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April 2010 \ Premier Clinic \ Fierce Guitar \ Passing Tones

Passing Tones
Greg Howe

Greg Howe shares a method to spice up solos: passing tones.


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One of the approaches Ive found to be very effective in spicing up solos is the use of passing tones. Passing tones are often regarded as scale tones
residing between two chord tones. While this may be accurate by official definitions, it seems to me that the overly vague nature of such a definition
does very little to provide useful information to someone genuinely interested in exploring this concept. So, for the sake of practicality, passing tones
might best be thought of as notes residing between two scale tones that are a whole tone apart. For example, any one of the following notes could be
used as passing tones in a C major scale application: C#, Eb, F#, Ab or Bb. Simply put, a passing tone is basically a non-harmonic tone maintaining the
primary function of transitioning from one scale tone to another.

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They are embellishments that can serve to add depth, tension, and an overall element of sophistication to almost any solo if used fittingly. Traditionally,
it has been taught that passing tones should fall on weak beats or upbeats; however, I dont personally adhere to that rule unless the specific soloing
section seems to lend itself to that approach. In most cases (but not all), it would generally be considered musically inappropriate to land on or linger
on a passing tone. But again, this really is subjective territory, and the only rules that should ever really be obeyed are the ones that enable you to
sound your best.
Historically, the recurring use of specific passing tones within the context of traditional scales has often resulted in permanent modifications whereby
the passing tone is subsequently included as part of the modified version. Such is the case with many contemporary scales, most notably the bebop
scales and the classic blues scale. There is still some debate as to whether or not the modded versions qualify as legitimate scales at all. My personal
opinion is, Who cares?

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The following examples are designed to imply a D7 tonality. Theyre basically comprised of D Mixolydian notes (same notes as G major) along with
passing tones. While these licks initially seem to imply a D7 tonality, they can also work equally well in the following G major related modes: Dorian,
playing the licks over an Am chord, and Lydian, playing the licks over a C major chord.

Example 1

Example 2

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Example 4

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Example 4B
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24/04/2013 22.50

Passing Tones - Premier Guitar

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http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2010/Apr/Passing_Tones...

Greg Howe
Greg Howe has enjoyed a successful recording career since bursting onto the scene in 1988, and his talents have been sought after by some of the
biggest names in the music entertainment industry, such as Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Enrique Iglesias.

Rig Rundown - Minus th

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Comments

(9 comments)

display by

Fred
on 07/21/2011

Greg Howe rules. To Wayne Smith, wow... sorry but you're just all sorts of wrong dude. No offense or anything
pal but you kind of need to brush up on a few things.

Mike
on 06/30/2010

Wayne Smith is completely wrong and Greg Howe is a super hero.

Leopard
on 05/07/2010

I found nothing confusing about Greg's description of the lesson, quite the opposite in fact. Another great article!
thanks Greg and thanks Premier Guitar!

Jason Shadrick
on 04/14/2010

Wayne - Jason Shadrick here from Premier Guitar and Guitar Edge. Thanks for your comment and you bring up a
good point. Everyone looks at music theory slightly different and Greg definitely has his one take on it. I believe
that when Greg mentions passing tones, he is referring to any note that can connect a scale or chord tone. I am
a bit confused as to where enharmonic tones are mentioned. Enharmonic tones are notes that have different
spellings depending on the function. For example, C# and Db are enharmonic spellings of the same note. If you
are in the key of A, you would use C# since the key signature of A uses sharps. If you have any more questions,
please don't hesitate to ask.

Wayne Smith
on 04/13/2010

While this is interesting, and the description of chords to play this over is valid, this is a discussion or enharmonic
tones, not passing tones. In the first paragraph Greg says "Passing tones are often regarded as scale tones
residing between two chord tones" - no, not often, that is what a passing tone is. Then he goes on to discuss
enharmonic notes between SCALE tones. As you see above, passing tones are about CHORD tones and reside
within the scale. While the musical examples are great and the suggestion for usage is fine, if you have read the
first three paragraphs, you should put that out of your head. There is no reason to badly misinterpret the
language, as Greg writes, we have a term for the notes between scale tones - Enharmonic tones. This has
NOTHING to do with passing tones and it is a shame the Premier Guitar staff let this go through to confuse
some poor person trying to understand music theory.

neel sarkar
on 04/09/2010

gr8 stuff 4 undrstnding chromatic concepts thanks greg,,,

carole
on 04/04/2010

Great yet!

Alan Wilkes
on 03/16/2010

Again Greg Howe brings it.

Mike Watson
on 03/13/2010

There's no audio with this lesson, is this just an oversite? Would be really useful.

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