#1
So my question is how exactly do you find out what scale to use in a certain key or chord progression? And when you already know what scale to use, how do you improvise?

Yeah, and this is my 1st post btw
#2
Learn the modes. But to start with, find out the key of the progression and learn the basic pentatonic scale. Use that scale in the appropriate key and work your way around all the different notes. Remember, improvisation is mostly about feel so don't over complicate things
#4
Quote by The jazz Man
Learn the modes. But to start with, find out the key of the progression and learn the basic pentatonic scale. Use that scale in the appropriate key and work your way around all the different notes. Remember, improvisation is mostly about feel so don't over complicate things


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#5
Quote by Woffelz
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Quote by Gabbb
So my question is how exactly do you find out what scale to use in a certain key or chord progression? And when you already know what scale to use, how do you improvise?

Yeah, and this is my 1st post btw

Do you have a progression? If so, put it up, then we can explain it. Essentially, the first thing you need to do is find out where the progression feels like "home".
Last edited by mdc at Feb 18, 2012,
#6
Dude that is a massive topic.
You're better off taking it in steps and learning a bit at a time.
Start off learning the absolute basics of theory - you need to know what the notes of the chromatic scale are called - ie the musical alphabet.
Then move on to understanding intervals and the major scale.
Once you understand intervals and how a major scale is constructed you will want to learn to harmonize the major scale in 'triads' and later in 7th chords.

Then you'll want to think about exploring what you have learned and applying it to all 12 keys.

Once you know all this you'll be better prepared IMO for beginning to understand Chord progressions and figuring out scales etc.

As for improvisation - technically anybody can do it, regardless of knowledge so whlst you're learning have fun with it and use your ears - your ears already know a lot more than your brain!
#7
scales are so last century. ignore them and just use whatever notes you feel work to achieve whatever you are trying to express. the ugly discordant notes are often the notes which make a good riff an amazing note
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#8
...and then later realise that those awesome notes are the major or minor scale. Kinda backwards logic I think.
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#9
A quite basic way of figuring things out, is the one that I tend to use.
My knowledge of the theory is pretty poor, so seeing the names of a few chords and instantly knowing what scale to use is beyond me (although I'm sure at some point I should learn it).

What I've done is learn all the pentatonic shapes (I learned it in A minor to start with, as it's a commonly used blues key), and how they fit together along the neck.

Then when you try to play along to a song or backing track, you play a few notes, and it soon becomes apparent which shape you're playing, and you can tell how to link the shapes from there.

You can do the same with the major scale shape (and as a result any modes of the shape).

As for actually improvising, it's just a case of playing away until you find something that sounds good. There are loads of recurring patterns in songs, which you may recognise as you play them, and it's fine to put some of those in too.
#10
Far from it, improvising is a case of having an idea in your head FIRST, then trying to make that happen through your guitar. One of the biggest traps novice guitarists fall into is almost thinking that the guitar will make music for them somehow. It won't, it's just a tool... sawing bits of wood randomly won't magically make you a bookcase.

Fixating on patterns doesn't get you very far, you should never be thinking in "shapes" - again a common error. Playing the guitar isnt merely a physical act, there has to be a goal, a sense of direction coming from the guitarist themselves. Always think in sounds, not shapes. Obviously shapes help when it comes to working out where the things you want to play are on your fretboard, but sound, music, has to come first.
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#11
Quote by steven seagull
Far from it, improvising is a case of having an idea in your head FIRST, then trying to make that happen through your guitar. One of the biggest traps novice guitarists fall into is almost thinking that the guitar will make music for them somehow. It won't, it's just a tool... sawing bits of wood randomly won't magically make you a bookcase.

Fixating on patterns doesn't get you very far, you should never be thinking in "shapes" - again a common error. Playing the guitar isnt merely a physical act, there has to be a goal, a sense of direction coming from the guitarist themselves. Always think in sounds, not shapes. Obviously shapes help when it comes to working out where the things you want to play are on your fretboard, but sound, music, has to come first.


This

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#12
Yeah, I know what you mean.

