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Old 08-17-2013, 10:27 AM   #21
cdgraves
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Classic rock players are among the laziest when it comes to getting around the fretboard. I'd wager 50% of classic rock guitar solos are done almost entirely in the minor pentatonic root position.

The reason for this is that a lot of classic rock and groove music is based on a static, non-resolving harmony. The chords often are not a progression, rather they are just a sequence that reinforces the tonic harmony. There's no real change in the harmony. Because the harmony is defined by the key signature in those cases, the soloist can just play anything "in key" and it will sound fine - there's no harmonic "pull".

Any music that has actual harmonic changes will force you out of box shapes. Lots of rock music does this, too. You can hear the soloist preparing for and hitting notes on harmony changes.
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:43 PM   #22
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^ yeah. i mean even an awful lot of the 80s shred solos are, in large part anyway, first position minor pentatonic (or blues).

it's a bit like power chords (if you want to play rock). Should you only learn power chords? No, of course not. But if you're starting out, you can play an awful lot of rock songs (and/or large portions of rock songs) just using power chords. It's the same with minor pentatonic (and blues scale) position 1. You can play an awful lot of rock solos using just that one shape. It seems daft to make it artificially hard on yourself. Sure, down the line, expand a bit, of course you should. But if some person who's picking up the guitar for the first time asks, "how do i get good as quickly as possible? I want to play rock music." you don't (IMO) say, "Right, first things first, let's get you started on hardcore music theory!"

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Originally Posted by crazysam23_Atax
Kind of, kind of not. A lot of the classic licks are based off of chords really. Guys like Hendrix or Clapton or Page were very good at licks that were based off of chord shapes.


well, sure. but it still doesn't mean you should ignore the boxes, either.

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I disagree.

A lot of classic licks are based on musical ideas. Shapes are designed with the idea of being shortcuts to playing musical ideas. So a lick may be contained with a shape - minor pentatonic licks are going to be contained within a minor pentatonic shape, of course - but they're not BASED on the shape.


isn't that kinda semantics?
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Old 08-17-2013, 12:54 PM   #23
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I just want to clarify that my post is not meant as "Do not learn scales! ". I think it is important to have that foundation and know your scales, i'm just not a believer in thinking of the scales when improvising.

I think it is a much more healthier approach to learning to improvise to pop on a backing track and then try to hum/sing a phrase and try to play it, or just making something up in your head and trying to play it than to sit and go "Pentatonic ascending, Pentatonic descending". I am not a believer in running up and down scales, and learning new scales to improve your improv. You should always strive to be able to create the sounds you want to hear over whatever is being played without thinking "Uh, pentatonic, Uh, Major," etc.

I never said it was easy. It's probably one of the hardest things to learn, but why not work towards it?
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Old 08-17-2013, 01:15 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdgraves
Everything fits into one box shape or another. The problem is that so many players halt their development after learning just a few "shapes" and get stuck in them.

Ermm...what? There's a ton of players who see the fretboard as a whole. I'm one of them. So, stop saying this. It may be how you (and many, many others) think of the fretboard, but it's clearly not how everyone does. I'm not going into more detail than that, but really...this idea isn't universal to how every guitar player thinks. (Some professional examples: Guthrie Govan uses a chord-based way of thinking, in some ways he applies "Jazz ideas" to songs that aren't always Jazz. Steve Vai takes a linear/vertical approach, rarely ever does runs in stereotypical shapes. Paul Gilbert's early work is also more linear than shape-based; look at his stuff with Racer X.)

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Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
But if some person who's picking up the guitar for the first time asks, "how do i get good as quickly as possible? I want to play rock music." you don't (IMO) say, "Right, first things first, let's get you started on hardcore music theory!"

No, but it might serve that person's musical development better if you begin to teach them basic theory and eventually progress to complicated theory. Part of the problem with guitar is that a lot of people, when they first start playing guitar, see what their "hero" does and fail to realize that there was years and years of musical developments involved.

