#1
Recently (while playing with my band) I've noticed that I am DEEPLY imbedded into Pentatonic Scales...like the Minor Pentatonic, Major Pentatonic, Blues Scale and Minor Scale...pretty basic stuff right?

This is probably one of the most asked questions on this site, but what are some ways to "break away" from the Pentatonic Scales and other basic scales...

I understand absolutely nothing (zip, 0%, nadda) when it comes to Music Theory (if that plays into anything). So basically, whats some websites, advice, personal recommendations, non-personal recommendations....recommendations that you can give me on expanding my musical reservoir...because not only am I starting to complain about how insanely redundant my solo's and riffs are, but my fellow bandmates are starting to insist that I start doing something else...which is bad.

I'm play smart (somewhat)...not Booksmart...

Thanks for helping!


PS....please no flaming...its pretty bad that I have to ask this, but seriously...I'm in deep sh*t here...
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#2
Quote by VintageAmigo
Recently (while playing with my band) I've noticed that I am DEEPLY imbedded into Pentatonic Scales...like the Minor Pentatonic, Major Pentatonic, Blues Scale and Minor Scale...pretty basic stuff right?

This is probably one of the most asked questions on this site, but what are some ways to "break away" from the Pentatonic Scales and other basic scales...

I understand absolutely nothing (zip, 0%, nadda) when it comes to Music Theory (if that plays into anything). So basically, whats some websites, advice, personal recommendations, non-personal recommendations....recommendations that you can give me on expanding my musical reservoir...because not only am I starting to complain about how insanely redundant my solo's and riffs are, but my fellow bandmates are starting to insist that I start doing something else...which is bad.

I'm play smart (somewhat)...not Booksmart...

Thanks for helping!


PS....please no flaming...its pretty bad that I have to ask this, but seriously...I'm in deep sh*t here...


deep shit C'mon

Pentatonic scales are used alot in music. Definitely not something you need to "break away from". What you could do though is expand. Try learning some music that uses something other than pentatonic scales. Learn the associated scales.
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#3
try out learning some songs that are totally out of you normal comfort zone. if you play metal, learn some Billy ray cyrus or something. you get me? youll never progress if you're always comfortable
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#4
well try the Major Scale (and its different modes)
to learn about it i suggest torrenting the book "Fretboard Theory" it lays out the 5 different patterns ect.

but obviously the best thing you can do is LEARN MUSIC THEORY
#6
Nothing wrong with the pentatonic scales... you can never blame the scales, they're technically perfect. Whatever you may be playing repetitively is whats wrong. Either way, I highly suggest learning other kinds of music, like the guy above me said. Learn some latin songs and get into their scales, country, metal, blues, everything. And please don't reply "I already do", because none of us really have, I doubt very many guitarists have fully covered and mastered every style out there, let alone you ( I don't mean that offensively, of course ). You do not necessarily HAVE to learn music theory, but generally it is the most accurate and precise way of improving as a guitarist and musician in general.
#7
Quote by GuitarMunky
deep shit C'mon

Pentatonic scales are used alot in music. Definitely not something you need to "break away from". What you could do though is expand. Try learning some music that uses something other than pentatonic scales. Learn the associated scales.



lmao...ya...a bit dramatic. I know
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#8
Quote by Picklelerner
Nothing wrong with the pentatonic scales... you can never blame the scales, they're technically perfect. Whatever you may be playing repetitively is whats wrong. Either way, I highly suggest learning other kinds of music, like the guy above me said. Learn some latin songs and get into their scales, country, metal, blues, everything. And please don't reply "I already do", because none of us really have, I doubt very many guitarists have fully covered and mastered every style out there, let alone you ( I don't mean that offensively, of course ). You do not necessarily HAVE to learn music theory, but generally it is the most accurate and precise way of improving as a guitarist and musician in general.



haha, I was once told by a teacher that "If you learn the Pentatonics, you learn how to impress friends. If you learn styles and modes, you impress audiences"

Random tid-bit...but I find it somewhat true. I'll certainly start trying to expand and learn other various styles like country, metal, blues...Latin sounds interesting, if you mind...would you care to evaluate (like give some bands to learn from etc)?
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#9
Its incredibly boring just sitting down and learning scales, so why not find music that utilises such ideas by expanding what you listen to? Try some progressive metal, jazz fusion, fingerstyle acoustic, whatever takes your fancy and give learning a few tunes that use interesting scales and whatnot a try.

If you want some suggestions for some simple but interesting ideas just ask.

