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Allan Holdsworth's crazy chord voicings

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by osciphex, Dec 22, 2006.

  1. osciphex


    Jun 1, 2001
    Allan Holdsworth has become my latest obsession with all of his neat chords & legato playing... Does anyone have any insight into how he chooses notes while voicing chords?

    I heard a short audio clip where he explains some things about chords, and he says something like the following (which I'm paraphrasing): "rather than playing an inversion of a chord, I could instead choose notes from the family that the chord belongs to, 'family' meaning scale..." And then he plays a whole bunch of pretty chords that are meant to work in place of a maj7 chord; and its all really different sounding from the basic R-3-5-7 voicing (or inversions.)

    What's that actually mean? Does this mean if I see an Emaj7 chord I can play *any* combination of the notes in the E major scale together to use for this chord? What about the 4th, won't that make it sound dissonant? If I were to play the entire scale all at once, that'd be what... an Emaj13 chord? And this works for an Emaj7 chord? What?

    More of a guitar question, but talkbass >> most guitar forums I think...
  2. steveb98

    steveb98 [acct disabled - multiple aliases]

    Mar 15, 2006
    Venice, CA
    First Holdsworth can do a lot of things others can't because he takes advanage of having huge hands. Like his four-notes per string scale fingers. With hands that big he could do some closed chord voicings others would have difficulty with.

    Your question I have heard and used this type of approach with symetric scales mainly diminshed. I picked the technique from and article by John Scofield. In general think of a fingering for a diminished, then pick any combination of notes and use as a chord. Works cool for me because I could use combinations of strings sets to create inversion-like comping. Do this with a symetric scale like diminished is easy and I have do something similar with custers using the augmented scale. Using this with a regular scale should work, but have to be more careful with voicing.

    Writing this it hit me he could be also refering to creating clusters. That is when you take a cluster of notes, and harmonize a melody or create a comping melody using the cluster. Clusters are easy on guitar because of the sliderule effect. You come up with a fingering and just move it up and down the neck with the highest note being the melody note. You will have notes that don't fit the scale or key, but the ear hears the same cluster/shape of intervals being maintained and accepts it.

    Hope that makes sense.

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