Quote by xcamero360
I need band members but I'm not very open to changing the music I've written.

Most likely:

1. You'll have to find them in local peers (your friends)

2. You'll need to live in a large enough area with enough musicians and find the pieces that pass your standards. Austin, Texas might have that. But some little place like Derry New Hampshire might not. So a lot depends upon where you live.

3. They will have to like you, your music and have an interest in being a part of what you want to do.

4. Then they will have to agree that they like your inflexibility, and that their own creative input isn't welcomed.

Once you can do all that, you'll have your band.

Well, kind of.

Then there's the whole thing of availability. Can everyone's schedules mesh to meet and practice? Do people have, you know, jobs, homework, commitments to every other area of life that make it hard to meet as a group?

And then there's personality. Do the band members mesh, and get along? Are there 5 narcissists in the band? Does the singer have LSD (Lead Singer Disease)? Are the players broke? Are there any "problems" medical, drugs, lack of commitment and motivation that might drag down the rest of the band? Does anyone get drunk and beat up the others?

So yeah, there's a bit more.


Quote by RajjaJroach
^ Kind of but the major scale is only one aspect of theory; there's the whole other and equally important world of minor harmony. I.e. music derived from the melodic minor scales , harmonic minor scale, and 'natural minor' scale (or aeolian mode).

It would be too confusing to try and relate all this to the major scale.

The best thing to do is work your way up from grade 1, book by book, until you get to grade 8; or at least when you feel you know enough to do whatever it is that you do in music.

Really? I think you have to learn to walk before you start to run.

And when you have only THAT aspect of theory down, you can understand every other one that comes from it.

For example, if I understand the Major scale and can use that knowledge in real time, why can't I know that a Natural Minor scale differs by b3 b6 and b7.Why can't I know that the opening 4 part diatonic chord of a Harmonic minor series (by the way, which differs because of a natural 7th), isn't a Minor/major7th?

I am not following how none of these do not relate to the major scale. Every single idea you propose has its very basis of understanding in the Major scale. Minor harmony is explained even at the triad level in the b3 (which makes it minor) is derived of it's understanding by understanding the major 3rd in a Major scale.

The reason I have difficulty with your point, and not saying that all music ends at diatonic harmony, but it sure begins there, is I teach this and have for almost 15 years now, and absolutely everything that I do that isn't rhythmically oriented has it's basis in the major scale. And everything I teach that's rhythmically oriented is based on the numbers 3 and 4.

Count to 7, know Major scales, and the numbers 3 and 4 and I can teach just about everything needed.

Key Signatures, by the way in my opinion and experience, are absolutely irrelevant unless you're sight reading. I can teach every bit of theory without sight reading. In fact sight reading is one of the most overvalued skills you can have, and yes, I can sight read. Yes I do teach it, but I'm critical of any assertion that tries to combine sight reading with a theory method if you're a guitar player.


Quote by Jake P
I know that this forum prefers brevity, so I'll get right to the point. I know my open chords, my scales (been really buckling down with all positions of the pentatonic)... most important to my question, though, I know who my influences are as a guitarist. Knowing what artists influence me- inspire me- to pick up a guitar every day, how can I start to discover my own creative voice on guitar?

Thanks for any advice!

How long have you been playing for?


Quote by scrumss3
Looking for some advice on this subject. I've been playing on and off for about 15 years. Only in the last 4-5 years have I really picked up playing on a sort of regular basis. I don't have the time I once did as a teenager, full time job and kids. I do play when I get the chance, which is not as often I'd like but o well. My skills are developed enough to where I should have been learning stuff by ear long ago. Tabs and instructional videos are where I get all of songs from. I've tried many times over the years to transcribe but I just can't seem to do it. Was wondering if anyone could maybe give me some advice on how to improve in this area.


I understand exactly what you mean.

The first thing I'd suggest, is you might be starting too advanced. Learning by ear is a developed skill, and if you haven't done it, then you'll likely run into things that are too advanced. Go listen to Zombie by the Cranberries, for example. Can you transcribe the guitar solo?

