Scale Sequences- Diatonic Sixths for Guitar

Hey there, welcome to this lesson on Diatonic Scale Sequences focusing on the Diatonic Sixths sequence for us guitarists.

By learning this sequence and combining it with other sequences learnt throughout this series, I hope you will have a greater range of sounds to pull out when improvising. There is a time and a place for all of the sequences covered throughout this series and ultimately I hope you will experiment with combining the sequences in flurries of notes to remove the predictable element of the scale sequence.

Sometimes it works well to use the sequence in its original form as shown below and often when played at a higher speed it becomes less obvious what notes you are actually using and instead becomes what is known as a ‘run’. If you play guitar with a friend or bandmate and wish to create guitar harmonies then this sequence will become interesting for you too, experiment with playing the sequence below but one of you starts on the 3rd scale degree and one starts on the 1st degree (3rd scale degree is the 5th note of the example below).

If you feel that you need to know more about scales and modes and the theory behind scales and modes then please see my eBook Be The Guitarist.

Diatonic Sixths

As with previous scale sequences we have looked at, it is a good idea to experiment with playing the example above up two strings on the guitar. To do this you start on the same note shown above and play the same 2nd and 3rd note but continue the sequence up the neck using only notes from the A and G string. This is good to know for when you want to create a solo or melody that travels from low to high notes without just jumping up the neck. It can be the perfect connection between the intro to your guitar solo and high register end.

Another great thing about learning scale sequences is that it is training your ears to recognise the particular interval that the sequence is based on. For example, this sequence travels up the C major scale playing each scale degree starting from the 1st degree and then plays the sixth degree from that note. So if you count the note you play as 1,2,3,4,5,6 then 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 each time you are playing a sixth off the scale degree you are playing. This is known as a diatonic sequence as the notes used are all from the scale and no outside notes are used.

Find some good guitar backing tracks and test your newly found skills. All you need to know is the key that the track is in and then you can start playing and learning how to use a sequence to full affect.

Practise and have fun!

Tom Clark

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