#1
So basically, until now I've been one of these typical "do technical exercises, only ever learn the pentatonic boxes" player and I want to start improvising seriously and step away from shapes (and for the moment scales).

I've been looking around the internet for the past three or so hours, mainly on this site and jazzguitar.be, and after reading up it seems essential to learn chord construction, soloing with chord tones and key signatures as the basics. However I'm stumped on any good lessons/exercises or even the method for learning these efficiently.

To me it seems like a good start would be learning the notes on the fretboard while practicing basic (very basic) improvisation with chord tones, starting with highlighting the 3rd and 7th then moving on to adding in the root and 5th. Is this a good place to start learning improvisation? If so (or even if not so), are there any good lessons or similar that I should take a look at to get me on track?

Thanks in advance.
#2
Quote by Anon17
So basically, until now I've been one of these typical "do technical exercises, only ever learn the pentatonic boxes" player and I want to start improvising seriously and step away from shapes (and for the moment scales).

I've been looking around the internet for the past three or so hours, mainly on this site and jazzguitar.be, and after reading up it seems essential to learn chord construction, soloing with chord tones and key signatures as the basics. However I'm stumped on any good lessons/exercises or even the method for learning these efficiently.

To me it seems like a good start would be learning the notes on the fretboard while practicing basic (very basic) improvisation with chord tones, starting with highlighting the 3rd and 7th then moving on to adding in the root and 5th. Is this a good place to start learning improvisation? If so (or even if not so), are there any good lessons or similar that I should take a look at to get me on track?

Thanks in advance.


Learn the fretboard..... learn chord construction but.... DON"T IMPROVISE YET.

Practicing playing music while you're taking in the theory. Learn songs, learn solos. Develop your technique and ears When you have enough experience, and knowledge, THEN start improvising. (by that point you'll have something to improvise with).
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is to get into improvising over backing tracks too early. They end up aimlessly noodling either scale shapes, or random misplaced and/or misunderstood theoretical ideas, and ultimately train themselves NOT to listen, and not to play musically.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Dec 27, 2011,
#3
That's my point exactly though - I want to get away from scale shapes and the like. My technique, while not the greatest, is pretty solid I think and while I'm not exceedingly fast I can play well enough to get along which is why I want to focus on the muscial side of things instead. I don't want to keep learning songs at this stage - I've learnt plently of them and I'd rather get into the theory and practice it.

I understand what you're saying about jumping in too early though, which is something I'm trying to avoid. My ears notice what sounds good and what doesn't (i.e. they can recognise that chord tones sound a lot better than using notes from the pentatonic scale on the down beat), but it's applying what I can hear to the fretboard which I'm struggling with.
#4
Quote by Anon17
I don't want to keep learning songs at this stage - I've learnt plently of them and I'd rather get into the theory and practice it.


I don't recommend abandoning one for the other, but rather bring the new thing in (theory).
Learning and playing music on your instrument is appropriate at any stage and essential to anyone studying music theory. Those theories only have meaning to a person that is familiar with the things they're attached to.

Quote by Anon17

My ears notice what sounds good and what doesn't (i.e. they can recognise that chord tones sound a lot better than using notes from the pentatonic scale on the down beat),

Well, The pentatonic scale contains chords tones, so using it can sound great.

Keep studying theory, and eventually you'll see how it works.

Quote by Anon17

but it's applying what I can hear to the fretboard which I'm struggling with.


Learn music.......learn theory...... recognize the concepts in the music you play on the guitar.....

then you'll be applying it to your fretboard.

It takes time.
shred is gaudy music
#5
This is the problem though - "Learn theory" doesn't really mean anything to me. I understand I need to learn it before I can apply it, obviously... But how should I go about learning this?

Do I learn chord construction first? Intervals first? Learn the notes of the fretboard first? For whichever one I should do first, do you have any good ways to practice it efficiently?
#6
Quote by Anon17
This is the problem though - "Learn theory" doesn't really mean anything to me. I understand I need to learn it before I can apply it, obviously... But how should I go about learning this?