Start basic and get a few tunes under your belt....but, after you've done that for a while and have gotten pretty good at it, then try an epic well known solo. For me, when I was trying to do this, my song, the one that took a long time, was Hotel California. I did it, ultimately. And the one thing it did....

Was it made transcribing hundreds of other songs, easy, by comparison. Fighting through that single song honed my skills so much. For you it may be another song. Sweet Home Alabama, first solo is a great song with some difficulties too, subtle changes in half and whole steps over the same lick. Interval jumps, that are fast and smooth. I wore my casstee down to a nub.

My last piece of advice, is stop learning from tabs. Use them, if you need to, to check your own work, or references, but, write your own, even if they may be bad for a while.

Do you know the names of the notes of the neck of the guitar? Do you know chords and keys? These are also good references to help you follow where a song may be going when you transcribe.


You should know how most every other idea in theory relates to the Major scale. Not just know that it does, but how and what makes it different. For example, you should know how this:

I vi ii V I

Relates to a Major Scale, but how?


OK, I follow most of that.

Do you know what Diatonc Harmony is?

Based upon where you are, I would say that the top three things you might want to work on, are determining the key, using your ear, diatonic harmony, and cadences. It's as simple as this: If a song you were listening to were to end right now, what note would sound to end it. Start as simple as that.

Once you find that key, using the notes you know on the neck, then let's assume that most of the time, things are either Major or Minor keys.

Do you know the chords built from the major scale? Diatonic harmony? If I said list the Diatonic chords/triads in A Major, would you be able to?


First of all much respect. Teaching yourself English is not easy. You've done a very good job at explaining yourself.

For someone like you, in your situation and country, there are ways to learn this. I asked about a private teacher, not knowing your situation.

For example, I have been privately mentoring players here for years. It's totally free. But the first thing I'd need to do is identify what you understand and what you don't so that I could see where the holes are.

Maybe share what you feel like you know already, or I could send you an assessment that would help reveal those holes. Only then could I suggest an approach that you might pursue and self-study, gradually filling out those holes in your knowledge, and check progress with questions, here or via PM.

I'm sure not just me, but many people here would give you sincere advice and support along the way. You'd be doing the work and we'd help answer the questions. People here respect those who put in the effort.

Wish you the best. I would be happy to help where I can!



Quote by aselfmman
hi , i kept reading your comment alot of times ,

it's really killing me x)

why ?

i live in north africa , in a country :

1/ that speaks french ( music sources are in english especially youtube / books )

2/ where music is dead , exept some traditional shit

3/ where there is no music schools , no music public teachers neither private

4/ where people dont use visa to pay only cash

in conclusion: i though of getting a private teacher ( in real life or online) ,

i even tought of paid courses ,

but i cant , despite the fact that i have enough money for that

+ i start learning english 4 years ago so i can learn guitar from youtube
and as a source of information , that's why my english isnt that good

what im trying to say , i think that youtube cant offer me much more in such a level ( im not saying im good , or fine )

thats why i'm trying desperitly to analyse people's music to understand how they think

thats why i asked about licks ,

i love music , and i wanna get alot better ,

so if you got any other advicec rather than having a private teacher it would be awesome
The way I do this, is pretty close to what you did there. I just use the primary chord tones.

1. Omit the 5th if it's non-altered

2. Keep the 3rd and 7th, unless it's a sus chord, then I keep that.

3. Omit the root, if it's otherwise covered.

4. Endeavor to use the highest extension at the highest voice to bring out the character.

5. Only use "fillers" if practically accessible, for example, if it's an 11th chord, I'd use a 9th only if it was easily available and in the middle voices.

So for an Fmaj7#11 I might use:


With B as my highest voice.

x x 7 x 5 7


Hi Jay,

I'm assuming that you know how to make a Minor Triad. But for those who don't and are following this:

A Minor 7th chord, is a Minor triad plus a b7

We identify the b7 note name by going one half step below a Major 7th interval.

So if we have a B min Triad:

B D F#

then the b7 is an A.


