#1
Just curious... How do you improvise with scales? I hear that you learn a certain scale such as A major pentatonic scale or something and you mix the notes up... I know that cant just be it so am I wrong or what someone explain to me. What do you do to improvise and why?

EDIT: Why as in give me a reason why you would choose to play a certain note from a scale... maybe I have no idea what Im talking about
#2
You do just mix up the notes in the scale. It takes lots of practice to know what sounds good though. Not only good as in note combinations, but different rhythms as well.

At first, it's gonna sound like random notes if you have no experience.

EDIT: You would choose a certain note depending on the chords playing under it.

If a C major chord is playing under it and you are improvising in C major, then you could choose to arpeggiate the chord (which means to play the notes that make up the chord), in this case, C, E, and G.

You don't have to do this, but it sounds nice

Now, why would a different note sound better than another note in a certain situation? The harmonic order of strengths can answer that question! The harmonic order of strengths is 1 3 5 7 9(2) 11(4) 13(6)

This will make sense in a minute. Let's say you are writing a solo or a song in C Major. If you resolve on the 1st degree of the scale (C) then the resolution would be stronger than if you resolved to, say, B, which is the 7th degree of the scale. So the farther to the left of the HOS, the more complete the resolution will be; the farther to the right, the weaker.

Now, let's say you are writing a song or solo in G Mixolydian. If you resolve on C (the 4th degree of the G Mixolydian scale), then as you can see, 4(11) would be pretty far to the right on the HOS, thus resulting in a weaker resolution.
Last edited by kirbyrocknroll at Sep 27, 2006,
#3
well...scales are guidelines that generally sound good to the ear using scales while improvising will basically make your music sould "in key" and more "correct". I find it really hard at explaining this without showing u and letting you hear, but neways. think of scales as guidelines for music that sounds liks it "fits" together....hard to explain, but hope that helped :P
P.S. you are always free to go out of one scale and into another and so on

EDIT: it is completely up to you and your mood which notes you choose to play
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will be at peace" -Hendrix
Why are you afraid? What can the world do to you? People can laugh at you, it will do them good-laughter is always a medicine, healthful.
#4
How do you get experience in playing random notes though? And suppose you were to bend to another note not on the scale....can you do that?

EDIT: Oh and to improvise is it best to know the memorize the entire scale? Because this doesnt look very easy to memorize... and how do you know which scale to play to sound a certain way? Like why is the "A Pentatonic Major" called A?
Last edited by Martha Stewart at Sep 27, 2006,
#5
You don't have to memorize all of that. That covers several octaves. You can do quite a bit with only one octave of the scale.
#6
Quote by Martha Stewart
Why as in give me a reason why you would choose to play a certain note from a scale... maybe I have no idea what Im talking about


Your ear will tell you which note to hit.
#7
Quote by Martha Stewart
How do you get experience in playing random notes though? And suppose you were to bend to another note not on the scale....can you do that?


okay, umm...have u ever heard a melody in your head? the answer is probably yes, so there try to make the same melody on guitar. this is very important and fun to do, but, to do that, you should be able to understand what scale that melody goes with. if you practice that, it shoudl give you some ear training and you will be able to play what you hear in your head.
just something to keep in mind: focus more on jsut screwing around and having fun while improvising,dont think too much about mistakes and such

and about bending, sure do what you feel like, if you feel like bending, bend, feel like tapping? tap. feel like throwing your guitar down and lighting it on fire? sure :P(althought i dont advise doing that to often). do what you feel like in the moment, and try not to care too much if nething sounds "wrong" or out of place.
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will be at peace" -Hendrix
Why are you afraid? What can the world do to you? People can laugh at you, it will do them good-laughter is always a medicine, healthful.
#8
Quote by Martha Stewart
How do you get experience in playing random notes though? And suppose you were to bend to another note not on the scale....can you do that?

EDIT: Oh and to improvise is it best to know the memorize the entire scale? Because this doesnt look very easy to memorize... and how do you know which scale to play to sound a certain way? Like why is the "A Pentatonic Major" called A?


You can do annnyyything you wish to do. Remember, theory is just a guideline!

And some guitarists like Marty Friedman sometimes take a note not in the scale and bend it up to a note that is in the scale.

You gain experience, by observing how each note sounds and how they sound together, under ceratin chords, etc..

As for the memorization...Try not to rely too much on patterns. This will make you think of scales as a pattern, instead of notes. Notes make up the scales. This will also limit you if you think in patterns. My advice would be to just learn the notes on the fingerboard and learn the notes in the scale you want to use. That way, you can play all around the neck.

And different scales have different moods and sounds. The chords being played over are a big factor in determining how a scale sounds.
#9
A pentatonic major is called A because A is the root note. If you want to solo over a riff in the key of A, you would use the A scale.
"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."-Duke
#10
Quote by kirbyrocknroll
You do just mix up the notes in the scale. It takes lots of practice to know what sounds good though. Not only good as in note combinations, but different rhythms as well.