EDIT: I see you ninja'd me asking for some bands so here's a few:

Progressive Metal
(Dream Theater - In the Presence of Enemies)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M53hCKBqckE

Jazz Fusion
(Return to Forever - Medieval Overture)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3chq1HjM50&feature=related

Instrumental Jazz/Rock Guitar Solo Stuff
(Guthrie Govan - Fives)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yPEewaalik

Fingerstyle Acoustic
(Andy McKee - Heather's Song)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKtadARBiYY&feature=related

Modern Progressive/Ambient Metal
(Chimp Spanner - Supererogation)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72RP8lvHcqc
Last edited by mishax92 at Jun 30, 2011,
#10
Quote by mishax92
Its incredibly boring just sitting down and learning scales, so why not find music that utilises such ideas by expanding what you listen to? Try some progressive metal, jazz fusion, fingerstyle acoustic, whatever takes your fancy and give learning a few tunes that use interesting scales and whatnot a try.

If you want some suggestions for some simple but interesting ideas just ask.



I know what you mean when you say "its incredibly boring just sitting down and learning scales"....trust me, I've tried on several occasions to just sit down and learn like 3 scales in one sitting...

Doesnt work lol...atleast for me.

I'm usually pretty stead-fast on "Classic Rock" like AC/DC and stuff of the like...but I am completely willing to learn anything, all-be-it country, HEAVY metal, acid rock etc.


lol, its a bit soon to ask...but what are some simple yet interesting Ideas?
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#11
Probably not the most simple selection but rather more of a showcase demonstrating an assortment of music that breaks free from the pentatonic vicegrip.

If you liked the Dream Theater track there's quite a few songs of theirs that are much simpler that might interest you.
#12
Quote by VintageAmigo

I understand absolutely nothing (zip, 0%, nadda) when it comes to Music Theory


So you probably don't understand the pentatonic scales, you just use the patterns, right?

It's a misconception that pentatonics are boring IMO. If you understand how to use them effectively they are far from boring.

So I'd try and get, at least, a basic understanding of theory.
#13
Quote by Myshadow46_2
So you probably don't understand the pentatonic scales, you just use the patterns, right?

[...]

So I'd try and get, at least, a basic understanding of theory.


Good suggestion. More scales aren't going to help a whole lot if you don't understand them. Learning a little bit about diatonic harmony would go a long way towards your musicianship. Have you tried using the Major Scale?
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#14
From what I'm hearing, it sounds like you're suffering from repetitive phrasing more than a lack of scales to work from. 90% of all music uses the major scale, the minor scale, or their respective pentatonic counterparts. The difference between various styles is how they utilize these scales. Try taking a step back from your usual licks and comfortable phrasing to just listen to the music you're playing and try to come up with more melodic ideas. Try to hear the notes you want to hear before you even touch the strings of your guitar - you need to build a firmer connection between your ears and your fingers instead of just letting muscle memory do all the work for you. And I'd definitely suggest using the major scale for all major-key songs for a while. Think of the major scale as the go-to scale for all non-minor songs, unless you want to break into a blues/cliche rock 'n' roll sound, in which case you'd start using the minor pentatonic. If you only use the minor pentatonic sparingly, it'll sound a lot more intense and energetic when you finally do break it out. The same goes for minor-key songs - use the natural minor for most of the songs, but use the minor pentatonic when you're finally ready to get a rock 'n' roll sound. The minor pentatonic scale doesn't have those tension notes that the natural minor has, so it'll only sound interesting for so long. The melodic development that you can get from a natural minor scale is infinitely greater than that of the minor pentatonic.
#15
Quote by Myshadow46_2
So you probably don't understand the pentatonic scales, you just use the patterns, right?

It's a misconception that pentatonics are boring IMO. If you understand how to use them effectively they are far from boring.

So I'd try and get, at least, a basic understanding of theory.



Exactly...I just know the patterns, not the whole "integral theory" that goes into them...its sad, I know...but I just can't seem to find a GOOD site or local teacher to help me out with Music Theory
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#16
Quote by mishax92
Probably not the most simple selection but rather more of a showcase demonstrating an assortment of music that breaks free from the pentatonic vicegrip.

If you liked the Dream Theater track there's quite a few songs of theirs that are much simpler that might interest you.


Wow, thank you for taking the time to do that! I greatly appreciate it.

