134 GUITAR PLAYER AUGUST 1996

S E S S I O N S
“Most of my t echni cal i nroads came f rom t ryi ng t o l earn banj o. ”—Leo Kot t ke, Aug. ’ 77 GP

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Guide Tone
AN OVER-EAGER ACCOM-
panist who tries to impress a
soloist with “hip” tension-filled
voicings is asking for trouble.
Such voicings often prevent the
soloist from establishing a spe-
cific scale or melodic idea. Not
a good strategy for keeping a gig.
To avoid this debacle, try a
less-is-more approach. Play the
guide tones—the chord’s two
most important notes. Guide
tones are generally the 3 and 7
(or 6) of a given chord. Fig. 1
lists the guide tones for basic
7th and 6th chords. Note: When
the 5 is altered, it often func-
tions as a guide tone.
Try playing guide tones on
the inside four string groups:
2+3, 3+4 and 4+5. For both
sound and range, 3+4 is my
personal favorite. Examples 1
and 2 show guide tones ap-
plied to a common chord pro-
gression. Ex. 1 presents the
naked guide tones that are
rhythmically and melodically
embellished in Ex. 2. g
chord type guide tones
major 7 3 7
major 6 3 6
minor 7 b3 b7
minor/major 7 b3 7
minor 6 b3 6
dominant 7 3 b7
dominant 7 (sus 4) 4 b7
minor 7 (b5) b3 b7 b5
diminished 7 b3 bb7 (6) b5
Ex. 2
Ex. 1
Fig. 1
Comping
B R E T W I L L M O T T

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