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Scalar Exercises: Legato (Guitar Lesson)


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Kris Norris

Scalar Exercises: Legato

Kris shows you the in's and out's of legato playing. Kris shows some exercises that he uses to practice his legato technique. Then, he includes some exercise variations to help mix things up. These examples will benefit beginners and and advanced players alike.

Taught by Kris Norris in Kris Norris Artist Series seriesLength: 11:01Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:41) Introduction Welcome back, JamPlayers! In this lesson, Kris will demonstrate some legato exercises that will improve your left hand skills.
Chapter 2: (04:38) Legato Explained and 1st Exercise Legato is defined as a smooth melodic style in which all notes ring directly into the next. Legato is the opposite of staccato. To achieve a legato style on the guitar, multiple slurs are applied to a single string. Techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and bends, are all examples of guitar slurs. In this lesson, Kris will focus primarily on using hammer-ons and pull-offs to achieve a legato sound.

Review of Hammer-ons and Pull-offs

In order to play the exercises presented in this lesson, you must have a firm grasp on proper hammer-on and pull-off technique.

A. Hammer-ons

Note: The following hammer-on and pull-off guidelines are taken from Steve Eulberg's 4th Bluegrass Lesson.

1. In order to play a hammer-on, the hammering finger must begin at a distance that is higher than how you normally want to play. Roughly half an inch is necessary to create the snapping movement of the hammer-on.

2. Performing a hammer-on requires a forceful movement with a left-hand finger. The tone of a hammer-on is much clearer and louder when the hammering finger comes down fast and forcefully. If you bring your finger down to slow, the hammer-on will be weak or inaudible.

3. All rules regarding proper left-hand finger placement in relation to the frets become even more crucial when playing hammer-ons. Hammer the finger down right behind the fret. Hammering on top of a fret or too far from it will result in a poor tone.

4. Use the hard calluses on the tips of the fingers when making contact with the strings. This will help generate a louder tone.

B. Pull-offs

1. The plucked note and the subsequent pull-off must be equal in volume.

2. Pull the finger straight down towards the floor when playing a pull-off. This will create the best tone.

3. Be careful that you do not pull your finger down too far. This may cause one of the adjacent strings to vibrate. Stop the finger performing the pull-off on the string below. This may not be practical when performing rapid pull-offs. However, the pull-off technique should be exaggerated to help you in the early learning stages.

Note: For additional information about hammer-ons and pull-offs, check out the following lessons available on JamPlay.

Steve Eulberg - Phase 2 Bluegrass Guitar: Lesson 4
David Anthony - Phase 1 Basic Guitar: Lesson 3
David MacKenzie - Phase 1 | Basic Electric Guitar: Lesson 16
David MacKenzie - Phase 1 Basic Electric Guitar: Lesson 19
Brad Henecke - Phase 2 Speed and Technique: Lesson 11
Brad Henecke - Phase 2 Speed and Technique: Lesson 12
Dennis Hodges - Phase 2 Metal with Dennis: Lesson 4
Brad Henecke - Phase 2 Rock Guitar with Brad Henecke: Lesson 6
Danny Voris - Phase 2 Classical Guitar: Lesson 5

Exercise 1 Guidelines

This exercise utilizes the same G major scale pattern that Kris demonstrated in the previous lesson. Remember that Kris tunes his guitar down a full step. Consequently, this scale sounds like an F major scale played in standard tuning.

1. Set the metronome to a moderately slow tempo such as 100 beats per minute. Perform the ascending pattern of the scale in quarter notes. Pick the first note on each string. The next two notes on the string are performed with hammer-ons.

2. When descending the scale pattern, use pull-offs. Pick the highest note on the string. Then, use two successive pull-offs to sound the next two notes.

3. Make sure that the rhythm remains even throughout the entire exercise. Each note must receive the exact same value! Do not cut the first note in each slur figure short. This is a common oversight made by beginner and intermediate students.

4. Once you can play the exercise comfortably in quarter notes, work through it in eighth notes, triplets, sixteenth notes, and sextuplets. Then, increase the speed of the metronome and repeat the process.

5. Make sure all notes are equal in volume.

6. For additional practice, work through the chromatic exercise from the previous lesson. This time around, perform the exercise using hammer-ons and pull-offs. Kris provides a demonstration of this exercise at 02:38
Chapter 3: (05:41) Exercise Variations The variations included in this scene are the same variations that were used in the previous lesson. Now however, hammer-ons and pull-offs are applied to the variations whenever possible.

