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10 Shread Guitar Exercises Social

10 Shread Guitar Exercises From Top 10 Guitar Shredders of 80s

The 80’s were a defining decade for the guitar shredding genre, with some of the most iconic and influential players emerging on the scene. This article is a tribute to the legends who paved the way for this genre of guitar playing. The 10 guitar shredders highlighted in this article are Randy Rhoads, George Lynch, Greg Howe, Marty Friedman & Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, and Van Halen. Each of these guitarists brought their own unique style and flair to the genre, influencing countless players around the world. From the hard-hitting metal riffs of Randy Rhoads and George Lynch, to the technical virtuosity of Greg Howe and Marty Friedman & Jason Becker, to the lightning-fast runs of Paul Gilbert, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Steve Vai, to the timeless classic rock of Van Halen, these guitarists set the bar for what it means to be a shredder.

This article features lessons and techniques from each of these legends, allowing players to dive into the world of 80’s shredding and learn from the masters themselves. Whether you’re an experienced player or just starting out, these lessons are sure to inspire and challenge you to take your playing to the next level. Those licks are Not played by them however we just followed their style. Here are 10 Shread Guitar Exercises from Legends:

Lesson 1 – Randy Rhoads

Randy Rhoads was a virtuoso guitarist who rose to fame in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a member of the bands Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne. He was known for his fast and flashy playing style, as well as his incorporation of classical music elements into his solos.

Here Listen the lick:

https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/1.-Randy-Rhoads1-1.mp3
Randy Rhoads Style Lick

Here is the tab:

Randy Rhoads style lick

Lesson 2 – George Lynch

George Lynch is a guitarist who first rose to prominence in the 1980s as the lead guitarist of the heavy metal band Dokken. He was known for his aggressive playing style, incorporating fast legato runs and heavy distortion into his solos.

Listen The Lick Here:

https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/2.-George-Lynch-2.mp3
George Lynch Style lick

Here is the tab:

George Lynch Style exercise

Lesson 3 – Greg Howe

Greg Howe is a guitarist known for his technical proficiency and virtuosity. He rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s as a guitarist and composer, and has since established himself as one of the leading guitarists in the world of shred.

Listen Greg Howe Style Lick Here:

https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/3.-Greg-Howe-1.mp3
Greg Howe Style Guitar Lick

Tab:

Greg Howe Guitar Pro Exercises

Lesson 4 – Marty Friedman & Jason Becker (Cacophony)

Marty Friedman and Jason Becker are two of the most influential and technically gifted guitar players of the 80’s. Both rose to fame as members of the metal band Cacophony, and went on to establish successful solo careers. They are the reason i am playing guitar : )

Here is the lick:

https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/4.-Marty-Friedman-Jason-Becker-1.mp3

Lesson 5 – Paul Gilbert

Paul Gilbert is a guitarist known for his fast and flashy playing style, as well as his ability to incorporate intricate harmonies and complex chord progressions into his solos. He first rose to fame in the late 1980s as a member of the band Mr. Big, and has since established himself as one of the leading guitarists in the world of shred.

Listen the lick here:

https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/5.-Paul-Gilbert-1.mp3
Paul Gilbert Style Guitar Lick

Here is the tab:

Paul Gilbert Lick
10 Shread Guitar Exercises

Lesson 6 – Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson is a guitarist known for his clean and melodic playing style, as well as his ability to incorporate intricate fingerpicking and complex chord progressions into his solos. He rose to prominence in the 1980s as a solo artist and has since become one of the most respected guitarists in the world.

Listen The Lick Here:

https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/6.-Eric-Johnson-1.mp3
Eric Johnson Style Guitar Lick

Tab:

10 Shread Guitar Exercises

Lesson 7 – Joe Satriani

oe Satriani is a guitarist known for his technical proficiency, musicality, and innovative playing style. He rose to prominence in the 1980s as a solo artist, and has since established himself as one of the leading guitarists in the world. He has been a major influence on generations of guitar players and continues to be one of the most respected and revered guitarists in the world.