B D F# A is a B min 7


I guess I'll speak up and suggest that you start a lot further back, from where you are, and make sure you understand music and how things connect.

Have you ever thought about getting a private teacher? The responses you give to the answers people have given suggest that you're not even ready for this level yet. You have given answers that show effort, so I'm not shooting you down here, but there are very visible gaps in your bucket and the answers are flowing right out, and you need to fix those holes before even trying to ask these questions - and actually, by fixing them, you wont have these questions any longer.

Good luck!


Let me ask you an honest question.

How are you going to make E Phrygian not sound like it wants to resolve to C Major?

When you can answer that, then you'll know how to do it right. However I'll give you a heads up and save you some time: Ultimately the facts that you are citing, are providing almost no insight into how to apply the details.

What you might be better served in doing, is to go study and really practice applying cadences until you understand them, and why they relate to this, and come back to this question later, and also spend time investigating harmony with a single tonal centre.

You'll be better prepared to manage this question.

Good luck.


Quote by theogonia777
First of all I'm not sure if I can agree about Bob Wills, since I doubt he was playing complex chords on fiddle.

Mag's got it though. In the old days before pedals became widely used (the first Gibson Electraharps were made in 39 but pedal steel never really caught on until 53 after Bud Isaac's playing on Webb Pierce's "Slowly"), steel guitar players were limited to whatever chords they could play in one position.

The big name guys like Leon McAuliffe and Herb Remington were using were using mainly E6, C6, or A6 that were imported from Hawaiian steel playing. And none of those were capable of producing a 7th chord. So if your guitar player is making a 7, you add in a 6 to make 13. The 6 chord actually became part of the sound of western swing arbitrarily because it's just the default sound that the steel guitar makes.

So while harmonically in the context of western swing a 6 chord would be used on steel guitar against a 7th chord on a guitar (and the lesson was about steel guitar sounds, which is why the stretch voicing is needed since a steel guitar chord would have all the notes in order like that due to the close intervals of a tuning), he could maybe have mentioned that.

By the way, those tunings would be something like C#EF#AC#E, CEGACE, EG#BC#EG# (which was commonly called E13 despite the 6 string variation not having a 7 8n it). There were a lot more and there were E7 based tunings, such as BDEG#BE, but those weren't as common in western swing in the early days before Fender started making the double neck console steels.

My bad, I should have clarified and said the guitarist(s) in the band - actually, there were many guitar players. I really started to appreciate them after running into a guy named Leon Grizzard a while back, and a cat named Eldon Shamblin hit my radar.

But awesome context and insights. Appreciate it!


Right, as MM pointed out, I posted some E's with extensions, which is what I thought you were looking for, as if you needed some "exotic" chord sweeps.


Do you not have a reference point to know in advance if you're right?

When I teach notes on the neck I'm pretty thorough, and I do have the students then practice with the flash cards. But they know the answers. The only thing that makes it more fruitful is teaching them to life-hack the speed, and the cards reinforce that fact. But not a single one of them, ever needs the answer confirmed; they all know it...the only thing they are amassing is the speed and immediacy of using these.

One of our students made this helpful "random" video to help the other students drill to test their "one second to find the note" standard that we claim for our graduates. I usually send this as a bonus to our successful graduates so they can better appreciate their skill sets, but I see no harm in sharing it with you, here.

If you are not sure of the notes, and need someone to tell you, maybe you aren't at the "drilling" point yet.

True... drilling is a great way to learn by trial and error, but there's so much error, especially if you don't have the confidence that you can do it correctly yet.

What you might want to do, is maybe practice more slowly. Your approach sounds a lot like drinking a cup of water by having 50,000 gallons poured over your face; sure you'll eventually get your cup, but there's a lot of spillage to get such a simple thing.

