#1
I read somewhere awhile back that when soloing, if you used mainly the 1,4,5,&7 notes of a scale in a solo you could be safe with that. I.E. not sound too bad. I know this is worded horribly and I hope you guys can understand what im asking. I don't know if the above scale degrees are correct but I seem to remember it was something like that. Thanks
#2
I don't think that's true. I would think that it is the actual notes in the chord. (IE over G major, g major triad, g, b, and d are the safest notes). All other "safe" notes are notes in the G major scale, but they should be used as passing notes as opposed to accented notes.

EDIT: Assuming G major is the key of the song as well.
#3
Hmm, that sounds right. Maybe that's what I was thinking about. It's been so long since I read that, I can't remember.
#4
stay in key when you want to be safe. but i think you mean 1 3 5 and 7. The 4th is the "avoid" note in a guthrie govan book i read and some other jazz ones because it just doesnt sound pleasant. its a half a step away from the major 3rd and 2 notes that are right next to each other are the most dissonant. Of course, i may jsut be talking out of my ass and trying to act like i know theory. so someone correct me if im wrong. Just do what sound good.
#5
There are "safe notes" and there are varying degrees to what they are. Arguably the safest notes are the ones in the chords. Next up is the pentatonic scale. In a major key, this is the 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 of the major scale; in a minor key, 1, 3, 4, 5, 7 of the minor scale. The omitted notes are ones that have another in-key note a half-step next in such a way that it wants to resolve to it. By sticking to only pentatonic tones you are able to avoid most unwanted or unresolved tension. So, in C major:
C D E F(wants to resolve to E) G A B(wants to resolve to C)
Arguably, the reason these notes resolve the way they do is because they are part of the strongest cadence there is: the V I, or authentic cadence.
Eliminating the notes that have a specific place to go leaves you only with C D E G A, which is fairly "safe".
Last edited by grampastumpy at Jul 18, 2008,
#6
hmmm what about the blue note? that's a note next to another one, how do people make that sound good?

EDIT: and i thought the minor pentatonic was 1 b3 4 5 b7
Last edited by rodyrdz at Jul 18, 2008,
#7
Quote by rodyrdz
hmmm what about the blue note? that's a note next to another one, how do people make that sound good?
Pretty much any note can be made to sound good. It's just that the pentatonics offer the easiest way of avoiding tension and thus can be used with a lot less precision and thought without creating said tension. For inexperienced musicians, they are the easiest way to sound "good".
#8
Quote by rodyrdz
hmmm what about the blue note? that's a note next to another one, how do people make that sound good?

EDIT: and i thought the minor pentatonic was 1 b3 4 5 b7


It is, in relation tot he MAJOR scale. he said "....of the MINOR scale". The "blue" note, is usually used as a passing tone. you rarely hear it being sustained. And any note can sound good depending on the rhythm. listen to marty friedman for example. he uses accidentals all the time, but they all sound good because they're uses as passing tones. Get better at phrasing and you can make any note sound good.
#9
Quote by rodyrdz
hmmm what about the blue note? that's a note next to another one, how do people make that sound good?

EDIT: and i thought the minor pentatonic was 1 b3 4 5 b7
Basically what shtiming said. I was referring to the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th degrees of the minor scale.
#10
Fuck being safe. I just hit random notes in certain patterns 90% of the time and it seems to work pretty well.

Don't rely on theory, use it to guide you... I know that if I want something to sound tense I can use ascending and descending 2nds, like so:

D------------------------------------7h9-6h8-5h7-----------------------------------------
A--1h3-2h4-3h5-4h6-5h7-6h8-7h9-8h10--------------5h7-6h8---------------------------------
E---------------------------------------------------------5h7--4h6-3h5-2h4-1h3-0h2p0h2~~-


Just try and think in intervals rather than notes... learn the effects that intervals create in different situations, and how to manipulate tension and release through that. Build up a library of patterns that you know will sound a certain way when applied in a certain fashion, if you get my drift.

A good guitarist to check out for this is Ler LaLonde from Primus, find some live shows where they do jams and improv solos a lot... he was also a student of Joe Satriani, who of course is another great guy to study up on a bit.
#11
Quote by Wonthefu
Fuck being safe. I just hit random notes in certain patterns 90% of the time and it seems to work pretty well.
Which is why I suggest that people reading that statement should ignore it. Improvising isnt just "playing" random notes at "random" times; its about phrasing and note choice and expression and a perfected musical ear.
Sorry if I sounded like a dick, but that statement offended me for some strange reason.