Listen The Audio Here:

https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/7.-Joe-Satriani.mp3
Joe Satriani Style lick

Tab:

10 Shread Guitar Exercises

Lesson 8 – Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Malmsteen is a guitarist known for his neoclassical playing style, incorporating elements of classical music into his solos. He rose to prominence in the 1980s as a guitarist and composer, and has since established himself as one of the leading guitarists in the world of shred.

Listen The Audio Here:

https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/8.-Yngwie-Malmsteen.mp3
Yngwie Malmsteen Style neo classical Lick

Tab:

10 Shread Guitar Exercises

Lesson 9 – Steve Vai

Steve Vai is a guitarist known for his technical proficiency, musicality, and innovative playing style. He rose to prominence in the 1980s as a solo artist and as a member of the band David Lee Roth, and has since established himself as one of the leading guitarists in the world.

Here is the audio:

https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/9.-Steve-Vai-1.mp3
Steve Vai Style Lick

Tab:

10 Shread Guitar Exercises

Lesson 10 – Van Halen

Van Halen is a legendary rock band that rose to prominence in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The band’s lead guitarist, Eddie Van Halen, was known for his fast and flashy playing style, as well as his innovative use of the two-handed tapping technique.

Listen The Lick here:

https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/10.-Van-Halen-1.mp3
Van Halen Lick

Tab:

10 Shread Guitar Exercises

Let us know if you liked these 10 Shread Guitar Exercises and also you can check our previous related post:

7 string skipping exercises With Guitar Pro Tabs

3 Advance Sweep Picking Exercises Tab By Jason Becker

Paul Gilbert Lesson – Terrifying Guitar Trip Tabs

Carvin Legacy 3 Amp

Steve Vai Interview & Inside Story of Development Of Carvin Legacy 3

Steve Vai gives us the inside story of the development of his new Carvin Legacy 3 amp, plus his views on the whole signature concept… by Simon Bradley

Originally published In guitarist magazine August 2012

Steve Vai is having a big year. Not only is his latest solo album The Story Of Light in the can and ready for release in August, but there’s also the third version of his signature Carvin Legacy 3 amp poised to hit the shelves . The ever-affable guitar genius calls us from his rehearsal space to talk tone, gear, and Eddie Van Halen.

How did your relationship with Carvin begin all those years ago?

“When I moved out to California in around 1980 to start working with Frank [Zappa], Carvin gave me my first stack. It was an X1O0B head with two 4 x 12 cabinets and it was amazing for me to have this giant stack. I used it for many years until I eventually rambled off into various other kinds of amplifiers, and I got back together with Carvin in the late nineties.”

What did you want from a signature amp?

“I’ve always tried to find the sound or feel of the music that really resonated with me, which is one of the freedoms an artist has, that anybody has, really. I was looking for a smooth and friendly, yet powerful sound, and for years I used conventional Marshalls or whatnot that had that historic sound. But, when you’re playing instrumental guitar, where it’s either a melody or a solo all night, you don’t want to beat people over the head with a grinding, piercing tone.”

And so the first Legacy amplifier began to take shape…..

“Well, I got very forensic about it. We tried different tubes and I’d research how they worked. I discovered that when you build a motherboard that’s hand-wired, all the soldering and joints have a lot more integrity. It’s expensive to do that, but Carvin was able to make this hybrid that’s much more robust than most other amps. “One of the great things about Carvin is that the firm can pack a lot into an amplifier without a great expense because it’s a home-grown corporation, so to speak. The amp packed quite a wallop and had a tone that was very friendly to me, so that became the Legacy 1”

How did that original amp transform into the Legacy II?

“I was very happy with the Legacy I but, because we’re always trying to reinvent the wheel, we decided to come up with another version. With the Legacy II, I turned to a different engineer and basically rebuilt the engine of the amp by adding another gain structure. It worked for a couple of years, but my ear was gravitating back towards the comfort I’d had from the Legacy I.”

Steve Vai Interview and Carvin Legacy 3 Amp Overview
Steve Vai Interview and Carvin Legacy 3 Amp Overview

And from there, the Carvin Legacy 3?

“Sometimes you don’t know what you need until you go to war: the stage is the battlefield. Gear may have a particular feel when you’re in the rehearsal room, but when you go from gig to gig there’s never really any consistency. So one of the big chores was to get the Legacy 3 to be [tonally] consistent.”

