#1
Hi there everybody. I have a question which has been bugging me for awhile. How do you guys play over changes. I have recently started focusing on this quite alot....and my approach has been pick a progression in a key and then memorise the notes of each chord and improvise by landing on tones in the chord as required. However, I am thinking this approach may not be the best since anytime I am confronted by a chord I dont know, I will be lost.

The only other method I can think of is playing using scale degrees ie when playing over a C major chord, I would think of it like C being the root, and then I would figure out where I was by relating the 3rd and 5th to the root as opposed to thinking, 'ok I am going to land on a C here and an E here etc etc.'I would think 'ok here comes the C major chord I am going to land on the major 3rd of C'

In some ways I can see how the 2nd approach would be easier because you only need to know your chord formulas(which I do), but I can also see how it may be easy to get lost since you are constantly referencing everything back to the root of the chord as opposed to just aiming for certain notes.

Either way I am not looking for a method to master improvisation in "30 days!!" or that lol...just seeing what other guys do since if you can do it I can do it lol

Any help is great guys. I know some of you must be proficient at improvising over changes and that so a simple explanation of how you go about it would be great since this is an aspect of my playing I am really struggling with.

Cheers
#3
as corny as it sounds
just feel it

you can always speed up parts to land on the note you want
just make sure you recognise it when you play it
Hey Guy
#4
I have spent the past 10 years playing. My improv is great as far as rock/metal goes. I am getting into jazz and want to learn the most efficient way to play over changes and be able to target notes etc etc. So as much as I respect everyones opinion, please dont say 'stop thinking too much'. I dont intend on becoming a robot, I just want to know the best way to go about this, since playing over fast chord changes is something I am totally not going to pull off by ear and make it sound pro. So if any of you guys play jazz or fusion and have grounding in this it would be great to hear your views
#5
Playing over fast chord changes....if all the chords are in key, then play in the appropriate scale and you'll be reet.
If you have chords from outside of the scale, an interesting approach could be to change the scale based upon the chord, so play in E minor for an E minor chord, then G minor for a G minor chord etc etc.
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#6
Hey. thanks. I am already incorporating that and most of the things I am working on are playing over chords not in the same key(well, frequent key changes anyway). I am relaly just wanting to know the best way to work on targeting notes. I can run around scales no problem and make it sound good. But as far as palying over frequent key changes, just changing scale doesn'nt cut it unless I am targeting notes I know will sound good. For instance if the key suddenly changes to C major and it is a C major chord...I dont want to begin my phrase by landing on the 4th of that scale because its going to sound dissonant. I would want to land on maybe the 3rd or the 7th but I am just wanting to know how any guys on here who already play maybe jazz or fusion, go about this. DO you have the chords memorized so as soon as you see C major you think Ill play E, the 3rd of C major. Or do you think. ok here comes C major I am going to play the 3rd degree of C.

I know technically its the same thing but its 2 totally different ways of thinking about it. And its ok talking about feel, but being able to target notes you know will sound good is an absolute godsend lol
#7
When I improvise, I'm aware of the notes I'm playing, what their scale degrees are, and how the notes relate to the chords that I'm playing over, however my mind is focused on the music and what it sounds like more than anything else.

I see the information as something to be studied and to know about, but I don't dwell on them deeply when I'm actually playing. I'm more focused on what I'm building rather than the nuts and bolts that I'm using to create the building.

Study as much as you can, listen as much as you can. You will likely come up with an approach that works for you.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Oct 28, 2008,
#8
Hello. What i usually do is thinking of arpeggio patterns. If it is chords that i have played many times before i can see the patterns across the whole neck. But starting out I would recommend sticking to a position, for instance the fifth, which is from the 4-9 fret across all strings.
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#9
Quote by Munky
When I improvise, I'm aware of the notes I'm playing, what their scale degrees are, and how the notes relate to the chords that I'm playing over, however my mind is focused on the music and what it sounds like more than anything else.

I see the information as something to be studied and to know about, but I don't dwell on them deeply when I'm actually playing. I'm more focused on what I'm building rather than the nuts and bolts that I'm using to create the building.