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well, sure. but it still doesn't mean you should ignore the boxes, either.

I'm not a fan of boxes at all. I could detail it all here, but you'd be better off reading this thread.
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Old 08-17-2013, 01:27 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by crazysam23_Atax
(a) No, but it might serve that person's musical development better if you begin to teach them basic theory and eventually progress to complicated theory. Part of the problem with guitar is that a lot of people, when they first start playing guitar, see what their "hero" does and fail to realize that there was years and years of musical developments involved.


(b) I'm not a fan of boxes at all. I could detail it all here, but you'd be better off reading this thread.


(a) it won't if they get pissed off/bored/frustrated and just quit.

(b) I've read the thread before. I don't agree that they're necessarily bad. It's like saying that scientific advances are bad, when they're neutral. What some people may do with them may be bad, sure, but in and of themselves, not so much.

They're a shortcut, and treated as such, I don't see a problem. "Here's a way to get pretty good pretty quickly, but eventually (or even alongside learning them) you really should move on to proper music theory."
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Old 08-17-2013, 01:36 PM   #26
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(a) it won't if they get pissed off/bored/frustrated and just quit.

Basic theory can be as simple as learning a few chords, scales, what intervals are, etc. You don't teach someone what non-diatonic chords are to start off.

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Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
(b) I've read the thread before. I don't agree that they're necessarily bad. It's like saying that scientific advances are bad, when they're neutral. What some people may do with them may be bad, sure, but in and of themselves, not so much.

They're a shortcut, and treated as such, I don't see a problem. "Here's a way to get pretty good pretty quickly, but eventually (or even alongside learning them) you really should move on to proper music theory."

Well, I respect your opinion, even though I disagree with it. Although, I will say I don't see them as a shortcut. Imho, there really are no shortcuts in music; you still have to do work, no matter which method you use. (As many others in that thread pointed out, you still should learn the intervals and notes of the scales, whether you use shapes or what I [and a few others in that thread] suggest. Yeah, you can just learn the shapes without that, but you're not really learning anything other than muscle memory and possibly increasing your finger strength.)
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Old 08-17-2013, 01:55 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by crazysam23_Atax
(a) Basic theory can be as simple as learning a few chords, scales, what intervals are, etc. You don't teach someone what non-diatonic chords are to start off.


(b) Well, I respect your opinion, even though I disagree with it. Although, I will say I don't see them as a shortcut. Imho, there really are no shortcuts in music; you still have to do work, no matter which method you use. (As many others in that thread pointed out, you still should learn the intervals and notes of the scales, whether you use shapes or what I [and a few others in that thread] suggest. Yeah, you can just learn the shapes without that, but you're not really learning anything other than muscle memory and possibly increasing your finger strength.)


(a) of course, but at the same time if someone is adamant that they don't want to learn theory (I'm not saying I agree with them, just they're entitled to their opinion), if you try to force it on them they may get frustrated and quit. I'd rather have someone stick with the guitar, even if they're doing it "wrong" (and "wrong" is subjective, i'd say), than quit because they didn't have the patience to do it "right" (again, "right" is subjective).

(b) I dunno. It's a lot easier to learn a couple of patterns using fret numbers than to get your head around theory if you've never been exposed to theory before. Especially on the guitar, where theory isn't as immediate obvious as it is on, say, the piano.

I would sort of agree that there are no shortcuts, but at the same time there are overcomplicated ways to do things (or just plain not doing things the best/most efficient way), so if you're doing things incorrectly, something more efficient may well, in effect, seem like a "shortcut".

Even just different people learning things in different ways, if you find a way that suits you, that can be, in effect, a shortcut.

Even if that is all you're learning (you're probably helping your ear, too, i'd say), if that's enough for what that person wants to do, that's ok by me.