How about the 3’s small size?

“The new trend is ‘powerful but small’, so we constructed the amp within a framework that’s much smaller than what you can usually pack a 100-watt amplifier into. It’s easy to carry but it still retains all of the integrity. So, you know me and my bizarre colours,I wanted to do something a little more exotic, so we put lights inside ofit. You know, they’re only aesthetics but it’s part of what attracts me.”

Do you still use the Fractal Axe-Fx?

“The way my sound is, I try to avoid digital gear but if you want delay, you have to go with digital. I use a fair amount of stereo delay and I needed to find a unit that gave me that delay yet also had a clear and clean cross-trhough, as if you are in bypass mode The Axe-Fx was the closest I could find that not only gave me the effects but also retained the sound quality of the original tone. It’s really a beast; you can discover the universe with that thing [laughs].”

What do you think the appeal of the signature amp is for people?

“One obvious reason is that they like the artist and the tone, and that they maybe want to have a starting point. But then there are others who will go out of their way not to buy [a signature product] because a particular artist has designed it; some people will steer clear of anything Vail And that’s okay, as they’ll find something else.”

Do you think people will assume they will need an Ibanez JEM too?

“Well, that’s a very interesting point, and I think the same thing applies. People buy guitars for various reasons, and the JEM’s a classic now; it’s 25 years old. It was a collectible, in a sense, as it hasn’t changed; I know people who have 40 JEMs! Maybe they’re Steve Vai fans, but they’re devoted to the guitar.”

What do you feel is the heart of tone?

“I’ve discovered very clearly that the tone is in your imagination, in your head; it’s not necessarily based on the gear of another person. I was sitting in my studio recording and I was using my amp, my guitar, all my effects, and Edward Van Halen came by. At the time we were friends, we were hanging out, and he picked up my guitar to show me something he was working on. It was remarkable; he sounded exactly like Edward Van Halen! It was very obvious to me that the tone was in totally in his fingers and in his head.”

Let’s hope that secret doesn’t get out …

“If it does, hopefully more people will start thinking about their tone! [laughs]”

Check Carvin Legacy 3 Amp details in Reverb Website

Check Ear Training Lesson With Steve Vai

Ear Training Lesson- Part 5 – Now Hear This

To quickly review, the last four columns have covered the following approaches to ear training: singing the notes of major and minor scales while playing them; playing pairs of notes and identifying the intervallic relationships between the notes; learning to identify different chord qualities (types) solely by hearing them; singing in harmony with single-note riffs and patterns that you play; and trying to recreate “random” sounds on the guitar with your voice.

In This Part, I’ve got a really tricky exercise for anyone who’s up to the challenge. In previous columns, the exercises involved playing notes on the guitar and then singing the same notes immediately afterward. In this exercise, you’re going to do the opposite: you’ll sing the note first, then play it to verify your pitch accuracy.

Before we get to this exercise, let’s review the intervallic relationships between the notes of a major scale and the notes of a chromatic scale. FIGURE 1a illustrates a D major scale in two octaves. First, play and sing each scale degree simultaneously. Then, try to sing each pitch in the scale before playing it, as shown in FIGURE 1b. Do this repeatedly up and down the entire two-octave range of the scale while trying to stay aware of each pitch’s intervallic relationship to the root note.

Figure 1
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig01a-3.mp3
Listen Figure 1A
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig01b-6.mp3
Listen Figure 1B

Now let’s apply the same concept to the chromatic scale, depicted in FIGURE 1c. First play and sing each note simultaneously, and then, as shown in FIGURE 1d, sing each successive pitch before you play it. Do this repeatedly up and down the two-octave range of the scale too. You will notice that singing the chromatic pitches in succession is much tougher; as the notes are only half steps apart, it will take a keen sense of pitch to sing them right on the money.

Figure 1C
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig01c-3.mp3
Figure 1C
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig01d-3.mp3
Figure 1D

Now let’s expand the exercise by picking the D note on the fifth string at the fifth fret and singing different intervals above it. As shown in FIGURE 2, pick the D note, then sing the note a fifth above it, which is A. Then play the A note at the seventh fret on the fourth string to verify if you have sung this pitch accurately. Now play the D note again and sing a major seventh above it, C#. After you’ve sung the C# note, check your pitch accuracy by playing the C# note at the sixth fret on the third string.

