#1
I want to be able to improvise over anything, starting with simplistic rock progressions. I know the 5 pentatonic shapes for A minor, but that's about it. If a song is in Em, i know that the first pentatonic position is on the 12th fret--but how do i know what to play "lower" on the fretboard? Same question for if the song is in any other key, really. I've tried to watch some videos on theory but it just goes over my head. I've looked up scale tabs but that's confusing to me also so far. Thanks for any help.
#4
The minor pentatonic is literally the same in every key you play in It's just placed in different areas of the fretboard. You can apply all the same licks & tricks you use with A minor to E minor it's not that difficult :S
#5
From my experience, I improvise over a lot of backing tracks from different genres and never found myself in need of learning theory, so, I'd advise you not to learn theory and focus on actually learning to improvise.
#6
I would advice you on learning to use your ears to create sounds you think are good. Knowledge of theory and scales =/= ability to improvise over anything.

Don't get me wrong, i think it is important to study scales and arpeggios and theory as well. But to me improvisation is 99% about the ear and 1% about theory.

What i would recommend you to do if you really want to be able to improvise over anything, is to record loops of chords and chord progressions and play over them. For example, i have 2 playlists in iTunes, one called "Chords" and one called "Chord progressions".

The tracks within each playlist are just called "Chord 1" or "chord progression 1" or something like that. I get no information about what key it is in or what types of chords are used. It will just loop that chord or progression and what i do is try to sing something and then play it on guitar. It is a wonderful way to start getting away from being locked in patterns and freeing up your mind more.

That's my opinion on the matter.
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#8
Quote by Aralingh
From my experience, I improvise over a lot of backing tracks from different genres and never found myself in need of learning theory, so, I'd advise you not to learn theory and focus on actually learning to improvise.

Yeah, if you just want to learn to improvise, you don't need to learn theory. But if you also want to learn about music, it is good to know theory. So I wouldn't advise not to learn theory. Knowing the scale degrees/intervals may help in ear training. It kind of gets easier if you can give a name to a certain sound.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#9
^ yeah it's kind of two sides of the same coin, if you ask me. you should absolutely learn to train your ear, but it's a lot easier to train it if you're not wandering around aimlessly, too.

Regarding the a minor to e minor thing, everything moves the same amount. the first position of E minor pentatonic is 7 frets up compared to A minor pentatonic. So are all the other positions you're used to. Just basically try to play the shapes you're used to, and forget which fret you're playing on (if that makes sense). When you're on the 12th fret, pretend you're on the 5th.
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#10
Quote by Sickz
I would advice you on learning to use your ears to create sounds you think are good. Knowledge of theory and scales =/= ability to improvise over anything.

Don't get me wrong, i think it is important to study scales and arpeggios and theory as well. But to me improvisation is 99% about the ear and 1% about theory.

What i would recommend you to do if you really want to be able to improvise over anything, is to record loops of chords and chord progressions and play over them. For example, i have 2 playlists in iTunes, one called "Chords" and one called "Chord progressions".

The tracks within each playlist are just called "Chord 1" or "chord progression 1" or something like that. I get no information about what key it is in or what types of chords are used. It will just loop that chord or progression and what i do is try to sing something and then play it on guitar. It is a wonderful way to start getting away from being locked in patterns and freeing up your mind more.

That's my opinion on the matter.


Id actually push that up to 50-50
I have a lot of friends who improvise soley by ear. And although they are able to improvise given any key or chord progression, they dont seem to have the dynamism that the others who know even just a bit of music theory do.
#11
Quote by DreamGate
Id actually push that up to 50-50
I have a lot of friends who improvise soley by ear. And although they are able to improvise given any key or chord progression, they dont seem to have the dynamism that the others who know even just a bit of music theory do.


Hmm, now that you say it i think you might be right. I just realized i wouldn't been able to use more "outside" sounding stuff in my playing if it wasn't for theory. So i admit i might have been praising playing by ear a little too much.

