#1
Hi people it’s me again, how have you been doing? Lately I’ve decided to invest time to learn music theory thoroughly as well as learning to play my favorite music. At first I’m learning the notes of the chords and I tried to figure out its necessity; I’ve read that targeting the notes of the chord while soloing over a chord progression makes the solo sound melodic, it will make sense and this is how one should approach to melodic soloing.

Previously I tried to solo using scale which for obvious reason didn’t sound good as I wasn’t following the chord changes. I can do a little pentatonic improvisation but how can I solo over chord changes? Chord tone playing seems a bit difficult for me but I guess everyone starts this at some point.

I play the triad notes while a chord is being played, (I tried playing over a simple progression using E, D and A) and I haven’t tried to play all over the fretboard but still I’m not feeling confident playing a solo. Can you recommend anything for practicing chord tone soloing as well as exercise for improving at playing triads (as most of the time my triad playing in solo somewhat sounds like arpeggio exercise)?
#2
IMO there is nothing "wrong" or "right" with a scale OR an arpeggio. They are both just tools to give you methods to play etc.

By the same token its not necessarily "better" or "worse" to play chord tones, or to not play chord tones.

As you mentioned, if you try to play ALL chord tones it just gets to sounding like an arpeggio exercise. (those exercises have their place of course)

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What came to my mind for you is to take this approach. Put down some backing chords, or use a prerecorded backing track that you can solo over using just ONE scale. for instance:
C, am, dm, G7. Obviously those are just chords from C major so you can use the C major scale over all of them.

Now, solo using the scale but pick ONE chord and start using the chord tones over than ONE chord. Lets say you pick the G7th. Solo using C major but when you get to the G7th start using various licks etc that outline the chord tones of the G7th.

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you said for "obvious reasons" it didnt sound good to just use the scale. I sort of disagree. You can play a LOT of great music without feeling like you have to outline each chord. You can just hit a chord tone here or there and sound just fine. Remember that there are other qualities such as rhythm, phrasing etc that make a lick sound good, not just whether or not you are hitting "correct" chord tones.

Imagine if you are just playing over power chords like A5-F5 back and forth. If you ONLY play chord tones then you ONLY have 4 notes to work with lol.


Thats why I recommend to learn to use the scale to solo and more or less "feel" your way around, but then over one of the chords to actually try to use the chord tones. That way you are getting practice with several approaches at once.
#3
Step 1: Decide on a position. Play the triads of your first chord up and down in that position (straight quarter or 8th notes, nothing fancy). When the next chord comes along, stay in position but play the triads of the new chord. Same for the final chord. Repeat repeat repeat until you can dream this.

Step 2: Learn all your positions. Then learn to switch between them: first chord up the first position, second chord down the second position, etc.

Step 3: Now learn to add fancier chord tones: minor 7ths are an obvious choice, but anything is fair game if it works over the chord that's being played.

Step 4: Start using it in improv.

Step 5: Put on some Django Reinhardt, burn your guitar and cry yourself to sleep.
#4
Look up something called Musician Training Center. It's a great resource for a course called Improvisation By Degrees. The guy that put it out is a long time strategic partner with our Academy, and he's also the creator of Guitar Speed Trainer.

He's at Micrologus.com

Best,

Sean
#5
You shouldn't play chord tones only. That gets a bit boring after a while (though you can make some cool stuff with chord tones only). But you should (most of the time) land on the chord tones. What I mean is play something and end it with a chord tone. Just playing chord tones makes your melody have no tension. So play something and end it with a chord tone.

But the most important thing is use your ears. If it sounds good to you, it is good. My ear kind of naturally makes me play the chord tones, even if I don't know which chord I'm actually playing over. I just naturally hear notes that fit the chords. And if I play a note that doesn't sound good over the chord, I play another note which will most likely fit the chord. I don't really think in chords when I solo. I just try to listen to what I hear in my head and play it. Of course this requires a good ear. It is important to know your backing track so that you don't need to think about it. For example I know how the chord progression on "Autumn Leaves" sounds like. I don't think about the chords, I just play because I know the sound of the chords so well. But as I said, being able to do this requires a good ear.
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
#6
Quote by JohnProphet
IMO there is nothing "wrong" or "right"....

Thanks for the advices; really appreciating this. I’m almost entirely new to this music theory realm and I won’t call myself a very proficient or even a decent player. So accept my apologies if I wrote something wrong regarding soloing approaches.

I think I should primarily focus on landing on chord tone for a single chord for the time being and play the scale that fits all the chords as you’ve mentioned; later when I will become more confident I should try to successfully land on chord tones for the other chords too.

Using backing track seems a good idea as I will get to listen to the backing chords while playing and as I do not have any decent recording device as of yet and my phone’s recording is really awful so I think I should play along with a backing track for the time being. As I’m new into soloing, should I pick something slow like a rock ballad style backing track?

One more thing that I’d like to ask you which is, by using the chords of harmonized major/minor scale a progression on a certain key is created; for an instance I IV V in G (M-m-m-M-M-m-dim) would be G, C and D. Am I right here?

Quote by Philip Xander
Step 1: Decide on a position....

Thanks for the advice.
#7
Quote by Sean0913
Look up something called Musician Training Center....

I’d love to get guidance from a teacher but at this moment I can’t afford to have one. But thanks for stopping by and for the comments.

Quote by MaggaraMarine
You shouldn't play chord tones only....

Thanks for the valuable suggestions. As I’ve mentioned earlier that I’m not even a decent player and many of you are very good at playing guitar as well as having good knowledge in theory and composing good music. You’ve given a good tip that instead of just following the chord tones all the time rather trying to end a phrase with chord tone. And yes I’m trying to develop my ears and my music sense.