Figure 2
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig02-1.mp3
Listen Figure 2

Another way to approach this same exercise is to say the intervallic name of the pitch while singing it. For example, play a low D and sing the A note above it on the word “fifth” or “five.” When singing C# above the low D, form the words “major seventh” or “seven.” If you do this for all of the pitches you sing, you’ll additionally fortify your knowledge of these intervallic relationships.

These exercises are difficult to master and will require much diligent practice. But start simply; don’t bite off more than you can chew, because you’ll only become frustrated. When you get to the point where you can do this exercise with a high degree of accuracy, your ears will have become quite sharp.

The point of these exercises is to deepen the connection between the notes you play on your instrument and the strength of your mental connection to the pitches you’re playing. Correctly singing intervals before you play them is the first step in putting the mind’s awareness of pitch recognition ahead of simply mimicking what you hear as it’s produced on the instrument. The next big step would be to eliminate the guitar completely and create an exercise of just singing everything, in which it is illegal” to pick up the guitar to check yourself. One fun thing to do is to memorize a favorite guitar solo, learn to sing it in its entirety and, instead of just singing the pitches, recite the interval names as you sing. FIGURE 3 illustrates an example of this approach.

Figure 3
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Listen Figure 3

Back when I played with Frank Zappa, I was faced with learning very difficult music in a short period of time. To help, I tried this technique: I’d record the music I needed to learn, and I’d set a timer on my tape player. Then, when I went to bed, I’d have the timer set to start the tape machine when I was sure to be sleeping. I believed that, in this way, I would actually be learning the music in my sleep: the tape would play, and all of this information would be entered into my subconscious. Now, I can’t say whether this really worked, but I was not nearly the musician that some of the guys in the band were, and I always seemed to have the music memorized faster than anyone else.

Check out part 4

Ear Training Lesson by Steve Vai

Ear Training Lesson With Steve Vai – Part 4 – Bend an Ear

Learn 5 Part Ear Training lesson from Legend Steve Vai

Check part 3 Of Ear Training Lesson here: Ear Training Lesson With Steve Vai – Part 3 – When Your Ears Become Really Good

In last column, I showed you a way to hone your pitch and interval recognition skills by singing in harmony with every note you play on the guitar. To review quickly, we began with a simple A minor pentatonic scale as our area of focus. As each note in the scale was played, we were to sing in harmony a fifth above that pitch: For example, when playing an A note on the sixth string at the fifth fret, we were to simultaneously sing the E note above it (corresponding to the E at the seventh fret on the fifth string); while playing a C note, fifth string, third fret, we were to sing the G note above it (corresponding to the G on the fourth string at the fifth fret).

As you recall, we then applied this concept to chromatic melodies with no particular harmonic base. In other words, I encouraged you to play random pitches on the guitar while consistently singing fifths above these pitches. This exercise is far more challenging than the first one and, accordingly, is that much more beneficial, if you’re up to doing it.

Now let’s expand this exercise to the interval of major thirds. A major third is the note two whole steps above another note, which we’ll call the primary tone—i.e., if the primary tone is G, the major third of G is B, two whole steps higher; if the primary tone is Bb, the major third is D, two whole steps higher.

FIGURE 1a depicts a G minor pentatonic scale (G Bb C D F), while FIGURE 1b illustrates this same scale harmonized in major thirds. First, play the basic scale up and down a bunch of times, while singing in unison with each pitch you play. Then play the harmonized pairs of notes shown in FIGURE 1b while simultaneously singing the thirds above. Next, play only the single-note scale as shown in FIGURE 1a while singing the major third above each note. If you’re unsure of the notes you’re supposed to sing, refer to FIGURE 1b.

music interval training
Figure 1
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig01a-2.mp3
Listen Figure 1A
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig01b-4.mp3
Listen Figure 1B

Once you feel you’re able to do this, proceed to FIGURES 1c and 1d. Remember, play only the lower note of each major third interval while singing the higher note (shown in parentheses). Start slowly and be sure to sing each harmonized pitch as purely and accurately as possible. Pick up the tempo as you become more comfortable, and then try branching off into your own permutations. I tell ya, you’ll amaze your friends!

music interval training
Figure 1C
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig01c-1.mp3
Listen Figure 1C
Rick Beato Ear Training Lesson
Figure 1D
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig01d-1.mp3
Listen Figure 1D

Let’s now apply this study to the interval of a fourth. A fourth is the note located two and a half steps above the primary tone—i.e., if the primary tone is G, the fourth is C, two and a half steps higher; if the primary tone is Bb, the fourth is Eb, two and a half steps higher.

