#1
Hi!! Previously I made a thread about should beginner players attempt to improvise and although I couldn't come up with a good phrase but as I was recommended to continue this, so I didn't give up. Anyways I still am not a good improviser but somehow now I can make short phrases or simple melodies using natural major/minor scale apart from some cliche pentatonic stuffs (I ain't no Eric Clapton or John Lee Hooker so my blues attempts are fairly straight forward).

I've been trying to play over different backing tracks but my soloing attempts don't sound very good over them. I recently came across a term called playing over chord changes that says each chord of the track should be treated with their specific notes.

My problem is I can detect the chord changes but I can't spontaneously play the notes of the chord (I only know few triad positions and at this moment I'm trying to play over a simple three chords progression in A: A D E) and one more question is what should be an ideal approach to mix scale with hitting the chord notes (playing other notes from scale that would still make sense apart from only playing the notes of the chord being played but it)? My phrasing isn't top notch but I need to start at some point, so what would you suggest?
#2
If I'm correct, playing over chord changes is just changing what key you are improvising in, not necessarily playing the exact triads.
For example, we can take an incredibly basic 12 bar blues progression in A

A-A-A-A-D-D-A-A-E-D-A-A

An option for improving over this is play your A pentatonic or blues scale over the entire thing, or you can play the respective scale that corresponds with the chord name.

So, you would play in A blues for 4 bars, D blues for 2, A blues for 2 more bars, E blues for 1, D blues for 1, then A blues for 2, then do a turnaround or whatever you want to do.

Since it's improv, you dont have to do the chord changes strictly, so play around with it.
#3
Quote by Luminance
Hi!! Previously I made a thread about should beginner players attempt to improvise and although I couldn't come up with a good phrase but as I was recommended to continue this, so I didn't give up. Anyways I still am not a good improviser but somehow now I can make short phrases or simple melodies using natural major/minor scale apart from some cliche pentatonic stuffs (I ain't no Eric Clapton or John Lee Hooker so my blues attempts are fairly straight forward).

I've been trying to play over different backing tracks but my soloing attempts don't sound very good over them. I recently came across a term called playing over chord changes that says each chord of the track should be treated with their specific notes.

My problem is I can detect the chord changes but I can't spontaneously play the notes of the chord (I only know few triad positions and at this moment I'm trying to play over a simple three chords progression in A: A D E) and one more question is what should be an ideal approach to mix scale with hitting the chord notes (playing other notes from scale that would still make sense apart from only playing the notes of the chord being played but it)? My phrasing isn't top notch but I need to start at some point, so what would you suggest?



Improvising isn't about playing in scales honestly. I'll be very straight forward with you if you're always thinking in scales when you're trying to improvise. Then your playing is generally going to sound "dry" or "robotic" for better words. Start using your ears, and play what's in your head. It's the only way mate. Start transcribing records note for note. Get into transcribing a lot of chordal based music to develop your ears in the department you're struggling with.


When I improvise I don't think in terms of "scales". I think in terms of "sound" which is the whole aspect behind what music really. Sure I know all my scales, and arpeggios, but I don't go into a jam session thinking. HOLY CRAP MAN I'M GOING TO STICK WITH DOMINANT 7TH ARPEGGIOS TO SOUND BLUESY, TO THIS 12 BAR BLUES.
Last edited by Black_devils at Jun 23, 2015,
#4
@nobbers: I probably couldn't make it clear on my post; but let me try one more time.

Let's assume I'm trying to solo over I IV V in the key of A, when A chord is played I'm trying to play the notes of A chord (A C# E), when D is being played I try to play D F# A and so on. I can't do it properly but I noticed focusing on the notes of the chord being played makes the improvisation/solo sounds better.

My problem is I can't do it spontaneously and I also want to know how can I mix up other notes of scale while emphasizing on the notes of the chord being played.
#5
@Black_devils: I agree that only relying on scale makes the improvisation sounds dry or robotic. Now I try create melody in my head (perhaps I hum sometimes) and try to play it on guitar although few times it happened that when I play a phrase my ear expects certain notes and I've found these notes makes my attempts sounds a little better.

I know that I should transcribe more but my ear still sucks (I even sometimes come up with such melodies that I can't transcribe on guitar) and I don't know what happened but lately I feel like only listening to others and not that much playing for myself (I even listen to other instrument players apart from guitar).

I'm not exposed to a wide variety of music but can you suggest some chordal based music?
#6
It completely depends on what you're used to playing. I can't come out of the blue, and recommend you folk, and or funk, Jazz if you don't play those styles, but a good person to study is Hendrix. He has a huge chord vocabulary, and his whole style revolves around broken up chords, and embellishments within those chords. If I were you I'd start studying a lot of rhythm guitarist that you'd like, and start focusing on building up your chord vocabulary because it sure as hell does help for situations like this.. Learn your triads, and learn different chord voicing's, and inversions. In addition of course your ears are going to suck if you're barely working on them.


