#1
how I visualize the fretboard is purely on what key I'm in. I don't look at it as the shapes of the scales or chords, although I know to play them, I see the entire fretboard as one giant pattern per key and just play with the sounds in each key. And when I say key I mean the Major and relative minor are the same thing and basically just choose which note to use as the centre on depending on how I want to sound. I'm wondering though, are there other ways to see the fretboard, am I missing something significant? I tried looking at is as scale patterns but then I found I was getting stuck in the patterns and it was very difficult to deviate outside the patterns if I used them as the basis for something.
#4
I'm just wondering if I'm looking at music from a limited perspective, I'm self teaching and I have no clue if I'm missing the boat.
#5
You can use scale patterns as long as you know what notes you're using and why, if you don't then you're missing out on a lot of good opportunities improvisation-wise. I visualise the fretboard both in terms of notes of a key and in terms of intervals. Sometimes I think in notes, sometimes I think in intervals. It all depends on the situation, and whether the scale is really foreign to me or not.
#6
Quote by farcry
I'm just wondering if I'm looking at music from a limited perspective, I'm self teaching and I have no clue if I'm missing the boat.

Hey, run with it. As long as you're not looking at it as a simple grid.
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#8
I view the fretboard similarly too - as one big pattern per key, rather than the individual "boxes" that most methods seem to teach. It seems more useful to me this way, and once I got the pattern down well, it made it much easier to play horizontally and diagonally rather than just vertical pentatonic patterns.

You should be careful about thinking of the major and minor (and the other modes) as the same pattern with only a different tonal center though - while this is true in some regards, the way you play the patterns are different as well as simply the notes you resolve to. You should learn exactly what interval (relative to the key) each note in the pattern represents - i.e. this is the major third, or the fifth, and so on, and this pattern is entirely different in major vs. minor. Also learn the notes that fall outside the pentatonics (4th and 7th in major, 2nd and 6th in minor), as these notes are often useful.

Once you learn this, you can play along with chord changes in much more interesting ways (Hendrix-esque chord fragments start jumping out at you, etc). Once you know your intervals, and can figure out where you are in the pattern based on a root note on any string, you can play any chord anywhere on the fretboard - e.g. you're playing a I chord, and a change to IV is coming up; since you know a) where the 4th is in relation to your pattern, b) how to immediately modulate to a different fretboard pattern based on the new root note (the 4th), and c) where the relevant chord tones are for the major chord, you can move quickly into playing the IV chord in any way you like (chord fragment, full chord (inverted or otherwise), arpeggios, etc) without moving elsewhere on the fretboard.

That opens up a lot of new doors. And, by the way, I also think of things in terms of intervals rather than specific notes. I can find any particular note on the fretboard, and by extension the relevant pattern, but once I do that I forget about specific notes and think in terms of intervals. I find it much easier to do it this way as you don't have to care what key you're in (on the guitar at least - piano I imagine wouldn't be so easy to play in different keys). A particular progression on the guitar can be played exactly the same way in any key, just shifted up or down the fretboard.

Some people do things this way (I'll call it chord-centric playing), and some people do it differently (which I'll call key-centric playing). In the second case, you stick with the fretboard pattern for the key you're in, and if you're playing the IV chord, you think of it as the 4th, 6th, and root of the key, rather than the root, 3rd, and 5th of a different key (or chord). I find chord-centric playing (where you mentally switch the pattern entirely) to be easier and more fruitful, but if I'm just playing a quick chord change I'll sometimes just handle it in a key-centric way. It's helpful to know both.

Key-centric playing is more difficult in styles that stray out of key (blues, jazz, etc). If I'm playing something like that, I'll almost always think in terms of chords rather than key.
#9
Quote by farcry
how I visualize the fretboard is purely on what key I'm in. I don't look at it as the shapes of the scales or chords, although I know to play them, I see the entire fretboard as one giant pattern per key and just play with the sounds in each key. And when I say key I mean the Major and relative minor are the same thing and basically just choose which note to use as the centre on depending on how I want to sound. I'm wondering though, are there other ways to see the fretboard, am I missing something significant? I tried looking at is as scale patterns but then I found I was getting stuck in the patterns and it was very difficult to deviate outside the patterns if I used them as the basis for something.
Maybe I view the fretboard the same way? I thought I was alone in this thinking...

I look at the fretboard completely in intervals and scale degrees. Like, I would know what interval the majority (probably about 90%) of the frets make with the root of the chord playing.

I would also be able to read music, know exactly what interval I was playing, both harmonically and Melodically. I would be able to play a long winded melody, but at the end of it, I would have no clue what note I was playing, just the intervals.

