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Rock Sequences (Guitar Lesson)

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Matt Brown

Rock Sequences

In this lesson Matt teaches some crucial rock sequences. He also explains how these sequences can be integrated in to your playing.

Taught by Matt Brown in Rock Guitar with Matt Brown seriesLength: 34:52Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (01:37) Lesson Introduction One of the best ways to improve your lead guitar skills is by learning licks from your favorite players. These licks have already proven to be successful. Guitarists have a long-standing tradition of borrowing material from one another. Licks are exchanged aurally, and altered over time. For example, you have already learned how Ace Frehley and Kirk Hammett have used ideas originally played by Jimmy Page. Hammett and Frehley added their own signature styles to these licks and made them their own. Strive to accomplish this goal with your own playing.

Similar to the previous lesson, all of the licks presented in this lesson are examples of sequences. Sequences from Dave Navarro, Dimebag Darrell, and Joe Bonamassa are explained and demonstrated in the scenes that follow. Before advancing to the next scene, take some time to review the practical and musical purposes that sequences serve.

Sequences are easy to play at rapid speeds since they consist of simple, repeating patterns. Therefore, there is less to think about. Sequences are conducive to playing techniques such as hammer-ons and pull-offs. These techniques enable you to kick the tempo up a few extra notches.

Due to their repetitious nature, listeners can't help being drawn to them. This repetitious element can build tension at a climactic point in a solo. For this reason, sequences are typically used at the end of a solo. Check out the ending phrases from the following solos: Sad But True (Metallica), Ocean Size (Jane's Addiction), and Aeroplane (Red Hot Chili Peppers).
Chapter 2: (08:51) Blues, Dorian, and Hybrid Scales The sequence presented in this scene is from the second guitar solo to "Ocean Size" by Jane's Addiction. A recording of this solo can be found on the Kettle Whistle compilation.

Hybrid Scales

Countless guitar licks combine more than one scale. The sequence from "Ocean Size is a prime example." This lick is derived from a combination of the E Dorian mode and the E minor blues scale. Frequently, these two scales are combined within a lick to create an interesting hybrid form of scale. Similarly, the Mixolydian mode and major blues scale are frequently mixed together to create new melodic possibilities.

Matt has discussed the minor pentatonic scale in previous lessons. By adding the b5 scale degree to the minor pentatonic, the minor blues scale is formed. In the key of E, the minor pentatonic scale is spelled as follows: E, G, A, B, D, E. In relation to the key of E, the b5 blues note is Bb. Consequently, the E minor blues scale contains the following notes: E, G, A, Bb, B, D, E.

The Dorian mode consists of the following scale degrees: 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7, 1. This scale is often thought of as the natural minor scale with a raised sixth. In relation to the tonal center of E, the Dorian mode contains these pitches: E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D, E. Compare the spelling of the E Dorian mode to the spelling of E natural minor (E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E). As you can see, these scales differ by only one note. E Dorian contains a raised sixth scale degree (C#).

Note: For more music theory information pertaining to the Dorian mode, please visit lesson 12 from Matt Brown's Reading and Rhythm set. Also, visit lesson 26 from Brad Henecke's Phase 2 Classic Rock series.

When the E Dorian mode and the E minor blues scale, a strange a new scale results. This scale consists of the following eight notes: E, F#, G, A, Bb, B, C#, D, E. Essentially, the b5 "blue note" from the minor blues scale is added to the Dorian mode. Listen carefully as Matt plays through this hybrid scale. How does the b5 note affect the sound of the Dorian mode?

Note: Tablature / notation to all of the scales discussed in this lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

"Ocean Size" Sequence

The hybrid blues / Dorian sequence from "Ocean Size" begins on the note D at the 15th fret of the B string. The sequence descends three notes through the Dorian / blues scale. Then, the sequence descends through three notes beginning with the note C#. This pattern continues until the end of the lick.

Watch and listen as Matt performs this lick at 02:50 in the lesson video.

