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Modern Legato Application - Introduction/Approach

Tom Quayle 164 lessons

Hi there guys and welcome to this tutorial on Legato and Hybrid picking that I've entitled Modern Legato Application/Approach.

In this lesson I'm introducing you to 5 examples of phrases or lines that I often play when improvising. We'll be playing scale like figures and lots of arpeggios through many positions on the neck. These will use 3 main technical approaches,

1 - Legato, meaning hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides

2 - Hybrid Picking - meaning to use a pick and fingers on the right hand

3 - Chromaticism - meaning to play consecutive notes/frets on the fretboard

These approaches are commonly used by many awesome fusion players such as Greg Howe, Derryl Gabel, Allen Hinds, Allan Holdsworth and Brett Garsed! Some of my favourite players!:-)

The reasoning behind my use of these techniques is two-fold. Firstly a technical hindrance of mine is that my right hand picking is not as accurate as I'd like it to be. I find that using legato and hybrid picking approaches allows me much more accuracy than I can get with a pick alone. This is just me being poor at alternate picking!! Hehe!

Secondly, from a tone and phrasing perspective I love the smooth, even, keyboard or horn like sound of this style. I purposely try to make all my notes sound uniform in attack and tone. I don't always do this when playing but for these kind of lines I just love the sound legato gives you.

I often use the analogy of an old monophonic synth like a moog or an older keyboard instrument like a harpsichord. These instruments had a uniform velocity meaning that no matter how hard you hit the key the note comes out at the same volume. Whilst this is not always what you'd want to do (after all dynamics are so important in music) it's a great skill to have on guitar and is a sound defined by modern fusion guitarists! This combined with the smooth sound of legato gives us a sound very similar to a horn player.

One of the ways I achieve this sound is to use my middle finger to play each new string as I'm ascending up the guitar. The flesh of the middle finger gives us a really soft attack similar to the sound of a hammered note but don't so much 'pluck' the note as gently coax the note out of the string by stroking it! Sounds weird I know but if you pluck too hard you'll lose the effect.

When descending I can't hybrid pick so I sweep very lightly upwards with the pick, sweep picking when descending only! This, again, must be a relaxed, light motion in order not to break the smooth, legato feel of the line.

To help you get into these techniques and work on your timing and dynamics with them I'm going to show you two 'preliminary exercises.'

The first is based on a 3 note per string G major scale and the second is a chromatic exercise designed to work on your co-ordination and finger strength for legato.

Move on to the next video for demonstrations and TABS for these preliminary exercises.

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