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Old 06-25-2013, 10:06 AM   #1
safehaven
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Improvising Using Combined Major and Minor Pentatonics

Hi! I am currently going through a phase where my improvisation is pretty mediocre, but I now understand what I need to do to improve. However, I still need a little guidance on the subject of improvising with the major and minor pentatonics. I've been listening in on my favorite guitarist Slash during his solos while comparing them to both pentatonics and I learned he is pretty much a master at merging those two scales. I do understand it is good to create your own style of playing, but I really want to adopt that idea into my soloing skills because it sounds amazing when done correctly. Does anyone have any tips on how to do this or licks that demonstrate the best way to merge them? I have been playing around with both of the pents in positions 5 to 2 and I haven't seemed to get anything that seems to flow with chord progressions like Slash's solos would. Also, I'm not some guy who hasn't searched other threads before posting here so I didn't find any information I was looking for. Thanks!
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Old 06-25-2013, 11:12 AM   #2
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Three things:

Start by creating your own backing track of chord changes, and then just experiment with switching halfway through. It's a baby step, but I found it helpful.

Second, there are some good lessons on this at mikedodge.com and 12bar.de.

Third, ear training, ear training, ear training.
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Old 06-25-2013, 11:50 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by safehaven
Hi! I am currently going through a phase where my improvisation is pretty mediocre, but I now understand what I need to do to improve. However, I still need a little guidance on the subject of improvising with the major and minor pentatonics. I've been listening in on my favorite guitarist Slash during his solos while comparing them to both pentatonics and I learned he is pretty much a master at merging those two scales. I do understand it is good to create your own style of playing, but I really want to adopt that idea into my soloing skills because it sounds amazing when done correctly. Does anyone have any tips on how to do this or licks that demonstrate the best way to merge them? I have been playing around with both of the pents in positions 5 to 2 and I haven't seemed to get anything that seems to flow with chord progressions like Slash's solos would. Also, I'm not some guy who hasn't searched other threads before posting here so I didn't find any information I was looking for. Thanks!


Blues you can use is an awesome book with the theory you mentioned and other subjects. Its s steal
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Old 06-25-2013, 01:48 PM   #4
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Thanks for all the advice you guys are sending! Keep it coming!
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Old 06-25-2013, 06:07 PM   #5
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I'd look at it as major/minor chords rather than scales.

The idea of mixing the two is to get the sound of a minor melody against a major chord - the Blue Note. The only time you'll do that is over major or dominant 7 chord.
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Old 06-25-2013, 07:04 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cdgraves
I'd look at it as major/minor chords rather than scales.

The idea of mixing the two is to get the sound of a minor melody against a major chord - the Blue Note. The only time you'll do that is over major or dominant 7 chord.


I can understand that, but unless I am wrong (and I can easily be wrong) I have seen the major pentatonic combined with minor pentatonic scales used over various types of progressions regardless of chord use to simply get the affects of a happy, upbeat sound from the major while getting the bluesy, country sound from the minor/blues scales. The reason I say I could be wrong is because I may be referring to Slash and my other favorites using a totally different scale in their solos that may have the notes from the pentatonics combined within them in a different way.
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Old 06-25-2013, 07:49 PM   #7
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A very simple generalisation that's hopefully useful:

mPent over a minor chord = simple minor sound
MajPent over a major chord = simple major sound
mPent over a major (or dominant) chord = bluesy tension

This means that over a major or dominant chord you can use either MajPent for a simple major sound or mPent for a more bluesy sound. You are free to switch between the two, and this is very common.

I suggest you start with just ONE major of minor chord to get familiar. Then, try over a 12 bar blues. For a 12-bar in A, say, you can use A MajPent and/or A mpent.

Regarding the b5 that was mentioned, this absolutely does work well over either major or minor chords, and is very common.

Hope that's helpful.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by safehaven
I can understand that, but unless I am wrong (and I can easily be wrong) I have seen the major pentatonic combined with minor pentatonic scales used over various types of progressions regardless of chord use to simply get the affects of a happy, upbeat sound from the major while getting the bluesy, country sound from the minor/blues scales. The reason I say I could be wrong is because I may be referring to Slash and my other favorites using a totally different scale in their solos that may have the notes from the pentatonics combined within them in a different way.


They aren't really using those scales, is the thing. They're playing with/against the notes in the chords.

If you add up all the notes they play over a particular chord, it'll probably add up to some combination of major and minor pentatonics, but that's not really a useful way of thinking about it when you're playing.
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Old 06-26-2013, 03:26 AM   #9
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I would agree with cdgraves. The thing is not so much a "mixture of pentatonics" but skillfull application of inside and outside tones, and chord tone soloing.

Best,

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Old 06-26-2013, 08:42 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Sean0913
I would agree with cdgraves. The thing is not so much a "mixture of pentatonics" but skillfull application of inside and outside tones, and chord tone soloing.