Study as much as you can, listen as much as you can. You will likely come up with an approach that works for you.



+1.


This is what I try to do.
#10
You don't have to play the notes in the chords all the time.

Think of it this way, if you're just using various arpegios of each chord then you aren't really adding anything to the basic chord progression because any note you have in the melody is already in the chord. If you use other notes then you are basically expanding the chord to use other intervals.

I suggest thinking more about the key in general and less about the chords. Your melody should have some sense of direction, like gradually getting higher before going lower (scaluar runs help with this) and arpegiated chords all the time make melodies a bit jumpy.

As much as it pains me to say it, in this case you really should concentrate more on how it sounds and less on the theory of it. Of course you need some theory to play in the key but if you just play, notice something doesn't sound good and change it it could save you a lot of time and get you a better melody.
#11
To the above comment, playing an arpeggio doesn't mean you're limited to the arpeggio or are playing it in order, it just means it's the framework upon which you develop your solo. At least, it should be.
#12
what your asking is way beyond the scope of this forum..but i know what you want...and yes you are in that middle space where you "know alot" but still want to be sure of what your playing...this is where the term "improv" really gets defined...

key center may or may not be clearly defined in a middle passage of a piece..but some of the changes are familier...but they don't seem to "resolve" to a "root chord" ... but it may sound like it resolves...aint jazz fun...

in jazz solos with "fast changes" or even slow ones and in many fusion pieces you are on your own...your sense of key is all there is to guide you...you internalize the entire piece and play away from the beginning and work toward the end....use chord cycles...ii vi ii V I..circle of fifths...sub V7 and bV7 sub principles...some of it will work to your liking some wont...but you will learn each time you play...play slow on some fast passages...and fast on slow ones...getting comfortable in new situations as fast as you can...until new pieces and progressions are just "another" thing to play...

there is no right "note" to end on ... i use alot of altered dom chords for ending passages on my solos...mixed with diminished runs and fills...and long time established riffs...the key for me is to play short phrases and "hook em together" and use them as a base..a safe zone to come back to..then take some risks...play a finger pattern that you have no idea how it will relate to the piece...back to the safe zone...another pattern or melodic idea you have superimposed on top of the progression....back to the safe zone...

in time the safe zone is needed less and you will feel free to use more "new" ideas in your solos...

hope this helps

play well

wolf
#13
Thanks for the info. Yeah as far as writing melodys are concerned...I go with whats in my head.
I am only talking about on the spot improvisation. Someone has just handed me a chart with 8 different chords on it and thats what I am improvising over. As it stands I know what modes to play over all different types of chords. I know lots of theory related to this. And as much as playing and feeling whats in my head is concerned thats all very well...but I am mostly refering to improvising on-the-spot with no previous preparation bar looking at the chord chart. I just figure its good to know how to get to notes in the chord so that if I do get lost I can easily land on a chord tone and sound pro and at the same time give me time to think. I dont want to be playing and land on a horrible note and have no preconceived way of landing on a note that sounds great. Of course my ear is fairly developed and I very much doubt my ear douldnt handle landing on the right notes even if the chord changes were fast. But, I am just trying to gather more knowledge so that things like this are not a worry. And whilst I dont plan on relying on it, like guitar munky said, he knows the stuff but isnt conciously thinking about it. That is my goal, I am merely looking for the best way to apply what I already know about chord scale relationships to the fretboard
#14
Quote by Confusius
To the above comment, playing an arpeggio doesn't mean you're limited to the arpeggio or are playing it in order, it just means it's the framework upon which you develop your solo. At least, it should be.

I meant an arpeggio as playing the notes of a chord seperately, which by TS saying he lands on the notes in the chords I assumed he was doing somewhat.

I honestly don't know what your trying to reply to or what you mean though, when I said arpeggio I meant arpeggio.
#16
i personally tend to simply keep the root of the chord underneath in mind and play leads based on intervals from that such as "its a C major, so C is my tonic note here and i can use any other note i want as long as its melodically conducive to my current tonic or leads into my next tonic"
#17
I meant an arpeggio as playing the notes of a chord seperately, which by TS saying he lands on the notes in the chords I assumed he was doing somewhat.

