Course Review: Understanding & Applying the Chromatic Scale by Frank Vignola

This TrueFire Foundry course by Frank Vignola is a very focused course to help jazz guitarist develop stronger II-V-I phrases that incorporate the chromatic scale. An experienced educator and performer, Frank Vignola’s approach in this course is systematic and easy to consume and digest.

The course includes:

  • 6 Charts (.pdf)
  • 1 Jam Track (.mp3)
  • 1 hr, 21 mins of Video (.mp4)

Over the course of 48 video lessons (durations range from 27 seconds to 4 minutes and 45 seconds), Frank explains a strategy to develop clearer use of the chromatic scale. After the introduction video, Frank demonstrates horizontal and vertical fingerings for the chromatic scale. Then, he explains how to use these on major and minor triads. Finally, in the main section of the course, he plays and explains 20 riffs over a II-V-I progression in C major.

The PDF files included also are very helpful as they help recap the fingerings, concepts and riffs that Frank demonstrate. For anyone who may have a hard time learning the riffs from the video directly (some may be hard to learn even after Frank slows then down), the PDF files are very helpful. For those new to the fingering concepts and jazz phrases, the PDFs will assist to see Frank’s concepts. As with most Truefire products, the PDFs are notated in both standard notation and tablature. For those who may like to analyse the riffs further, printing out the examples to mark and analyse the examples may prove to be helpful.

After completing the course, I feel that I have a stronger grasp of how to use chromaticism in a clear and simple way. I love how Frank manages to distill a topic that is often demonstrated in either a haphazard or overcomplicated manner. I’ve seen many videos on YouTube that attempt to teach chromaticism on guitar but only cover the surface of the topic. Frank makes the material accessible. The riffs that he’s composed for the course are also very playable. For more advanced guitarists, watching Frank play the lines on the video will reveal some alternate fingerings as he repeats the same phrases differently at times.

For me, with this course – the most important thing is to really get the basic concepts together. Also, a fun way to internalise the concepts (as with many of these kinds of courses) is to write your own riffs after learning Frank’s example. Playing the riffs in different keys will also be useful as Frank’s examples are all in the key of C major.

Pros: Great topic explained in a simple to understand way. Good video and handouts.
Cons: Playing 20 II-V-I riffs in one key may be tiring on the ear for some but this can be remedied by transposing the riffs and also writing your own riffs using the concepts in other keys.
TLDR: Recommended for jazz guitarists who want to understand and utilise the chromatic scale in a systematic clear manner.

How to Buy:
You can buy the course here:
https://truefire.com/foundry-guitar-lessons/understanding-applying-chromatic-scale/c1235

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[Submissions for Review Consideration]

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