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#1
Hello,

well, i´m at the early stages of improvising even though i´ve been playing for a couple of years... basically i´m doing very basic improvs using pentatonic scales and jam tracks. what i´m wondering is...wouldn´t it be better to know which notes are in the scale and play those notes all over the fretboard instead of using the pentatonic scale pattern on the fretboard? I mean, most people say you have to learn them and then un-learn them since you´ve got to forget all about "playing inside the box". Why learn it if you have to forget about it later?

For example, the minor pentatonic is Tonic- Minor 3rd- 4th- 5th and minor 7th (b7), right?
Well then, say i take the D minor pentatonic, that´d be: D, F, G, A C. So that means that if i want to improvise over a jam track in D minor using the pentatonic i would only be using those notes, right? Why would i learn the pattern for it, when knowing all the notes on the fretboard (so i know where those 5 notes are in all the fretboard) i can improvise over the jam track?

This would save me the rote learning of memorizing the pattern only to have to forget about them later to avoid playing inside the box and vertically all the time, to start using all the fretboard horizontally (not saying there´s anything wrong with playing vertically). So, is it really necessary to learn the scale patterns?

Hope you guys can give me your input on this. Cheers!
#2
No. A lot of people endorse the method you proposed. Ultimately as you practice those scale patterns will become ingrained in you anyway.
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#3
Learning patterns is obviously a good way to start, but I see your point about learning the notes on the fretboard.

I'd say, once you know what notes is where, and what notes are in what scale, then don't limit yourself to the box patterns, just play wherever on the fretboard that suits what you're trying to do?

I'm kinda in the same position as yourself here, and that's what I plan on doing tbh.
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#4
I am not great at improvising yet, I am horrible at it since I have not been playing long. But my Guitar instructor told me after you play Scales and Modes Horizontally and Vertically in a key you just know what notes are correct to play. You don't need to follow a specific Scale or Mode, you kinda just start hearing what notes that fit the emotions you're trying to capture.

I hope this helps.
#5
Quote by Maru717
Hello,

well, i´m at the early stages of improvising even though i´ve been playing for a couple of years... basically i´m doing very basic improvs using pentatonic scales and jam tracks. what i´m wondering is...wouldn´t it be better to know which notes are in the scale and play those notes all over the fretboard instead of using the pentatonic scale pattern on the fretboard? I mean, most people say you have to learn them and then un-learn them since you´ve got to forget all about "playing inside the box". Why learn it if you have to forget about it later?

For example, the minor pentatonic is Tonic- Minor 3rd- 4th- 5th and minor 7th (b7), right?
Well then, say i take the D minor pentatonic, that´d be: D, F, G, A C. So that means that if i want to improvise over a jam track in D minor using the pentatonic i would only be using those notes, right? Why would i learn the pattern for it, when knowing all the notes on the fretboard (so i know where those 5 notes are in all the fretboard) i can improvise over the jam track?

This would save me the rote learning of memorizing the pattern only to have to forget about them later to avoid playing inside the box and vertically all the time, to start using all the fretboard horizontally (not saying there´s anything wrong with playing vertically). So, is it really necessary to learn the scale patterns?

Hope you guys can give me your input on this. Cheers!



They aren't "necessary", but they are very useful.

Now trying to learn them all blindly, out of context isn't very useful and I believe thats the mistake most people make. The thing is, learning the notes on the neck/scale formulas out of context puts you in more or less the same position.
Thats why I consider Ignoring scale patterns on the basis that you're learning the notes on the neck instead to be a pretentious practice. It's all part of the puzzle, and very helpful assuming your also working on music and listening.

Regarding the patterns/shapes issue and your fear of being "stuck in them".......

If you're working with music, you're dealing with patterns, whether your recognizing them on paper or on your fret-board makes no difference.

I would suggest that you learn as much as you can. Don't ignore any of it. Each perspective serves to reinforce the other.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 30, 2010,
#6
no. learn the notes on the fretboard. learn how to make a scale, then learn all your scales in single string positions and 2 and 3 string positions, then let playing patterns come naturally and comfortably, and based on neccesary articulations, easier, better tone production and being able to play all of the notes you'll need.
#7
You already know scale patterns. You know how they're made and you know how to apply them, so you don't need to paint-by-numbers.
#8
Absolutely neccesary? No, you can just as well use knowledge of scale formulas to construct a scale on 'runtime'. It does involve knowing the fretboard very well.

There is no substition for muscle memory though.. so best thing imo would be to learn at least the Major scale(s) on the fretboard and use scale formulas to modify it to what you need. Best of both worlds.
#9
Quote by GuitarMunky
Thats why I consider Ignoring scale patterns on the basis that you're learning the notes on the neck instead to be a pretentious practice. It's all part of the puzzle, and very helpful assuming your also working on music and listening.
How is learning the notes on the neck instead of the scale patterns pretentious? It's just another way to do it.

Once you know the notes on the neck and the notes in each scale there's no point going back and memorising scale patterns because you already know them. You know where the notes of the C major scale so you therefore have exactly the same information as learning the scale patterns would have given you. Why is it pretentious to recognise this?

TS, scale patterns are unavoidable but there is also no reason to avoid them. If you choose to learnt the box shapes you won't have to unlearn it later and you won't necessarily be "stuck inside the box". Learnig box shapes is not a hindrance to learning.

However, I would suggest learnin the notes of the fretboard and the notes in each scale. Once you have done this you will know all the scale patterns (you won't necessarily think of them as patterns but you will know the position of all the notes in a given scale, which is what a scale pattern is) and you will also have the knowledge of exactly what note you are playing.

To gain an equal knowledge someone who learns the notes on the fretboard and the notes in each scale, someone who learnt box shapes would have to learn the same thing - the notes on the freboard and the notes in each scale. In contrast, the person who didn't learn the box shapes has exactly the same knowledge of scale patterns as the one who did.

So considering this, IMO, there is no need to learn box shapes as learning the notes on the fretboard and notes in each scales will give you an equal knowledge of scale patterns and give you more knowledge.
#10
+1

Going through the process of learning the notes and finding them on the fretboard will automatically teach you the patterns....it's a 2 for 1 offer.

However, learning the patterns doesn't automatically teach you the notes, you still need to make the effort to learn them as well. Sadly a lot of guitarists don't seem to realise this and think that memorising a pattern of dots on the fretboard is "learning a scale" when there's actually a lot more to it - the scale pattern is probably the least important aspect all told. It's the last thing you need really, after you know how the scale is constructed and how it functions musically you're obviously going to want to know how to locate it on your guitar.
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#11
How does learning the notes and finding them on the fretboard automatically teach you patterns?

Of course if you're using the patterns as a tool to help you learn the notes across the fretboard I can see how that would work - you know like if you work through the C major scale and say each note name as you play it.

But if you ignore patterns and just learn the notes how does it automatically teach you patterns?

*******

From personal experience I found that I learned patterns before learning all the notes on the freboard.

When I started I had no experience and didn't know what I was doing. I reasoned that knowing all the notes on the fretboard would make me a better player and somehow allow me to play all over the place with ease. So I set out to learn all the notes.

So I set off to do that. I spent time everyday going over them as part of my practice schedule. I put stickers on the fretboard of an old guitar and would map out the fretboard on paper. But I get bored easily - especially if I'm not seeing the results I was hoping for and found that after learning the first few frets that it didn't really allow me to play or improvise any better at all.

I gave up on the whole idea of learning note names - not just because it wasn't getting me where I wanted to go but because something else was proving much more useful. You see I was also learning songs. And as I learned a few songs I was noticing shapes.

I noticed the solos and riffs I was learning often seemed to share the same patterns. And that certain patterns seemed to go with certain chords. It was in this way that I first learned the box patterns or at least parts of them.

For example the intro solo from Wish You Were Here was one of the first pieces of music I learned. After learning it I then had a set of notes that I could play around with over chords in G. I knew it was my G scale. I could use the notes from that solo and come up with my own ideas.

I knew that if my friend started playing with the G C D and Am chords I could mess around with those notes and it would sound good. I had no idea what the notes were called as I as playing. I knew I could sit down and work out what notes they were but it was more fun just to play. I would experiment and find what else I could add to the pattern and create my own licks.

I soon picked up a few songs in Am and found the open Am pattern. Then through Stairway to Heaven I learned the Am pattern at the fifth to eighth fret - you know the one.

