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Enhance Your Guitar Improvisation by Sequencing Your Ideas

In the world of music, where every note holds the potential for limitless creativity, sequencing stands as a beacon of innovation. Imagine weaving together a tapestry of melodies and rhythms that captivate the listener's ear with their ingenuity and flow. This is where sequencing takes center stage – it’s not merely about playing notes in succession but rather crafting a musical narrative that unfolds in a mesmerizing manner.

Sequencing in guitar playing refers to the concept of repeating and varying a musical idea or pattern to create melodic lines that flow smoothly and dynamically. These sequences can range from simple scale fragments to intricate arpeggio patterns, providing a structured framework for improvisation. By incorporating sequencing into your playing, you not only enhance your technical skills but also develop a stronger sense of musical phrasing and continuity.

One of the key benefits of using sequencing in improvisation is its ability to expand your vocabulary as a guitarist. Rather than aimlessly wandering through scales or licks, sequencing allows you to explore different ways of connecting notes and intervals, leading to more creative and cohesive solos. Additionally, by practicing various sequences across different keys and positions on the fretboard, you improve your muscle memory and finger dexterity, enabling smoother transitions between ideas during spontaneous performance moments.

If you are not familiar with this concept yet, here are a few exercises to get you started. Let’s begin with a short phrase in the key of A Minor:




Now let’s sequence this by playing the same idea with different notes in the key:




This is only 1 possibility out of many. You can start on any note in the key and then just follow the principle of the phrase within the chosen scale fragment. On a regular 22 fret guitar, this gives you 11 places for this – just on this 1 string. And you can do it on all the other strings as well!


Now, let’s take a longer phrase, once again in A Minor:




When improvising, instead of trying to come up with a completely different phrase after this, you can again sequence it by just repeating the same idea on different notes in the key – like this:




More often than not, this sounds more musical than jumping to a totally different idea for the next phrase. Especially when the chord changes, this might be a better choice. Play Example 3 over Am and Example 4 over G. Listen how well it fits! You just played melodically and followed the chords with ease.


I recommend the following steps to become a better improviser:


  1. Practice Ex. 1-4 and jam with them over a 6/8 track in A Minor (with Am and G, or some more chords)

  2. Get more good phrases by sequencing these examples

  3. Do the same process with any motif or lick you want. Hint: to create an interesting phrase which is worth to be sequenced, consider using various scale patterns as templates for building melodic phrases. Instead of relying on linear scale runs, explore skipping intervals. By breaking away from predictable patterns and incorporating unexpected twists, you can surprise both yourself and your audience with fresh musical ideas.


Enjoy this way of practice while becoming a better improviser!


About The Author:

Lutz Richter is a professional guitar teacher in Potsdam, Germany who successfully helped many people to enhance their guitar improvisations.

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