Anyways, here's the link. Hope it helps:


My advice would be know the notes on the neck, and then look up and map out the notes which make up the following chords. I'm omitting non-essential tones for strings and fingerings sake:

E min 7 - E G B D

E min 9 - E G B D F#

E min 11 E G B D A

E min maj7 E G B D#

E Maj7 #11 E G# B D# A#

E maj 7 E G# B D#

E sus 2 E F# B

E sus 4 E A B

E7 E G# B D

E 6/9 E G C# F#

Once you've named them all, then you can practice finding different ways to play them, you may find that you'll try tapping some of the notes in addition to sweeping them. You can also work on sequencing and even playing with fragments over a pedal tone.

I recommend that you learn this stuff for yourself. Its a lot easier in the long run. If I didn't know the notes on the neck I could imagine that mapping these arpeggios would take a long time.

Good luck. Have fun!


JRF - Exactly...Exactly. You nailed it. That's how I feel sometimes.

Kids these days...

I dig Jason Loughlin. He's a beast of a player too. Massive respect. Jon Finn is one of my favorites, a smart guy, even though he is a Berklee guy, he's got it right. I actually like him.

GG - apparently no one's (his peers) called him on that. Blind leading the blind? I don't know (shakes cane)

(shakes cane some more)


I've been a Charter Member of TrueFire U since the first day they started sending out monthly computer discs. Its just one of those things that I've never cancelled and never really used, I've just accumulated their stuff.

If you're a teacher like myself, you might also be one of those that accumulates almost every book and video, but never watches them or reads them, because you don't "personally" need them .. but you grab whatever you can get, in case one day you want to use something that might be useful as a teaching resource. From time to time I check out what "perks" I have on TFU, but to be completely honest, I've never watched a single video series they have.

I've tried, but they put me to sleep. Still I've just kept the meter running, in case I ever decide to. And I've accumulated a lot of "perks" for example I have over 1000.00 in True Fire "cash" which I never see myself using because frankly nothing TrueFire has is of much need or interest to me.

But I digress.

I was killing a little time recently and logged in to Truefire and I was watching this guy, Joe Dalton, teach some Western Swing. Now if none of you know who Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys are, or were, this guy was a beast at these very fluid, technically complex licks and chords and fills, kind of like the Django of western swing. So I was just looking at some material on pedal steel effects and bends on the guitar.

And I saw him play this "stretch" chord thing, and it instantly caught my attention, because, I've been playing for 30 years and while Ive never tried Western Swing even a day, I respect the genre and the music itself, and this was a good sounding chord. Joe Dalton called it an E7.

That got me thinking, "I teach every chord there is and I'd never seen that chord. If it were an E7 one of my students or myself would have found that"

Here's the chord.

x 14 11 9 9 x

I looked at it, and the next chord following that, which he called an A7

x 10 11 9 8 x

Sounded great but then once more, I hadn't played that chord shape before for a Dom 7 chord, and this is when I started to wonder, how am I missing all these great sounding chords, that sounded very western swing-ish.

So, I decided, "OK, lets see why this is a E7 chord" I know the notes on the neck and every chord. Started out with the notes of the first chord, top down:

B - so far so good
C# - wait a minute, since when has E7 had a C#? Since never.
E - OK
G# OK thats the 3rd of E.

Where's the b7? There wasn't any.

A C# from E is a 6th. The dude either didn't know his chord names, theory or flat out watered down the truth of this chord. This was an E6. No wonder it didn't look or sound like any E7 I was familiar with, because it wasn't. Ear familiarity with intervals probably tipped me off on that, but I needed to make sure, because maybe I'd missed something.

My point is, that so called experts will sometimes water down the facts, and if you don't own your own knowledge to check what someone in a teaching role, or so called authority says, you'd never know. My thought is, for all the people in TrueFire that take these videos or lessons, its possible that no one ever knew that what Joe Dalton called an E7 was actually an E6.

That sucks in my opinion. That your knowledge is at the mercy of the completeness of the person that's teaching. Did Joe just think, "ah its just these TrueFire scriptkiddies and tab monkeys, they don't need the technical name of this chord, because 99 percent of them wouldn't understand what I just said anyways, so I'll just call it an E7"?