At first, it's gonna sound like random notes if you have no experience.

EDIT: You would choose a certain note depending on the chords playing under it.

If a C major chord is playing under it and you are improvising in C major, then you could choose to arpeggiate the chord (which means to play the notes that make up the chord), in this case, C, E, and G.

You don't have to do this, but it sounds nice

Now, why would a different note sound better than another note in a certain situation? The harmonic order of strengths can answer that question! The harmonic order of strengths is 1 3 5 7 9(2) 11(4) 13(6)

This will make sense in a minute. Let's say you are writing a solo or a song in C Major. If you resolve on the 1st degree of the scale (C) then the resolution would be stronger than if you resolved to, say, B, which is the 7th degree of the scale. So the farther to the left of the HOS, the more complete the resolution will be; the farther to the right, the weaker.
Now, let's say you are writing a song or solo in G Mixolydian. If you resolve on C (the 4th degree of the G Mixolydian scale), then as you can see, 4(11) would be pretty far to the right on the HOS, thus resulting in a weaker resolution.



Im confused what do you mean by resolved to B and, this might be a stupid question, whats an HOS?
#11
Quote by Martha Stewart
Im confused what do you mean by resolved to B and, this might be a stupid question, whats an HOS?


HOS...I abbreviated Harmonic Order of Strengths. Sorry for the confusion.

And by resolve I mean this: Take a standard C major chord progression, C F G.

C-F-G-C

You resolve to the C major chord at the end.
#12
Oh...so how do you know what chord progression would be for a certain note?

EDIT: Wait... I think I get it. You use the harmonic order of strengths right? So if it the note were A major, then the chord progression would be A D F?
Last edited by Martha Stewart at Sep 27, 2006,
#13
Quote by Martha Stewart
Oh...so how do you know what chord progression would be for a certain note?


Come again?

How can you tell what notes go with a certain chord?
#15
Quote by Martha Stewart
Oh...so how do you know what chord progression would be for a certain note?

EDIT: Wait... I think I get it. You use the harmonic order of strengths right? So if it the note were A major, then the chord progression would be A D F?


Nope

There are many many possible chord progressions for a single key.

Like in C major, you could have the chord progressions:

C F G
C F C
C G C
C G Am C

etc.

By standard, I meant a widely used one, using the first, fourth, and fifth chords of the scale (I-IV-V).

Many possible combinations. That was just an example of the order of strengths.

The point I meant to make with the HOS was that, certain notes have different effects on the improvisation depends on things like the scale and the chords playing under it. Some sound stronger and more in place than others, while some just sound bad and dissonant.
#16
Does it take a long time just to learn this "Harmonic Order of Strengths" or am I just not getting it?

How long did it take you to learn it?

EDIT: Im gonna have to go soon, but Ill check back later. Thanks for the help and keep it comin
Last edited by Martha Stewart at Sep 27, 2006,
#17
Quote by Martha Stewart
Does it take a long time just to learn this "Harmonic Order of Strengths" or am I just not getting it?

How long did it take you to learn it?

EDIT: Im gonna have to go soon, but Ill check back later. Thanks for the help and keep it comin


Ok...Let's start over, I, being bad at explaining, probably made this sound confusing!

Okay, so the harmonic order of strengths.

1 3 5 7 9(2) 11(4) 13(6)

C major is: C D E F G A B

C being 1, D being 2, and so on. Basically, the farther to the left the degree is in in the scale, the stronger and more complete the resolution will sound. By resolution, I mean that, for example, you play a lick and it ends on a certain note. You resolve to that last note.

Let's a take a single chord progression (our of many possible ones ) in C major, the same scale that we are using to improvise!

I'll use a very common one: C major-F major-G major-C major.

Let's imagine we hear those chords playing and we are playing a solo over it. If we resolve to C (1), it will sound more complete than if we resolved to D (2). As you can see, C (the first degree of the scale) is on the very left of the Harmonic Order of Strengths, whole D (2), is fairly to the right. This means that the lick or solo will sound more complete if you resolve to C, rather than if you resolved to D. It also helps that our chord progression (C F G) also resolves to C!

Making sense so far? I hope so

Basically, the harmonic order of strengths is just a guideline that shows what notes sound stronger in certain situations. As you gain more experience, you ear will be able to tell you this as well. Remember, theory tells you how and why things work.

As for a side-note, I learned the harmonic order of strengths. I didn't take very long. I read an explanation and understood what it meant. Don't blame yourself if you don't get it. Blame the person explaining it But really, if you don't understand something, don't get discouraged; it just needs to be explained differently. If you still don't understand, I am sorry, and advise you to wait for/ask the many knowledgable people that are browsing MT. I'm sure one of them could help you.
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But anyway...keys don't have only one chord progression.

A chord progression's definition is in the name. A progression of chords C-F-G is just one of many chord progressions and combinations that are able to be carved out of the C major scale.

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Last edited by kirbyrocknroll at Sep 27, 2006,