What worked for me though, is that having learned the shapes, I would know what they all sounded like, and they would be ingrained into my head such that I knew I would be hitting the right note when I want to.

I know it's maybe a bit backwards, but I've found it a lot easier than analysing the individual notes in every scale.

Maybe it's because I've learned guitar in a round about way, having been self taught for years before getting proper lessons.
#13
Thanks for the answers guys, really helped me out of my confusion
#14
The short answer is that the scale you want to use depends on the sound you want to create.

If you're very new to improvisation, you should start with the major and minor pentatonic scales. These scales are very flexible but also easy to use, so they're a great way to learn. Keep your focus on the SOUND. (Don't worry about learning it all over the neck. Learn one position - and use it).

As you get comfortable with them, learn the major and minor scales.

Then stop worrying about adding new scales for a while, and focus on your ear - make a point to develop your ear. Don't worry about scales beyond those four until you can easily and rapidly transcribe solos by ear.
#15
Quote by steven seagull
Far from it, improvising is a case of having an idea in your head FIRST, then trying to make that happen through your guitar. One of the biggest traps novice guitarists fall into is almost thinking that the guitar will make music for them somehow. It won't, it's just a tool... sawing bits of wood randomly won't magically make you a bookcase.

Fixating on patterns doesn't get you very far, you should never be thinking in "shapes" - again a common error. Playing the guitar isnt merely a physical act, there has to be a goal, a sense of direction coming from the guitarist themselves. Always think in sounds, not shapes. Obviously shapes help when it comes to working out where the things you want to play are on your fretboard, but sound, music, has to come first.


it's not merely a physical act, but it IS a physical act. The shapes are helpful when it comes to thinking in sounds. You have to let your mind attach those sounds to the shapes, which will happen naturally with the proper experience. Learning a bunch of fancy titled shapes randomly in a mad quest to become awesome does not = proper experience. Alot of people make this mistake, but rather than correct it, they take the mistake further by blaming it on the ability to recognize shapes, rather than the unbalanced approach they took.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Feb 19, 2012,
#16
Quote by AlanHB
...and then later realise that those awesome notes are the major or minor scale. Kinda backwards logic I think.


This. So much.

There's a reason the major/minor system became popular.
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#17
Quote by GuitarMunky
it's not merely a physical act, but it IS a physical act. The shapes are helpful when it comes to thinking in sounds. You have to let your mind attach those sounds to the shapes, which will happen naturally with the proper experience. Learning a bunch of fancy titled shapes randomly in a mad quest to become awesome does not = proper experience. Alot of people make this mistake, but rather than correct it, they take the mistake further by blaming it on the ability to recognize of shapes, rather than the unbalanced/lack of foundation approach they took.


I totally agree with this.
You need to learn what the things you hear in your head look like on the instrument you play.
#18
Quote by Matt.Guitar
I totally agree with this.
You need to learn what the things you hear in your head look like on the instrument you play.

And I never said you shouldn't, just that you shouldn't make the common mistake of learning shapes and thinking it stops there.
Actually called Mark!

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#20
Quote by Gabbb
So my question is how exactly do you find out what scale to use in a certain key or chord progression? And when you already know what scale to use, how do you improvise?

Yeah, and this is my 1st post btw



First of all you need a lot of skill sets in place to know how to do this. It depends where you are now, as to what approach is best for you to take. Personally, when people are starting out, I suggest the basics. Pentatonics, I IV V progressions, the Blues, and Diatonic Minor based rock.

Later I suggest theory, the understanding of the major scale, and diatonic harmony with primary improvisational ideas like call and response and variations on a theme (you can also learn these concepts when starting out... if they are articulated well).

Later I suggest intervallic concepts, the idea of Modal Interchanges and understanding tension and resolution.

Later still I promote chord tone soloing, and a refining of inside outside ideas, and being instantaneous with seeing hearing and connecting lines intelligently.

It depends on where you are at. If you are at the beginning, stay there a while till you can improvise and articulate yourself very well over the blues. Learn theory, it can take you far in terms of understanding the big picture, and adapting to most any musical situation.

Best,

Sean