Chapter 5 - Cascading Triplets
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The ability to play 2nps sequences while ascending through the strings is critical in Eric’s vocabulary. The downward pickslant itself doesn’t care whether the pick is moving to the next higher or next lower string. Just as with Yngwie’s six-note pattern, the difference of a quarter inch in either direction does not detract from the base efficiency that dwps provides.
But even with proper chunking, the speed with which the straight-line pentatonic scale changes strings still means that the picking hand must track those string changes, like the tone arm on a turntable, pretty quickly as the lick makes its way across the neck. The feeling of needing to overtly execute this movement can be unfamiliar — again, because most patterns simply do not traverse the fretboard so fast.
We can slow down this tracking, while still maintaining high picking speed, by organizing the sextuplet chunks into overlapping units:
This cascading sextuplet pattern is a common pentatonic sequence among downward pickslanters, and occurs frequently in the vocabularies of many players who lean on one-way dwps as a core strategy. And it is a totally apt illustration of the difference between three different, yet simultaneous kinds of speed: finger speed, string-switch speed, and string-tracking speed.
The tempo of the pattern is unchanged from the straight-line pentatonic scale, so its finger speed — and of course, its picking speed — is identical. Likewise, the lick still changes strings just as frequently as the straight-line scale, so the frequency of the string changes is also identical.
But because the lick resets its travel across the fretboard every three strings, the speed of its string tracking is effectively reduced by a third. As a result, it’s easier to tackle this sequence without needing to pay overt attention to string tracking, instead letting the hand adjust subconsciously every one or two repetitions. This makes the overlapping sextuplets lick a great practice vehicle for mastering the fast parts of the fundamental pentatonic chunk — picking speed, finger speed, and string change speed — with minimal unfamiliar distraction.
Like the straight box, this process also works ascending as well: