#1
does anyone have advice for a new player on how to match riffs or licks to scales? meaning: if i'm just randomly jamming, and improvise something that sounds good, what's the best way to understand the scales that the riff could belong to?

i know of http://www.all-guitar-chords.com/reverse_scales.php, but it seems like you need to enter a complete scale before they tell you the name of it.

I assume that guitars sometimes just jam without having a particular scale/key in mind, right? what, then, is the next step?

Thanks!

#2
where does it resolve to? while some times you can be chromatic and stuff, see where it resolves to. this will tell you your tonal center. after that you could look at is it major/minor etc and even if it is one of these, there might be accidentals depending on how you play. but figure out what the tonal center is anyway.
#3
Quote by gavk
where does it resolve to? while some times you can be chromatic and stuff, see where it resolves to. this will tell you your tonal center. after that you could look at is it major/minor etc and even if it is one of these, there might be accidentals depending on how you play. but figure out what the tonal center is anyway.



eek! since I'm new, that's above my current theory level, I'll have to come back to this once I learn more.

Maybe this is a stupid question altogether, and will make more sense once I get better at both playing and at theory. But when a "good" guitarist sits down to jam, does he/she just instinctively know how to play within a scale? Because currently, I know some scales, and sometimes practice within the scales, but other times when I'm just messing around on the fretboard, I come up with pleasing stuff too, even outside of the scale patterns I've memorized.

Thanks for the help!
#4
I've never had a theory teacher so this may be wrong but what I have gathered in my research over the past 5 years is: Each scale is devised of 7 notes (repeated over and over on the fretboard of course, in different and like pitches). A lick can be just a tiny fraction of of these scales over a couple intervals. That means that one lick can be part of MANY different scales.

A riff on the other hand will give you way more information on what scale and chord progression you are working with (It gets a little tricky when a musician is switching back and forth between different roots; D minor to G minor to D major for an example).

And the answer to your second question is yes. It become instinctive the more you practice your scales. When I started out I made the mistake of only learning shapes and the shapes I knew were only in C minor but I could play pretty damn good in C minor, given, at the time I had no idea I was playing that key. Because of my mistake of learning shapes only I am really struggling with theory as a musician now.

So basically, all it is is memory of what you're doing. If a person practices something for so long it just becomes instinctive and you automatically know what you are doing for anything really. Such as a skateboarder knows how to move his feet, ankles, and legs to flip a board, A chef knows exactly how to rock a knife to get a perfect cut, a mechanic knows exactly what part to remove to get to the part he needs to get to, etc, etc.
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Last edited by zedeathmetal at Mar 18, 2011,
#5
just try to extract the maximum number of notes from it. Some of them are directly used in the riff, some are not. Try to find 7 different notes. For example, when you've got two notes in succession, play them both back to back and try to find another note that sounds good with them in the context of the song.
#7
Just figure out where the song resolves to AKA the key. Over time you"ll be able to find the key quicker and quicker until you can just hear it straight away like instinct as you mentioned above.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#8
Quote by Airris
eek! since I'm new, that's above my current theory level, I'll have to come back to this once I learn more.

Maybe this is a stupid question altogether, and will make more sense once I get better at both playing and at theory. But when a "good" guitarist sits down to jam, does he/she just instinctively know how to play within a scale? Because currently, I know some scales, and sometimes practice within the scales, but other times when I'm just messing around on the fretboard, I come up with pleasing stuff too, even outside of the scale patterns I've memorized.


Well i don't know about GOOD guitarists, but personally when i sit down to jam ill usually start with a scale in my mind

Another way, maybe, if you've learnt lots of scale shapes or patters (WWHWWWH) You could see if any of these patters fit.

Alan and gavk both mentioned resolution? When something 'resolves' it will sound complete, like if you play a G7 chord and then a C major chord. It will sound complete. When you get this resolution you've usually found what key you are in. Also if you play a major seventh interval, you can hear it wants to pull up to the octave? It wants to resolve because it is so close to the root.

I hope this makes sense and im not making an idiot of myself, im quite tired
#9
Quote by greeneyegat
Well i don't know about GOOD guitarists, but personally when i sit down to jam ill usually start with a scale in my mind

Another way, maybe, if you've learnt lots of scale shapes or patters (WWHWWWH) You could see if any of these patters fit.

Alan and gavk both mentioned resolution? When something 'resolves' it will sound complete, like if you play a G7 chord and then a C major chord. It will sound complete. When you get this resolution you've usually found what key you are in. Also if you play a major seventh interval, you can hear it wants to pull up to the octave? It wants to resolve because it is so close to the root.

I hope this makes sense and im not making an idiot of myself, im quite tired



no this is very helpful, thanks!
#10
Quote by Airris
does anyone have advice for a new player on how to match riffs or licks to scales? meaning: if i'm just randomly jamming, and improvise something that sounds good, what's the best way to understand the scales that the riff could belong to?

i know of http://www.all-guitar-chords.com/reverse_scales.php, but it seems like you need to enter a complete scale before they tell you the name of it.

I assume that guitars sometimes just jam without having a particular scale/key in mind, right? what, then, is the next step?

Thanks!




There are some great bits of advise shared, I'll just add my two cents here.

Basically what you are doing is asking to learn to spell without knowing the characters in your alphabet. Honestly, the best way to understand what makes something else in music, is, learn theory. You dont have to be a brainiac, but theory is really the answer to your questions.

It would be as if I were trying to determine how to read Japanese characters, and posting questions asking others for advise on "how to tell what the words mean", and someone might ask "Do you know Hiragana, Kanji and the like" And I say, "nope".

Likewise, you need to at least know and understand how to spell out (not just how to play or read tab on how they look) but in letter form, how to spell out a Major scale.

Lets say I know how to spell out a major scale. Imagine my mind's eye here....

I see a riff that's E B A G# D# A D# G# B

And here are a few Major scales that I know because Ive learned to spell them all out:

F Major: F G A Bb C D E F

G Major: G A B C D E F# G

C Major: C D E F G A B C

E Major: E F G# A B C# D# E

What scale does the notes in my riff match?

E Major, right?

See, this is how theory or at least knowing how to write the notes in all Major scales can help you determine what scale it might have come from. It doesnt always work but a large part of the time it does work.

Hope this helps explain the benefit of knowing what you are doing/looking at/learning/playing.

Best,

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Mar 19, 2011,
#11
Theory will definitely help. What kind of jamming are you doing? Blues, Country, Jazz, Metal?
A riff or lick can have several tonal centers and several different scales that can be applied. A lot of chromatic riffs found in various forms of Metal can be hard to classify in terms of scales.
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