EDIT: And ya, That Dream Theatre song kicked ass lol...
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Last edited by VintageAmigo at Jul 1, 2011,
#17
Quote by Glen'sHeroicAct
From what I'm hearing, it sounds like you're suffering from repetitive phrasing more than a lack of scales to work from. 90% of all music uses the major scale, the minor scale, or their respective pentatonic counterparts. The difference between various styles is how they utilize these scales. Try taking a step back from your usual licks and comfortable phrasing to just listen to the music you're playing and try to come up with more melodic ideas. Try to hear the notes you want to hear before you even touch the strings of your guitar - you need to build a firmer connection between your ears and your fingers instead of just letting muscle memory do all the work for you. And I'd definitely suggest using the major scale for all major-key songs for a while. Think of the major scale as the go-to scale for all non-minor songs, unless you want to break into a blues/cliche rock 'n' roll sound, in which case you'd start using the minor pentatonic. If you only use the minor pentatonic sparingly, it'll sound a lot more intense and energetic when you finally do break it out. The same goes for minor-key songs - use the natural minor for most of the songs, but use the minor pentatonic when you're finally ready to get a rock 'n' roll sound. The minor pentatonic scale doesn't have those tension notes that the natural minor has, so it'll only sound interesting for so long. The melodic development that you can get from a natural minor scale is infinitely greater than that of the minor pentatonic.


Thank you for the great advice! I'll certaining do what you mentioned (use the minor scale sparingly)
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#20
Hello,

First of all respect. This is a great example of a good way to introduce yourself and a problem on this forum. It sounds to me like you have come a long ways with what you know. Before I go into my suggestions, let me give you a little context as to what might be causing some problems.

Most of the time you find that a scale is in either major or minor. With that said, the Pentatonic uses notes from the scale that will get you into almost no playing trouble. To oversimplify it for the scope of this discussion, the notes in it are all "safe" and there isn't a lot going outside or beyond it. The pentatonics are "stripped down" ideas of Major and Minor scales, with the thorns removed, so to speak.

There are countless examples of players using Pentatonics with great results, both in what they play and what melodic meaning they can convey. The Pentatonic are missing the 2 notes from the major scale that can get a person in trouble if they don't understand and haven't learned to apply them correctly. However, as I also tell my students, they also add melodicism, when used and applied correctly. I think at best, theory, or an understanding of theory, helps in this the most, but certainly exploring these ideas (the added 2 notes to the pentatonic, which when added, complete the Major or Natural Minor scales) can help you break out of the familiar 5 note pitch collections that you've probably felt like you've played into the ground.

I understand that you have no knowledge of theory, so some of the things I'd want to suggest might be a little bit to get your head around, but one way of getting out of scales is triads, in other words, instead of playing notes in some sequence off a scale, invoke more chord tones deliberately when over a chord, and not so much the scale notes around it. In other words, more direct to "strong" notes.

If you are having an interest in theory, I have an online Guitar School that can teach you these things, and you're welcome to contact me if you have any questions about it or need a catalog.

Getting back to a few other practical Ideas, I'd suggest taking a scale that you know, and deliberatly playing notes that are NOT in the scale, that sound bad...but use them not as destination tones, but passing tones on the way to something inside the scale.

For example if you are generally improving in a predictable pattern, make the first note you start with an OFF note. Then come inside to resolve it as usual. This can really help a standard sounding thing "bend" the ear a little in such a way that sounds cool and fresh again.

I tell my students that learning to play outside and inside scales can completely spice your melodic ideas, as long as you know what the difference is when you're outside or inside.

Of course you can also start to work from learning the entire version of the Major or minor scale. For example the 3 note per string versions with wider stretches, and then get some jam tracks and start playing legato, or sliding into the more melodic notes, that your ear likes. I learned a lot of this style from being an early fan of Joe Satriani, and listening to how he phrased things and did a lot of 3 note per string flurries.

I hope some of these ideas help!

Best,

Sean

Quote by VintageAmigo
Recently (while playing with my band) I've noticed that I am DEEPLY imbedded into Pentatonic Scales...like the Minor Pentatonic, Major Pentatonic, Blues Scale and Minor Scale...pretty basic stuff right?

This is probably one of the most asked questions on this site, but what are some ways to "break away" from the Pentatonic Scales and other basic scales...

I understand absolutely nothing (zip, 0%, nadda) when it comes to Music Theory (if that plays into anything). So basically, whats some websites, advice, personal recommendations, non-personal recommendations....recommendations that you can give me on expanding my musical reservoir...because not only am I starting to complain about how insanely redundant my solo's and riffs are, but my fellow bandmates are starting to insist that I start doing something else...which is bad.

