Indie = Psychedelia

Indie = Psychedelia in 2018

by Peter Marchant

In 2014 I was introduced to my friend’s new boyfriend who was a massive fan of ‘psych’ music, especially one band in particular: ‘The Brian Jonestown Massacre’. I had played guitar in ‘indie’ and ‘pop’ bands for my entire performing life and yet I somehow managed to miss this strange term. However, four years on and I am now fronting an outfit that I can categorically say is a ‘psych’ band (short for Psychedelic Rock or Pop by the way).
It turns out that this was a genre that I had been into for years without even realising it. The Beatles, Oasis, Kasabian, MGMT…these were all bands that I loved and simply considered to be Rock or Indie bands. My new friend encouraged me to delve deeper into his Spotify playlist and into the fuzzed out, reverby world of psychedelic rock.
2018 is a crucial time for this ‘macro-genre’ (as I call it) as we are seeing more bands than ever who would have previously been considered all-out indie now playing very ‘spacey’ and ethereal sounding music, strongly influenced by artists of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Indie = Psychedelia

Indie = Psychedelia

A perfect example of this is Arctic Monkeys, whose album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’ was released on the day I wrote this. As a guitarist, one of the first things that you notice when the needle drops on this record is that there is hardly any guitar…or so it seems. The guitar is used, but sparingly. When there is guitar it’s never a conventional crunchy, twangy Fender Stratocaster sound that is so closely associated with their first two albums. For example, towards the end of the first track ‘Star Treatment’ a guitar part (finally) comes in, which acts like a call and response with the ‘Beach Boys sounding, palm muted, melodic and guitar-like’ bassline. The effect on this guitar part is more accurately described as a subtle ‘fuzz’ sound more than a crunch or distortion, with a clipping characteristic that is typical of tape saturation. Even the chord progression in this section of the song is classic psychedelia. The chord progression Cm to F repeating is reminiscent of that used in Pink Floyd’s ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ when that famous vocal solo kicks in (the chords being Gm to C repeating). A far cry from their days of playing ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ in 2006. See what spaced out inspiration lies in the more recent music of those indie bands of days gone by.
Other examples: The Coral – ‘Sweet Release’, Foals – ‘What Went Down’, Gaz Coombes (formerly of Supergrass) – ‘Walk The Walk’, Phantom Isle – ‘Focus’ (my band!)

Indie = Psychedelia in 2018

Seven Modes of the Ionian System

The Seven Modes of the Ionian System

The Ionian system is a collection of modes (scales with characteristic musical features) all of which are based on the Ionian scale, more commonly known as the major scale. Depending on which note you start the scale on, you’ll get a different combination of intervals, with the first mode (Ionian) being C D E F G A B C, the second one (Dorian) starting and ending on the next note of the scale (D E F G A B C D), the third one being E F G A B C D E, etc.

With seven different notes as starting points, you’ll end up with seven different modes that – despite being made up of the same pool of notes – all have a unique and distinct sound.

Some of those seven modes are more commonly found than others, with the most ubiquitous ones being Ionian (the major scale), Aeolian (more commonly known as the natural minor scale) and – our go to scale for dominant seven chords – Mixolydian.

Here’s a quick overview of those seven modes, in our example we’ll look at the ones based on C Ionian. When practising them, it is important to know what Ionian scale the respective mode is based on, but to also see them as independent scales with individual interval structures, rather than merely segments of the major scale.

Mode I: Ionian

The Ionian scale (more widely known as the major scale) is the fundament on which all of the other six modes are based. Its corresponding seventh chord is the maj7 chord, which can be extended to a maj9 or maj13. The defining notes of the scale are the major third and the major seventh in combination with a perfect fourth which, when improvising, has to be used carefully, as it can clash with some of the chord notes.

Seven Modes of the Ionian System

Seven Modes of the Ionian System

A typical C Ionian chord vamp would be C – Am – F – G7

Mode II: Dorian

The Dorian mode is one of the minor modes of the Ionian system. The chord of choice is a Min7 chord, with the option of turning it into a Min9, Min11 or Min6. The scale is defined by having both a minor third and a major sixth which gives it a modern and bright sound.

Dorian

Dorian

A typical D Dorian vamp is Dm7 – Em7

Mode III: Phrygian

Just like Dorian, the Phrygian scale is a minor mode, but has a minor second and minor sixth. Especially the flattened second gives it a somewhat dark sound and a lot of people associate it with Spanish music in which the scale finds a fair bit of use. It is used on min7 or min11 chords, typically ones that have a b9 extension, but it can be used on Dom7sus4(b9) chords as well.

