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Backward Chromatic Targeting (Part 3)

Hey there! In this lesson we are going to take a look at a very efficient strategy of using these patterns. It will consist of chaining multiple targeting patterns. Patterns will overlapped one with each other, creating some complex chromatic sounding passage. Just note before continuing that these examples will lead to a position shifting so it is very important to have a good amount of positions that you are comfortable with, to fully implement this concept into your playing.

First 3 examples are Am7 lines; two short one and one longer:

ex. 1 & 2


First example is very interesting. Backward targeting is happening in the 1st bar, starting on the 7th position, targeting tricks are leading us to the 5th positions in the 2nd bar. There is 2 backward targeting chained in this line. First we are targeting the Bb (C-B-A to Bb) and then the A (Bb-G-G# to A).

Note that it isn’t important to analyze every notes in those targeting patterns. Just try to recognize the patterns that I have outlined and identify it according to the patterns we seen in part 1. Once you will have gone through those examples, the goal will be to implement this concept by ear.

2nd example is more common, you will see this line played a lot by modern guitarists. It is based on successive half tone approach from below; (F to Gb, E to F, D# to E)


ex. 3


Then we have this longer examples. Notice that I am not chaining three bars of targeting tricks to avoid sounding too chromatic. My goal with those examples was just to give a little chromatic twist to some very diatonic lines. In a more modern context it would be nice to contrast between fully diatonic lines or pentatonic lines and some highly chromatic lines by chaining a lot of chromatic targeting. Listen to Micheal Brecker to hear what I just said in action.


The next three examples are for Gmaj7, same as for the Am7; two short examples and one longer. Not much more to say, look for the targeting sequences and the position shifting.

ex. 4 & 5


Notice that at the end of 2nd bar in 2nd examples; I am using a chromatic targeting sequence but played in standard position playing. Being comfortable with both approach is important if you want to achieve melodic freedom.

ex. 6


And finally, example 7, 8 & 9 are based on II – V – I progression in G

ex. 7


ex. 8


ex. 9


Backward chromatic targeting really shines on II – V – I progression. Chromatic targeting give an altered twist to the sound but without having to actually think of altered chords.

And that’s it!

Here are the 3 backing tracks I have worked with to record those examples, in case you would like to try them or just noodle around with those ideas (they might be a little short though)





Am7 – D7 – Gmaj7:



These examples are just scratching the surface of the possibilities that this concept can offer. They are very bebop oriented but this idea can be applied to many phrasing style. I strongly suggest you to try to incorporate these patterns to your own phrasing style, whether you have a more pentatonic phrasing (Pat Metheny), scale phrasing (Allan Holdsworth) or country phrasing… no kidding this concept is often used by Brent Mason and it work wonderfully in a country context. In fact, these patterns will work almost everywhere.

Next part I will be doing a whole solo on ‘Cherokee’ to demonstrate those ideas but trying to balance it not to end up with a too chromatic sounding solo. Maybe in the future I’ll add a section with phrasing examples in different styles using backward chromatic approaches… Cheers!


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