#1
Alright I want to know what is it with scales. What are they what are they for and how does one use them!?!
Last edited by Martha Stewart at Jul 11, 2006,
#2
Quote by Martha Stewart
Alright I want to know what is it with scales. What are they what are they for and how does one use them!?!


I'm sorry - you edited your question so now what I've said might not have been what you want... but some of it still applies to your original question though. I hadn't seen your edit

Quote by Martha Stewart
Hi, I was wondering how one improvises using scales?


Improvising and learning to make solos is a continous learning process - the majority of the answer you're going to get is ''Just fuck around and play what sounds good'' - while that is true and essential for you to get comfortable with the scales, it isn't all there is to it, so I'll throw down some basic guidelines for you.

Chord tones
.

This means to emphasize chord tones over specific chords... for example, if you're playing a major chord the basic chord tones (1 3 5 7) will lend themselves to a good sounding phrase. Another example would be a minor chord where the basic chord tones would be 1 b3 5 b7.

Rhythmic Lines.

This deals with making your 'solo' rhythmically interesting - as it should be when you're playing anything over a chord progression. What I mean is... don't stick to one set rhythm or note duration - try not to continously play 16th notes or a load of triplets... mix it up. Play a 16th note line, then play one note for 2 measure... whatever, just make it rhythmically interesting to the ear. I had trouble with this kind of thing when it was explained to me, so I took an excercise I learnt from Steve Vai and applied it. Take one note and play over your specific chord progression for a length of time, perhaps an hour. For one hour play nothing but that one note of the chord progression - 10 minutes in you'll end up running out of rhythmic ideas and will force yourself to play rhythmic lines you'd never imagined. Then move onto 2 notes, 3 notes and so on. The ideas you pick up will stick with you.

The Scale.

It's important not to just use specific chord tones as I explained above - but to add other scale notes to add flavour to your chord tones. For example, you could play 3 - 1 - 3 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 1 - they would all be chord tones of a major chord, except the 6th, which will add flavour and spice to your solo once you get familiar with it. Of course, once you're familiar with the scale, you can make all the notes add flavour, but that deals with phrasing.

Motiffs.

A motiff is a musical idea that is repeated. Whether that's 5 or 50 times - how many times it's repeated will co-incide with what you're feeling when you're improvising, but they add stability and give the listener something to catch on to. You'll find when you start improvising, you'll just random notes - that's why you sound like shit most of the time, there's nothing to listen to and it sounds just like what it is, random. Listen to some of your favourite bands or soloists and listen to their solos, you're bound to hear some motiffs and repeating ideas - you'll find the majority of good solos have them.

There are also rhythmic motiffs where you take a basic rhythm and repeat it - try taking 3 notes of the scale and playing them... then move onto the next 3 notes of the scale while keeping the same rhythmic idea, but with different notes, that's a rhythmic motiff.

Then there is melodic motiffs which deals with repeating the same pitches over different chords. For example... take the chord progression C - F - G. Now play the notes C - E - G over the C chord, play the notes F - A - C over the F chord and finally play the notes G - B - D over the G chord. What you're doing is playing notes that have the same relationship with their given chord as the last. In this example, all the notes are the respective 1 - 3 - 5 degrees of each chord. That's a melodic motiff.

Like I pointed out, these are guidelines - not rules. Once you learn these guidelines, then you can break them. ''You can't break the rules if you don't know what they are'' - once you learn them, you can go outside the boundaries of theory and become a decent improviser
#3
Lol.. I love the post before me. He listed everything.. I would've just said, "**** around with whatever sounds good."

Umm.. yeah.. just practice your scales. Overall that's how I learned how to improvise.. that and listening to a lot of Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorius.
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#4
Quote by Johnljones7443

Chord tones.

This means to emphasize chord tones over specific chords... for example, if you're playing a major chord the basic chord tones (1 3 5 7) will lend themselves to a good sounding phrase. Another example would be a minor chord where the basic chord tones would be 1 b3 5 b7.