Phrygian

Phrygian

An E Phrygian chord progression would be: Em7 – Fmaj7

Mode IV: Lydian

The Lydian scale is a major scale again, but is differentiated from the Ionian scale by having a raised fourth. This makes the mode sound bright and dreamy and a lot of fun to jam on.

Lydian

Lydian

A common F Lydian vamp would be Fmaj7 – Cmaj7

Mode V: Mixolydian

The Mixolydian scale is one of the most widely used modes of the Ionian system. Its combination of a major third paired with a min7 makes it the go to scale for dominant 7 chords. Its corresponding chords are the dom7, dom7sus4, dom9 and dom13.

Mixolydian

Mixolydian

A typical G Mixolydian vamp would be G – F

Mode VI: Aeolian

The Aeolian scale is commonly known as the natural minor or often just as the minor scale. It sounds more “traditional” than the more modern feeling Dorian scale, due to its minor sixth which our ears are very much used to from Pop and Classical music written in minor keys. It is used on min7 chords (with possible extensions to min9, min11 and sometimes minb13), typically those that are either the tonic of a minor key or the relative minor chord of major keys.

Aeolian

Aeolian

A typical A Aeolian vamp is Am – G – F – Em

Mode VII: Locrian

The Locrian mode is the most odd sounding one of the Ionian system, with relatively limited use due to its flattened fifth. It is most commonly used on min7b5 (also calledhalf diminished) chords which are often extended to min7b5(11) chords.

Locrian

Locrian

Try jamming on Bm7b5 – Fmaj7 for a B Locrian vamp.

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Learn to solo like Angus Young

Learn to solo like… Angus Young (AC/DC)

PART 1 / 4 : Minor and major pentatonic scales

One of the key components in the music of AC/DC are the instantly recognizable, crazy guitar solos. Angus Young has got a few tricks he will constantly use to achieve this classic hard rock sound.

In part 1, we will look at the kind of scales Angus uses to improvise and write solos.

The most common scale used in rock (and in many more styles of music) is the minor pentatonic scale, which you probably already know. In many songs, Angus would often switch between the minor pentatonic and the major pentatonic, often at regular intervals (half a bar in major, half a bar in minor for example)

Let’s have a look at this lick using the G major and minor scales:

How to Solo like Angus Young

Learn to solo like... Angus Young (AC/DC)

Learn to solo like… Angus Young (AC/DC)

Now, let’s highlight the notes from the major pentatonic in pink and the notes from the minor pentatonic in blue:

Learn to solo like Angus Young

To create licks following this kind of logic, we can take 2 pentatonic scales, one major and one minor, in the same area of the neck, and improvising using notes from either the major or the minor pentatonic. Here are the 2 positions the example above uses:

 

How to Solo like Angus Young

How to Solo like Angus Young

How To Play Lead Guitar Like Angus Young

Learn to solo like… Angus Young (AC/DC)

G major Pentatonic

G major Pentatonic

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Harmonising The Major Scale

Harmonising the major scale

As we all know, the major scale plays a central role in Western music. Almost all of the music we listen to relates to the major scale in one way or another and it is the mother of all of the most common chords and modes that we deal with as musicians on a day to day basis.

Really getting to know the scale and its relation to the chords we use is an essential basis to dive deeper into the world of Jazz harmony. Harmonising the major scale using triads and seventh chords is a fantastic way of opening up new insights into its structure and harmonic possibilities.

Harmonising the major scale using triads
Triads are made up of three notes – the root (1), the third (3) and the fifth (5).

The quickest way of finding the right notes for your triad is going up its respective scale in thirds, which is most easily done by skipping every other note of the scale, and stacking those notes on top of the root.

Within the C major scale for example, the third of C would be E (we skipped the D) and by adding yet another third (skipping the F) we’d get to G, completing our C major triad:

The Harmonised Major Scale

CDEFGABC

If we’d now want to construct a triad using the same scale but starting on D, we’d simply do the same thing going up from there, which would get us the notes D – F – A (a D minor triad).

CDEFGABC

This way we can go through all of the notes of the major scale and assign a chord to each one of them. If you hear someone talk about a “I – IV – V (read: one, four, five) progression”, they are simply referring to the chords that you will find on the first, fourth and fifth note of the scale. In our example of C major, this would be a C, F and G Chord.

Chord qualities

Within chords based on the major scale, thirds can be either major or minor (3 / b3) and fifth can be either perfect or diminished (5 / b5). The type of third/fifth we end up with is determined by the interval (the amount of semitones) between a note and the root of the chord. For a full list of intervals, please have a look at the interval chart at the bottom of this article.

