Following up from last week’s diagram of the chromatic scale, let’s take a look at some basic patterns derived from it. There are six possible two-finger combinations, diagrammed below:
This is where the terminology can be somewhat tricky if taken literally; while we’re referring to the above fingering combinations and patterns as “chromatic”, they really aren’t. “Chromatic” means a descending or ascending sequence of semi-tones (half-steps). These are two-finger patterns that replicate on every string, which is symmetrical, rather than truly chromatic. But “chromatic” is also commonly used to refer to patterns which are atonal, or not derived from any clear scale or key.
As always, these are just names for things, and you should feel free to call them whatever works for you. For our purposes here, “symmetrical” and “chromatic” can be used more or less interchangeably to refer to these patterns.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the basic 1-2 pattern being worked across the strings and back in several variations (see tab below):
Use strict down-up alternate picking until you’re comfortable with each pattern, then reverse the picking sequence (start with an upstroke). Check out the triplet/sextuplet variation below:
It sounds pretty cool at higher speeds. As with any new exercise or pattern, take it slowly, use a metronome and work your way up to speed.
Finally, be sure to try out the pattern with hammer-ons and pull-offs. It may take a bit of practice to work in the alternating pick directions from one string to the next, but it’s an efficient way to develop the picking hand.
Keeping in mind that these tabs are highlighting just one of the 6 possible 2-finger combinations in just a couple of positions, there’s a ton of useful practice material to be mined just from these simple patterns. Use the neck diagrams at the top of the post for reference, and work through all the above tab variations with the other possible finger combinations.
Next week, we’ll combine some of these fingerings into more challenging patterns, and we’ll also show you how to sequence these patterns to produce more interesting musical ideas. See you then!