I will say though that i think the ear is something that many players often neglect nowadays when you can get so much information from the internet. And that way they lose out on so many things that made the past generations of players so great.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#12
^ Yeah, music theory helps if you want to experiment. But if you know theory, it doesn't mean you only "use theory" (whatever that means) and not your ears when you play. Theory is there to just explain what you do. And if you know theory, you can experiment with different chord tones and stuff (and of course that "outside" sounding stuff). To me not knowing about scale degrees and intervals, figuring out stuff (and playing by ear) would be a lot harder. When you can categorize things, it gets a lot easier because people want to find some logic in everything.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#13
Think about it this way, I can play whatever I want, if I have no idea about intervals or scale degrees or chords. But, then...I can't explain why it works, how it works, what it is to other musicians. Also, if I get stuck...what do I do? Just sit there until something else random pops up that vaguely fits.

That last part is the most important part of theory to me, that it gives tools to aid in songwriting/improv/composition. You can keep messing around until it sounds good all you want, but I guarantee that a theory buff would have already solved the "compositional bump" you're working on in a shorter time span. Why? Because he has lots of tools that aid him in expanding on things and changing things to keep it sounding interesting, while still accomplishing the goal of fitting the song.

Here's an analysis of a Brahms' song that exhibits several theory tools that Brahms used, courtesy of the user Xiaoxi:
https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1577446&page=1&pp=40
Note: The point of posting that is because Xiaoxi goes through the piece and points out several theory tools. For example, he talks about how Brahms changes rhythms at several points. I doubt you're looking to write a classical piece, but theory tools are useful regardless of what genre you're playing or writing.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Oct 14, 2013,
#15
Quote by Nietsche
Nerd rage levels: Rising.

Oh, get over it. The point is the analysis and the tools highlighted during the analysis, not the song itself.
#16
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Oh, get over it. The point is the analysis and the tools highlighted during the analysis, not the song itself.


Nerd rage levels at critical maximum.

It's not a song. It's a piece of music. More specifically a quartet, and more specifically than that a string quartet. This is a song by Brahms. Note the presence of singing.

That apostrophe is also a colossal eyesore.
.
#17
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Think about it this way, I can play whatever I want, if I have no idea about intervals or scale degrees or chords. But, then...I can't explain why it works, how it works, what it is to other musicians. Also, if I get stuck...what do I do? Just sit there until something else random pops up that vaguely fits.

That last part is the most important part of theory to me, that it gives tools to aid in songwriting/improv/composition. You can keep messing around until it sounds good all you want, but I guarantee that a theory buff would have already solved the "compositional bump" you're working on in a shorter time span. Why? Because he has lots of tools that aid him in expanding on things and changing things to keep it sounding interesting, while still accomplishing the goal of fitting the song.

Here's an analysis of a Brahms' song that exhibits several theory tools that Brahms used, courtesy of the user Xiaoxi:
https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1577446&page=1&pp=40
Note: The point of posting that is because Xiaoxi goes through the piece and points out several theory tools. For example, he talks about how Brahms changes rhythms at several points. I doubt you're looking to write a classical piece, but theory tools are useful regardless of what genre you're playing or writing.



Really solid advice here man.
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#18
Quote by Nietsche
Nerd rage levels at critical maximum.

It's not a song. It's a piece of music. More specifically a quartet, and more specifically than that a string quartet. This is a song by Brahms. Note the presence of singing.

That apostrophe is also a colossal eyesore.

Boo-fucking-hoo, man. Get over it. Everyone, including you, knew exactly what I meant. You're being pedantic to the extreme.

Quote by Fallenoath
Really solid advice here man.

Thanks.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Oct 14, 2013,
#19
Musictheory.net is great but lacks the application aspect. Learn the minor/major pentatonic and then the full 7 note. I would be analyzing others guitar solos more if I were you and practicing them. The Brahms analysis is useful.

I would like to see more discussions on motivic development. All great guitar soloists know this by imitation. Start out with an idea that is 6 notes or so and play around it with -- you can augment, invert, repeat, sequence it etc. There is usually a statement of an idea, a buildup and a climax.