The combination of intervals within a chord determines the type, or quality of the chord. When harmonising the major scale using triads, we will encounter three types of chords:

Major: 1–3–5 Minor: 1 – b3 – 5 Diminished: 1 – b3 – b5

If you keep going through the scale as we did above, you will end up with the following chords for each step (degree) of the scale:

Degree

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

Chord type

Major

Minor

Minor

Major

Major

Minor

Diminished

In C major

C

Dm

Em

F

G

Am

Bdim

Here’s a way of playing through the harmonised C major scale using triads:

Seventh Chords

So called seventh chords consist not of three, but of four notes. The first three are identical to the notes within a triad (1 – 3 – 5). In order to construct a seventh chord, we simply stack yet another third on the top of the triad, giving us a chord that consists of a root, a third, a fifth and a seventh.

Just like the third, the seventh can be either major or minor (maj7 / b7), depending on whether it is ten or eleven semitones away from the root (see interval chart).

When harmonising the major scale using seventh chords, we will encounter four different kinds of chords:

Major 7 (written maj7): Dominant 7 (written dom7 or 7): Minor 7 (written m7):
Half diminished (written m7b5):

Constructing seventh chords

1 – 3 – 5 – maj7 1 – 3 – 5 – b7
1 – b3 – 5 – b7 1 – b3 – b5 – b7

Using the same method as we did with our triads, let’s have a go at finding the seventh chords of each note within our example scale C major:

Harmonising the major scale

Harmonising the major scale

As we already know, the C major triad consists of the notes C – E – G. If we then add another third to that triad (going up from G, skipping the A) we’ll get the extra note B:

CDEFGABC
The chord we end up with now consists of 1 – 3 – 5 – maj7, thus making it a Cmaj7

chord.

Let’s try the same for D:
CDEFGABC
This time we end up with: 1 – b3 – 5 – b7, a Dm7 chord.

You can go through the whole scale in this fashion and will eventually end up with a seventh chord for each note of the scale:

Degree

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

Chord type

maj7

m7

m7

maj7

dom7

m7

m7b5

In C major

Cmaj7

Dm7

Em7

Fmaj7

G7

Am7

Bm7b5

Here’s a way of harmonising the C major scale on your guitar, using seventh chords. Please note that rather than sticking to the 1 – 3 – 5 – 7 order, we are now inverting the chord to a 1 – 5 – 7 – 3 structure, with the first four chords having an optional doubled 5 on top of that. Inverting chords and doubling notes is a common practice on the guitar and other harmony instruments.

You will find the most common chord shapes for maj7, min7 and dom7 chords at the bottom of this article. Try harmonising different major scales using those shapes!
It’s also a lot of fun and great practice to come up with chord progressions
(e.g. I – VI – II – V) and transpose them through different keys.

Seventh Chord shapes with their root note (square) on the E- and A-String

Interval chart

Semitones

Interval

0

Perfect Unison

1

Minor Second

2

Major Second

3

Minor Third

4

Major Third

5

Perfect Fourth

6

Diminished Fifth

7

Perfect Fifth

8

Minor Sixth

9

Major Sixth

10

Minor Seventh

11

Major Seventh

12

Perfect Octave

Seventh Chords

 2 Octave Major scale

Major Scale

Major Scale

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Indie = Psychedelia

Indie = Psychedelia in 2018 by Peter Marchant In 2014 I was introduced to my friend’s new boyfriend who was a massive fan of ‘psych’ music, especially one band in particular: ‘The Brian Jonestown Massacre’. I had played guitar in ‘indie’ and ‘pop’ bands for...

The Seven Modes of the Ionian System The Ionian system is a collection of modes (scales with characteristic musical features) all of which are based on the...

Guitar Lessons in Brent North West London Guitar Lessons Brent North West London. Fun, informative guitar tuition for beginners, adults, & kids. If you want to start taking guitar lessons but don't know where to go, or tired of practicing guitars online & not...

Learn to solo like... Angus Young (AC/DC) PART 1 / 4 : Minor and major pentatonic scales One of the key components in the music of AC/DC are the instantly recognizable, crazy guitar solos....

Guitar Lessons in Acton London Guitar Lessons Acton fun, enthusiastic instructor will help you play your favourite songs sooner than you thought possible! Lessons are designed around the goals of the students. Your ambitions become our ambitions. [caption...

Harmonising the major scale As we all know, the major scale plays a central role in Western music. Almost all of the music we listen to relates to the major...

Guitar Lessons Streatham Guitar Lessons Streatham. London Guitar Academy offers guitar lessons Streatham South London. Our longtime Streatham tutor 

Guitar Lessons in Harrow North West London Guitar Lessons Harrow. Learn to play guitar in Harrow North West London Today.  Our music school offers innovative guitar lessons from certified professional teachers in programs. 

Guitar lessons Chiswick, Richmond and Isleworth Guitar Lessons in Isleworth, Osterley and Hounslow  teach private guitar...

 

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