Practicing the Lick

The lick is played in a steady sixteenth note rhythm at about 96 beats per minute. When you first begin to practice the lick, set your metronome at 60 beats per minute. Practice in eighth note triplets instead of sextuplets. Once you perfect the lick at a given metronome marking, increase the tempo by one notch. Continue with this process until you reach a metronome marking of roughly 120 beats per minute. Finally, work through the same process with sixteenth note triplets. Set the metronome back to 60 as you begin practicing this rhythm. Add pull-offs wherever possible. This will allow you to play the lick at maximum speed.
Chapter 3: (02:35) Dave Navarro Lick The chord progression played under the solo for "Ocean Size" consists of the E, G, and A chords. When learning any new lick, always analyze how it works in conjunction with the chord progression it is played against. Matt demonstrates this chord progression at 00:30 in the lesson video. Record yourself playing through the progression. Then, learn the solo that Dave Navarro played on the original recording. This will provide you with an opportunity to learn some new licks. Finally, incorporate these new ideas as you improvise a solo over the chord changes.

Note: Tablature / notation to the "Ocean Size" solo and rhythm progression can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.
Chapter 4: (06:09) Dimebag Darrell Lick Cowboys From Hell Lick 1

The solo from "Cowboys From Hell" is a Dimebag Darrell classic. Towards the beginning of the solo, a rapid sequence is played to grab the listener's attention. This sequence utilizes the 12th position pattern of the minor blues scale. Each note played at the 12th fret of this box is approached chromatically from a half step below. The chromatic approach tone then resolves to the 12th fret note within the scale. Next, the note at the 15th fret is picked. This three note sequence is then repeated with hammer-ons. The entire pattern is then moved and repeated on the next highest string.

Cowboys From Hell Lick 2

Another lick from the "Cowboys From Hell" solo is comprised of a sequence. The 12th position of the minor blues scale is also utilized in this lick. Watch and listen at 04:22 in the video as Matt provides a demonstration. Pay careful attention to the left-hand fingering he uses. Also, notice how he adds hammer-ons and pull-offs wherever possible. These techniques will allow you to play the lick with maximum speed and control.

Note: Tablature and notation to both of these licks can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.
Chapter 5: (07:13) Joe Bonamassa Lick The final sequence in this lesson is a Joe Bonamassa lick from the G minor pentatonic scale. Simply, shift your favorite pentatonic box pattern down to third position when playing in the key of G minor.

The rhythm of this sequence can be rather challenging. A quintuplet rhythm is applied throughout. Five quintuplets equal a single quarter note. Within this grouping, five notes of equal value span a single beat. To count this rhythm, say any five-syllable word for each grouping of five. Some musicians prefer to say "hippopotamus" when counting. Matt prefers to count the rhythm using the word "university." "University" rolls off the tongue much easier than "hippopatumus." This sequence can begin on any starting pitch within the scale. Descend down five notes beginning with the starting pitch you have chosen. Then, start on the next note and descend through five notes.

Like most of the other sequences demonstrated in this lesson, use a slur whenever possible. Adding these techniques will allow you to play with a smooth, connected sound. They also enable you to play much faster.
Chapter 6: (07:23) Using the Licks and Changing Keys Transposition

All of the sequences demonstrated in this lesson and the previous lesson can begin on any note within the scale. When applying a lick to your own solo, you do not have to begin on the starting note that Matt has chosen. Feel free to experiment with the basic ideas Matt has presented. For example, you may want to play the Joe Bonamassa sequence using the second box of the minor pentatonic scale. Matt demonstrates this idea at 01:18 in the lesson video. As long as you know the pattern that defines the sequence, the sequence can begin on any starting pitch within the key.

All of these licks can also be transposed to all 12 keys. Simply shift the lick in question up or down the neck to transpose keys. Matt demonstrates this process with both of the Jimmy Page sequences. Originally, these licks were taught within the E minor pentatonic scale. Now, Matt transposes them to the A minor and B minor pentatonic scales.

Playing with Taste

Most guitarists have the tendency to overuse a new lick. Do not force a lick into a solo simply because it 'works' against the chord progression. The lick must work with other important musical features such as rhythm, dynamics, etc. With diligent practice and experience, you will begin to realize if a certain lick will work with a given chord progression. Only insert a memorized lick into a solo when it feels natural!
Chapter 7: (00:59) Final Thoughts In the next lesson, Matt switches gears from lead techniques to rhythm techniques. In the rock genre, chords are frequently broken up and played as individual notes. The individual notes within a chord form an "arpeggio." Playing an arpeggio creates an altogether different texture from a chord progression. In lesson 14, you will learn how to play arpeggio patterns that involve multiple string leaps. Your new skills will be put to the test by three string skipping excerpts. These excerpts come from hit songs by Radiohead, the Smashing Pumpkins, and others.

