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A montuno is a two-measure improvised pattern that you can use to add some authentic Afro-Cuban spice to your Latin-style playing. This pattern follows the clave. A clave is the foundation of nearly all Latin music. In our examples we will be using the clave, which refers to how many hits are in each measure. The first measure will have two and the second will have three. Each example will start off with the clave pattern. This will help you get the sound in your ear.
The first montunos were played by the tres —a 6-string guitar-like instrument where each pair of strings are tuned in either unison or octaves. The most common tuning is G—C—E. This creates a unique sound with the lowest string doubled an octave higher and the other strings doubled in unison. In Ex. Always be mindful of good voice leading. Knowing all your chord inversions is super helpful when coming up with strong voice leading. Click here for Ex. By inverting the chords you can give the effect of a subtle change without altering the chord structure.
Listen to the clave and the bass player, it will help you feel the groove. In this example, I also moved away from having the octaves on each chord. It still sounds great! Montunos are traditionally used in solo sections, which are often just one- or two-chord vamps. I start with a C triad in 1st inversion, which allows me to have E as my top and bottom note with G and C in between. I take this exact fingering and move it down a whole-step to create a D—F—Bb voicing of a Bb triad.
Those notes are the 9, 11, and b7 of a C7 chord. I then move up a half-step to create a passing chord to get me back to my original C triad voicing. For Ex. This time our chord progression will be Am—F—E—F.
This style of music employs the clever use of basic harmonic materials combined with African rhythms to create an exciting sound. This example will feature our octaves as outer voices. Our Am chord is in 2nd inversion, yielding E as the highest and lowest note. Both the F and E chords are in root position. Now our Am chord will be in root position, which gives us an A on the outside voices. Our F and E chords will be in 1st inversion, thus giving us A and G , respectively, as our outside voices.
I encourage you to come up with your own voicings for these exercises. For our final example Ex. Against the E7 chord, the F functions as a b9. This creates a nice tension that makes E7 want to resolve to the Am. Delaying the resolution of the E7 chord for two bars really helps heighten this tension. As with any style, you need to listen to the masters and imitate what they do. Start with Tito Puente and work your way forward and backward from there. Guitars Bass Amps Pedals Players.
Doug Munro. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation along with backing tracks. Backing track for Ex. Guitarist Doug Munro has released 13 albums as a leader in addition to appearing on over 75 recordings as a sideman, producer, or arranger.
He has worked with a such artists including Dr. John and Dr. Lonnie Smith and has written four books on jazz improvisation including Swing to Bebop [Alfred]. For more information, visit dougmunro. More videos from Premier Guitar. Beyond Blues: Nail Those Changes! Get our email newsletter! Rig Rundowns Most Recent. Rig Rundown: Eric Krasno. Rig Rundown: Emily Wolfe. Rig Rundown: Brian Fallon. Your Pedalboards ! Iso Lab: Fender Pro Amp. On PremierGuitar.
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