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Old 09-21-2013, 04:32 AM   #1
RyanMW2010
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help with 5 pentatonic shapes and keys

Hi,

I just started memorizing the 5 pentatonic shapes. I'm kind of confused when and how to use them. If a song is in Emaj for example, Do I shift all of the pentatonic shapes to an appropriate fret location? In other words, is the distance and relation between the pentatonic positions always consistent? How do i know where to shift the shapes to for what key? Very new to this, I would love to be pointed in the right direction!
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Old 09-21-2013, 07:06 AM   #2
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The shapes should overlap each other. They are small parts of one large shape that covers the pentatonic scale across the entire fretboard. As such they will always appear in the same order regardless of the key.

In each shape one of the notes will be the root note. You just have to line up the root note in the scale shape with the correct note on the fretboard.
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Old 09-21-2013, 11:04 AM   #3
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Like 20tigers said, i find easiest way is to line up a shape with appropriate key. I find the root note on the low e string then play the corresponding shape from there. So for example if the key is in A, I'll slide to the 5th fret on low then go from there. Hope that helps
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Old 09-21-2013, 11:07 AM   #4
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You have to recognize where the root note is in each shape and be able to find the particular note on many places on the fretboard.
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Old 09-21-2013, 06:37 PM   #5
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Okay, but say the root note is on the 7th fret, E string---what shape works from there? Should that always be shape #1? What if shape #3 sounds better on that spot? Does that mean they all line up with #3 starting there going up the fretboard?
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Old 09-21-2013, 07:03 PM   #6
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What would you do if you were learning a brass or horn instrument? Would you rely on "shapes then? Or would you concentrate on note names and more importantly SOUND and intervals?
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Old 09-21-2013, 07:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdc
What would you do if you were learning a brass or horn instrument? Would you rely on "shapes then? Or would you concentrate on note names and more importantly SOUND and intervals?


Well, I imagine not--but since I have the shapes available to me, shouldn't i use them too? Sorry if this is obvious--it's all brand new to me :/
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Old 09-21-2013, 07:46 PM   #8
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Once I learned how a major scale was constructed and the intervals, and the guitar is tuned in fourths and a third, the shapes became logical. Shapes are just a systematic way of dividing your learning in chunks. Knowing how to use them is another thing. Its a convoluted layout. Almost always you won't be using the same notes in a scale and that requires more theory. In blues you can think of scales overlapping or playing to the harmonic changes but you dont want to think of that until you have built a vocublarly of licks in the genre that interests you. Some players just say to hell with theory and play what sounds right but the analytical aspect is a useful construct to know the tendencies, not rules, musical styles may follow.
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Old 09-21-2013, 08:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanMW2010
Well, I imagine not--but since I have the shapes available to me, shouldn't i use them too? Sorry if this is obvious--it's all brand new to me :/

Of course you should use them, but focus on their sounds, you should be thinking in sound, not shape.

You won't really understand the importance of what I just said until about 30 years later when you're jamming with some old buddies over a blues.
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Old 09-21-2013, 08:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanMW2010
Okay, but say the root note is on the 7th fret, E string---what shape works from there? Should that always be shape #1? What if shape #3 sounds better on that spot? Does that mean they all line up with #3 starting there going up the fretboard?


The diagrams you're seeing of these scale shapes should tell you which notes in the patterns are the root note. Shape 1 and shape 3 (by the way, these shape numbers are arbitrary, and nobody who didn't learn off the same page that's teaching these knows which shapes you're talking about) being played on the same starting point will be in completely different keys because only one of those two shapes actually starts on the root note.
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Old 09-22-2013, 04:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanMW2010
Okay, but say the root note is on the 7th fret, E string---what shape works from there? Should that always be shape #1? What if shape #3 sounds better on that spot? Does that mean they all line up with #3 starting there going up the fretboard?

Find out where the root notes in the shapes are. Then find out where the root notes on your fretboard are. That way you'll know what shapes to use. I mean, it doesn't matter because you know where the roots on the shapes are and you know where the roots on your fretboard are.

But if you feel that the "shape #3" sounds better, then use it. Play what sounds good.

