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April 2010 Free Flatpicking Lesson
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

"Whiskey Before Breakfast" and Harmonized Scales

by Dan Miller


  A great way to move up and down the neck of the fingerboard is the use of “harmonized scales.”  The use of harmonized scales for this purpose was discussed in details in Volume 4 of the Flatpicking Essentials course.  Here I’ll give a brief overview and provide a new example of using these scales in the flatpicking standard “Whiskey Before Breakfast.”
     A harmonized scales consists of a scale played in conjunction with harmony notes that relate to that scale.  Most commonly, diatonic major and minor thirds are used.  If the two notes are played simultaneously, they are referred to as “double stops.”  In our examples here we are going to alternate playing the scale note with its harmony note, or play the two notes in conjunction with a drone note.  The diagram below shows a G scale and the harmony notes that work with it to form a harmonized scale.  The tab below demonstrates how you might use this scale to move in an ascending manner up the fretboard.  The first example just employs the harmonized scale.  The second example inserts a G note drone.


Whiskey Before Breakfast

    In the “Whiskey Before Breakfast” example that follows, I’ve used a different type of harmonized scales at the end of each of the A and B parts. In measure 7 I used a descending harmonized scale to move from the 10th fret down to the 3rd fret.  In measures 15 and 16 I used an ascending harmonized scale to move from the 7th fret up to the 15th fret.  In measures 21 through 24 I used a descending harmonized scale in conjunction with a D note drone.  Finally, in measures 29 through 32 I used a three note harmonized scale (chords) to move from the 10th fret down to the 3rd fret.