EDIT: in fact, I would even say that, in some cases, avoiding learning boxes can be a bad thing. I come across a lot of tabs online for lead guitar, and an awful lot of the time, while the notes are correct, they're tabbed out at really weird frets. In a way that most guitar players would really struggle to play, whereas tabbed out in a more sensible way (i.e. related to the box shapes), it'd actually be easy to play.

Obviously you can't say categorically that not learning the boxes was to blame (maybe the person tabbing it out was just an idiot, or didn't try to play what he/she had tabbed), but yeah.
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Old 08-17-2013, 03:35 PM   #28
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(a) of course, but at the same time if someone is adamant that they don't want to learn theory (I'm not saying I agree with them, just they're entitled to their opinion), if you try to force it on them they may get frustrated and quit. I'd rather have someone stick with the guitar, even if they're doing it "wrong" (and "wrong" is subjective, i'd say), than quit because they didn't have the patience to do it "right" (again, "right" is subjective).

If that's their attitude, I would argue they don't want to really learn music. They just want to learn a few songs and chords. If people aren't willing to do the work, then you really can't teach them anything beyond chords and maybe a few basic scales. I mean, why bother, in that case?

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(b) I dunno. It's a lot easier to learn a couple of patterns using fret numbers than to get your head around theory if you've never been exposed to theory before. Especially on the guitar, where theory isn't as immediate obvious as it is on, say, the piano.

Yeah, but that's not really learning anything. I know that what you suggest is, frankly, the usual method for new/young guitar players. But it doesn't reinforce or teach any musical concepts. It just teaches memorization of fret numbers, which is about the worst thing, imho.
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Old 08-17-2013, 05:10 PM   #29
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I think it's dangerous to think the way I do it is the only way to do it. I also don't want to put people off who might be enthusiastic, just in a different way. YMMV.

I'd also query whether someone who comes into you saying, "Oh goody, scales!" is actually that keen on music, either. I don't believe in putting people off who have that spark of interest because they have no interest in the boring stuff. that's counter-productive, if you ask me. maybe those people "don't want to really learn music", as you say. Looked at another way, maybe they have no interest in making music artificially boring, it's meant to be fun after all.

I mean the basic philosophy I have is, if someone wants to learn, that's half the battle won. I absolutely don't want to put anyone off who wants to learn, and it's up to the teacher, as much as possible, to work with that.
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Old 08-17-2013, 09:46 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by crazysam23_Atax

I'm not a fan of boxes at all. I could detail it all here, but you'd be better off reading this thread.


I feel like you're fishing for disagreement here. I have never advocated learning guitar via shapes. They were never even part of my learning - I'm a very linear player. Shapes are just a convenient way to relate finger positions to very novice players, before they've learned the concepts behind the fingerings. If they never move beyond that, well that's too bad.

You can impose shapes on just about anything, but it gets useless in a hurry. You'll actually play triad shapes and such all the time, but the "shape" ceases to have any sort of meaning when you're moving through them quickly.
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Old 08-17-2013, 10:49 PM   #31
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I mean the basic philosophy I have is, if someone wants to learn, that's half the battle won. I absolutely don't want to put anyone off who wants to learn, and it's up to the teacher, as much as possible, to work with that.

Well, my thing is (and keep in mind, I don't claim to be a teacher -- though I have taught a few friends some lessons), people have to do the work if they want to learn. Now, some people don't want to learn as much. It's perfectly fine if people just want to learn powerchords, a few basic chords, and whatever so they can learn songs by bands they love. I just tend to distinguish between that and someone who wants to keep learning more and more about music theory and more and more techniques for guitar.

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Originally Posted by cdgraves
I feel like you're fishing for disagreement here.

I wasn't fishing for anything. I just tend to be rather wordy and didn't really feel like typing it all out again.

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I have never advocated learning guitar via shapes. They were never even part of my learning - I'm a very linear player. Shapes are just a convenient way to relate finger positions to very novice players, before they've learned the concepts behind the fingerings. If they never move beyond that, well that's too bad.