Best,

Sean

Ahhhhh... thanks for the advice. I'm not too knowledgable of music theory and I am trying to learn, and this advice made me think of soloing from a totally different perspective. Do you guys have any advice on tonal selection outside of a chord? I guess that is the real question I should have been asking in the first place . It seems like pros always wonder outside of the little template of chord tones that you need to follow in scales. Everytime I spend hours trying to simply train my ear to what sounds good I either get stuck with just maybe one lick that I will constantly repeat over and over for months when I practice my improvs, or I when I finish experimenting I come out of it in worse shape because I thought something sounded good (then it turns out that what I was playing doesnt work when you use the scale that you are supposed to D.
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Old 06-27-2013, 12:04 AM   #11
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by safehaven
Ahhhhh... thanks for the advice. I'm not too knowledgable of music theory and I am trying to learn, and this advice made me think of soloing from a totally different perspective. Do you guys have any advice on tonal selection outside of a chord? I guess that is the real question I should have been asking in the first place . It seems like pros always wonder outside of the little template of chord tones that you need to follow in scales. Everytime I spend hours trying to simply train my ear to what sounds good I either get stuck with just maybe one lick that I will constantly repeat over and over for months when I practice my improvs, or I when I finish experimenting I come out of it in worse shape because I thought something sounded good (then it turns out that what I was playing doesnt work when you use the scale that you are supposed to D.


Well are you familiar with all your intervals?
You can play every note over everything and it will have a certain sound to it. Know those sounds, and you wont be playing in boxes or scales other then the chromatic scale no more. My advise would be to limit yourself (for a short while) to one place on the guitar, for example where the root of the Key is on the 6th string. And from there you have 2-3 Octaves of notes, more then enough. Now Get your favorite blues records or anything and play the notes and get to know the sound of a 9th(2nd) against the Dominant V Chord and so on. Only through your personal relationship with the music, will you grow, we could tell you throw in a E in a G blues over the IV Chord but it still wouldnt tell you how to use it and make it sound good. And probably the most important part of all, Listen to your heroes and learn that shit by ear. And as you learn it note by note, slowed down if you have to, Analyze what's going on. And as you start to get to know this, you will start to understand the language of that type of music. You will see Traditions and phrases, cliches and uniqueness of Music History. You will become a part of the music. And while your working on this expand over the guitar neck until you can cover the whole thing and not be lost.

Last edited by Ignore : 06-27-2013 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:59 AM   #13
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nice very helpful videos chakab nice find.
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Three things:

Start by creating your own backing track of chord changes, and then just experiment with switching halfway through. It's a baby step, but I found it helpful.

Second, there are some good lessons on this at mikedodge.com and 12bar.de.

Third, ear training, ear training, ear training.


Training your ears is the bottom line key to learning to improvise and playing melodies. The rest is foolish, unless you know things like. A simple progression is a good progression. Theres simple backing tracks on youtube you can find what you need. You also need to realize Think in terms of keys.

Quote:
I'd look at it as major/minor chords rather than scales.

The idea of mixing the two is to get the sound of a minor melody against a major chord - the Blue Note. The only time you'll do that is over major or dominant 7 chord.


Look man. theres 5 scales But your only playing in 1 key. You need to look at the key your playing. major and minor scales are the same when compared to the key your playing in. If you need help navigating learn where the chords are.

C major and A minor have the same notes. So the scales are the same.

If you were to play a song thats in C major you would play the same notes you would if you were to play to a song in A minor.
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:42 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by metalmetalhead
Look man. theres 5 scales But your only playing in 1 key. You need to look at the key your playing. major and minor scales are the same when compared to the key your playing in. If you need help navigating learn where the chords are.

C major and A minor have the same notes. So the scales are the same.

If you were to play a song thats in C major you would play the same notes you would if you were to play to a song in A minor.


Did you quote the wrong post?

Either way, looking only at keys is way too shallow to deal with most music. They key is literally nothing more than the chord of resolution. It doesn't tell what you what to play at any given point within a progression, and it certainly does not mean that C major and A minor are the same thing.

Here's a little progression: |C E7 |Am D7 |Dm G7| C C7| Fm Bb7| Eb Ab |Am Dm| G7 C|

It's very obviously in the key of C, but you'll notice that most of the chords fall outside of the 7 notes proscribed by the key signature. Key alone doesn't come close to dealing with this kind of very normal chord progression. You have to play to the chords, not the key.
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:09 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by cdgraves
Did you quote the wrong post?

Either way, looking only at keys is way too shallow to deal with most music. They key is literally nothing more than the chord of resolution. It doesn't tell what you what to play at any given point within a progression, and it certainly does not mean that C major and A minor are the same thing.