I guess I sort of got this way because I was better at intervals that memorizing stuff. I have really bad memory for numbers (The only phone number I know is my house number) and positions and that (except I remember dates pretty well).
        ,
        |\
[U]        | |                     [/U]
[U]        |/     .-.              [/U]
[U]       /|_     `-’       |      [/U]
[U]      //| \      |       |      [/U]
[U]     | \|_ |     |     .-|      [/U]
      *-|-*    (_)     `-’
        |
        L.
#10
Quote by demonofthenight

I guess I sort of got this way because I was better at intervals that memorizing stuff. I have really bad memory for numbers (The only phone number I know is my house number) and positions and that (except I remember dates pretty well).


I'm ok with numbers, but the problem with thinking about it in notes rather than intervals is that notes aren't easy to quickly add and subtract in your head - there's weird anomalies where the patterns change (e.g. E -> F). Whereas if you think about it in terms of intervals, a major third is always 2 whole steps and so on. Root -> 3rd -> 5th is always (in a major key, anyway) a major third followed by a minor third, whereas in terms of notes it may be C -> E -> G, or D -> F# -> A, or something uglier.

When you think in intervals, the unnecessary details of keys disappear and you just look at the underlying structure. Naming of notes aside, every key works the same exact way.
#11
well I try to view it as intervals, the funnest thing is messing around with notes that are out of key when playing harmonies, my fortè if you will, is playing 3 strings at a time and playing a melody and a harmony at the same time while experimenting with modulation, it creates some very interesting stuff. The way it is in my head when I'm playing isn't exactly perfect fifth, major 7th etc etc. It's more of a geometric relationship between the notes on the 3 strings I'm playing at once, I know what notes are in what key, and I know what shapes will draw me out of that key into another fluently, sometimes I can do it without anyone noticing, confused many a bass player with that. yeah, umm, yeah.
#13
Very interesting stuff! Is there a book to elaborate these points?

Quote by xtapol
I view the fretboard similarly too - as one big pattern per key, rather than the individual "boxes" that most methods seem to teach. It seems more useful to me this way, and once I got the pattern down well, it made it much easier to play horizontally and diagonally rather than just vertical pentatonic patterns.

You should be careful about thinking of the major and minor (and the other modes) as the same pattern with only a different tonal center though - while this is true in some regards, the way you play the patterns are different as well as simply the notes you resolve to. You should learn exactly what interval (relative to the key) each note in the pattern represents - i.e. this is the major third, or the fifth, and so on, and this pattern is entirely different in major vs. minor. Also learn the notes that fall outside the pentatonics (4th and 7th in major, 2nd and 6th in minor), as these notes are often useful.

Once you learn this, you can play along with chord changes in much more interesting ways (Hendrix-esque chord fragments start jumping out at you, etc). Once you know your intervals, and can figure out where you are in the pattern based on a root note on any string, you can play any chord anywhere on the fretboard - e.g. you're playing a I chord, and a change to IV is coming up; since you know a) where the 4th is in relation to your pattern, b) how to immediately modulate to a different fretboard pattern based on the new root note (the 4th), and c) where the relevant chord tones are for the major chord, you can move quickly into playing the IV chord in any way you like (chord fragment, full chord (inverted or otherwise), arpeggios, etc) without moving elsewhere on the fretboard.

That opens up a lot of new doors. And, by the way, I also think of things in terms of intervals rather than specific notes. I can find any particular note on the fretboard, and by extension the relevant pattern, but once I do that I forget about specific notes and think in terms of intervals. I find it much easier to do it this way as you don't have to care what key you're in (on the guitar at least - piano I imagine wouldn't be so easy to play in different keys). A particular progression on the guitar can be played exactly the same way in any key, just shifted up or down the fretboard.

Some people do things this way (I'll call it chord-centric playing), and some people do it differently (which I'll call key-centric playing). In the second case, you stick with the fretboard pattern for the key you're in, and if you're playing the IV chord, you think of it as the 4th, 6th, and root of the key, rather than the root, 3rd, and 5th of a different key (or chord). I find chord-centric playing (where you mentally switch the pattern entirely) to be easier and more fruitful, but if I'm just playing a quick chord change I'll sometimes just handle it in a key-centric way. It's helpful to know both.

Key-centric playing is more difficult in styles that stray out of key (blues, jazz, etc). If I'm playing something like that, I'll almost always think in terms of chords rather than key.
#14
Quote by farcry
I'm just wondering if I'm looking at music from a limited perspective, I'm self teaching and I have no clue if I'm missing the boat.


It's more manageable to think in smaller clusters so that you are always aware of every interval you are hitting in relation to the root of the chord. The problem with extended patterns or shapes that it is difficult to competently navigate them.
#17
kindlychung

May help you ...

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/redirect/post?p=34066040

Ultimately, use what works for you. It's a very good idea to see intervals relative to tonal centre, and also intervals relative to chord root. Personally, I almost never think of pitch names, and rather just the above ... though I actually don't consciously think of them too much either when improvising, other than landing pitches at end of phrase, combined with what I'm hearing in my head.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 31, 2016,