tom quayle

Modern Legato 3 is the final part in the series by Tom Quayle that looks at his approach to legato technique. This lesson package is almost 2 hours of multi camera HD video and accompanying notes and TAB and can be purchased as a standalone product or if you are really serious about learning how to utilise this technique to the fullest, as the last part of a thorough series. As this is the final part of the series it is all based around constructing lines, that is, using patterns within scales and arpeggios to create musical, repeatable and moveable legato phrases that you can use when you are improvising.

In Part 1 Tom introduced the technique and while there were a lot of lines to help your left and right hands begin to feel comfortable with this style of playing they were understandably more technique and timing based rather than focussing on creating music.  Part 2 extended the timing studies from part 1 with triplet and swung 16th lines and also introduced every guitarists’ favourite scale the minor pentatonic, but using modern legato patterns. This in particular I thought was great because Pentatonic scales are so useful and Tom demonstrated how using fluid legato lines instead of our fallback box position licks can sound fresh and exciting.

Modern Legato Part 3 begins by introducing small fragments of scales and arpeggios that can be used in any key and position on the fretboard, this includes chromatic fragments (using passing tones within a scalar pattern) and transitional fragments that allow you to shift positions using slides or pivotal fingerings. Tom then refers to these fragments while building new lines all of which are included in the accompanying TAB written in both standard tuning and 4ths tuning that he uses. For example Tom will build a new line starting with an arpeggio fragment that then goes into a small scale sequence and into another arpeggio to finish, then he will go back and switch one of the fragment patterns from the initial part of the video/TAB and substitute that for what he originally played to show how you can change and manipulate lines. You will need to know your scale patterns to fully take advantage of this idea, but of course improvisation is all based on your fretboard knowledge so if you are weak in this area you can brush up while learning the fragments.

The next part of the tutorial focusses on rhythmic awareness and control, this was covered in previous parts of Modern Legato with rhythmic subdivisions, 8th and 16th notes and 8th note triplet and 16th note triplet subdivisions. In Modern Legato 3 Tom starts with a more specific technique of resolving a phrase by finishing on the first subdivision of the 2nd bar, so if you play a bar of 16th notes you end on the 17th note. This exercise is to help control where the phrase ends within the bar, ie. you need to know where you are in the bar whilst improvising in order to know if you are about to finish your phrase and prepare for the resolution. This sounds easy and Tom of course makes it look simple but when you are improvising it is very easy to lose your place in terms of which 8th or 16th note you are up to in a bar so this is a great exercise to practice. At around the 1hour 15 mark Tom plays some improvised lines over backing tracks first with 8th notes (ending on note 9), then 8th note triplets (ending on note 13), 16th notes (ending on note 17) and finally 16th note triplets (ending on note 25). At this point you really see how these scale fragments help to create an infinite number of cool lines without sounding like you are just playing scales. Just a simple rearrangement of notes with controlled fluid legato and moving around the fretboard into different scale positions and even repeating fragments make these licks or lines sound like proper fusion solo sections. Tom also shows how to use a DAW or sequencer to highlight these rhythms to help you hear the timing for each line and of course you can alter the sequence to have a different number of notes as you develop this skill.

The final part of Modern Legato 3 deals with more unusual scales and associated arpeggios such as the altered scale, melodic minor etc. and applying the fragment ideas to these too. It is basically up to you to research more exotic scales and apply the practices that are taught throughout to these scales to add to your fretboard knowledge and vocabulary ready for playing over changes. This leads onto the very final part of the tutorial where Tom shows how, once you are comfortable playing scale and arpeggio fragments all over the fretboard, you can then start playing over chord changes and start composing and improvising cool sounding lines. The great part about this final section is that Tom explains that as long as you go at your own speed to start with and concentrate on creating lines over simple chord progressions (eg. 2 chords) without a backing track so there is no pressure you will start seeing how to connect lines and see the scales and patterns on your fretboard for each chord. You can then move on to playing over a backing track and try to play in time, once you master a simple progression move on to progressions with more chord changes etc. Tom also explains that once you have mastered this process you can start to push the technical task into the background a little and let the creative part of your brain take over. Tom includes a number of backing tracks with this package including tracks based on the chord progressions of ‘So What’, ‘Sunny’ and ‘Giant Steps’, each of which is more technically challenging.

Without a doubt with Modern Legato parts 1,2 & 3 Tom has created an absolute must have set of masterclasses for anyone wanting to not only improve or learn about Legato technique but also about rhythmic playing and how to create interesting improvisations by using timing subdivisions to create interest. As I said in my introduction Modern Legato 3 can definitely be bought and used as a standalone product but I would definitely recommending at least checking out part 1 as well. Tom is one of the most exciting fusion players in the world with amazing theory knowledge as well as technique but he is also a brilliant teacher making every task throughout very easy to follow.

You can purchase Tom Quayle’s Modern Legato Series from his website http://tomquayle.co.uk/lessons.html