Do I learn chord construction first? Intervals first? Learn the notes of the fretboard first? For whichever one I should do first, do you have any good ways to practice it efficiently?


Well, there is alot too it. You could take a class/lessons, or get a book. Then when you have a good foundation use the internet as a supplement.

Assuming you're going to ignore that advice, I've heard this site is pretty good...


http://learnmusictheory.net/
shred is gaudy music
#7
Well, I'm not going to ignore that advice per say but I can't really afford any classes around my area at the moment. I'm perfectly willing to buy a book however, and if you can recommend a good one I'll give it a look.

For the theory it's not so much learning it than figuring out what order to learn it in. I'm trying to learn the notes on the fretboard for starters as to be honest that's essentially to using theory on the guitar, but obviously I'll need to learn the theory on the side. I'll take a look at the site anyway, thanks for the link.
#8
^ i recommend "music theory for dummies" for beginners, its pretty good but you HAVE TO DO THE EXERCISES i keep a copy around my studio because its got some good reference material in it.
#9
Quote by z4twenny
^ i recommend "music theory for dummies" for beginners, its pretty good but you HAVE TO DO THE EXERCISES i keep a copy around my studio because its got some good reference material in it.


There you go. Sounds like a great place to start.
shred is gaudy music
#10
Alright thanks, I'll take a look into that book.

Final question on learning the notes on the guitar - While I'm at home with my guitar obviously I can learn this directly, by simply memorising and testing my knowledge of where the notes are. There's some fretboard memorisation (and music theory) apps for my smartphone - Would it be beneficial to use these to help learn the notes on the fretboard or does the memorisation not apply well to the actual fretboard when I sit down and play guitar?
#11
^ I would suggest that you do definitely learn the notes on your fretboard, this will be knowledge you'll need in the grand scheme of things.
#12
Yeah I know, but what I asked was should I bother with fret memorisation apps on my smartphone (to get it down quicker and more fluently as I can do it more often) or only do it when I can actually play my guitar at home.
#13
Quote by Anon17
Yeah I know, but what I asked was should I bother with fret memorisation apps on my smartphone (to get it down quicker and more fluently as I can do it more often) or only do it when I can actually play my guitar at home.

well, I don't see how it would hurt. It would get you thinking about it anyway. Just keep in mind that to truly know the fret-board, beyond just knowing that C is here, here and here.... takes time. Be patient, enjoy the process of learning.
shred is gaudy music
#14
I'm in the process of learning the fretboard myself, as I'm sort of in the same boat as you as far as where to go next. From my experience(not much), I've found that using a computer program (I've been using FretboardWarrior) is better than nothing when I'm away from my guitar.

But with that being said when I learn with a guitar in my hand, it seems to "stick" better, for me at least. I started by learning where the C notes are on each string up to the 12th fret.
Next I learned where the B notes are because they are right next to the C notes.

Next I will learn the E notes and after that I will learn the F notes, cause again, they are right next to the E notes. After that it will just be filling in the remaining "blanks" with A, D, and G notes.
Seems to be helping me learn faster than the other techniques I've tried so far.
#15
Alright thanks, I'm not trying to be impatient by the way - It's just I'd like to know what I need to practice and learn to get the basics of improvisation and composition down most efficiently. I'm happy and willing to put in the many hours of woodshedding and learning needed, it's just I'd rather not waste time learning a lot of stuff that doesn't really help (i.e. learning a load of scale shapes) as I did that with technique and ended up having to relearn it anyway.

If anyone's interested I'll update my progress and post if I find anything that I find particularly useful.
#16
Quote by Anon17
Yeah I know, but what I asked was should I bother with fret memorisation apps on my smartphone (to get it down quicker and more fluently as I can do it more often) or only do it when I can actually play my guitar at home.


I learned the notes on the fretboard by "reference points" at first. What I mean it stuff like the little thing people do when seeing if their guitar is in tune:

e----------------------0-
b----------------0-5---
g-----------0-4-------
d-------0-5-----------
a---0-5---------------
E-5-------------------

Since I know that the open A string is well...A, then the 5th fret on the E string is also A etc.

