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Making use of Clusters – JGT Lesson

Bill Farrish

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JGT contributor Bill Farrish shows us how ‘clusters’ can be very useful for harmonizing melodies and providing accompaniment.

Clusters (for the purpose of this lesson) are defined as groups of 3 notes containing an interval of a second. They can be very useful for harmonizing melodies and providing accompaniment. I also like using them when working with a pianist as they allow me to get inside of the voicings being played and blend in better similar to a string pad, and at times punctuate certain things the soloist might be doing while staying out of the pianists way. The cool thing about clusters is once you know them for one scale those same clusters will work for chord or mode in the found in the key. The hard part is bringing out the sound of the mode or chord you are in while playing them. So picking and choosing your voicings carefully should really be considered.

If you would like to hear clusters used in a song check out this version of “I’ll Remember April”

In the examples below, the clusters found in the C Major Scale on the D,G and B strings are used. Try learning them on all sets of 3 strings. If you need a bit of help they are demonstrated at the end of this video I posted a few years ago. (In these examples the 2nd is between the top two notes. It could also have been placed between the bottom two.)

Making use of Clusters Example #1

And the last example for the lesson, same clusters from the Cmaj Scale used for creating G Mixolydian Sounds:

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