You can impose shapes on just about anything, but it gets useless in a hurry. You'll actually play triad shapes and such all the time, but the "shape" ceases to have any sort of meaning when you're moving through them quickly.

I can agree with all of this.
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Old 08-18-2013, 12:26 AM   #32
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Learning your instrument, to me, means figuring it out for yourself, whether through lessons or your own rigor.

I tend not to discount "beginner" stuff because it's still very useful. Basic scale runs are perfect for improvised cadenzas; having pentatonic "shapes" under your fingers makes melodic flourishes easy; triad inversion exercises become lead-in or transition licks. What matters is having tons of those things ready to go when you need them.
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Old 08-18-2013, 02:15 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by crazysam23_Atax
Well, my thing is (and keep in mind, I don't claim to be a teacher -- though I have taught a few friends some lessons), people have to do the work if they want to learn. Now, some people don't want to learn as much. It's perfectly fine if people just want to learn powerchords, a few basic chords, and whatever so they can learn songs by bands they love. I just tend to distinguish between that and someone who wants to keep learning more and more about music theory and more and more techniques for guitar.


ah right i see what you mean now, that's fair enough.

I will say though that there are some shortcuts (maybe it's better to call them "different ways of thinking about things which may click better with you") which can help you to progress faster. Used in the right way, I think they can help.

EDIT: I'm no teacher either. I'd have thought that was obvious
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Old 08-18-2013, 05:38 PM   #34
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You should always strive to be able to create the sounds you want to hear over whatever is being played without thinking. "Uh, pentatonic, Uh, Major," etc.

I never said it was easy. It's probably one of the hardest things to learn, but why not work towards it?

Fixed.

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Back to improvising.
Adding to or reinforcing what has been said before, the following can all help (in no particular order)...

1.) Practice improvising daily. Slam on a backing track and go. (LISTEN to what you are doing, figure out how to achieve the sound you want. Record it and play it back to figure out what worked and what didn't.)

2.) Learn a lot of music. (This will give you new ideas for your mind and your fingers.)

3.) Variations on a simple melody. Take a simple melody - nursery rhymes are great for this - and play it and play it and play it. Then start re imagining the melody and let it take you to new places. You should be able to hear the heart of the melody in what you are playing (even if it is unrecognizeable to someone else). I learned this trick off a TV programme in which the guy was playing baa baa blacksheep on sax and turned it into something incredibly soulful. Another example might be Hendrix doing Star Spangled Banner or Stevie Ray Vaughan's interpretation of Little Wing. You will also find that a great many solos seem to be variations of the songs main vocal melody which the soloist uses as a base from which a more elaborate expression of the melody is built.

4.) Ear Training - just helps with everything musical.

5.) Composing. Sitting down and methodically working out new ideas helps your musical mind grow. Taking the time to arrange music and construct musical ideas deliberately and to achieve specific outcomes will help your mind understand music better and improve your ability to improvise new ideas quickly.

6.) Don't be a perfectionist. Improvisation is a matter of making it up as you go a long. The odd bum note, or rhythmically misplaced accent, or complete wrong turn is part of what makes it interesting. Sometimes a mistake can lead to something great. Don't TRY to make a complete hash of it, but don't worry if you do either. Accept that mistakes will happen.

These are just some things you might want to consider to help your improvising skills there are a ton more you might want to try.
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Old 08-19-2013, 03:37 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notafishmonger
Wow that post changed quite a bit of how I think of music, good read!

Thanks!

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3.) Variations on a simple melody. Take a simple melody - nursery rhymes are great for this - and play it and play it and play it. Then start re imagining the melody and let it take you to new places.