Then in powerchord type things we all know these shapes
e---------------6------
b----------6----------
g-------5------3------
d--5-------3----------
a-------3-------------
E--3-------------------
octaves, they're the same notes
so then if the open E string is E then the 2nd fret on the D string is also E. Then there's also the other open E string and the 5th fret on the B string that we already know about.
The same for the other strings

There's also these guys:
e------1--------------
b--1------------------
g-----------0----------
d------3--------------
a--3------------------
E-----------3---------
more octaves. same story as above.

Then I just filled in the blanks myself. From A on the 6th string, two frets down there's G and that's halfway between A and F. And sharps and flats are inbetween. Or that's just how my brain works
Other stuff like C in the 1st fret on the 2nd string is also on the 13th fret on the same string, just an octave up.
Play barre chords like this helped me a lot. I just got so used to it I know where pretty much anything is now.
#17
know your chords cold, down to a science. from there:

1. do rhythmic transcriptions of solos. especially if it's jazz. it's all about rhythm. notes are secondary.

2. analyze progressions for chromatic qualities. in ii-V-I's these are typically 7-3 resolutions.

D-7|G7|Cmaj7

the 7th of D-7 is C. the 3rd of G7 is B. the 7th of G7 is F. the 3rd of Cmaj7 is E.

but you can look for other ways to connect the harmony. just remember chromatic movement is the strongest in music. even strong than the V-I I think (s'why we do tritone subs of V's. for chromatic movement).

"all of me":

Cmaj7| E7 | A7 | D-7 | E7 | A-7 | D7 | D-7 G7 | Cmaj7

C - B - Bb - A - G# - G - F# - F - E
1 - 5 - b9 - 5 - 3 - b7 - 3 - 3/b7 - 3

just one possible example over this progression. there are less chromatic but similarly interesting ones. every jazz musician, regardless of instrument, should practice long tones. first do it with root movement. then try this approach with long tones. once you hear these different ways to connect the chords it'll come out in your playing. remember, this is just giving you different things to hear when playing solos. you won't actually be laying whole notes simply working downward. but it'll give you an idea of how to make you licks both fluid AND sound like you're making the changes.

another way to think about it: in jazz we call them changes. sit down at a piano and voice every chord either 3-5-7-9 or 7-9-3-5. swap 7 for 6 in dominant chords if you want.

go through a progression and notice that typically only two notes change per every chord and two stay the same. understand not only what changes chord to chord, but what remains the same.

example ii-V in C (piano voicings)

FACE | FABD | EGBD
D-7 | G7 | Cmaj7

3. enclosures of chord tones. this is all over bebop and responsible for lots of chromaticism. it can be as simple as one note above and below the target note:

F-D#-E (notice this can be a delayed 7-3 resolution from G7 to Cmaj7.

it can be as intense as:

Bb-A-Ab-F#-G

with G being the first beat of Ebmaj7 after a bar of Bb7.

4. study the melodies of standards. tunes you may already know. "all of me" "all the things you are" "green dolphin street" "days of wine and roses". see how these SOUND and how they imply changes. see how they relate to the changes of the tune.

5. transcribe and study/learn others' transcriptions. it's always better to transcribe yourself. one by ear transcription is worth learning about 10 transcriptions by reading given how it develops your ear far more. that's ultimately all that matters. but you also have to learn what to hear. study this Chet Baker transcription. look for chord tones and how they're approached (enclosures and other chromatic NCT techniques) look at how the chords are connected smoothly. keep an eye out for 7-3 resolutions or other kinds of big picture chromatic resolutions.

also keep in mind Chet knew NOTHING intellectually. just musically. couldn't name chords or anything. so see how the things we've talked about apply to music and jazz so much thy a guy who didn't even know chords could still hear them.