Variation 1

This exercise follows a specific sequential pattern throughout the scale. It can be found in measure 12 of "Legato Exercises."

Essentially, a melodic leap occurs between the fourth and fifth notes. Then, the pattern returns to the note that was leapt over.

Variation 2

This variation follows a repeating pattern that groups pairs of adjacent strings together. Begin by ascending on the sixth string using hammer-ons. On the next string, pick the lowest note. Then perform a pull-off from the highest note to the middle note on the string. This two string pattern continues to repeat throughout the variation.

Variation 3

The notes on each string are played in reverse order as the overall scale pattern is ascended. When descending back through the pattern, begin with the lowest note on each string. Then, ascend to the highest note. Repeat this pattern on each string. Refer to the tablature for a clear visual representation of this variation.

Variation 4

This variation involves some string skipping. The exercise begins with the notes on the sixth string played in a stepwise, ascending fashion. The fifth string is skipped over. Then, the notes on the fourth string are played in an ascending pattern. Next, the pattern moves back to the fifth string. This "every other string" type sequence continues throughout the variation.

Variation 5 - Two Pick Strokes

The overall sequential pattern remains the same. Now however, two separate slurs are performed on each string. The first note of each slur is picked. Pay careful to the picking instructions Kris has included below the tablature.

Additional Tips

A. Creating a Practice Schedule


By now, Kris has shown you several important technical exercises. For most people, it will be impossible to fit all of these exercises into each daily warm-up session. For this reason, it is necessary to lay out a weekly practice schedule. Allot a specific amount of time for each exercise. Practice a few exercises each day. Make sure that all important exercises are practiced at least once within the span of the week. For additional information on creating a practice schedule, refer to Matt Brown's 1st Rock lesson as well as the 7th and 8th lessons from his Phase 2 Jazz Series.

B. Keeping a Notebook

To keep all of your practice materials organized, buy a large, sturdy three ring binder. Group exercises into specific categories within the binder. Here's some sample ideas of the sections you may want to include: sweep picking, tremolo picking, rhythm techniques, hammer-ons / pull-offs, synchronization, scale sequences, improvisation, scale patterns, fingerstyle repertoire, pickstyle repertoire etc. Begin with rather broad categories. As you amass more materials, more specific sub-categories can be added. After printing out new lesson materials from JamPlay, add them to the appropriate section of your three ring binder.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


ak3levyak3levy replied on October 8th, 2011

I was always told lets say your scale bottom strings you should use 1 3 4 fingers when you play you use fingers 1 2 4! does that matter when you do whole steps ? the way your taught or what feels more comfortable?

ntchesterntchester replied on July 9th, 2011

nice n hard hahaha

rohintoniranirohintonirani replied on December 22nd, 2009

hammer on and play offs is more difficult to play on clean guitar than in distortion. So, how do you work on that to make it sound better?

sandeepsandeep replied on May 29th, 2009

Awesome lesson series man.

omenomen replied on February 12th, 2009

Fuck Kris is the best teacher in jam play seriously.when i watch a lesson of Kris i always understand it.more lessons Kris!

jake homejake home replied on February 5th, 2009

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA KRISS AWSOME

Kris Norris Artist Series

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Kris Norris kicks off the JamPlay.com Artist Series with a wide array of ideas and lessons; from changing strings on a floyd rose, to advanced sweeping / legato techniques and soloing applications.



Lesson 1

Changing Strings - Floyd Rose Style

Kris Norris demonstrates how to install new strings on a guitar equipped with a Floyd Rose tremolo system.

Length: 13:43 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Warm-up Exercises with Kris

Kris Norris shows you his favorite warm-up exercises. These exercises will prepare you to play the guitar from a physical and mental standpoint.

Length: 12:16 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Scalar Exercises: Left and Right Hand Synchronization

Kris covers chromatic and scale pattern exercises. Also, he explains some variations on these exercise and provides you with the knowledge to create your own variations. Now you don't have any excuse...

Length: 20:23 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Scalar Exercises: Legato

Kris shows you the in's and out's of legato playing. These examples will benefit beginners and and advanced players alike. The patterns Kris uses in this lesson are based on the examples shown in "Scalar...

Length: 11:01 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Chuggin' n Skippin'

Kris covers right hand techniques such as palm muting, tremolo, palm muted string skipping, and upstroke accents.