Maybe you should put transcribing in your practice regime? It will turn you into a really good musician if you are doing it on a daily basis trust me on this. Your ears are one of the most important things when it comes down to creating music, and improvising is just generally composing on the fly.. Your ears will help you to be more detail oriented, and you'll notice things that others don't notice. It's so important how The smallest change in a detail based on; whatever you're doing can really make a impact on how something sounds.
Last edited by Black_devils at Jun 23, 2015,
#7
Trying out Hendrix sounds like a really good advice, I haven't listened to a lot of Hendrix but only the handful number of tracks that I listened; I'm convinced that he has an awful lot of chord vocabulary. I realized that learning the chords, understanding how they work are really important. I've got couple of favorite guitarists but for rhythm playing I think I prefer Eddie Van Halen the most (I like his rhythm works a lot, they sound really cool and happy)

Yes I know that good ears are very precious (I watched a Marty Friedman instructional video where he stated the players should to pick up things by ear as it helps to develop player's music sense) for a player. I think I will put some transcribe work from now on instead of just playing. Thanks for the advices.
#8
^ No problem just keep up the smart work. Sooner or later the fruits of your labor will show up.
#9
My tip to start out wth would be to pick one scale position you know well. e.g. 1st position A Minor Pentatonic and work out where those notes are in relation to the position. e.g.

A = 5 fret, 6th string & 7th fret, 4th string. D = 5th fret, 5th string & 7th fret, 3rd string. E = 7th fret, 5th string. 5th fret, 2nd string.

F# is then 1 fret above E, so 8th fret, 5th string & 6th fret, 2nd string. C# is 1 fret below D = 4th fret, 5th string & 6th fret, 3rd string. G# is 1 fret below A = 4th fret, 6th string & 6th fret, 4th string.

Select one run of those notes to work with. e.g. 4th fret, 6th string to 7th fret, 4th string. And use those exclusively to solo. Use each of the notes over their respective chords until you get used to the sound and feel of them.

Then do the same for the another run of notes. e.g. 4th fret, 4th string to 8th fret, 1st string.

Then try using both together. You should be able to see how all the notes fit into the scales. How to add notes to your usual pentatonic playing and improve overall feel for blues improv.

The above is only a basic guide. The overall goal is to know all the notes on the fretboard from memory but in the meantime, this approach should help by targetting the chord tones. As it's postion based, it can be applied to any key, as long as you know where the root is.

Hope that helps.
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#10
@G-Dog_666: You have simplified it like something that I'd search for, thank you. Just a question which is as I stated that I was trying to play over A D E so my scale choice would be either A major or F# minor; I should play within the scale and try to land on the notes of the chord being played; am I right here? I am also trying to play chord notes from triads but I have to jump around the fretboard a bit as I don't know all the triad positions of these chords.
#11
@Luminance: Yes, you're correct, if the chord progression is A D E, the key is A Major, so A Major scale will work over the entire progression. You can play the F# Minor scale shape, but if you're targeting the notes to stay in key, you're still only playing A Major scale. I chose the A Minor Pentatonic because you mentioned Clapton and John Lee Hooker, who are both blues guys. With blues you can 'get away' with playing both Minor and Major pentatonic, depending on the chord progression. If you forget/ignore scale shapes for a moment and focus purely on the notes, you can build your own scale shapes in your head to fit your chord progression. For interesting results you can even omit playing a note on purpose. The standard shapes you see posted everywhere are just showing where all the notes/frets are. It's you who can choose whether the use those notes or not. Experimentation and personalisation are key to progressing. Also, follow your ear. You can play other notes over A D E, the scales/notes I've referred to are just the 'safe' sounding options.

I can't advise too much about chord triads, as my theory isn't really up to much. But what I can advise on is how to work out where notes are on the fret board if you know the root note.

If you take A - 5th fret, 6th string as the starting note. That same note can be played on the open 5th string.

The next octave up is 12th fret, 5th string; which is also 7th fret, 4th string and 2nd fret, 3rd string.

The next octave from that is 14th fret, 3rd string, which is also 10th fret, 2nd string and 5th fret, 1st string.

Hopefully, you'll have noticed when going from 6th string to 5th string, the jump is 5 frets. 5th fret E string = Open A string. It's the same distance as 12th fret, 5th string to 7th fret, 4th string. And same distance as 10th fret, 2nd string to 5th fret, 1st string. If you move every note in a chord shape around in this fashion, you'll find many different ways to play the same chord. And this movement can be applied to any note.

Practical example: Play the open A chord (x0222xx) then try playing it with 6th string root (5776xx), then an octave up (x12141414xx), then 4th string root (xx79109)

This shifting applies to any notes, chords scales. The above examples will work for Standard Tuning (EADGBe) or any tuning with identical intervals between strings.