By this stage I had picked up a few note names but it wasn't a focus anymore. I could only find the natural notes by name in the first few frets and an A and a G higher up in different places on the fretboard anything else would take me a while to figure out. But I found that even knowing all the note names of my Am scale in open position I wasn't thinking of the note names when I was improvising I was just listening and trying to string together what sounded good. When I stopped and thought out what I just been doing I often found that I was often instinctively landing on chord tones. But it was all about the patterns I knew worked in other songs and finding new ways of using them note names were an afterthought.

I also learned some Hendrix riffs - the Purple Haze riff, and the voodoo chile riff which taught me the parts of the Em pattern up on the 7 8 and 9 frets. I noticed this pattern was similar to the Em barre chord shape.

Around that time I found out about relative major/minor and all of a sudden my playing expanded. I suddenly realized the G major and Em scale shapes were the same and I could use them together.

Suddenly it became important to know how to link the shapes together and find out all the in between shapes that I was missing. That's when I found the CAGED system and started learning the fuller patterns. I found that boring to some extent as well as it was largely memorization but it was a more useful endeavour (at least in my opinion at the time) than learning note names.

I was still largely focused on learning music through learning songs but I had dropped learning the note names in favour of learning shapes. I didn't really care what the notes were called - if I could hear them and new where I was going what did it really matter what the letter label was for that particular sound?

When I eventually did learn the notes of the fretboard it didn't really improve my improvising all that much - if at all.

Anyway I'm sure it was a different path for everybody but this is honestly how it began for me.
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#13
Quote by 20Tigers


But if you ignore patterns and just learn the notes how does it automatically teach you patterns?



It doesn't. You still have to learn and apply the patterns (scale formulas).
Contrary to pretentious belief...... there truly is no escaping them.... nor is there a need to escape them. (assuming you want to play/create music that is consistent with common practices).

and btw, good overall post as usual.


Quote by 12345abcd3
How is learning the notes on the neck instead of the scale patterns pretentious? It's just another way to do it.


It's pretentious to think that there is any benefit in ignoring patterns .....regardless of whether they are on paper or on your guitar.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 31, 2010,
#14
Quote by GuitarMunky
It's pretentious to think that there is any benefit in ignoring patterns .....regardless of whether they are on paper or on your guitar.
When you learn the notes on the neck and the notes in each scale you have learnt the patterns. Do you agree?

How can you ignore patterns and learn them at the same time

Quote by GuitarMunky
It doesn't. You still have to learn and apply the patterns (scale formulas).
Contrary to pretentious belief...... there truly is no escaping them.... nor is there a need to escape them. (assuming you want to play/create music that is consistent with common practices).
For my clarification, am I being pretentious when I say "I see no reason to learn box shapes if you have already learnt the notes on the neck and in each scale"?
Last edited by 12345abcd3 at Aug 31, 2010,
#15
The guitar is a very pattern friendly instrument. If it works for you to take advantage of it, do it. If it doesn't work for you, don't. Simple as that. You can know all the notes on the fretboard, and understand scale and chord construction, and avoid vertical "box" playing whether you use patterns or not. GuitarMunky nailed it. It's all about how you approach learning them.
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#16
One of the advantages (or disadvantages) of playing guitar is that many things can be taught grafically and not by ear. It is way easier to learn the 5 pentatonic patterns than, as you said, learn the notes and experiment by yourself. Many great musicians say that they don´t know the shapes any more and just are so connected with the sounds that they don´t need them. John Scofield disagrees with learning patterns and prefers to play by ear, by learning all of the notes and build yourself your own patterns. I really think that the ideal thing is to build a blend of this two. Know your patterns at first because it is easier and you know where you are on the fretboard, you can move easily. Then you need to play by ear and try to move in different directions, find all of the notes of a scale and really play arround with the instrument. Another great way to do so is by playing single string scales and this is why this course is important when studying guitar in college because more than developing a fixed pattern it developes you ear and you can recognize the intervals.

Ive found that is good to write a lot of the stuff, write all the patterns you find because you have a graphical aid but the most important is that your ear recognizes the scale, this way you can always play the correct notes although you dont know the patterns. I think that first is the sound but the patterns are a great great tool. Try also to build your own patterns with the same notes so you have a unique way of playing.