If so, that's terribly condescending. That's a sad commentary about us, to think that we don't have the capacity to actually understand and own relevant knowledge for ourselves. It's sad that he's probably correct in that too.

But how would you feel if you know that people were treating these explanations with simplified "kid gloves" because they believed that you're not smart enough to get what's really going on? It just hit me the wrong way. It highlights what I think is wrong about guitar players. It also makes me wonder, how much more misinformation do you think we are getting that is watered down, just because someone thinks you're not intelligent enough as guitar players to carry the full explanation.

As a result, you walk away with inaccurate information, but because it was given by someone that was supposedly a teacher, and unchallenged, you'd never know it.

Thoughts? For some I'm not sure you'd see this as a big deal. It is one to me, as I seek to have empowered, informed musicians, and its what I work towards every day of my life, pouring what I know into the lives of my students.


Always carry a recording device so you can at least sing the riff enough to work out what it is later. Great riffs sometimes get lost in short term memory fog before you grab the guitar and find the right notes. Hitting the right notes when you have the guitar is a matter of ear training and applied to the fretboard in real time. It can be easy with something like a pitch collection, like a Pentatonic, but try doing it to a melody like the chorus of Take Five with its chromatics and tasty but subtle melodic changes, and you'll start to see just how exposed your lack of musical note awareness is in relation to playing it on the fretboard. Not just you, but with most people. But a commitment to making what you hear in your head, something that you can do on the guitar, involves much time and consistent practice. Melody playing is a great tool, but it will humble you when you see how bad you are at it. That's the only way to get better at it though.

Start listening to Jazz melodies, like Blue Bossa - easy on the ears but you'll appreciate how challenging it is to find on the guitar. Or the melody line to Norwegian Wood with its melodic leaps.


Quote by RonaldPoe
Sean, thanks for your help. Is the song you analyzed there "Man on The Moon" (I wrote that one all by myself and meant for it to be a motif) or one of the KH boss themes? Are you saying it's based on a Dm arpgeggio or the notes (D E F G). Yoko Shimomura (composer of Kingdom Hearts and the Mario and Luigi Saga) is my hero and one of my biggest influences.

To Tonibet, could you list some of those songs?

No, it was "Dismiss". The first YouTube clip.

Sorry if my point was confusing. I'm saying it's 1 2 b3 and 4 - off of D as the root, which fit the first 4 notes of a D minor scale. They don't fit Phrygian or Locrian, and I doubt it's in Dorian, but since I didn't analyse it to the point where I could determine if there's a b6 or not, I defer to you on that call.


Are you looking to know any note on the Neck of the Guitar instantly in real time, without use of an app?


Red House - Jimi Hendrix
Sweet Little Angel - BB King

Suggest a song thread?



I took a listen to the first part of the first song, about 12-15 seconds worth.

You have a bass line ascending through the first 4 notes of D minor, repeating

You have a static oblique motion in 3's on the octave, and you have singing starting on the 3rd of Dm (F) and ascending through the rest of the scale.

What you might want to do is start with the bass line and analyze the rest of the voices in respect to that bass line and see what functions they are suggesting. For example when the bass changes, what chords or scale seem to fit the profile. I just did 12 seconds using this approach.

What's "different"? I couldn't tell you man, nothing ground breaking here from the few seconds I put into it, but obviously I am not going to make it my project or work. I mean, just start at the bass, and thoroughly outline the changes. Transcribe. One voice at a time, and see what it tells you.

I did this same thing the other night and worked out the Game of Thrones theme and the chords, on my beater guitar while the show was starting.


Quote by YellowCat
Hi all!

Can anyone help me improve my rhythm playing?

I can strum on time with a metronome, but I think this is rather non-musical. Although I know some patterns for blues or rock, I really feel very limited.

What can I study or practice in order to improve my rhythm?

Thanks in advance.


Well, to start with, Let's look at these chords, all common power chords.

I'll stack them in order from E on, not in song order, and let's see what the tea leaves say.

E F# G A Bb C#

In intervals we have 1 2 b3 4 b5 6 - That tells me some things immediately.

