7. The power of predictability

I’m a great believer in the element of surprise when it comes to entertaining an audience. Changes in rhythm, key or guitar sound certainly can grab the listener’s attention, but sometimes it’s good to take a short break from throwing them curveballs and play something with a highly predictable ending. Just think of it as luring them into a false sense of security, before you pull their leg again.

A good way to do this is to play a figure that you repeat a full fourth higher, and then a full fifth lower, then again a full fourth higher etc. This pattern is often heard in classical music, so therefore it tends to sound very familiar; no matter what pattern you play.

Why don’t I just give you two examples to show you what I mean.

This first example sounds very classical. It more or less spells out the cord progression F# Bm E Am D Gm C# F#m, but I’ve added some notes to embellish the whole thing a bit, especially at the end.

E -------------------------------------------14---17---15----14------------------------------------------------------12---15-----
B -----------14---17---15---14-------15-----------------------------------------12---15---13---12-----------13---------------
G ------15-------------------------16-----------------------------------------13----------------------------14--------------------
D -16---------------------------------------------------------------------14--------------------------------------------------------
A -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

E -13—12-------------------------------------------------10---13---11---10---------------------------------------------------
B -----------------------10---13---11---10----------11------------------------------------------9---12---10---9---------10--
G ------------------11----------------------------12------------------------------------------10------------------------11-------
D --------------12------------------------------------------------------------------------11---------------------------------------
A -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

E -9---12---10---9---10---9--------9---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B --------------------------------12-----12---10---12---10---9---10---9--------9----------------------------------------------
G ------------------------------------------------------------------------------11-------11---10---11----------------------------
D -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The second example is more or less in the same vein. This time the notes come close to a cord progression of Gmaj7 Cmaj7 Fmaj7 Bbmaj7 Ebmaj7 Abmaj7 D7 G. Because majored 7 cords sound a bit dreamy, this whole sequence has somewhat of a hypnotic feel to it.

E ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
G ----------------------------------------------12---16---14---12--------------------------------------------------10---14-----
D -----------12---16---14---12---------14---------------------------------------10---14---12---10---------12---------------
A ------14--------------------------15----------------------------------------12--------------------------13---------------------
E -15---------------------------------------------------------------------13-------------------------------------------------------

E -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------8------------
G -12---10--------------------------------------------8---12---10---8------------------------------------------7---------------
D -----------------------8---12---10---8--------10----------------------------------7---10---9---7--------9------------------
A -----------------10------------------------11-----------------------------------9---------------------10-----------------------
E ------------11--------------------------------------------------------------10---------------------------------------------------