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#17
Quote by Pepefloydean
John Scofield disagrees with learning patterns and prefers to play by ear, by learning all of the notes and build yourself your own patterns.


Watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_hdsf32Pvo

it's quite clear the guy knows and utilizes the patterns.... both visually and aurally. It's obvious he listens and is a great musician, but look at his face....... he's looking at the guitar neck, at the .......patterns.


On an unrelated note (but relevant to common mode conversations here at UG)......it's also a good example of how not to teach the modes (IMO)..... even though I have tremendous respect for Scofield as a guitarist/musician.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 31, 2010,
#18
What I would do is use single string concepts. Start with the e, then add the b. Eventually try to utilize as many of the strings you feel make it sound good.
#19
Quote by GuitarMunky

I hate to say it, but it's also a good example of how not to teach the modes (IMO)..... even though I have tremendous respect for Scofield as a guitarist/musician.


What makes you say that?
I think he's doing it that way to show the clear differences in sound between one scale and the next based on the same root note.

If he did all the modes of the same relative key it might be more difficult for beginners to hear the differences because they might be unable to relate the scales to anything but the relative major.
#20
Quote by Four-Sticks
What makes you say that?
.


I feel it's theoretically wrong/misleading.

1) he calls all modes Major scales

2) he implies that when you're playing over the other chords in a key that you are playing modally

I remember seeing that video early on in my theory studies and thinking that it answered alot of my questions only to find out in theory class that I've been slightly mislead.

that being said, he is a phenomenal guitarist/musician. I enjoy his work very much.
shred is gaudy music
#21
I'm admittedly at the start of my guitar(bass) playing career. This is something I have noticed. Coming from another instrument where you have to actually learn notes to guitar where a pattern could suffice.. . . .

I spent a couple of weeks fooling myself that I had learnt scale when all I had learnt is patterns. OK, so that might have some use if I happen to be on the root of a chord at the right time - but it does lack the flexibility of actually knowing the notes and being able to use the scale anywhere.
#22
GM-All the modes he demonstrates ARE derivatives of the major scale.

You seem to be focused too much on semantics because there really is nothing wrong with anything he's saying, and I don't get why you say there is.
#23
Quote by Mike Saville
I'm admittedly at the start of my guitar(bass) playing career. This is something I have noticed. Coming from another instrument where you have to actually learn notes to guitar where a pattern could suffice.. . . .

I spent a couple of weeks fooling myself that I had learnt scale when all I had learnt is patterns. OK, so that might have some use if I happen to be on the root of a chord at the right time - but it does lack the flexibility of actually knowing the notes and being able to use the scale anywhere.


Well the patterns aren't designed as a means of avoiding theory or knowing your notes. They are simply a visual representation of where the notes appear on the neck. They are not responsible for the unfortunate fact that guitarists often make the mistake of learning them before anything else.


Presented at an appropriate time, scale patterns can be quite helpful indeed.


Quote by Four-Sticks
GM-All the modes he demonstrates ARE derivatives of the major scale.

You seem to be focused too much on semantics because there really is nothing wrong with anything he's saying, and I don't get why you say there is.



Na, its not semantics. I'm quite familiar with the relationship between the modes and the Major scale, but like I said I disagree. I've found though that in these types of arguments, neither person will give in to the other, so Id rather not bother. I understand your point, and you've heard mine. Im willing to respectfully disagree and leave it at that.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 31, 2010,
#24
uhhh okay mr. "not willing to explain himself fully so that the other person understands where he is coming from"
You say it's not just semantics. Well how is it more than just semantics?
I'm willing to change my mind if I feel convinced, but if you aren't willing to change yours that's your problem.