Length: 13:26 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Advanced Sweep Picking Applications

Kris covers the right and left hand components of sweep picking separately. Then, he shows you how to synchronize the two. Three string arpeggios and five string arpeggios with hammer-ons are both included...

Length: 35:40 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Remaining Foolish: Arpeggios & Scalar Lines

Kris presents excerpts from his song "Remaining Foolish" from Icons of the Illogical. He explains the arpeggio patterns used in various parts of the song and also talks about alternate picked arpeggios....

Length: 17:40 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Sweep Exercises Based on Canon in D

Kris uses Pachelbel's "Canon In D" as a way to practice arpeggio sweeps. He shows how to sweep and alternate pick arpeggios.

Length: 10:08 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

Counterpoint: A Shift In Normalcy

This lesson is about the concept of counterpoint and harmony. Kris explores contrapuntal examples from his song "A Shift In Normalcy" off of his solo record Icons of the Illogical.

Length: 8:52 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

A Closer Look At Pick Thickness

Kris analyzes different pick sizes and their effect on his playing. Using a slow motion camera, he is able to point out the differences in pick thickness.

Length: 32:24 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
Lesson 11

Satriani Inspired Tapping

Kris Norris explains how to play a Joe Satriani inspired tapping etude.

Length: 11:13 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Extending Your Musical Reach With 8 String Guitars

Kris Norris takes a look at 8 string guitars and their possibilities. He demonstrates the versatility of an 8 string with jazz and metal applications. Kris also performs a short improv jam at the end.

Length: 10:34 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

Neoclassical Inspirations

Kris teaches neoclassical examples from three of his favorite guitar players.

Length: 29:17 Difficulty: 5.0 Members Only
Lesson 14

Rock & Metal Chicken Pickin'

Kris displays some adventurous ways to use chicken pickin' in a rock and metal environment.

Length: 15:25 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Exotic Embellishments In The Style Of Marty Friedman

Kris teaches arpeggio examples that use notes outside of a scale. He also demonstrates an example using the Chinese scale.

Length: 12:19 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Connecting Scale Patterns

Kris shows you how to connect the patterns of a G major scale together.

Length: 15:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Mastering Modes: Basic Scale Theory Primer

This is the first lesson in the "Mastering Modes" mini series. Here Kris explains the fundamentals of scale basics.

Length: 19:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

Mastering Modes: Ionian

In this lesson, Kris explains the history behind the modes and then explains the Ionian mode.

Length: 9:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Mastering Modes: Dorian

In this lesson, Kris covers the Dorian mode, which is the second mode of the major scale.

Length: 13:39 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 20

Mastering Modes: Phrygian

Kris explains the basics of the Phrygian mode, which is a minor sounding mode of the major scale.

Length: 7:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Mastering Modes: Lydian

In this installment of the "Mastering Modes" mini-series, Kris covers the Lydian mode. This is the fourth mode of the major scale.

Length: 9:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 22

Mastering Modes: Mixolydian

Kris explains the basics of the Mixolydian mode, which is a major sounding mode of the major scale.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

Mastering Modes: Aeolian

Kris explains Aeolian, which is the 6th mode of the major scale. This is also known as the natural minor scale.

Length: 7:32 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 24

Mastering Modes: Locrian

Kris covers the Locrian mode, which is the 7th mode of the major scale.

Length: 5:48 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Song Workshop Experiment

Aaron Miller sits down with Kris in the JamPlay studio to discuss songwriting techniques.

Length: 78:38 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 26

Song Workshop Experiment - Finale

Kris Norris and Aaron Miller are back to finish up what they started. Get ready for more songwriting, playing tips, and inside information. Enjoy

Length: 32:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Picking Practice With Drum Rudiments

Kris shows how some drum rudiments can be used to make exercises for your right hand.

Length: 18:33 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

Sliding Arpeggios

Kris teaches how to use sliding techniques with arpeggios. He uses an example in the Lydian mode and also plays over a backing.

Length: 15:11 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Lesson 29

Left Hand Finger Independence

Kris teaches exercises focused on getting the left hand fingers to be more independent.

Length: 26:19 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 30

Building Triad Arpeggios

Kris explains root triad arpeggios and their first and second inversions.

Length: 25:12 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Practicing Triad Arpeggios Chromatically

This lesson focuses on sweep picking major, minor, and diminished triad arpeggios chromatically.

Length: 16:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 32

Re-voicing Progressions with Inversions

Kris shows you how inversions can be used to create smooth voice leading within a progression.