I'm play smart (somewhat)...not Booksmart...

Thanks for helping!


PS....please no flaming...its pretty bad that I have to ask this, but seriously...I'm in deep sh*t here...
Last edited by Sean0913 at Jul 2, 2011,
#21
I believe the challenge for many developing musicians is to stop playing scales altogether -- start thinking in terms of what you want to hear and work on ear training and learning the fretboard.

Clearly, playing music that you don't know well is a great way to break old habits and start using your ears more than your fingers.
#22
The simple explanation here is that you're not playing the guitar, rather the guitar is playing you.

Playing music broadly requires two things.

1 - an understanding of the instrument you're playing so you're in some way able to execute any ideas you may have.

2 - an idea

...and currently you have 1, but not 2. You're not approaching the guitar with an idea in your mind, then figuring out the best way of making it a reality. Instead you're simply letting your fingers wander through well drilled shapes and patterns and wondering why it all sounds the same.

It's like walking into a workshop, but instead of first deciding what it is you're going to make you just grab your favourite tools without any thought or consideration as to whether or not they're the right tools for the job, or indeed knowing what the job is in the first place.

Scales aren't the problem, you are - but that's not a bad thing or anything to be ashamed of, it's something that most guitarists go through. This is your epiphany really, the moment you realise that learning to play the guitar isn't simply about tabs, techniques and diagrams.

So, rather than worrying about "breaking away" from pentatonic scales or anything else for that matter -simply ask yourself the question "what do I want to hear?", and then figure out what you need to do to make that happen. And the more you understand your theory, the easier that will be.
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#23
Quote by steven seagull
The simple explanation here is that you're not playing the guitar, rather the guitar is playing you..

Scales aren't the problem, you are - but that's not a bad thing or anything to be ashamed of, it's something that most guitarists go through. This is your epihany really, the moment you realise that learning to play the guitar isn't simply about tabs, techniques and diagrams.

So, rather than worrying about "breaking away" from pentatonic scales or anything else for that matter -simply ask yourself the question "what do I want to hear?", and if then figure out what you need to do to make that happen. And the more you understand your theory, the easier that will be.



If I could buy you lunch, I would, Steven...this is at the heart of every guitar related problem I've ever seen when teaching. I tell my student's that the most important battle they will have in becoming a guitarist, is the one they have to win inside themselves.

And that battle begins the first day they decide they aren't going to be lazy, or stingy or try to do it all for free, or whatever it may be, and they are going to invest into doing this and whatever it takes, lip service stops and a resolve is there to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

I see it as an evolution thats strongly linked to the maturity people have as a whole. As they mature, they tend to gravitate more towards that...and to me that's like watching a caterpiller become a butterfly, not to be too feminine in my imagry. But look at the relationship similiarities. A Caterpillar has a lot of legs and stumbles awkwardly, it's very skilled or graceful and doesn't move too far. A Butterfly has lift, can soar, has very little limitations in speed and maneuverability. In short, the butterfly, even to our eyes appears more "free" than the catterpillar.

I have also found that that transformation as a musician is something that many will never undergo, because it takes a sort of battle internally that leads to the choice. But many are infected with certain lazy attitudes or whatever, their entire lives, and until they realize it, they cannot change it. Many are too strong in their half hearted pursuit and lack of drive and discipline to ever get out.

Best,

Sean
#24
Quote by Zen Skin
I believe the challenge for many developing musicians is to stop playing scales altogether -- start thinking in terms of what you want to hear and work on ear training and learning the fretboard.

Clearly, playing music that you don't know well is a great way to break old habits and start using your ears more than your fingers.

you cant not use scales. also, good luck trying to improvise without scales and patterns. anyone who says they dont know scales and just "feel it" or whatever is either lying, or misinformed.

anyways OP, listen to eric johnson. almost everything he does is basic pentatonic and diatonic scales (major and minor scale). almost all of his fast runs are pentatonic based. i think you'll find he keeps things interesting.

pentatonic scales are used a lot more than you may think. its HOW you use them that counts. adding more notes wont make you any more creative. learning some scale sequences might be useful. just do a search on scale sequeces and you'll find some.
#25
Sound out solos you like from your favorite artists perfectly. Not a single note wrong. Try to even get the exact string they are playing on for any given note.

Then look where they break from pentatonics.

Don't settle for anything less than a perfect note-for-note copy.