Brett Garsed Masterclass 3


Brett Garsed

Masterclass 3

Guitar Techniques 146

In the last part of a three parter Masterclass Brett talks about chromaticisms…

Welcome back for the last episode of the Brett Garsed Masterclass. This month we’ll be focusing on one of the most interesting side of Brett’s playing: chromaticisms.

Someone might think that Brett’s fusion phrasing, so sophisticated and full of chromaticisms may come out from a deep study of the Nicolas Slonimsky ‘Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns” but it actually came out much more naturally and probably in the simplest way: “It all started with me desperately trying to cover those horrible notes I was hitting!” As Brett explained the reason for this was simply because he didn’t have any stock shape of scale pattern to rely on and this pushed him to rely totally on his ears.

Very soon he found out that whatever wrong note he was hitting he could always slide up (or down) to a good one. Of course when he started there was a bit of delay time between the wrong note and the good one but now not only that delay time is totally disappeared but he actually looks for the weirdest note so he can creates his trademark chromaticisms phrasing full of continuous tension and resolution.
Let’s see in details his approach.

The solo of this month is based on C7 (V degree in the key of F) so the relative scale would be C Mixolydian C (R), D (9), E (3), F (11), G (5), A (13), Bb (b7). Now, having 7 notes in the scale means that there are 5 notes left out: Db (b9), Eb (b3/#9), F# (#11), Ab (b13) and natural B (7).

What Brett does is mainly thinking one scale (in this case it would C Mixolydian) and using the other 5 notes as colors, passing tones. When you listen to his phrasing you might get the impression that he’s playing a diminished scale or a Lydian b7 scale (very common choices for a dominant 7th chord) but he’s actually just adding those 5 notes to the Mixolydian mode.

Now, this might look confusing because one might say: “Basically you can use any note?” Yes, you can use any note but the difference lies in how you mix them and more important how you end your phrase. One of the most important things in improvising is ‘landing points’ (for ‘landing point’ you can think a note of the chord e.g. 3rd or 7th of the chord). He suggested listening to country players at first for their melodic control on the passing notes and chromaticisms and then eventually approach jazz and fusion later.

Brett also seems to think ‘ghost chords’. For instance: C7 is often played with Gm7 (creating a II-V chord progression) so he thinks G Blues Scale or any scale that you would normally play over Gm7.

Another approach that he likes to use is arpeggio. As we have seen before C7 is coming out from the F Major Key so potentially we can use any of the arpeggios in the key of F. A common way to look at those arpeggios is to see them in relation with the chord you’re jamming on (in this case C7):

C7 C E G Bb
R 3 5 b7
(Em7/b5) E G Bb D
3 5 b7 9
(Gm7) G Bb D F
5 b7 9 11
(Bbmaj7) Bb D F A
b7 9 11 13
(Dm7) D F A C
9 11 13 R
(Fmaj7) F A C E
11 13 R 3
(Am7) A C E G
13 R 3 5

This is a very common approach not just for Brett but in general in Jazz, Country and many other styles. I hope you enjoyed this Masterclass as much I did.


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Bars 1-3: Brett starts the solo already with a substitution! Gm(maj9).

Bars 4-5: In this couple of bars appears quite clear that he moved around the A Minor Pentatonic shape (actually C Major Pentatonic)

Bar 6: In this bar Brett plays Bbmaj7 arpeggio and a very common chord shape for C13 always arpeggiated.

Bars 7-9: Talking about landing points you can see that Brett is using D (9th) and G (5th).

Bars 10-13: This lick is very good example of how Brett mixes all the possibilities together: Cmaj7 arpeggio, adds F# as passing tone suggesting a Lydian b7 scale, Edim7 arpeggio and ends the lick going to C Minor Pentatonic first and then C Major Pentatonic.

Bars 14-17: Again another long line featuring many different ingredients. In this we’ve got: b3 added as passing tone, Em7/b5 arpeggio, G Blues Scale, C Blues Scale with 3 added he finally resolves to C Major Pentatonic.

Bars 18-21: Things are getting quicker here! Brett starts this lick with Bbmaj7 Arpeggio then with a fragment of the C 7 arpeggio he gets to the G Blues Scale, he then starts the most lyrical section of this solo.

Bars 22-25: Again another cool fast line full of chromaticisms: mainly C Country Scale where Brett plays around the Major and Minor 3rd (Eb/E), then Dm arpeggio and finishing with 6ths.

Bar 26-29: Again C Country Scale going to the G Blues Scale (here he moves the Bb to natural B and seems like he’s almost thinking G7!), and resolve to C Minor Pentatonic and C Country Scale.

Bars 30-34: This is the end of the solo and things get really hot here! Brett plays a quick line using the C# (b9) as passing tone, fragment of the Bbmaj7 arpeggio, C7 arpeggio and a very quick line around E diminished triad.