Here's a little progression: |C E7 |Am D7 |Dm G7| C C7| Fm Bb7| Eb Ab |Am Dm| G7 C|

It's very obviously in the key of C, but you'll notice that most of the chords fall outside of the 7 notes proscribed by the key signature. Key alone doesn't come close to dealing with this kind of very normal chord progression. You have to play to the chords, not the key.


Too shallow says who?

Your over complicating it, IF were just talking about the use of the penatonic scales. Starting out simple is always best. The C major and A minor scales both fit each other. So Its no longer The scale you play. but the KEY your playing in.

The progression you picked has An F# and An C# along with Eb and Ab out of key. Its very common for Songs to modulate out of key. You can raise from A to Ab and play your penatonics there for those little parts. But I don't see why this is relevant.

Believe me it doesn't take A fancy progression to write good solos too.

Heres another much simpler common progression for ya |Am G F E|. Theres so many common progressions.
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:40 PM   #17
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There's no C# anywhere in the progression. And that progression contains exactly two key changes (C to Fm, Fm to C) and one non-diatonic chord (E7 in C). This isn't any more complex than very basic standards like "Sunny Side of the Street", "All of Me", or "All the Things You Are".

And your example contains a major V in the minor key, which is unaccounted for in both the key signature and the scale of Am. You have to switch it up and play to the E major. If you want to sound good, anyway. At least post an example consistent with the point you're tying to make.

The "key only" approach doesn't even touch basic progressions. The basic sound of ALL western music is complement and contrast between the melody and harmony. Key establishes only one note or chord, nothing else.

Trying to describe a melody as some mish-mash of two scales is far more complicated than saying it's a chord with accidentals. Not to mention chord-tone analysis actually describes what's happening far more precisely than trying to generalize everything into a key or scale because it's necessarily spelling out chords. Key/Scale describes nothing more than the notes that occur in a phrase. It doesn't describe their relationship to the harmony or even to each other.

And you don't have to go "out of key" when you're playing chord tones. That's why it is a superior way of analyzing most music.

Last edited by cdgraves : 06-27-2013 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 06-28-2013, 04:01 PM   #18
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lol, stop debating guys. I have to say though, the chord thing is a little too complicated for me right now, and I already improvise based off of key, not chord changes. I also believe improvising with chord changes is a little too much to think about when it comes to blues/rock n roll (especially when including fast licks). I really don't want to be thinking about what notes I should play from a theoretical aspect (which I feel would be the direction I could be heading with chord change improve), but what I feel are the notes I should play, making the playing more emotional. I really like Ignore's answer though, I just think I need more ear training than anything else.
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Old 06-28-2013, 04:14 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by safehaven
lol, stop debating guys. I have to say though, the chord thing is a little too complicated for me right now, and I already improvise based off of key, not chord changes. I also believe improvising with chord changes is a little too much to think about when it comes to blues/rock n roll (especially when including fast licks). I really don't want to be thinking about what notes I should play from a theoretical aspect (which I feel would be the direction I could be heading with chord change improve), but what I feel are the notes I should play, making the playing more emotional. I really like Ignore's answer though, I just think I need more ear training than anything else.

However, I did just watch one of the videos posted on this thread and it did talk about the implementation of major or minor scales based on whether or not the chord is major or minor.
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:41 PM   #20
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What i was saying in my answer was also that you analyze it.
Listen, Soloing off of Chord Tones sounds like a intimidating subject at first but it isnt, it's just as simple as anything, and trust me no good player who is in the moment of his most emotional playing thinks: "Oh let me get that minor 3rd from the 6th Chord, shit, we're in G, now what note makes that?"

But as soon as you get to know these tones, and the principle that all tones are basically "chord tones" they just sound more dissonant and consonant, You will start to know these sounds individually by ear and you wont have to think anymore. Chord tone soloing is a very helpful approach for getting to know each chord and each sound against it. and what makes that chord and its specific sound. This doesnt mean you have to Actively "Change Scales" or think differently while playing.
Get to know each chord's tones and how they relate to the present chord. Ofcourse you would end up MOSTLY resolving on the respective Chord's Root, 3rd, fifth, 7th, 9th, and 13th the most, because they usually sound they way you want to sound like, being consonant to somewhat consonant as they are.
Chord tone soloing is Helpful in Introducing the sounds to you, what the hell you make of it is up to you and will come out in your playing and to you ear INSTINCTIVELY if you keep practicing and really dig in.
A short example would be: in G a blues on the five chord, you really pronounce the A (the chords 5th) and play into the D (The chords Root). You could've found this out by accident, or heard it from muddy waters as well. But if you just analyze it for yourself , which takes like under 1 minute, You'll know what is going on, and why it works and so on. and you also can Identify this as that sound to you ear. Immediately if you hear someone playing those notes over that chord in a similar way, you can instantly hear, Oh, that.
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