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.

jetspeedjetspeed replied

I find you to be kind of disorganized and difficult to watch. I had to watch half of the vid before you even shoed the lick. Exposing how to count 5 note sequence is great but I hadn't heard the lick yet so had difficulty following your narrative. Your videos seem disorganized because you add a little too much superfluous jabbering. You seem like a great guy and I'm not railing on you, just some constructive comments to maybe help you improve your teaching material.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Hey! Glad that you're getting a lot out of these lessons. If you learn just one new lick a day, that's 365 licks that you'll learn in a year.

thehedgethehedge replied

thanks for these lessons, Matt! very good stuff, though i've only practiced a bit from them so far. i totally agree with your idea about acquiring licks into your repertoire. i try to add a few licks to my repertoire each day and i usually set up a jam track and just use all the licks i know to solo, and this helps me remember them. really looking forward to more!

Rock Guitar with Matt Brown

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Chuck Berry among others pioneered the style of rock and roll in the 1950's. Today, rock and roll remains the most popular genre of music. Over the years the genre has progressed & spawned many sub-genres: soft rock, classic rock, punk rock, and more. Dive into this Phase 2 set of lessons to become a master of rock.

Proper PracticingLesson 1

Proper Practicing

Learn how to get the most out of your time when practicing.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Introduction to LeadLesson 2

Introduction to Lead

Matt Brown discusses some of the fundamentals to playing lead.

Length: 15:41 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Figuring Out NotesLesson 3

Figuring Out Notes

Matt shows you the basics of figuring out any note on the guitar.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
ScalesLesson 4


Learn the basic minor, natural, and major scales. Quite a few techniques & ideas start with scales - they're an essential building block.

Length: 34:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Major ScalesLesson 5

Major Scales

In this lesson, Matt takes you through the major scales & helps you to understand how they can be used.

Length: 20:25 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Natural Minor ScalesLesson 6

Natural Minor Scales

Matt teaches the most common natural minor scale patterns.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
BendingLesson 7


Learn & master the most popular types of bends.

Length: 27:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sweep Picking & RakesLesson 8

Sweep Picking & Rakes

Learn sweep picking and string rakes.

Length: 18:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Solo TechniquesLesson 9

Solo Techniques

Learn various techniques to use when improvising / soloing.

Length: 12:51 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Tuning DownLesson 10

Tuning Down

Matt explains the most effective way to tune your guitar down.

Length: 7:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Barre ChordsLesson 11

Barre Chords

Learn how to establish finger independence and a few tips and tricks with barre chords.

Length: 37:18 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rock LicksLesson 12

Rock Licks

In this lesson, Matt Brown introduces a rock lick and shows how several famous players have modified it.

Length: 19:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rock SequencesLesson 13

Rock Sequences

In this lesson Matt teaches some crucial rock sequences. He also explains how these sequences can be integrated in to your playing.

Length: 34:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
String SkippingLesson 14

String Skipping

Matt Brown focuses on string skipping technique. He provides several exercises designed to improve this aspect of your playing.

Length: 33:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
IntervalsLesson 15


Lesson 15 in Matt's rock series is all about intervals.

Length: 34:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rock Lead GuitarLesson 16

Rock Lead Guitar

Matt Brown demonstrates lead guitar techniques using Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" as an example.

Length: 29:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Solo Using Diatonic ScalesLesson 17

Solo Using Diatonic Scales

Matt Brown explains which scales can be used when playing a solo over a diatonic progression in a major key. As an example, he teaches the solo section to Candlebox's song "Far Behind."

Length: 33:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Diatonic Natural Minor Lesson 18

Diatonic Natural Minor

This lesson covers the natural minor scale and diatonic natural minor progressions. Matt uses the solo section to "Stairway to Heaven" as an example.

Length: 24:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Right Hand TechniqueLesson 19

Right Hand Technique

In lesson 19 Matt provides instruction on developing right hand skills including string skipping.

Length: 26:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Non-Diatonic ProgressionsLesson 20

Non-Diatonic Progressions

In lesson 20, Matt discusses chord progressions that don't follow a diatonic tonality.

