Riff 14

A Minor Jam Track

E Minor Jam Track

This riff comes out of the root 6 Em7 arpeggio. Playing with arpeggios and understanding where and how to use them for maximum effect is a bit more of an advanced topic, but that doesn’t need to stop us from taking advantage of some more basic ones – even without all the associated theory that goes along with them.

Simply put – we’re playing the notes that create the Em7 chord. I’ve tabbed this two different ways, though in some ways you could consider the full arpeggio like a kind of scale, in that you can jump around and even create riffs within it’s framework. If you examine the notes in Box 1, you will find there are more places to play the notes that comprise Em7, however as I mentioned, you don’t need to use all the available notes to build your riffs. These two riffs are just very basic ways to start engaging with those notes.

This riff brings up some interesting issues around picking. In the first riff, the first three notes we play are all on different strings. So, you could alternate pick these, and that would be fine. Or, you could use what we call economy picking. Where alternate picking always maintains the up and down motion of your picking hand, regardless of the location of the notes being played, economy picking takes into consideration the note location, and where appropriate, makes adjustments.

For example, the first three notes in this riff are all on adjacent strings, and so it can make logical sense to maintain your picking motion in a single direction as you go through these strings. Under economy picking, the first three notes would all be picked in a down motion, and then we resume alternate picking for the rest of the riff, because that is the most efficient way to deal with those notes. It’s all about efficiency, and economy of motion.

If you choose economy picking, then that motion of picking multiple strings in one direction brings up its own challenges. This is called rake picking, and to do it successfully you need to quickly mute each note with the picking hand at the same time as you’re moving on to the next note, so that each note sounds out separately and there is no overlap. This can take some practice, but once you get good at it, it offers the ability to drop bursts of super-speed into your riffs now and then, which is a really cool thing.

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