Isn't that not completely true? The basic chord tones for a major is just 1 3 5 and a minor's is 1 b3 5. But a major chord can easily have a dominant (flatted) seventh, and that sounds better than a maj7 IMO. And you can easily have a A-maj7, which still keeps the chord minor with a major 7th. I know you stated the basic chord tones, but then shouldn't that not have any 7th at all?

I just want a clarification.

And BTW, it is motif with 1 f.
primusfan
It's better with no teeth, trust me. Much fewer scars on my penis now that I've switched from seniors in high school to senior citizens.
#5
Alright now Im confused. What can I do to learn stuff like this? Chord tones and 1 b3 5 b7... I have no idea what that means.

Edit: I decided to ask this question because I was looking at a primus tab and I he said that Ler was improvising on the solo with mainly Eb minor scale or something like that, so I figured it would be simple to figure out I guess I was wrong..?

Edit Edit: I tried figuring this stuff out myself but no matter what definition Im looking for, it always defines it with something I dont understand, so Im stuck.
Last edited by Martha Stewart at Jul 11, 2006,
#6
Quote by Hypnot1st
Isn't that not completely true? The basic chord tones for a major is just 1 3 5 and a minor's is 1 b3 5. But a major chord can easily have a dominant (flatted) seventh, and that sounds better than a maj7 IMO. And you can easily have a A-maj7, which still keeps the chord minor with a major 7th. I know you stated the basic chord tones, but then shouldn't that not have any 7th at all?

I just want a clarification.

And BTW, it is motif with 1 f.


What I meant was basic chord tones yeah - I mean, 7th chords are basic stuff, so I thought sticking the 7th in would help if he's improvising over a 7th chord, minor, major or dominant, it doesn't matter - the purpose of it was just to explain the basic chord tones and how to use them over the chords. And if he's improvising over blues, or jazz - which is where many people start, he's going to need to know about the 7th. You know?

I don't understand what you mean by - ''have a A-maj7, which still keeps the chord minor with a major 7th'' - Could you explain? As far as I know an Amaj7 chord is major in tonality (1 3 5 7).

And thanks, I'll be sure to spell motif correctly from now on.

Quote by Martha Stewart
Alright now Im confused. What can I do to learn stuff like this? Chord tones and 1 b3 5 b7... I have no idea what that means.

Edit: I decided to ask this question because I was looking at a primus tab and I he said that Ler was improvising on the solo with mainly Eb minor scale or something like that, so I figured it would be simple to figure out I guess I was wrong..?


Perhaps you should look into studying scales and chord construction before you take on improvising, then.

Not that you can't improvise without knowing all the theory bullshit - but it's important I feel for any improvisation to sound good without an chance element.

Take a scale, Eb minor in your case, learn it and then improvise with it as you're learning all the stuff I suggested above and the theory behind it all, that way - you'll be familiar with a certain scale and then be able to apply what I detailed without being confused.

Quote by Martha Stewart
Edit Edit: I tried figuring this stuff out myself but no matter what definition Im looking for, it always defines it with something I dont understand, so Im stuck.


What is it you're stuck on?
#7
Quote by Martha Stewart
Alright now Im confused. What can I do to learn stuff like this? Chord tones and 1 b3 5 b7... I have no idea what that means.

Edit: I decided to ask this question because I was looking at a primus tab and I he said that Ler was improvising on the solo with mainly Eb minor scale or something like that, so I figured it would be simple to figure out I guess I was wrong..?

Edit Edit: I tried figuring this stuff out myself but no matter what definition Im looking for, it always defines it with something I dont understand, so Im stuck.

This is a good lesson Props to Silentdeftone.

What Chords are in what Key and Why?
#8
Johnljones7443 you're a freaking, brilliant genius.

As for your second question, Martha Stewart, the chord progression was probably in the key of Eb (if you understand keys this should be easy to understand). Thus, you can take the Eb major scale, or Eb major pentatonic scale, and solo over a chord progression in that key. As John said, it's all about you want to play, so I can't tell you any magic pattern to play in the Eb major scale that will sound great.

