Sunday, July 5, 2009

Half Step Clusters

In the diagram above, dark ellipses indicate the positions of the diatonic half steps. The lighter gray regions are the zone patterns we have discussed previously. Notice that each of the two zone patterns contain two half step clusters consisting of four notes, and one 'partial cluster' consisting of two notes. There is a skewed cluster at the center of the system between the two zones.

Notice that this diagram replaces alphabetical note names with Roman numerals. C=I, D=II etc.

Learning the positions of these clusters will go a long way toward helping you to be able to clearly visualize all the note positions as you play. Memorize the fret and string positions of each cluster. Once you've done this you will know the positions of 4 of the 7 tones in the key of C. The remaining three tones are all whole steps apart, so you can navigate from any half step cluster in either direction on any string and play either two or three whole steps to get to the next cluster. More precisely, there are two whole steps going up from the highest tone in the cluster (IV), and two whole steps going down from the lowest cluster tone (VII) before arriving at the next cluster.

It may appear that the patterns are only roughly symmetrical. However, as well see in the next entry, there is a very precise symmetry embedded in the fretboard if you know how to look at it.

All contents of this blog are © Mark Newstetter

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