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Half-Step Slips By Michael Hoffman
Here's a great way to spice up your solos. The concept is simple: While you're improvising with a scale, momentarily move your line a half-step up or down to create tension. Slipping back to the original scale releases the tension. Moving up or down -- going out -- is easy. Getting back in smoothly takes a little practice.
Outside in. This example illustrates the process. Begin by playing A Dorian (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) over Am7 as notated. Notice how the line shifts to B Dorian (B, C, D, E, F, G, A) on the and of beat four. This tension-producing "half-step higher" state lasts through bar 2, beat three. The F passing tone (labeled PT) adds even more drama within B Dorian. After returning to A Dorian, the line drops to A Dorian (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) for four beats and then rejoins A Dorian for one final note.
Other flavors. Once you've learned this phrase, try giving major and dominant scales the half-step slip. For best results, establish the sound of the inside scale before you move outside -- and be sure to wind up back inside!
Listen to the Example
For more information on scales, chords, progressions, harmony, and MICHAEL HOFFMAN's book Serious Guitar, visit his Web site at www.seriousguitar.com.