Basically, though, every key has its compository notes. Almost any of those notes will sound good over the Eb chord progression. The compository notes for Eb are:

Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D, Eb

The Eb major scale contains all these notes in two octaves. So, you can jump around in the scale and stay on key, thus, improvising. The trick is to make it sound good. That takes a lot of practice, and a basic knowledge of the theory that John explained.
#9
While you guys are offering great advice, this is simply too much information for someone who's already unsure of what's going on.

Start simple. Go to This website. Learn your Em pentatonic scale. Learn the few licks they've got up there, and practice playing them over the backing track provided. Once you can play them all, try to mix them together while playing over the back track. Then break each one up into little sections, and play them in random orders.

For example: Instead of just playing each lick all the way through, you take the first three notes of the first lick, followed by the first three from the second, then the first three notes from the third, and you end it off with the last bar from the first lick again. Just practice breaking up each lick into two or three note groupings.

Once you've done that practice making up your own licks, just start out slowly, not too fast, not too many notes, just put emphasis on the ones you do play, and eventually you'll start to get a feel for it.
#10
It says I need basic knowledge of the circle of fifths... can someone help me with this or is this one of those chemistry rocket science math things like everything else I try to learn? I really do try to learn things like scales and stuff and everytime I get a definition of it, it uses something else to define it... for example I search Circle of fifths to look into it and I get

"In music theory, the circle of fifths (or cycle of fifths) is a geometrical space that depicts relationships among the ?12 equal-tempered pitch classes? comprising the familiar chromatic scale."

I guess I need to buy a book or something because I guess this takes forever to learn?
#11
Also do ALL artists use music theory? Is it really THAT important? Because if not I think I might give up with that because its annoying math and it makes me want to throw my guitar off a cliff... I love guitar but I think I now HATE music theory..so frustrating...
#12
You shouldn't need a knowledge of the circle of fifths to learn scales.

Here's a shortcut to learn the circle of fifths: Get your guitar. Form a power-chord on any fret. Let's say you do a 3rd fret power chord, right? You're going to put your first finger on the 3rd fret on the E string and your next finger on the 5th fret on the A string. This would mean you're playing a G and a D at the same time. Powerchords are called 5th chords for a reason. D is the 5th of G. Try the powerchord on the 5th fret on the E string. You'll be playing an A and an E at the same time, right? E is the 5th of A! Now you know the circle of fifths, and you didn't even have to memorize it.
#13
Quote by Martha Stewart
I guess I need to buy a book or something because I guess this takes forever to learn?


It takes most people a very long time to learn theory. It's something that's usually best done over a gradual period of time than just in an instant. Eventually if you expose yourself to enough thing's start to click into place after a while, but with most people it's just not something you can force into your head, it must come naturally, and that's what most people with all of this knowledge tend to forget.

As I said, start with the basics, the pentatonic. All you need is to know what key you're playing in, and where the root note is on your low E string. No theory required (unless you need to find out the key) just memorization of the notes on the low string, and memorization of the pentatonic scale.

You can get away using pentatonics just about anywhere at any time over any chord progression. It's not always 100% proper, but nobody but other musicians will ever notice, and it's really something that shouldn't concern you until you've got a decent feeling for improv in the first place.

EDIT:
Also do ALL artists use music theory? Is it really THAT important? Because if not I think I might give up with that because its annoying math and it makes me want to throw my guitar off a cliff... I love guitar but I think I now HATE music theory..so frustrating...


Everyone uses theory, but not everyone knows theory. A great many artists song writers etc have absolutely no understanding of theory, and they still do fine. It's a matter of instinctively knowing what sounds good to the ear and what sounds horriible. Picking the progressions that sound good and avoiding the ones that sound bad in other words.

