This style is complex! The common cliché of fusion is a blending of jazz and rock; namely, the harmony of jazz and the technique of rock.

As it draws on Jazz the chord and scales choices are advanced and many; the modes of the melodic minor are very common, such as the altered scale. You can play fusion with any guitar and any sound (clean, distorted).

Important names are Lee Ritenour, John McLaughin, John Scofield, Scott Henderson and Allan Holdsworth.


Ex 1: The first lick is in the style of Scott Henderson. This lick shows two of the biggest Henderson influences: Wayne Shorter (quartal arpeggios) and Thelonius Monk (b9 and major 13). Over the G7alt it uses a Db triad and resolves on the 3rd of the 1st chord (another Henderson trademark).

Ex 2: This lick is in the style of Robben Ford when he was playing fusion with The Yellowjackets. It shows a clever use of minor pentatonic. For Dm11 Robben uses Am, for G7alt he uses Bbm and for Cmaj7(b5) he uses Bm. This is a common approach that Scott Henderson uses too.

Ex 3: This lick is in the style of fusion virtuoso Frank Gambale. It uses the sweep/economy picking techniques on arpeggios. Frank uses a Major9 arpeggio built over the 3rd of the IIm7 chord, and the G7(#5) arpeggio.

Ex 4: This lick is in the style of John Scofield. John often uses unusual notes such as the tritone (F-B) over the IIm7 chord. For the G7alt he plays an outside line the resolves on the b5 of the 1st degree. Scofield has a fantastic laid back feel, so try to emulate it.

Ex 5: This lick is in the style of one of the most important fusion players, namely Allan Holdsworth. Holdsworth is famous for playing in wide, stretched positions and for using long, fluid chromatic lines played legato. Over the IIm7 chord he uses the Dorian more whereas for the G7alt he plays an outside line that resolves again on the b5 of the Cmaj7(b5).


GT132 – 50 Licks To Go
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