Both Sides of the Field:
Outside Playing 101
BY EMIL WERSTLER
Emil Werstler is the lead guitarist for metal
bands Dååth and Chimaira. His Gypsy jazz-infused lines can be heard on Levi/Werstler’s
Avalanche of Worms and records by Austrian
Death Machine and Xerath. Werstler is active
as a clinician and endorsee for Paul Reed
Smith Guitars and Xotic Effects, and he
teaches lessons in the Atlanta area. For more
information, visit emilwerstler.com.
• Incorporate more “outside”
sounds into your playing.
• Learn to use half-diminished
and diminished arpeggios
over dominant chords.
• Create lines that combine chromaticism and rock appeal.
diatonic key while still having a solid foundation for the listener to grasp onto.
Moderation towards outside playing
can help things sound more composed
and flowing during writing or improvising. The goal is to play our part, but not
stand out to the point of being tasteless. In
Fig. 1 I’m playing an E7
9 arpeggio (the
V chord in the key of A), then resolving
a whole-step bend up to the 9th. For a
less intervallic sound, I’m walking down
chromatically and ending the line with a
whole-step bend to the root.
The half-diminished arpeggio that begins
Fig. 2 is a very underestimated sound,
especially in rock and metal. You can hear
this approach used frequently on just about
every recording I’ve ever been a part of.
Starting a major 6th above the root empha-
sizes the F# without sounding too Dorian.
I think the half-diminished arpeggio is
less predictable than a fully diminished
arpeggio, which is what attracts me to it.
In the second measure I slide down into an
Em7 arpeggio before ending the line with a
half-step bend in to the 9th.
Click here to hear
sound clips of
As a guitarist, I’ve always been drawn to utside sounds. As a music enthusiast,
I have always questioned their placement in
the big picture. At times, inside-sounding
lines can be boring just as much as outside-sounding lines can sound uncalled for. Since
I’ve never really considered myself a straight-ahead rock or jazz player, I try my best to let
the music dictate which path to choose. One
thing is for sure: Life is short and sounding
typical should not be on anyone’s agenda.
One of my recurring thoughts usually
involves the desire to develop a unique
sound without losing what I like to refer
to as “rock appeal.” With timing and the
listener in mind, we can build the right tension that eventually resolves into a bigger
musical statement. Is it possible to satisfy
listeners and our inner guitarist simultaneously? One can only hope. In this column,
I would like to shed some light on how
to approach playing mildly outside of the
Fig. 1 Fig. 1
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