In today’s installment of our RGT Rock Guitar video lesson series, we will be checking out an excerpt from the RGT Rock Grade 2 Exam – ‘Lead and Rhythm Playing.’
The lead improvisation section of the RGT Grade Two rock guitar exam will be based on one of three scales: A pentatonic major, A blues or A natural minor scale.
In this lesson, we will focus on an example chord progression over which the A natural minor scale (see tab below) would be the best scale to use for improvising.
A backing track, similar to that which would occur in the exam, is included below as well to aid in your home practice of this section of the Grade 2 Rock Exam.
On this backing track the chord progression is played through five times: during the first verse listen carefully to get a feel for the style and tempo, then select notes from the A natural minor scale to improvise a lead solo over the next two verses, then switch to rhythm playing for the last two verses.
When playing your lead improvisation, your volume will need to be loud enough to be clearly heard over the accompaniment.
When switching to rhythm playing you will need to quickly adjust the volume on your guitar so that it is not too loud when strumming during the rhythm playing.
You can either copy the rhythm part that is on the recording or, if you prefer, make up your own rhythm style – as long as you keep in time and follow the chord progression accurately.
The sample chord chart, together with the chord shapes and recommended scale, are shown below.
You can also click here to purchase the RGT Grade 2 Rock Exam book, which contains more examples of Lead and Rhythm Playing’ as well as all of the other songs and musical requirements for this exam.
To view more articles in this series, please visit the “RGT Rock Guitar Video Lessons Archive.”
A Natural Minor Scale and Chord Chart
When practicing with the backing track provided below, you can improvise over the given chord progression, Am-F-G-Dm-Em, with the A Natural Minor Scale.
To help you begin your studies with this important and fun to play melodic device, here is a fingering for the A Natural Minor Scale that you can learn, and then use to improvise over the backing track included in this lesson.
As well, here is the chord progression that is played on the backing track below so that you can follow along when practicing both your rhythm and lead playing along to this track.
Once you have the A Natural Minor Scale and these five chords under your fingers, you can move on to practicing your lead and rhythm playing along to the backing track below, with an example and explanation of this process provided in the video lesson.
Rock Guitar Exam Soloing – Audio
Here is a backing track that is built using the four chords mentioned above. To simulate the Grade 2 Rock Guitar Exam situation, put the backing track on and listen to the first run through of the four-bar form.
After that, solo along with the backing track twice through, before playing the rhythm part twice through.
This is how the lead and rhythm playing portion of the Grade 2 Rock Exam will work, and so practicing in this way at home will allow you to become comfortable with this part of the exam.
Lead and Rhythm Playing Lesson – Licks
Here is the tab and notation for the three sample licks from the video below, one using Hammer-ons, one using Pull-offs and one using a bend.
You might want to start by improvising a solo along with the backing track and focus on playing one of these licks every 4 bars.
From there, you can mix and match the licks, along with your own melodic ideas, as you bring them all together in the practice room and later on during the Grade 2 Rock Exam itself.
Rock Guitar Exam Soloing – Video
Video presented by Chris Bird, Music Editor of Total Guitar Magazine
RGT Rock Guitar Grade 2 Books
To find out more about the Lead and Rhythm Playing at this level, and the RGT Rock Grade 2 Exam, please download the RGT Rock Guitar Exam Information Booklet.
You can also check out the Rock Guitar Grade 2 Exam Book, which comes with a CD and contains notation and recordings of all the exam pieces, as well as diagrams for all of the chords and scales that the pieces are based on.
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