Anyway I’ve decided to play along with backing track. Here is a track that I’m thinking of but you can suggest something else which might easier for the beginners.
Backing track
This ballad style track sounds nice but can you tell me what are the chords used here? To me it sounds like there are some 9th chords but I’m not sure though.
#8
The advice I'd give would be to work on your ear training and note recognition. Personally, I don't think music composition should be restricted to theory, or that theory should really be considered at all. So even though in Western music, common melodies or tunes or whatever often follow similar patterns and 'theory', I don't think that should dictate it.

So what I'm saying is, get your ear training to the point where when you think of a note, you can identify it immediately on the instrument. With the guitar, find several different places that have that same pitch. When you can do this with melodies, your solos (and compositions themselves, really) won't be restricted by making sure you end on chord tones, or resolve to the tonic of the key, or whatever else. You'll be playing exactly what you're thinking.

Of course, this is really hard, and I haven't even done it myself But if you are genuinely serious about this, then this is the route I would go.


also, always be trying different things when you're practicing improvising. Always make sure that you are exposing yourself to different sounds, so that you're 'musical palette' will be large enough for your music to be creative, unique, and fun (for you).
it's all just coming back
it's all coming back

it's all coming back to me
Last edited by Baby Joel at Aug 31, 2014,
#10
Quote by stranger_23
I’d love to get guidance from a teacher but at this moment I can’t afford to have one. But thanks for stopping by and for the comments.


Thanks for the valuable suggestions. As I’ve mentioned earlier that I’m not even a decent player and many of you are very good at playing guitar as well as having good knowledge in theory and composing good music. You’ve given a good tip that instead of just following the chord tones all the time rather trying to end a phrase with chord tone. And yes I’m trying to develop my ears and my music sense.

Anyway I’ve decided to play along with backing track. Here is a track that I’m thinking of but you can suggest something else which might easier for the beginners.
Backing track
This ballad style track sounds nice but can you tell me what are the chords used here? To me it sounds like there are some 9th chords but I’m not sure though.

That backing track sounds good but I would start with something simpler than that. Maybe start with simple 12 bar blues or a basic 4 chord progression like C-G-Am-F. I find it easier to solo over a backing track if the chords don't change really fast.

The chords on the backing track you posted are Bm-C-D (and some added color notes which don't really matter). The next part with breaks is Am-D/A-Am-D/A-F-Em-Am-D/A. I would say this part sounds more like A minor than E minor to me. I don't know what you would play over that part. Listen to the rhythm and the breaks and try to come up with something. Or don't play at all. Then the next part is the same as intro. The next progression is G-C-Dsus4-D. A basic I-IV-V progression in G major. The last repeat of that progression is a bit different: G-Em-Dsus4-D. The next part has the same chords as the part with breaks. Again, to me it sounds a bit more like A minor than E minor (maybe because of the pedal A and the F major chord). There you have all the parts. The last progressions are just G-C-Dsus4-D and Bm-C-D.
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
#11
Quote by stranger_23
One more thing that I’d like to ask you which is, by using the chords of harmonized major/minor scale a progression on a certain key is created; for an instance I IV V in G (M-m-m-M-M-m-dim) would be G, C and D. Am I right here?


yes, for a MAJOR scale that is correct.

for the minor scale youd just start on the 6th note and use the same notes etc. So u listed M-m-m-M-M-m-dim for major...for minor it would be m-dim-M-m-m-M-M. The minor scale ends up with all minor chords for its i-iv-v

Do you know how to get that yourself? its not too hard.

W=whole step = 2 frets h=half step=1 fret

Any straight up major scale follows this formula. w-w-h-w-w-w-h

so your G major scale would be G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G

to derive the chords for that scale you simply take every other note:

for the G note it works out to GBD which is a G major chord

for the A note its ACE which is an aminor chord.

So the whole scale works out to:

G major
A minor
B minor
C major
D major
E minor (this is the relative minor of G major)
F# dim

So u get 3 major chords, 3 minor chords, and 1 dim chord. This is the same no matter what key you play in. Same holds true for a minor key: 3 majors, 3 minors, 1 dim

if you want the 7th chords you simply take every other note for 4 notes etc

for the G note it would be GBDF# which is a Gmaj7th chord
for the A note it would be ACEG which is an amin7th chord etc


As far as backing tracks, there are a million free ones out there so you can just try a lot of them. I think id try to find ones that at least tell you what the chords are so you can easily figure out chord tones if you want to etc.

At first maybe basic stuff like this is good:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoGjUTHX0p0

This one is interesting. It goes thru several keys but it is telling you on the screen ahead of time what key it is going to and it stays on each key long enough to play some stuff there etc. Its not telling you the chords btw, its telling you what key. Like the first one says "E, or C#m." He is telling you to solo using E major or c#minor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeQtMlrW1qQ
#12
Sorry everyone for the late reply, I haven’t logged in for few days.

Quote by MaggaraMarine
That backing track sounds good....

As I said earlier that I can do a little blues improvisation (which is not so great though) but I still don’t know how to solo over 12 bars blues, and I think I should learn it as I’ve read that it can be helpful to learn to solo over this to get used to improvisation.

You are right I should start simple and to be very honest I straight focus on the triad chord shapes when I go for playing a triad while there are other ways of playing it, probably this is making my soloing attempts sounds more like arpeggio exercise. And I also can’t spontaneously identify all the roots, thirds and fifth in every key but I’m working on it.

And thanks for breaking down all the backing chords for me. You have got really good musical sense.

Quote by JohnProphet
yes, for a MAJOR scale that is correct....

Thanks a lot for your quick but very helpful theory information. And also thanks for the backing tracks, the second one will be challenging for me now but I’m working on being able to play in any key (still struggling to find all the roots, thirds and fifths in every key).