This week I’m going to expand on the Approach Note lesson by covering Double Approach Notes. To create these we simply approach a chord using two notes instead of one.
Last week we looked at the notes you can use to approach a chord in a sequence – this time, we are going to extend the approach to contain two or more notes. Playing around with different methods to approach a chord will help you move more easily through a progression by bridging the gap between your current note and the target.
We are going to continue with the chord sequence we used last lesson – a I I IV V progression in C major.
C | C | F | G
So far, we have approached each chord diatonically using the parent scale of C major and chromatically using a semitone either side of the target note.
A chromatic approach to the sequence could look like this:
C / / / | C / / E | F / / / | G / / B
A diatonic approach could look like this:
C / / / | C / / G | F / / A | G / / D
The best way to get an ear for how approach notes work is to just practice using them in as many different ways as you can think of. After time, you will stop thinking about what note to play as you will naturally drift to what you are hearing in your head.
Double Approach Notes
To begin using double approach notes, first refamiliarise yourself with the C major scale.
C D E F G A B
We can use two of these notes to approach chords diatonically.
The first chord change in the sequence is C to F. To approach the F, we can start two scale degrees back and take D and E as our double approach notes. As we are starting on C, we get a nice scalar movement between the chords. We can do this again for the G chord by starting our approach from E. To return to C, we can approach it from A, which follows on from G to complete the scale.
In addition to approaching from below, we can also lead down to the target note from above. This uses the same concept of starting two scale degrees away from the target.
For example, to lead into F, we can use A and G as our approach notes.
When you practice this, it can feel monotonous if you go overboard with approach notes. To prevent this and make your practice musical, start with just root notes for a while and slowly add in a few single approaches before you start with double approach notes. This will be a more accurate representation of playing a song and you will get more of a feel for when approach notes are needed.
Chromatic Approach Notes
When working chromatically, we don’t need to think of the notes in relation to the parent scale. Instead, we just start two semitones above or below our target note.
Chromatic notes must be used wisely, however, as they are not always in key and could sound out of context. It works better if the first chromatic note is diatonic to the key.
For example, if we were to approach the F chord in the progression from Eb, it would sound odd, but it would work if we approached it from G. This is because G is in the scale and is a strong note to precede the non-diatonic Gb.
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