So you don't absolutely need to know any theory at all per say. But I would certainly reccomend learning the basics, and as much as you can, because it opens up many new doors that you might not have thought about.
Last edited by icronic at Jul 11, 2006,
#14
Quote by Martha Stewart
It says I need basic knowledge of the circle of fifths... can someone help me with this or is this one of those chemistry rocket science math things like everything else I try to learn? I really do try to learn things like scales and stuff and everytime I get a definition of it, it uses something else to define it... for example I search Circle of fifths to look into it and I get

"In music theory, the circle of fifths (or cycle of fifths) is a geometrical space that depicts relationships among the ?12 equal-tempered pitch classes? comprising the familiar chromatic scale."

I guess I need to buy a book or something because I guess this takes forever to learn?

Book would be a good idea, but check out this thread in the Archive that I found. Scroll down to Silentdeftone's post; it has information on the circle of fifths, it's good stuff. There may be some things that you don't understand that are in SD's post, so just scroll down to the part about the circle of fifths if you just want information on that.

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=196305

Quote by Martha Stewart
Also do ALL artists use music theory? Is it really THAT important? Because if not I think I might give up with that because its annoying math and it makes me want to throw my guitar off a cliff... I love guitar but I think I now HATE music theory..so frustrating...


No, not all artists need theory. Theory isn't necessary for making good music at all. It is merely a guideline that will help understand why things some sound good together while other things don't.

An example would be Dave Mustaine. He claims to know only the basics of theory, such as pentatonics.

I strongly recommend that you keep at it. It has helped me tons. Just don't try to rush into. Take it one step at a time and don't skip stairs
Last edited by kirbyrocknroll at Jul 11, 2006,
#15
as for NEEDING music theory, no you don't NEED it, however all good musicians who don't inherently know music theory but do write good songs (kurt cobain would be a good example, not that he was hendrix, but regardless of what anyone says he did write good simple songs), DO actually know theory, they just don't know the technical names for it, adam jones from tool says he doesn't know any theory, which is fine, but if you look at their music its mostly all derived from the minor scale or one of its 7 positions.
#16
Once I have learned most of the minor pentatonic scales, where would I go from there?
#18
tons of places, learn the full minor scales and their 7 positions, also alterations of the scales (ie hungarian minor, lydian dominant etc etc) also i would recommend a little music theory (i think they have music theory for dummies kinda books) and also what helped me most was learning about the relationship of the intervals which allows me to write my own scales and have it sound good.
#19
Johnljones7443:

Sorry, I should have been clearer (my jazz teacher was shining through there)
A-maj7 means Aminor maj7, it just looks better and clearer than Ammaj7. It seems like nobodys on this site knows what the (-) means.

Pentatonics are good to start with, that way you'll be hitting the important chord tones.
"There are no wrong notes, just badly chosen ones."
primusfan
It's better with no teeth, trust me. Much fewer scars on my penis now that I've switched from seniors in high school to senior citizens.
#20
Quote by girlyplaya
Once I have learned most of the minor pentatonic scales, where would I go from there?


I'm assuming you're talking about the boxes? If so, can you use them all up and down the neck when you improvising? If not, learn that, if you can then learn the modes.
#21
Quote by Hypnot1st
Johnljones7443:

Sorry, I should have been clearer (my jazz teacher was shining through there)
A-maj7 means Aminor maj7, it just looks better and clearer than Ammaj7. It seems like nobodys on this site knows what the (-) means.

Pentatonics are good to start with, that way you'll be hitting the important chord tones.
"There are no wrong notes, just badly chosen ones."


Ahh, sorry - I read it as Amaj7, though I don't know of the A-maj7 spelling, I've only seen it as Ammaj7 (1 - b3 - (5) - 7) - but that's going a bit deep for someone who has yet to study scales and chord relationships, so I didn't think to mention it.