FIGURE 2a illustrates the G minor pentatonic scale harmonized in fourths. As you did in the previous examples, first play the harmonized pairs of notes while simultaneously singing the higher note of each pair (the fourth). Next, play only the lower note, which is the single-note scale shown in FIGURE 1a, while singing the fourth above each note as you play it.

ear training lesson
Figure 2A
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig02a-5.mp3
Listen Figure 2A

You’ll probably find singing the fourth above each note more challenging than singing the fifth or major third, so it may take more practice and patience to get a firm grip on it. Once you get the hang of this, try playing and singing the harmonized melodies depicted in FIGURES 2b and 2c. Again, be sure to sing each harmonized pitch as purely and accurately as possible, and increase the tempo a little each time you practice the exercises.

ear training lesson
Figure 2B
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig02b-7.mp3
Listen Figure 2B
Figure 2C
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig02c.mp3
Listen Figure 2C

As you get your ear chops together, don’t be afraid to venture off into unknown territory. Try expanding this concept to the interval of a minor third (one and a half steps above the primary tone) or a tritone (three whole steps above the primary tone), or even a minor ninth (six and one half steps — or an octave plus a half step – above the primary tone). But don’t bite off more than you can chew; anyone trying this for the first time may find it difficult just getting from one note to another while singing intervals of thirds or fourths above. If so, work with two notes only, and then expand to three notes. Who knows — you might even come up with something cool that you end up using in a hit song!

Now close this magazine and start playing and singing everything you play. You can even close your eyes and look to the ceiling. Try bouncing between intervals. Also, try to make odd sounds with your voice or words and attempt to get the guitar to mimic these sounds. And if you do write a hit song, I get half the publishing. Well…maybe not.

Check final lesson from this series : Ear Training Lesson- Part 5 – Now Hear This

Ear Training With Steve Vai – Part 3 – When Your Ears Become Really Good

In my last two columns, I outlined a series of different ear training exercises designed to sharpen your note-recognition abilities. As you may recall, we began with an examination of the intervallic relationships between pairs of notes, then expanded the scope of our analysis to include full chords. Up to this point, we’ve been using the guitar as the tool for learning. Ear training, however, is something that a musician should ultimately be able to apply to sounds made not only on one’s principal instrument but to notes produced by other instruments such as keyboards, horns, strings or the human voice. When your ears become really good you’ll begin to realize that every sound is made up of either one or more pitches, and you’ll listen to music — and the sounds around you — in a new and different way.

If you have diligently worked on the exercises I presented in the last three columns, your ears have no doubt improved. But there’s no rest for the weary: this month I’ll be giving you some drills that will raise the ear training bar a few more notches.

In my first column, I outlined exercises that entailed singing along with everything that you play on the guitar. What we’re going to do now is to sing in harmony with everything we play.

Let’s begin with the interval of a fifth. FIGURE 1a illustrates the A major scale (A B C# D E F# G#), with the intervallic relationships indicated between the standard notation and tablature. In the key of A, A is considered the first scale degree (“one”) and the root note. Note E is called the “fifth,” as it is the fifth scale degree of the A major scale. If you were to play these two notes, the root and the fifth, together, as shown in FIGURE 1b, you’d be playing notes that are the interval of a fifth apart; the resulting sound is an A5 chord.

Figure 1
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig01a-1.mp3
Listen Figure 1A
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig01b-2.mp3
Listen Figure 1B

The A minor pentatonic scale (A C D E G) is one that many guitar players are familiar with, so we’ll be using it as the basis of our next exercise. FIGURE 2a depicts the A minor pentatonic scale, while FIGURE 2b illustrates the same scale with each note harmonized a fifth above. As you play each pair of notes, sing only the higher of the two, which is the fifth. Play and sing this harmonized scale up and down several times.