I honestly don't know what your trying to reply to or what you mean though, when I said arpeggio I meant arpeggio.


I wasn't talking about the strict definition of arpeggio, I was just saying that when one solos with arpeggios, you're definitely not limited to playing the chord tones, or playing them in order. It doesn't mean you can't use scales either. It's just a way of thinking of how to solo.
#18
Quote by Confusius
I wasn't talking about the strict definition of arpeggio, I was just saying that when one solos with arpeggios, you're definitely not limited to playing the chord tones, or playing them in order. It doesn't mean you can't use scales either. It's just a way of thinking of how to solo.

Sorry, I might just be being thick here, but I still don't understand what part of my post you were referring to.

In my post I used the term arpeggio in the technical sense and I don't get why you just told me another definition of an arpeggio. I'm the one who used the word, so I don't understand how this definition has any bearing on what I was saying.
#19
The note I want to keep in my head is the target I set, the chord tone (3 or 7) of the next change that I can point towards. To get there, I rely on knowledge of idioms, and the sound of the change in my head / knowledge of how what I'm hearing translates to intervals in relation to the note I'm targeting / just sound alone and some hope.

This means making sure scales and arpeggios of all types positions inversions are there without thought for when I need them, the continual goal (that I'll never be satisfied with).
#20
Sorry, I might just be being thick here, but I still don't understand what part of my post you were referring to.

In my post I used the term arpeggio in the technical sense and I don't get why you just told me another definition of an arpeggio. I'm the one who used the word, so I don't understand how this definition has any bearing on what I was saying.



Gah!


All I was saying was that people that solo by arpeggios don't necessarily play them in the strict sense of the definition. I wasn't correcting you or anything, I was merely pointing it out. And thinking by chord tones doesn't necessarily mean you're constantly playing arpeggios, you could be playing scalarly and be thinking of the third and the seventh constantly.


That's all I was saying.
#21
I think it's most useful thinking in scale degrees since they really define what the
function of a note it. What does a letter tell you? Not much until you relate it
to either the key or chord in order to translate it to a scale degree. Plus,
general arpeggio patterns can quickly indicate where the scale degrees can be
located.

If a progression is all in one basic key, I find it pretty dead simple. I don't really have
to do much thinking beyond what key I'm in. I can solo to a song I've never
heard before if it's mostly in key -- I just need the key and chord changes. Where
there's a lot of modulations, that's where I'd have to think more. Most likely, I'd
have to work on the song ahead of time.
#22
Work on playing in position. If you are going to be playing through key changes you have to focus on playing in position. Get friendly with where your scale degrees are in relation to a note and practice playing through key changes in one position.Play arpeggios in one position through changes, play scales in one position through changes etc etc.
You dont want to be flying all over the place or you will just sound choppy at first. If you can play through changes in one position you will sound more fluid. Of course you don't want to restrict yourself. But its good starting ground
Andy
#23
Quote by GuitarMunky
When I improvise, I'm aware of the notes I'm playing, what their scale degrees are, and how the notes relate to the chords that I'm playing over, however my mind is focused on the music and what it sounds like more than anything else.

I see the information as something to be studied and to know about, but I don't dwell on them deeply when I'm actually playing. I'm more focused on what I'm building rather than the nuts and bolts that I'm using to create the building.

Study as much as you can, listen as much as you can. You will likely come up with an approach that works for you.


+1

I walk myself through many a chord progression, a chord at a time and build up a map of where the chord tones are then I just let it pour out.
#24
On guitar, I find that using chord or scale formulas is much easier than memorizing note names. On an instrument like piano, where there is only one place to play a given note, memorization of note names is much more practical. However, on a guitar, where there are multiple places to play a given note, and the scales are "democratic" (i.e., every chord or scale has exactly the same shape when transposed, as opposed to a piano, where sharps and flats have to be memorized), using scale and chord formulas is much more practical, at least for me.