I second that. Another (and somewhat related) thing you may want to do is to use repetitions/variations to give your improvisation some structure. Come up with some phrase and remember it. And whenever you feel like it, play it again. Or a variation of it. But don't get ahead of yourself. Start off with simple motifs, 2-3 tones. Also, try to base the repetitions/variations on remembering the music itself rather than on remembering the actual way you played the motif. Attempting to do this is a fun way of getting better. And a step towards truly having things under control.
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Old 08-19-2013, 06:34 PM   #36
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Yeah yesterday, I tried improvising a pretty random guitar line alongside a backing track of my choosing on youtube with the designated scale indicated on the video, and um I do in fact at time feel limited by the note a particular scale allows me to play. I have yet to blend in melodies but through blind experimentation I think I am slowly getting it. The problem is I have absolutely no idea how that music worked and why parts of it sounded good.

I have a bit of trouble memorizing and segmenting my guitar line but I often find myself playing the same progression whenever my mind goes blind. I know structuring things is an important element for jazz, definitely need practice on that one.
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Old 08-19-2013, 07:26 PM   #37
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Yeah yesterday, I tried improvising a pretty random guitar line alongside a backing track of my choosing on youtube with the designated scale indicated on the video, and um I do in fact at time feel limited by the note a particular scale allows me to play. I have yet to blend in melodies but through blind experimentation I think I am slowly getting it. The problem is I have absolutely no idea how that music worked and why parts of it sounded good.

Then try improvising for short time periods. 30 seconds or less. That way, you have less musical phrases to evaluate.

The thing is, though, you have to record it. (It doesn't have to be a good recording at all -- just clear enough that you can hear the notes. I used to use a shitty tape recorder, lol.) Then, play it back. If a phrase/lick clashes completely with the progression, then think about why. Dissonance can be good, but it needs to be a conscious musical decision (read: you had to have that part clash intentionally).
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Old 08-20-2013, 12:32 AM   #38
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anyone asking how to improvise, watch this.
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Old 08-20-2013, 03:46 AM   #39
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Yeah yesterday, I tried improvising a pretty random guitar line alongside a backing track of my choosing on youtube with the designated scale indicated on the video, and um I do in fact at time feel limited by the note a particular scale allows me to play. I have yet to blend in melodies but through blind experimentation I think I am slowly getting it. The problem is I have absolutely no idea how that music worked and why parts of it sounded good.

I have a bit of trouble memorizing and segmenting my guitar line but I often find myself playing the same progression whenever my mind goes blind. I know structuring things is an important element for jazz, definitely need practice on that one.


Some of the parts sounded good because you were resolving the phrase on the right notes. Meaning if you have C Major in a progression, you can resolve the phrase on either of the tones that make up that chord (C, E or G) and it will sound good.

What you can do is analyze the progression before you start to improvise and for starters always try to finish the licks on the tonic of the chord that is currently playing. Then slowly add 3rd and 5th and notice the difference in sound it gives.
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Old 08-20-2013, 03:15 PM   #40
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The problem is I have absolutely no idea how that music worked and why parts of it sounded good.

I don't think this is a problem. I mean, you could base your improvisation on thoughts like this: "Ok, so I'm in e minor. Tonic triad is being played. I will play e. It's a safe bet. Next, I will play f#. It will give it some tension. And finally, I will resolve the tension by going back to e. Yes, this will sound OK." Personally, I don't think you should use reasoning like this when improvising/composing. The more you will rationalize it, the more dull and boring music will become. Of course, this is something which is kind of hard to avoid. As you gain more experience, you will inevitably notice principles on which different types of music are built. But still, you shouldn't learn to improvise through rationalizing why this or that phrase sounded good. You don't need this ability to form musical ideas in your head. Now, this doesn't mean you should be oblivious to basic musical concepts like keys and scales. But you don't have to use them to justify your musical thoughts. I hope this makes sense.

To provide you with something concrete. As Flaster011 suggested, you should also develop a feel for the "good" tones. In this context, by "good" I mean the ones of the currently sounding chord. The ones that are "safe". I created some backing tracks which can help you develop this ability. Link is in my signature.

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anyone asking how to improvise, watch this.

Thanks for the video! It's great. I'm too tired to write a more profound comment, though. Maybe tomorrow.
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