Musical Theory Abound!!!
 #84649  by chummy
 Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:13 pm
Can someone help me with building tension in a song. For example in the key of A how would I build a solo to build up to burst. It seems like I do a riff in A(pent MAJ) in diffrent spots but I can't get the intensity. Do I need to change to a diffrent scale?
 #84654  by strumminsix
 Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:31 pm
Think of the whip in Cassidy and the scale Jerry uses over the E, to the F# to the G#m. MEGA TENSION!

Then the Hard to Handle "orgasm jam" which has more tension than a...

B A D F# and that hold on the F# before releasing back to the B

From there we see tensions building from both up and down landing on the iii and the V.

And we are also seeing tension is built over chords


I'd suggest expanding your scales, chromatics (saw other thread) and chord application...
 #84656  by chummy
 Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:37 pm
Thats what I am talking about. So do I just play the the triad of the key? ex: a for a few bars c# ... e..... back to the a an octave higher?

Thanks for the reply!
 #84660  by jeffm725
 Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:56 pm
The V and the VII are the obvious choices for building tension before releasing to the Tonic.

In your example of the Key of A the 5 would be E and the 7 would be G or Ab depending on what mode you are playing out of. In Mixolydian playing (a common "jamband" mode the flat 7 in the Key of A this would be G) is a very common tension point.

Try it on a piano. With your left hand play an A chord (or even an A note) over and over and with your right hand just start banging away at a single G note an octave or so above where you are playing your A chord. Just keep banging that G, your ear is going to almost demand that you change the G note you are playing with your right hand to an A note. It is that ear/brain internal demand that wants to hear that G go to A that is tension building. When You hit the A you are releasing the Tension.

You can do the same with an E note Against the A chord.

So what you do to build tension (and this is in its simplest form and we will keep the Tonic of A with a mixoydian mode as an example) is just start Improvising against the A chord around the chord tones. If we are in a Major key use the 1-3-5-7 as tonal "centers" menaing start by fooling around above and below the "1" of the chord making the A note the Tonal center, than creep up and start making the 3rd.. C# the focus of your improvising, playing above and below it and hitting it at proper meter, then move up to the 5, the E, and make that the focus of the licks you are playing, then move up to the flat 7, G, and make that the focus, by the time you get to making the G the focus, your ear (and the listeners ear), is going to BEG you to complete the sequence and hit the Tonic A.
 #84718  by chummy
 Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:56 am
Got it. I will try applying it at practice.

Thanks!
 #84724  by Pete B.
 Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:50 am
Diminished chords are commonly used to build tension.
When Slipknot moves from Fm to Gm to Am, the diminished runs that connect them are the tension bulders.
 #84726  by strumminsix
 Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:19 am
Also when jamming on a major chord jumping over to an in-scale minor adds tensions in many instances.
 #84810  by tcsned
 Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:36 am
Pete B. wrote:Diminished chords are commonly used to build tension.
When Slipknot moves from Fm to Gm to Am, the diminished runs that connect them are the tension bulders.
+1
Diminished scales too - if you're on a dominant 7 chord, like the C7 jam in Shakedown you can start a diminished scale on the 3rd (E in the case of C7) - I also play a whole tone scale starting on the 4th (F in the case of C7). Also, avoiding the tonic as long as possible helps too.
 #84811  by Pete B.
 Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:33 am
tcsned wrote:
Pete B. wrote:Diminished chords are commonly used to build tension.
When Slipknot moves from Fm to Gm to Am, the diminished runs that connect them are the tension bulders.
+1
Diminished scales too - if you're on a dominant 7 chord, like the C7 jam in Shakedown you can start a diminished scale on the 3rd (E in the case of C7) - I also play a whole tone scale starting on the 4th (F in the case of C7). Also, avoiding the tonic as long as possible helps too.
Just for the fun of it...
Here is the Slipknot diminished lick, placed into the Shakedown C7 jam context, starting on the E note (3rd string, 9th fret) [directly out of the C7 chord], ending back on the C root:
E|------------------9---12---9---------------9-------------------------------------------
B|-------------11-----------------11--------------11------------11----------------------
G|--9---12-----------------------------12-------------12---9--------12---9-------------
D|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------11---10--
A|------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
E|------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think I like the sound of starting the diminished run on a C# better, in this case.
Same lick but sart at 3rd string 6th fret.
 #84820  by tcsned
 Sun Aug 08, 2010 4:59 pm
Pete B. wrote:
tcsned wrote:
Pete B. wrote: I think I like the sound of starting the diminished run on a C# better, in this case.
Same lick but sart at 3rd string 6th fret.
Pete - that's a good launch point too. Can't get more tense than staring a minor second from the root :)
 #85046  by williamsaut
 Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:52 pm
I'm not quite as technically literate as some of the other posters but here goes'

For adding tension to a jam I use sevenths and flat fifths. There's a descending coil that Jerry used in Samson and Delihlia that added this type of tension. I've tabbed in in the 1st position instead of the barre 12th fret fingering. This is played in G. The slide up to the 3rd fret high E string and slide down to 2nd fret A string are both done with the index finger and is typical of the noodling that I use to imitate his licks. It represents just the first half of the verse chord progression.
G F G C7th G G
E 2^3------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B ----6--5--3------------3---------------------------------------------------------------------
G --------------6--5--6-----6--5--3-----------3------------------------------------------------
D -------------------------------------5--4--5----5--4--3--5--4--3----------3----------------
A --------------------------------------------------------------------5--4--5----5--4--3v2----
E --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3--
 #87046  by cumberlandmine
 Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:47 pm
I believe this was mentioned in the phish posting, but to elaborate....Having the whole band switch to the 5th of the root for a little while will make it real easy to build tension. As the lead, you can play chromatics, whatever scale sounds good ( many will), or just start doing some shredding. Then end on the root or maybe a nice double stop.

Try jamming over sympathy for the devil on a looper or recording, and you can hear this happen

Verse - E D A E

Chorus - B E

When you get to that B in the chorus (the 5th here) you get a nice easy place to kick the tension.
 #89374  by Counterstriker
 Sat Nov 13, 2010 5:11 pm
I do Hard To Handle in my band, and as far as the jam goes I am trying to add more tension. I usually just play B blues, and that's good and everything, but what could I do to add more tension? The jam is basically all over B and variations of B!

Any Idea?
 #91524  by tiffcheese
 Sat Jan 01, 2011 9:56 pm
love this topic. totally changing the way I hear the jams