Again, I hope that all makes sense and helps you out.
Guitars:
EVH Wolfgang Special LH
Gibson Les Paul Studio 2013
Ibanez EW20LASE-NT LH

Effects:
BOSS GT-100

Amps:
Fender Hot Rod DeVille 410
Laney IRT Studio + 112 cab
#12
I'm really really thankful to you; you've explained in an easy and straightforward manner so that any beginners can easily understand it; those are some really handy tips. Thanks again.
#13
No worries, mate. Glad it was helpful.
Guitars:
EVH Wolfgang Special LH
Gibson Les Paul Studio 2013
Ibanez EW20LASE-NT LH

Effects:
BOSS GT-100

Amps:
Fender Hot Rod DeVille 410
Laney IRT Studio + 112 cab
#14
i think you are misunderstanding to a degree about playing over a progression. if you follow the progression then as the chords change your solo should change with it to keep a flow going. now of course this isn't written in stone but is just one of many methods used. now there is a more theory based answer to this as well but it does require you to understand theory. once you get into 7ths, 9ths etc you can tailor your note choces to fit in with the changes going on. this happens in jazz a great deal.

you've been given some good advice already. the best thing i can tell you is that you need to just play and go with it instead of thinking about it to much. follow the flow of the backing track and just see where it takes you. don't expect to come up with anything great to begin with. this seems to be a metnal block that many players have. "if it's not as good as (fill in renouned awesome solo here) then it's not good. you can come up with something good it's just not going to be Stairway To Heaven or Eruption right off the bat.

when i work on the solos to my own songs (link in profile). i just noodle to the rhythm track until i find something that fits and then i firm it up into an actual solo. even then i leave a little room for inspiration to hit when recording.
#15
@monwobobbo: I have very little knowledge about soloing approach and music theory in general so please pardon my ignorance. Correct me if I’m wrong, I’m using a progression of A D E and here I’m trying to play something based around the notes of each individual chord being played in the backing track (i.e. when A chord is being played I try to target A C# E notes or for D chord I target D F# A notes and so on).

I’m not expecting to play a world class solo as of yet but I just want my attempts to sound okay; I’m trying to be as much expressive as I can within my limited knowledge. I am trying to come up with simple stuffs that wouldn’t sound like ‘I have no clue about what I’m doing’.

I’ve already listened to your tracks (you are an amazing player), and you said that you noodle to rhythm tracks (and I’ve read many other do the same) but how come just noodling to a track sounds that good? If I try to do that my playing sounds very dull.
#16
It all comes with practise and experience. Knowing the correct notes is only half the battle. You also have to learn how to apply the notes. This comes down to note selection over a given chord and then phrasing it. Palm muting, bending, vibrato, slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, grace notes and dead notes all play a part in how the notes sound when fretted. There's also then the rhythmic application of the notes. Playing straight 8th notes will sound monotonous and dull after a while. Mixing things up with rests or 16th notes, or triplets can liven up a lead run. The more you play and the more leads/solos you learn to play, the more the pieces of the jigsaw will start to come together.

Also, without trying to confuse matters, I though this lesson was quite helpful and interesting. I believe you should be able to follow the concept of shifting the scale pattern: http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/soloing/minor_pentatonic_position_method.html - Just ignore any mention of Modes at the end.
Guitars:
EVH Wolfgang Special LH
Gibson Les Paul Studio 2013
Ibanez EW20LASE-NT LH

Effects:
BOSS GT-100

Amps:
Fender Hot Rod DeVille 410
Laney IRT Studio + 112 cab
#17
Everyone starts out all pentatonic but once you start adding chord tones in there and mixing major,minor,mixalydian ,Dorian etc your playing becomes much more interesting and melodic.Then start trying to tastefully add some outside notes but most of all....Listen.
#18
@G-Dog_666: Thanks again for these valuable tips about note choice and phrasing. And about rhythmic structure, I read somewhere about applying air and space which means a player shouldn't fill up all the bars and should let the solo breath a bit and also should mix different notes as you say.

@EyeballPaul: I'm still trying to feel comfortable playing the chords notes while staying within just natural major/minor scale; my playing still sounds sort of arpeggio like and quite predictable as I'm trying to hit the chord notes exclusively but at least it doesn't sound robotic like before when I'd only play the scale fragments on fretboard.

Once I'll be comfortable to play notes of different chords without thinking too much then I'll focus on phrasing my playing and will try to add flavor with different technique and rhythmic note structure.
#19
Break your tune down into key centers. That is, groups of two or more chords that are in the same key or scale. Then improvise in that key or scale over each group.

Trying to change scales over each individual chord is too much.

Look at this lead sheet of the tune "All The Things You Are". Note the groupings of chords and their key. Play over each group in the listed key.



This tune changes keys often. Most pop songs do not change key. A song that uses 3 chords like G-C-D does not change key. It is all in G. You can just play in G major or G major pentatonic.

A song that is Am-F-G7-C is in "A natural minor" which is the key of C starting on A. Play over it in A minor pentatonic or A natural minor.

Learn the major scale, major pentatonic, and pentatonic minor scales. Learn what chords are in each key.
"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. This is my religion." -- Abraham Lincoln
Last edited by Virgman at Jul 2, 2015,
#20
@Virgman: Sorry for my late reply. Some great suggestions you've made; the song that you've stated has key changes which means good players will sound more interesting as it modulates into different keys.

I am trying to get used to playing around just one key (trying to hit the notes of the chords as much as I can while play and of course trying to be musical). Thank you.