Welcome to this very first instalment of creative modal sweep picking! In this series we’re going go beyond the realms of anything considered ‘normal’ or ‘standard’ sweep picking. Make sure you download the tab at the bottom to learn all the examples in this episode!
We’ve yet to see or hear other players doing these type of ideas so this is pretty exciting stuff! Most common sweep picked shapes are usually very basic major and minor tonality. You’ll hear some of the more advanced players take it further with some basic 7th extensions but it doesn’t often go beyond this. In this series we’re going to show you how to create new sounds using a highly versatile creative sweep picking approach. Get warmed up and get your shred on because these are going to test your dexterity!
While we love the ‘regular’ sweep picking sound, you’re probably just as tired as we are of it’s over-use. Although it makes you sound like an accomplished player, there is so much creative sweep picking territory that is yet to be explored. Let’s shift our thoughts and ideas for a moment. We know that arpeggios are built from chords. But what if we looked at some of our favourite mode shapes to build efficient sweep picking shapes from…
To really demonstrate the possibilities of this type of concept, lets jump right in to a nice little example utilising the exotic phrygian dominant mode. This is mode number 5 of harmonic minor.
The Power Within – Finding ‘Sweepable’ Shapes
I’m going to show you 4 awesome examples that you can pull directly from the 3nps phrygian dominant mode. Make sure you download the tab at the bottom of this lesson to see them all.
Here’s an interesting shape you can do using just the top 3 strings. This first one one is a real ripper because it’s very similar to the 2nd inversion standard minor shape. If you can blaze through that, then this one shouldn’t be too much of a problem. When you play this one through you’ll quickly notice that it yields a much darker sound. In terms of sonic quality you could consider this minor7b5.
The first thing you’ll notice about this is the odd numbers of notes compared to a regular triadic sweep. This feels weird at first but once you get this type of idea under your fingers you’ll see that you can really let it rip.
Becoming A Well Oiled Sweep Picking Machine
The real secret sauce to coming up with these types of ideas is studying your modal positions and finding the shapes that feel familiar to you. Sweep picking is all about efficiency. Finding note sequences that allow for easy finger combinations is the true key here.
Phrygian dominant is a particularly good for this because it contains finger combinations that you will already be used to. With some simple adaptations to shapes we already know we can blaze through the notes of this scale with little trouble at all.
Sweeping Outside The Box
There’s two trains of thought here. You can either harmonise your scale or mode to form chords which you can then transpose into shapes that work well for sweeping. Alternatively you can use the modal shapes you already know to find sweepable combinations. We’ll refer to this as modal sweep picking since we’re referring to mode shapes to execute these arpeggios.
Shred On The Nile – 6 String Phrygian Dominant Sweep
Here it is, the finale sweep. This one spans all 6 strings and uses 80% of the Phrygian Dominant mode so it has a really dark but highly exotic sound. Don’t feel like you have to blaze through this shape either. Playing it slowly with well executed slides and pull off’s yields yet another type of feel for your listeners! Do experiment!
Download The Lesson Tab
Make sure you download the tab book for this creative sweep picking lesson below. We’ve tabbed out all 4 examples as well as some additional idea to expand your creative thinking!
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