You shouldn't just say that a video that has very good methods for teaching scales to beginners is the wrong way to teach it without giving a better example. Some people might think that the concepts or practice methods taught in that video aren't good because of what you said, when in reality they are.
Last edited by Four-Sticks at Aug 31, 2010,
#25
Quote by Four-Sticks
uhhh okay mr. "not willing to explain himself fully so that the other person understands where he is coming from"
You say it's not just semantics. Well how is it more than just semantics?
I'm willing to change my mind if I feel convinced, but if you aren't that's your problem.



okay, tell me this...

if your playing over the progression I vi ii V i. do you consider it to change modes on every chord, or be just in 1 over all key/scale?


also, define a "Major" scale, and then explain how the Phrygian mode fits the description.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 31, 2010,
#26
^It depends on the way you want to play the progression.
You could change the modes you are playing every chord if you want, or you could play the relative minor scale the whole time. Or you could play the harmonic minor scale.
The fact that it starts on the major I and ends on the minor i is kinda weird. I'd play different modes over those two different chords.
Or you could play notes from the arpeggios of those chords and forget about modes altogether.

EDIT: The major scale is a series of steps either half or whole.
It has been arbitrarily decided that the major scale goes like: wwhwwwh and repeated.
The phrygian mode of the major scale starts with the 3rd step in that scale. so it goes like hwwwhww
Last edited by Four-Sticks at Aug 31, 2010,
#27
Quote by Mike Saville
I'm admittedly at the start of my guitar(bass) playing career. This is something I have noticed. Coming from another instrument where you have to actually learn notes to guitar where a pattern could suffice.. . . .

I spent a couple of weeks fooling myself that I had learnt scale when all I had learnt is patterns. OK, so that might have some use if I happen to be on the root of a chord at the right time - but it does lack the flexibility of actually knowing the notes and being able to use the scale anywhere.


You really arent fooling yourself Mike,

There's a perfectly valid application of patterns to Keys, not just the roots of chords. That's not true at all.

Lets suppose a C Maj Pent, all thats missing is the notes which get you in trouble due to minor 2nd clashes - the 4th and the 7th.

C D E G A

In the key of C Major you can improvise using all of these notes and it will sound good, because the chords and the scales share some of the same notes.

Knowing the notes on the neck, as you say, is very useful and I advocate that any serious study of theory that you intend to apply to the guitar must start there. But that doesn't nullify the fact that you can get some good improvisation going with the ideas as I stated above. Simply use your ear.

Best to you as you continue your musical pursuits.

Sean
#28
Learning the patterns is good for getting to know where the notes are on the fretboard, however I think it's highly important to know the sound of the note in context with the rest of the scale / key. This is a highly more musical way of approaching it. Sure you can play the right notes all day because they fit in key, doesn't necessarily mean it will sound good.
#29
Quote by Four-Sticks
^It depends on the way you want to play the progression.
You could change the modes you are playing every chord if you want, or you could play the relative minor scale the whole time. Or you could play the harmonic minor scale.


The fact that it starts on the major I and ends on the minor i is kinda weird. I'd play different modes over those two different chords.
Or you could play notes from the arpeggios of those chords and forget about modes altogether.


That was a typo, meant a typical I vi ii V progression, played 1 bar each. nuthin tricky.

my point is..... its all in 1 key. Not 4 modes. If you don't realize this, you don't understand modes.


and how about the 2nd question?


Quote by Zanon
Learning the patterns is good for getting to know where the notes are on the fretboard, however I think it's highly important to know the sound of the note in context with the rest of the scale / key. This is a highly more musical way of approaching it. Sure you can play the right notes all day because they fit in key, doesn't necessarily mean it will sound good.



I totally agree. It should be understood that listening is an essential part of learning an instrument for performing an aural art. I think sometimes people become so concerned with becoming "good" that they overlook this simple and obvious fact in lieu of fancy words and scale patterns sold to them online.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 31, 2010,
#30
It all depends on how you want to look at it. For purposes of phrasing and tone color emphasizing different notes of different modes of the major scale might make a soloist happy.
Plus it's easier to think of the pattern of the modes in relation to the major scale when you are playing all up and down the neck.

For some people it's all just in major, and that's perfectly fine, for others they choose to play the different chords emphasizing the different modes, and that's fine too.

