to walk out or hit the "Back"-Button on the browser !

Well, there still is a lot of cool stuff to discover about the pentatonic. It´s one of the first scales we learn, and unfortunately it often is one of the first scales we abandon again or consider "something to use when jamming on some blues in the wee-hours"... But there is some really cool stuff you can do with the pentatonic scale, and you can sure shred on it too... if you want to. Yes, and even without falling back on the cliché-licks we learned in the very beginning.

To be a bit more specific: I would like to introduce you to the "stretch-pentatonic" ( aka. "the three-note-per-string-pentatonic" ). In case you don´t know that one yet, well, read on, cuz I´ll show you how it works and what you can do with it.
If you DO know it, read on anyway, cuz I´ll also give away some cool licks.
Lemme tell you how I was introduced to this...

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away...

Well, I was like 15, and I was working hard on my chops. Back then, I was listening to a lot of neoclassical stuff, especially the Varney / Shrapnel-type stuff, like early Malmsteen, MacAlpine etc. So I was under the impression that the best stuff to jam on is like the minor scale, harmonic minor, sophisticated arpeggios etc. So I was practising and learning a lot of that stuff, and eventually I got bored of it. It all kinda sounded the same to me.

Fortunately, a friend of mine gave me two albums to listen to... "Electric Joy" by Richie Kotzen and Greg Howe´s debut. Well, lemme tell you, I was freaking out. There was no trace of the neoclassic-cliches on those albums, and the licks those dudes played sounded way different from what I had heard before.

That was not only due to some techniques and tricks that those guys used, or the compositions ( fusion, funk, instrumental mainstream-rock )... no, what I loved about those records was that the guys used the pentatonic scale, and used it differently than I was used to.

Instead of playing the same old blues-licks at light-speed, they played really cool runs and sequences all over the fretboard, incorporating tapping and string-skipping. The base for many of those licks was... the stretch pentatonic...

Construction and first licks >>