Thanks for clearing that up
#22
yea, the boxes. how do i learn what scale i am playing if i move around on the neck? i can play some songs and scales, but if you asked me what note/chord/scale i am playing i have no idea! thanks.
#23
the important thing when learning scales is to not just learn the positions. ok great, you know the positions and have 7 notes each with a bunch of places you can play them. the important thing is to know what note you are playing. if you have learned all the positions or boxes, next learn where the root and fifth of the scale is located in each box. so if you know Am pentatonic in every position, learn where every A note and E note is in each of those positions. when youve done that you can now hit strong notes when you want, instead of just hitting random notes that are in key. big deal? hell yeah it is; in fact it can make all the difference in the world if you end on the right note. next step, learn where to find the third and seventh. in your Am scale pentatonic this would mean C and G. once you have those you already have the second (B) by default. so now just work on that a bit.

then you can start phasing yourself into the natural minor scale and learning where the fourth and sixth are. those would be the two remaining notes, D and F. once you have all those down you can start to hear where the notes sound right. suddenly its going to hit you one day when someone strums an Am chord. you will know exactly what notes to hit to give the sound you want. then you just have to put them together in a way that makes them sound good. thats called phrasing and is something best learned through practice. the more you improvise, the more you will learn how to phrase things to sound best.
#24
Quote by Johnljones7443
I'm sorry - you edited your question so now what I've said might not have been what you want... but some of it still applies to your original question though. I hadn't seen your edit


Improvising and learning to make solos is a continous learning process - the majority of the answer you're going to get is ''Just fuck around and play what sounds good'' - while that is true and essential for you to get comfortable with the scales, it isn't all there is to it, so I'll throw down some basic guidelines for you.

Chord tones
.

This means to emphasize chord tones over specific chords... for example, if you're playing a major chord the basic chord tones (1 3 5 7) will lend themselves to a good sounding phrase. Another example would be a minor chord where the basic chord tones would be 1 b3 5 b7.

Rhythmic Lines.

This deals with making your 'solo' rhythmically interesting - as it should be when you're playing anything over a chord progression. What I mean is... don't stick to one set rhythm or note duration - try not to continously play 16th notes or a load of triplets... mix it up. Play a 16th note line, then play one note for 2 measure... whatever, just make it rhythmically interesting to the ear. I had trouble with this kind of thing when it was explained to me, so I took an excercise I learnt from Steve Vai and applied it. Take one note and play over your specific chord progression for a length of time, perhaps an hour. For one hour play nothing but that one note of the chord progression - 10 minutes in you'll end up running out of rhythmic ideas and will force yourself to play rhythmic lines you'd never imagined. Then move onto 2 notes, 3 notes and so on. The ideas you pick up will stick with you.

The Scale.

It's important not to just use specific chord tones as I explained above - but to add other scale notes to add flavour to your chord tones. For example, you could play 3 - 1 - 3 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 1 - they would all be chord tones of a major chord, except the 6th, which will add flavour and spice to your solo once you get familiar with it. Of course, once you're familiar with the scale, you can make all the notes add flavour, but that deals with phrasing.

Motiffs.

A motiff is a musical idea that is repeated. Whether that's 5 or 50 times - how many times it's repeated will co-incide with what you're feeling when you're improvising, but they add stability and give the listener something to catch on to. You'll find when you start improvising, you'll just random notes - that's why you sound like shit most of the time, there's nothing to listen to and it sounds just like what it is, random. Listen to some of your favourite bands or soloists and listen to their solos, you're bound to hear some motiffs and repeating ideas - you'll find the majority of good solos have them.

There are also rhythmic motiffs where you take a basic rhythm and repeat it - try taking 3 notes of the scale and playing them... then move onto the next 3 notes of the scale while keeping the same rhythmic idea, but with different notes, that's a rhythmic motiff.

Then there is melodic motiffs which deals with repeating the same pitches over different chords. For example... take the chord progression C - F - G. Now play the notes C - E - G over the C chord, play the notes F - A - C over the F chord and finally play the notes G - B - D over the G chord. What you're doing is playing notes that have the same relationship with their given chord as the last. In this example, all the notes are the respective 1 - 3 - 5 degrees of each chord. That's a melodic motiff.

Like I pointed out, these are guidelines - not rules. Once you learn these guidelines, then you can break them. ''You can't break the rules if you don't know what they are'' - once you learn them, you can go outside the boundaries of theory and become a decent improviser

PLAGIARISM! lol

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=23749

Give doug the credit hehe...
Looking for my India/Django.