Length: 14:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 33

Dual Tonality Pentatonics

Kris shows how to combine pentatonic scales from different keys to form new and interesting sounds.

Length: 24:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 34

Betcha Can't Scale This

Kris shows you how to learn scales vertically and horizontally on the fretboard.

Length: 16:11 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 35

The Neapolitan Chord

Named after the "Neapolitan School" from the 18th century and not ice cream, this chord is a major chord built on the lowered 2nd scale degree.

Length: 7:13 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

Diatonic Chords In G Major

Kris shows the diatonic chords of G Major.

Length: 19:42 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

Diatonic 7th Arpeggios

Kris teaches you how to play diatonic 7th arpeggios and their inversions in the key of G major.

Length: 15:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 38

Tapping 7th Arpeggios

Kris shows you how to play seventh arpeggios with tapping, legato, and string skipping.

Length: 7:45 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 39

Popular Chord Progressions

Kris shows some common major and minor chord progressions.

Length: 27:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 40

Quick Connect EMG Active Pickups

Kris installs these new EMG pickups into his guitar.

Length: 26:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 41

Workshop With Chodypth

Kris Norris sat down with Chodypth, aka Cody, and this video is the result of a day of jamming and practicing.

Length: 77:35 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only

About Kris Norris View Full Biography Mr. Kris Norris was born August, 31 1978 in Canton, Ohio. He began playing around the age of 14. Early on the self-taught guitarist took an interest in metal and began playing in a local Virginia metal band. Kris' early influences were rooted in Swedish metal, bands include In Flames, Dark Tranquility, and Edge of Sanity. Norwegian Black metal also played a part in Kris' interest including early Mayhem, Emperor, and Ulver. Kris started Disinterment with future Darkest Hour bandmate Ryan Parrish. Disinterment lasted over 6 years and developed a local following in the Virginia metal by being some of the first players to incorporate Swedish metal and 3 guitar players.

College Days
When Kris was 17 he attended Virgina Commonwealth University School of Music (VCU). He studied Music composition and focused on film with world renowned composer Dika Newlin. Kris also studied classical guitar with John Patykula, prize student of Jesus Silva who was the prize student of Andre Segovia. Kris left the University after 6 years of studies. After college, he began his teaching career instructing private students and giving lessons at Mars Music. Kris' teaching career would eventually be put on hold to join Darkest Hour.

Darkest Hour Days
Kris' first album with Darkest Hour ,Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation, the 2005 release was recorded at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, Sweden with producer Fredrik Nordstrom. Ironically, the same studio facilitated many of Kris' influences 10 years prior.

Darkest Hour's next release, Undoing Ruin allowed Kris to stretch his wings and show what he could truly do on the instrument with the addition of several solos. The record was produced by Canadian metal mastermind Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad, Steve Vai). Townsend was a big part of pushing Kris to his own musical potential on Undoing Ruin and even more so on the follow up record, Deliver Us.

Deliver Us was released in 2007 and debuted at 110 on the Billboard Chart. This would be the last Darkest Hour record with Kris as a member. The album like its predecessor was also produced by Devin Townsend, who was able to take a bigger hand in its production. Devin pushed Kris to experiment with his own playing and to hone in on his strongest abilities.

Kris' career with Darkest Hour spanned 6 years, 23 countries, 4 continents, countless tours, 3 albums, near 200,000 album sales, and many lifelong friendships made along the way. With the birth of his son in 2008, Kris felt he needed to take his career closer to home while still focusing on music and guitar. In order for Darkest Hour to devote 100% to their music and touring, Kris came to the decision to amicably part ways with the band.

His Future:
As of early 2009, Kris has full sponsorships from ESP, EMG, Peavey, DigiTech, InTune, and Morley. Currently, Kris is producing and mixing aspiring metal acts while also working for Final Symphony Studios out of Charlottesville, Virgina. Kris also edits records for James Murphy (Testament, Obituary, Death) at Safehouse Productions. Kris has released his first solo record through Magna Carta Records, entitled Icons Of The Illogical. His solo effort was recorded at Karma Productions with Cory Smoot (GWAR) and features vocals from Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe.

Kris is excited to be an addition to the JamPlay Instructor Roster. Lending his metal chops and thorough education to his lessons make him a valuable teacher. Kris is excited to be making lessons for JamPlay and just as stoked to learn new things from our other instructors. Check it out and stay Metal.

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