It all started back in Music College in the early 2000s, at the ACM in Guildford (UK) to be precise, where we were handed, by none other than Guthrie Govan, an inch-thick binder containing all manner of shapes and patterns for the CAGED system, including chords and arpeggios. I duly slaved over the book while burning the midnight oil for an entire semester and while my technique improved no end, I just couldn’t turn those patterns into music,or connect them to what I was learning in music theory class.Fast forward to 2016, and with the benefit of hindsight from more than 20 years of playing, I’ve been able to look at the CAGED system from a different perspective, and one that will hopefully make it a useful system for anyone wishing to learn it. The CAGED system has many flaws, but these can be hacked and rectified to turn it into a powerful system for understanding how the guitar fretboard works, leading to a versatile, and above all, functional knowledge of chords, arpeggios, scales and modes, and key signatures.
What’s in Book 1?
Book 1 teaches you the basic major scale forms, shows you where to find the basic diatonic chords as well as seventh chords.We then venture into intervals which are the key to making your solos sound like you know what you’re doing. Next we bring out the arpeggios,and finally the modes. Everything is tied together using key signatures as a framework to build up a practical knowledge of chords, scales,arpeggios and modes on the guitar.
Graham Tippett (1977-) studied literature, music and languages in the UK before making a permanent move to Mexico in 2005. It was there he began to explore and research methods of improvisation on the guitar and published the '2 Position Scale System' series of instruction books in 2014, which are the fruit of that research. He is also well-known for his love of languages and music, drawing parallels between the two art forms as he continues to write and research on the subjects of language learning and improvisation. His relentless research into guitar improvisation has recently lead to the creation of the Hacking the CAGED System series of books, and Soloing Without Scales - an alternative look at how to improvise on guitar. Graham is also a graduate of the ACM (Academy of Contemporary Music) in Guildford, where he was taught by the likes of Guthrie Govan, Dave Kilminster, Eric Roche and many others.
A lot of students ask me how they can take their improvisation skills to the next level and move beyond pentatonic scales and into modes and arpeggios. My response is to tell them not to abandon pentatonic scales in favor of modes and other soloing devices, but to use them as a springboard and a solid foundation from which to expand their harmonic awareness. If you play rock, blues and even jazz, you’ll be using pentatonic scales for the rest of your life, so there’s no need to discard them!
In this book, we’ll be using the much-loved minor pentatonic scale as the basis for learning and having a quick way to access the modes of the major scale, as well as the basic seventh chord arpeggios. This means that when you go to improvise, you'll have a vast array of options with which to go beyond pentatonic soloing. Work through this book daily and I guarantee you a smooth and painless transition from pentatonics to incorporating modes and arpeggios into your playing.
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It’s particularly difficult on guitar because guitarists tend to arrive at this point with varying amounts of knowledge and gaps in their playing, whereas other instrumentalists approach soloing over changes in a more uniform way.
While it’s true that everyone learns differently, I believe that a solid approach to soloing over changes requires a system that is a) not based on patterns, b) develops the ability to locate notes on the neck either by interval or by the name of the note, and c) develops the player’s ear to the point where he/she is able to fully express themselves and truly improvise on their instrument as oppose to a formulaic, calculated and somewhat cold approach to something that should be, insofar as is possible, spontaneously created in the moment; and this is what I hope to achieve with this eBook.