READ: http://www.shout.net/~jmh/transcriptions/baker-solar.pdf

while you LISTEN:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tpZFC1UUbQ
#DTWD
Last edited by primusfan at Dec 27, 2011,
#18
I don't want to just give you arpeggio shapes to work with, but it would definitely be beneficial for you to know exactly where the 1, 3, 5, and 7 are in the basic chord shapes you always use. For example, you should have this visualized:

A shape major chord:

||---||---||---||---||---||
||---||---||---||-3-||---||
||---||---||---||-1-||---||
||---||---||---||-5-||---||
||---||-1-||---||---||---||
||---||---||---||---||---||


C shape major chord:

||-3-||---||---||---||---||
||---||-1-||---||---||---||
||-5-||---||---||---||---||
||---||---||-3-||---||---||
||---||---||---||-1-||---||
||---||---||---||---||---||



When you know exactly where your chord tones are in each chord, you can play the changes to a song and instantly see what target notes to focus on.
#19
Check out the Beginner to Advanced Series at my website - http://lessons.mikedodge.com

Read the links in this order:

Intervals
Chord Construction
Diatonic Theory

In that order you'll get a ground up, structured, approached to learning, memorizing, and using theory.

You'll learn a few ways to learn and memorize the notes on the fretboard. You'll use that information to see some basic things on the fretboard (triads, scales, etc). Then you'll use that info to build bigger chords and you'll learn how chords are derived from basic scales. Then you'll learn how the Major scale can be used form Keys and chords and scales derived used in a Key, etc...

Spend a weekend at the site and read each section a couple of times, repetition is key to building a foundation. I promise you'll understand a ton more stuff than you did the week before, and the repetition will help you retain quite a bit of it too.
Last edited by MikeDodge at Dec 27, 2011,
#20
In addition to the books already mentioned, you may want to look at "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Solos and Improvisation". It helped me a lot, despite the off-putting title.

Otherwise, I agree with the GuitarMunky's first post. I tried to learn to write solos before I knew how to harmonize, and I did exactly what he described; noodle shapes that I thought were good. They weren't.

If you don't really know what you're doing, you probably shouldn't be worried about not relying on scale shapes. That's what they're for.
#22
Quote by Ulfe
Written for Bb instruments + not the standard real book changes => I feel as though you robbed me of my night time fun .


1. the changes are transposed too so you'll still be able to analyze how the solo relates to the changes and even the melody.

2. transpose it.

3. the only thing different is the third and fourth bar. this version just doesn't have the ii-V to Fmaj7. that's the only difference. it's practically the same thing. i know when i play this tune many choruses i will play it like this with the first four bars being C-7. other times i'll just play it C-7 for three bars with just the C7 in the fourth bar and no G-7. other times i'll play the ii-V. it's really inconsequential. but believe me, i've seen some heated exchanges about changes before. everybody's got their own opinions, y'know. get used to changes not being the same as from the real book. the real book is okay for what it is, but basically it's crap. that's for another thread though.

EDIT: another thing that i should have mentioned is the really old dudes used to say play the V over the ii and the ii over the V. just something else to think about.
#DTWD
Last edited by primusfan at Dec 27, 2011,
#23
Quote by Anon17
This is the problem though - "Learn theory" doesn't really mean anything to me. I understand I need to learn it before I can apply it, obviously... But how should I go about learning this?

Do I learn chord construction first? Intervals first? Learn the notes of the fretboard first? For whichever one I should do first, do you have any good ways to practice it efficiently?


If you've been playing for a while and have mined the depths of these ideas within the pentatonic, then you might be ready for chord tone soloing, you seem to have some cursory ideas as to what you need to do, but maybe question as to how to do it, so its usable in real time.

Knowing the notes on the neck, dead solid cold, and of course at a minimum, the notes which make up triads and 7ths, are a great place to start. Typically regardless of method, it's the best way, because when you add extensions you are usually introducing notes that want to go somewhere else, and it's a great idea to become comfortable with 4 part harmonization, and so on before adding tensions, like #11ths etc.

There are definitely great ways to practice and learn all these things. We teach it.

Have a look at our site below. We teach students from every walk of life, from all over the world.

If you are looking for free resources only, you might also want to have a have a look at Mike Dodge's website, and you can always take the self taught route. Mike's a great guy!

If you do happen to have any questions about what we do and how, feel free to hit me up in a PM, and I'll be happy to forward you a course catalog and answer any questions that you may have!

If we can help, let me know!

Best,

Sean