Length: 29:07 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Harmonic MinorLesson 21

Harmonic Minor

Matt begins to discuss and demonstrate the harmonic minor scale.

Length: 29:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Improvising Over Harmonic MinorLesson 22

Improvising Over Harmonic Minor

In lesson 22, Matt continues his discussion of the harmonic minor tonality.

Length: 14:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sweet Child O' MineLesson 23

Sweet Child O' Mine

In lesson 23, Matt takes a look at the solo section for the song "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Length: 19:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
TodayLesson 24


Matt will be taking a look at the solo section from the live version of the Smashing Pumpkins song "Today".

Length: 7:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Back In Black SoloLesson 25

Back In Black Solo

Matt Brown reviews and discusses the solo section to AC/DC's hit "Back In Black".

Length: 9:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
BrotherLesson 26


In lesson 26, Matt covers the solo section from the Alice in Chains song "Brother".

Length: 9:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Matt's Rock ManifestoLesson 27

Matt's Rock Manifesto

Matt Brown discusses lead guitarists, what makes a good solo, and tips for your own lead playing.

Length: 41:06 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Legato Playing ExercisesLesson 28

Legato Playing Exercises

Matt Brown teaches a number of exercises aimed at improving your legato playing technique.

Length: 37:16 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Right Hand ExercisesLesson 29

Right Hand Exercises

Matt Brown demonstrates a few exercises to build skill and speed in your right hand.

Length: 15:06 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
String Skipping EtudeLesson 30

String Skipping Etude

Matt Brown teaches Heitor Villa-Lobos' 1st Etude as a lesson in string skipping.

Length: 38:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Three Octave ScalesLesson 31

Three Octave Scales

Matt Brown demonstrates how to play three octave versions of the minor pentatonic and the major scales in all 12 keys.

Length: 16:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Diatonic IntervalsLesson 32

Diatonic Intervals

Matt Brown demonstrates how to play all seven of the diatonic intervals within the framework of a horizontal major scale.

Length: 23:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Diatonic 7th ArpeggiosLesson 33

Diatonic 7th Arpeggios

Matt Brown discuss diatonic arpeggios as a theory lesson as well as demonstrating the technique.

Length: 9:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Diatonic 7ths Across the NeckLesson 34

Diatonic 7ths Across the Neck

Matt Brown explains how to play the diatonic seventh chords of the major scale. Similar to lesson 32, this lesson takes a horizontal approach to the fretboard.

Length: 10:46 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Solo Ideas #1Lesson 35

Solo Ideas #1

Matt Brown teaches a progression and accompanying solo to demonstrate ideas for creating your own.

Length: 21:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Solo Ideas #2Lesson 36

Solo Ideas #2

Matt Brown takes a look at another chord progression and solo.

Length: 17:29 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Legato Playing IdeasLesson 37

Legato Playing Ideas

In lesson 37 of the Rock Series, Matt Brown demonstrates and talks about legato playing ideas.

Length: 21:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rhythm ConceptsLesson 38

Rhythm Concepts

Matt Brown switches gears in lesson 38 to start talking about rhythm concepts for rock playing.

Length: 27:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Compositional TechniquesLesson 39

Compositional Techniques

Matt Brown discusses some often used techniques to build effective rock compositions.

Length: 17:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Creative Chord VoicingsLesson 40

Creative Chord Voicings

Matt Brown shows off some ways to add some creativity and originality to your rock chord voicings.

Length: 11:59 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
Lead ApproachLesson 41

Lead Approach

Matt Brown takes another look at his approach to soloing. He demonstrates ideas you can use in your own playing.

Length: 12:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lead Approach #2Lesson 42

Lead Approach #2

Matt Brown adds practice to his lead approach by giving you another chord progression to solo over.

Length: 7:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lead Approach #3Lesson 43

Lead Approach #3

Matt Brown has another chord progression and solo exercise to go over in this lesson on lead approach.

Length: 10:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
String Skipping RevisitedLesson 44

String Skipping Revisited

Matt Brown takes another look at string skipping. He breaks down some key areas of Matteo Carcassi's Allegro as an exercise.

Length: 16:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Matt Brown

About Matt Brown View Full Biography Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."

Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.

Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."

Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.

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