Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Insanity 101: Intro and Chromatic Madness"

- David "Skinny Devil" McLean
 Originally published at Insane Guitar, March 2002.

In many of my past instructional texts (“The Art of Scalar Magic” and even “Sonic Dance & Secret Weapons”) I strived to be meticulous and exacting and, above all, structured and sequential. This series (originally titled "Insanity 101") will be just the opposite, as I intend to break patterns, not build them. We’ll leap about from topic to topic with little rhyme or reason, where random flights and chaos will be our friends. I hope we can both enjoy the ride!

This month’s installment: Chromaticism.

The chromatic scale:

(click here for sound)

Here are a few bits of chromatic spice to add to your arsenal. The first example is a run I got from my buddy Kenny Stump who wanted an “alien” sound in the middle of an otherwise very melodic solo.

(click here for sound)

The below example is a weird little lick that sounded cool when I performed it live. It was doubled by a keyboard player using a cheesy 70s fusion sound, but had a cool Jeff Beck/Jan Hammer effect.

(click here for sound)

This last segment can be viewed in 2 sections. The first is just plain batty! Be sure to slide slowly enough to hear each note cleanly, but you can ignore the notation and just play the notes freely to see what you get. Have fun with it – the octave displacement will give you plenty of ideas!
Section 2 is a standard for all shredders. I think I got it first from Paul Gilbert, but everyone has a run similar to this. Be sure to play this at blistering speeds.

(click here for sound)

Have fun with these and be sure to come up with a few of your own. Next month, we’ll play around with melody fragments and alien harmony.


  1. Ooops.....gotta fix the sizing on the tab! I'll get to that ASAP. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  2. Also hope to have sound files (midis) pf each example, too.....