But really, learn the intervals and how to build a pentatonic scale and you'll understand better where the shapes come from and you don't need to ask these questions any more. Also don't forget the sound. The shapes shouldn't control your playing. They are there to help you, not limit you. But I think they just usually limit guitarists because they don't learn the sound, they just learn the fingerings and play inside these shapes.
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdc
What would you do if you were learning a brass or horn instrument? Would you rely on "shapes then? Or would you concentrate on note names and more importantly SOUND and intervals?


well, to be fair, you'd also (presumably) concentrate on breathing exercises and stuff like that too which is kinda unnecessary for guitar

I don't really see the point in making analogies which are a stretch. You don't do sweep picking on a trombone either, that doesn't mean it's not acceptable on guitar...

"Shapes" are a nice little trick to let you be able to play before becoming a badass at the theory. Yes, in an ideal world you should try to learn the theory too, but personally I'd rather have people playing as well as possible as quickly as possible, not refusing to help them with shortcuts because they're "not doing it properly"...

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Old 09-22-2013, 08:20 AM   #13
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^actually breathing exercises are quite helpful. They help you play the instrument and your improvisational lines more like a wind instrument, or vocals.
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Old 09-22-2013, 08:29 AM   #14
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Aw come on And I'd also say there's a pretty big difference between being aware of good phrasing (the like of which, as you said, may help you to sound more like a vocalist or wind player) and actually being able to do it well enough to play said wind instrument.

Chords then. No chords on a saxophone (unless I've been misinformed).
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Old 09-22-2013, 11:15 AM   #15
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Chords then. No chords on a saxophone (unless I've been misinformed).

Well, chords can be played across three (or more, depending on the chord) saxes, and the chord changes kind of take some practice, so that's out too.



I'd honestly focus on sound, like what mdc said. If I started with sound instead of shape, I probably would have found a lot of things way easier. Besides, it'll also help your ear a bunch, but that's probably assumed.
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Old 09-22-2013, 11:51 AM   #16
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In response to your list of examples of things that are different between instruments, I would simply say 'music theory is the same on all instruments.' But, if these shapes help you learn it, then use them. Most people seem to be suggesting not to take advantage of these shapes because in the long run you should be able to think of these scales in terms of the intervals used and the sounds of the intervals used, (For instance, if I'm playing the first minor pentatonic pattern in A, I don't think "play E5, E8, A5, A7..." and so forth. I think , 'play the root, the minor third, the fourth, the fifth...' and so forth.") rather than in scale shapes, but honestly playing through these shapes is greatly useful for helping you learn what these scales sound like to begin with and you should eventually make the jump naturally. At least, that's how it worked for me.
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:38 PM   #17
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^ exactly. All music theory is the same, but different instruments have differing techniques and shortcuts which you'd be a fool (if you ask me) not to take advantage of.

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Originally Posted by Mister A.J.
(a) Well, chords can be played across three (or more, depending on the chord) saxes, and the chord changes kind of take some practice, so that's out too.



(b) I'd honestly focus on sound, like what Xioaxi said. If I started with sound instead of shape, I probably would have found a lot of things way easier. Besides, it'll also help your ear a bunch, but that's probably assumed.


(a) it's kinda hard to play like 5 different saxes at once, though

(b) it just depends, really... just because you didn't like the way you did it doesn't mean the other way would necessarily have been any better.

Plus I mean it's not like I'm saying you should ignore your ear or the intervals or anything like that. Of course you should try to learn those as well (and playing the shapes will train your ear as well, eventually, it should be pointed out- as greg koch says, "your eyes can do for now what your ears will do later").

I just don't see the point of telling someone who's in need of help now with the basics that what they actually should learn is something way more complex. That's silly, if you ask me. It's like telling someone who can't count that they'll never get their head around numbers if they don't learn about complex numbers. You'll confuse them even more if you're not careful.
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:41 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Dave_Mc
(a) it's kinda hard to play like 5 different saxes at once, though

(b) it just depends, really... just because you didn't like the way you did it doesn't mean the other way would necessarily have been any better.

a) Yeah, I know. I was just f**king with you on that one.

b) Point taken there, no comment, I lost that one.
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:47 PM   #19
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you had me wondering there for a minute because I'm sure i've seen pics of people playing two saxes at once

and no worries, I was just pointing that out. It's also entirely possible that you may be right and may well have improved faster doing it the other way. It's just difficult to know for sure.
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Old 09-22-2013, 12:54 PM   #20
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you had me wondering there for a minute because I'm sure i've seen pics of people playing two saxes at once

and no worries, I was just pointing that out. It's also entirely possible that you may be right and may well have improved faster doing it the other way. It's just difficult to know for sure.

I try to add a little ' ' face after everything I say that's more lighthearted than my usual pessimistic and cynical nature. Because the internet doesn't have a smart-ass button.
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