To T/S
I think what your talking about is pentatonics. Pentatonics are the safe notes in a scale.
The minor pentatonic, the safe notes in a minor scale, is 1,b3,4,5,b7 and the major pentatonic, the safe notes in a major scale, is 1,2,3,5,6.

Try playing major pentatonics over major chords (ie, G major pentatonic over G major chords) and minor pentatonics over minor chords.

Also, if you want to use notes that are even safe than the pentatonics, you should use chord tones.
        ,
        |\
[U]        | |                     [/U]
[U]        |/     .-.              [/U]
[U]       /|_     `-’       |      [/U]
[U]      //| \      |       |      [/U]
[U]     | \|_ |     |     .-|      [/U]
      *-|-*    (_)     `-’
        |
        L.
#12
Also, if you want to sound more unique, you can combine major pentatonics and minor pentatonics. for example, when an Em chord is playing, you could use e maj pentatonic. Im pretty sure it makes no sense theoretically, but it works and it sound "different". You want different.
#13
I agree with Demon, if you want to solo safely, pentatonics are a great way to go.


On the major scale. If your song is all in the same key, then all the notes of the major scale are "safe" notes. Some of them are just "less safe" than others. This doesn't mean they should be completely avoided(I hate the term avoid note) but they should be treated specially. The fourth is one of them. If you bang an F (fourth) on the down beat on top of a C major chord, it's not going to sound that great. But if you use it as a passing tone or you use it to get somewhere like the third, it's gonna work nicely.


Another use with care note(this is more in my own opinion) is the root note. If you keep hitting root notes on down beats, your solo is going to be VERY VERY SAFE. It's definitely not going to sound wrong. But it gets boring immediately. Think about it this way. If you're playing with people, the bassist is playing the root note, the piano or guitarist might also play it, adding a new root note gives you no special colour. I'm not saying it's bad, it's a very pleasant sound, no problem at all, but trust me, if you overuse root notes, you're going to sound washed out.


Now, after saying all of that, the true safe notes to play are: 1 3 5 and 7. The 2 is great and so is the 6, but if you really want safety, the chord tones can't let you down, when a 9(2) could let you down.

I'll explain it this way. 1, the root, it your home base, it's your starting point and your ending point, but you don't run back to it when you realize you're not going to make it from second to third base. My point is that the root is safe if you want to finish a phrase, it's like BAM, I'm here, this is home, this is good, I've just finished, but it's terrible if you use it indiscriminately and keep saying HERE I AM HOME OK I SOUND PERFECTLY BUT IM ADDING NOTHING TO THE CONVERSATION. It's sort of like when someone keeps answering with monosyllabic words. Gets annoying.

The third, is your second base, it's a good place to get somewhere. When you land on a third, you sound like: ok, I'm here, I sound really nice, very soft and melodic, but guess what I could go anywhere from here. Thirds are great notes.

The fifth is your third base: It's a sort of feeling of safety. When you play a fifth you sound full, rich, it's not as melodic as the third but it's not as bland as the root. The fifth is great for hitting if you're not quite sure where to go. From the fifth you're really near to the sixth and the seventh, two rather interesting notes.

The seventh is your fourth base: This note is great. It's soft like the third yet it has an edge. It WANTS to go somewhere. It's like: here I am, I'm still sounding good, but I really want to get home, I'm almost there. It's like the moment before an orgasm. you've really worked it all up until this big moment of pleasure and you orgasm when you hit the tonic on a down beat at the end of a phrase. THAT'S what you want to go for. That BAM I'm finished after going through all the bases.


It's a great skill to make arpeggios sound like they aren't arpeggios, you're gonna have to practice a lot. I know I can barely do it and it's basically all I do when practising improvising lately. You're going to have to work hard so that you don't sound like you're just playing exercises but it's worth it.


It's hard to do this at first, especially because the chords seem to go by so fast, but once you manage to follow smoothly you can start adding some passing tones and other goodies which really makes your solo sound complete.


I hope I helped.
#14
^ this guys knows what hes talking about. listen to him. and very nice descriptions of intervals.
#15
^^ Yes. I kinda wish I could have written that.
Quote by Wonthefu
Fuck being safe. I just hit random notes in certain patterns 90% of the time and it seems to work pretty well.

...