If you think theory is perfectly cut and dry, black and white, and in music there is only one right answer, then you don't understand music. Not that I want to lay such a heavy accusation on you because I do feel like you have an understanding just in the short time we've exchanged ideas.
Last edited by Four-Sticks at Aug 31, 2010,
#31
Quote by Four-Sticks
It all depends on how you want to look at it. For purposes of phrasing and tone color emphasizing different notes of different modes of the major scale might make a soloist happy.
Plus it's easier to think of the pattern of the modes in relation to the major scale when you are playing all up and down the neck.


not really. it's a matter of understanding how music works. If you play those modal shapes over the changing chords, regardless of what you may think, you are just playing the Major scale.... thats how it will be heard, thats how the notes will function.

and again the 2nd question?
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 31, 2010,
#32
I already answered it in my 5th post in this thread, go reread what I wrote.

What will be heard is what the soloist plays. I'm confident in my understanding of music

I already said why I think your disapproval of the video in question can be harmful to the growth of those just learning how to improvise. It was unnecessary.
Last edited by Four-Sticks at Aug 31, 2010,
#33
Quote by Four-Sticks
I already answered it in my 5th post in this thread, go reread what I wrote.

What will be heard is what the soloist plays. I'm confident in my understanding of music

I already said why I think your disapproval of the video in question can be harmful to those just learning how to improvise. It was unnecessary.


Being confident doesn't' make you right.

and I stand by my suggestion that his presentation on modes is flawed.
That being said, it's my opinion.

remember when I said this ????

Quote by GuitarMunky
I've found though that in these types of arguments, neither person will give in to the other, so Id rather not bother. I understand your point, and you've heard mine. Im willing to respectfully disagree and leave it at that.



I'm saying it again.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 31, 2010,
#34
No, it's just that you hold a view that is unnecessary and pointless, and you say John Scofield isn't teaching what he's teaching the "right way," when your only argument just rests on your elementary understanding of the way to solo over chords, and an overemphasis on semantics.
Like I said, it was pointless of you to rag on that video.
Just like this argument is pointless.
Just like your position in this pointless argument is pointless.
All I'm saying is that you shouldn't have ragged on the video, and that there is more than one way to approach a solo.
Am I wrong? Absolutely not. enough said.

OP
learn scale patterns if you want to learn how to improvise easily, don't if you don't care about that, and that video is good to practice from.
Last edited by Four-Sticks at Aug 31, 2010,
#35
Learn all the scales and they will stick in your head like glue and you wont forget them. Eventurally you will be able to wizz up n down the fretboard making it look like you just know where everything is!
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#36
Quote by Four-Sticks
No, it's just that you hold a view that is unnecessary and pointless, and you say John Scofield isn't teaching what he's teaching the "right way," when your only argument just rests on your elementary understanding of the way to solo over chords, and an overemphasis on semantics.


I disagree with your assessment and would appreciate it if you keep the personal remarks to yourself. I already knew you disagreed with me. Your attempt to belittle my understanding of music is as unnecessary as it is off the mark.
shred is gaudy music
#37
So you disagree that there is more than one way to approach a solo?
And you think the material covered in that video is useless just because he interchanges the word mode and scale?

If you do then you have more to learn, and I never took a personal shot at you.
#38
Quote by Four-Sticks
So you disagree that there is more than one way to approach a solo?
And you think the material covered in that video is useless just because he interchanges the word mode and scale?


I never said any of that.

Quote by Four-Sticks

If you do then you have more to learn, and I never took a personal shot at you.


making assumptions about what I know, and then talking down to me as a result, is something I take personal. so is misrepresenting my position.

The whole reason I started with the "agree to disagree" thing early was to avoid this.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 31, 2010,
#39
You shouldn't take your unhealthy fixation on the distinction between scales and modes so personally or seriously. It doesn't really matter at all.
It's a good thing I have a guitar strapped around me right now and I can argue and practice at the same time, or I would have completely wasted my time just now.

The reason why I didn't "agree to disagree" was because I don't care if someone disagrees with me, and if they have some point that I had not previously thought of then I would like to learn the reason behind their point of view and expand my knowledge, but I was disappointed.
It seems to me we don't really disagree about anything in that case.
#40
Quote by Four-Sticks
You shouldn't take your unhealthy fixation on the distinction between scales and modes so personally or seriously.

and it goes on....


^ pure fantasy on your part. I haven't said anything about the distinction between scales and modes. The unhealthy fixation is on your part as I tried to get out of this long ago, but you just keep it going.
shred is gaudy music
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