Figure 2
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig02a-3.mp3
Listen Figure 2A
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig02b-5.mp3
Listen Figure 2B

Now comes the fun and challenging part. FIGURE 3 is a melody built from the A minor pentatonic scale; your mission is to play this melody on the guitar while harmonizing every note a fifth above with your voice (these notes are indicated in parentheses). This may seem difficult at first, so tackle this exercise one pitch at a time, and try your best to sing the harmony notes as in tune as you possibly can.

Figure 3
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Listen Figure 3
Figure 4
https://guitars-lesson.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/fig04-2.mp3
Listen Figure 4

Next Part we’ll expand this concept to other intervals, such as thirds and fourths. See you then.

Ear Training With Steve Vai – Part 2 – Untangling Chords

My first ear training columns outlined various techniques intended to strengthen your note-recognition abilities, using the guitar as an ear training tool. This time, I’d like to turn you onto some ear training techniques that use chords.

Let’s begin by playing a series of random major and minor chords all over the neck, which we’ll record with a tape machine. First, play either a major or a minor chord in any key, anywhere on the neck, wait a moment and then identify on the tape either the chord type, i.e., major or minor, or, if you’re more ambitious, the chord name, i.e., G major, B minor, etc. FIGURE 1 illustrates a short series of randomly chosen major and minor chords. Fill a 60-minute tape with a random minor and major chords, and then listen to it, doing your best to identify each chord type or chord name before your voice on the tape is heard. No cheating by using the guitar to find these chords! Rely on your ears, make your best guess, and only then use the guitar to see if you are correct. If you’re only identifying “minor” or “major,” this exercise is still valuable because you focus on harmony and chord quality. If you take it a step further and identify the actual chord names, you’ll fortify your ability to identify root notes as well as harmony. This will get you started on the road to identifying the chord progressions you hear on records when jamming, at a concert, etc.

Figure 1
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Listen Figure 1

You can expand this exercise by adding suspended chords to the mix. FIGURE 2a indicates a few different ways to play suspended chords: in the first three chords, the root notes are located on the sixth and fourth strings; in the second three chords, the roots are located on the fifth and third strings; in the last three chords, the roots are located on the fourth and second strings. Memorize all of these different suspended-chord voicings.

Figure 2
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Listen Figure 2A

FIGURE 2b illustrates a sequence of randomly chosen major, minor and suspended chords. You can start by recording this example or, better yet, make up your own!

Figure 2B
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Listen Figure 2B

An important thing to remember is to not make these exercises too difficult for yourself. If you make them inordinately tricky or complex, you may only succeed in becoming discouraged. Start out with simple stuff, and gradually progress to chord changes that are more unusual or difficult.

Once you feel you’ve become accustomed to identifying major, minor and suspended chords, expand on the idea by including more complex chord qualities. A good place to start is by adding “tension” tones, such as major sevenths or dominant sevenths to major and minor chords. FIGURE 3 depicts an arbitrary sequence of major, minor, major seventh and minor seventh chords.

Figure 3
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Listen Figure 3

When you can correctly identify all of these chord names and chord types just from hearing them, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much the proverbial bar has been raised on your overall musicianship. Having this harmonic ear-training skill will positively affect your approach to composition, soloing and comping (rhythm guitar) and will give you a whole new appreciation of the structure of music.

To further enhance your ear training study, bring interval recognition into the equation: pick a chord and arpeggiate it (pick each note of the chord individually and in succession). Wait a moment, and then identify each interval in the chord. FIGURE 4 illustrates this type of exercise. The possibilities are endless; you can incorporate millions of chords, depending on how great a challenge you wish to give yourself.

Figure 4
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Listen Figure 4


All of the ear training exercises I’ve outlined in the last 2 columns are ones that I have spent hours and hours doing back when I was a teenager. There is no doubt that this is time-consuming hard work; you may find yourself becoming overloaded or frustrated. If this becomes the case, take a break and go do something else for a while. But the benefits to be reaped from this type of independent study are tremendous and will stay with you forever.