While that might work, it basically takes all the musical knowledge out of your playing and says to the trained listener, "look at me, i can play guitar, lulz." Compare your solos to that of a really well trained guitarist, and you'll hear the difference.
#16
Pentatonics are safe because they consist of the most consonant notes in the key you're using. But also remember that a lot of solos that seem "safer" will likely be slower, so make sure that you're paying attention to your phrasing.
#18
Quote by ouchies
Chord tones will ALWAYS be safe



Not always true, if you have for example a b9 or a major 7 chord and you play one of those notes in the lowest register while another guitar player, or any chordal player for that matter, plays a root position voicing it's not going to sound very nice.
#20
I don't mean entirely random, like just go nuts and hit every note, but sticking to certain notes in a key just seems bland to me.

I think in intervals when I play. I know certain scale structures and how to apply them across the fretboard. And most importantly I know how to create and relieve tension. That's what's most important.
#23
Quote by ouchies
^ Yeah I guess you're right, I should have said the root third and fifth
The root is often an ugly tone over a maj7 chord as there is often a b9 interval between the 7 played low and the root played high.
#24
Quote by confusius
I agree with Demon, if you want to solo safely, pentatonics are a great way to go.


On the major scale. If your song is all in the same key, then all the notes of the major scale are "safe" notes. Some of them are just "less safe" than others. This doesn't mean they should be completely avoided(I hate the term avoid note) but they should be treated specially. The fourth is one of them. If you bang an F (fourth) on the down beat on top of a C major chord, it's not going to sound that great. But if you use it as a passing tone or you use it to get somewhere like the third, it's gonna work nicely.


Another use with care note(this is more in my own opinion) is the root note. If you keep hitting root notes on down beats, your solo is going to be VERY VERY SAFE. It's definitely not going to sound wrong. But it gets boring immediately. Think about it this way. If you're playing with people, the bassist is playing the root note, the piano or guitarist might also play it, adding a new root note gives you no special colour. I'm not saying it's bad, it's a very pleasant sound, no problem at all, but trust me, if you overuse root notes, you're going to sound washed out.


Now, after saying all of that, the true safe notes to play are: 1 3 5 and 7. The 2 is great and so is the 6, but if you really want safety, the chord tones can't let you down, when a 9(2) could let you down.

I'll explain it this way. 1, the root, it your home base, it's your starting point and your ending point, but you don't run back to it when you realize you're not going to make it from second to third base. My point is that the root is safe if you want to finish a phrase, it's like BAM, I'm here, this is home, this is good, I've just finished, but it's terrible if you use it indiscriminately and keep saying HERE I AM HOME OK I SOUND PERFECTLY BUT IM ADDING NOTHING TO THE CONVERSATION. It's sort of like when someone keeps answering with monosyllabic words. Gets annoying.

The third, is your second base, it's a good place to get somewhere. When you land on a third, you sound like: ok, I'm here, I sound really nice, very soft and melodic, but guess what I could go anywhere from here. Thirds are great notes.

The fifth is your third base: It's a sort of feeling of safety. When you play a fifth you sound full, rich, it's not as melodic as the third but it's not as bland as the root. The fifth is great for hitting if you're not quite sure where to go. From the fifth you're really near to the sixth and the seventh, two rather interesting notes.

The seventh is your fourth base: This note is great. It's soft like the third yet it has an edge. It WANTS to go somewhere. It's like: here I am, I'm still sounding good, but I really want to get home, I'm almost there. It's like the moment before an orgasm. you've really worked it all up until this big moment of pleasure and you orgasm when you hit the tonic on a down beat at the end of a phrase. THAT'S what you want to go for. That BAM I'm finished after going through all the bases.


It's a great skill to make arpeggios sound like they aren't arpeggios, you're gonna have to practice a lot. I know I can barely do it and it's basically all I do when practising improvising lately. You're going to have to work hard so that you don't sound like you're just playing exercises but it's worth it.


It's hard to do this at first, especially because the chords seem to go by so fast, but once you manage to follow smoothly you can start adding some passing tones and other goodies which really makes your solo sound complete.


I hope I helped.


That is the strangest, and possibly the most awesome way I've seen someone describe intervals, EVER.

As far as safe notes, I think the pentatonic is as safe as you can get in terms of scales, and I'm pretty sure that almost everyone agrees with me, and probably already thinks that. Why do you think its used in EVERY genre of music? It's hard to make it NOT fit the music you're playing!

I read somewhere that a music theory expert (don't ask me who, I can't remember) says that the pentatonic is the "natural" scale for the people, that children respond to that scale most favorably, even at a very young age, and that trend continues into adulthood.

But, it all really comes down to phrasing, you can make anything sound safe if you want to, even a Ford Pinto...
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