The first is I see an E diminished triad and an F#m triad

The second is I don't agree that you have a Persian Scale, because there's no b6. The C# negates that.

You have very close to a blues scale if we had a 5 and could assume the missing interval is a b7. This would be my first place to approach this, and if that was the case, I guess you could play Em Pentatonic b5, if Pentatonic is your scale of choice in this question.

So I think you have in essence a synthesized scale that you might use and understand a few ways, just to give it form relative to something else.

E Locrian (natural 2)
E Dorian (b5)
E Blues scale if you use the perfect 5th as a passing tone, or omit it entirely.

These are all subject to, assuming the final interval being a b7


Jerry - frankly I think much of it (the upside downness of the standard approach) is tied to ego. The way that it is taught is as much about the superiority of the teacher as subtext as it is the inferiority of the student. It's not about accessibility. That must be earned in subservience to the instructor.


Quote by jerrykramskoy

I hear you 1 million percent. You and I have a huge amount in common here.

I explained to my 8 year old a concapt I use for visualising relationships (intervals), and in literally 6 minutes, she could play the major scale in three different keys on the piano, and play triads from those keys. Cost me £30 bribe to get the attention.

It drives me mad how it gets presented.

An analogy I like to use is the following...

Suppose you want to get together with some friends, and want to cook a Thai meal for them, for fun. Unfortunately, all the recipe books you can get your hands on are written in the Thai language. At this point, are you going to learn the Thai language and grammar just to cook a meal? For me, this is precisely what traditional theory lessons require ... learn a language (music notation) to learn the stuff you're really after (and just that stuff).

I'm not knocking notation per-se ... I can't think of better system for conveying the amount of detail is does so succintly. Precisely because of this denseness of information, its very hard to see the wood (the principle, the concept) for the trees (the example of the principle).

But I believe it is the wrong starting point ... the vast majority of theiory can be presented without notation, and striupped down to the bare bones, for experimentation.

cheers, Jerry

Exactly right. I not only appreciate the fact that you asked the question, but I'm heartened by the unison voices that agree that its made too hard, too long winded, and too abstract devoid of application.

Maybe from questions like this, come inspiration. Searching for a way to make it easier.

I think notation can come at a much later stage, and when it's done in a place of inspiration, and not requirement, it can be assimilated much faster. I had so many graduates of the Academy go on and learn to sightread. One of my students, Robbie, used to carry around a Haydn Symphonies book and got a 7 string guitar because he wanted to easier hit the lower notes range when working out these pieces...on guitar. That's inspiration. I didn't do anything but fuel his hunger and thirst for knowledge. I taught him basic sight reading near the end, as he got close to graduating the Academy, and from there, inspiration took over.

Knowledge and wisdom has the byproduct of wanting more of each. Inspiration.


Quote by Xiaoxi
Nice rant, Sean.

"can you say the Alphabet from A to G and count from 1-7?" I think this sums up the fundamentals of music theory. It is amazing (for all the wrong reasons) how far that simple concept has been stretched in order to be intellectualized for the sake of academic compartmentalization. I don't bother with most threads in MT anymore because they are always asking the wrong questions (from wrong guidance) and my old adage still rings true: modes and scales are useless and ultimately lead to nowhere.

btw that's E7#9 and of course I knew in a flash because I can count from 1-7

I've always agreed with you on that point, especially from a perspective standpoint. The problem isnt the mode or scale, it's the presumed focus of its importance. And of course I knew you'd get it. (E7#9) But I'd like everyone to get it.

I used to be that way, you know ignoring those pointless threads, because they were the wrong questions...but then I started seeing me there. At their age I was the kid asking those questions. At the end of the day little or big questions we all want to learn more.

And you are right, A-G and 1-7 does sum up the essentials of music theory. There's a few more pieces to connect the dots, but it does come down to that, and knowing the musical alphabet. And, if you're a guitar player know your neck so you can apply it.


So, I was eating barbecue recently at this roadside BBQ Hangout, waiting to listen to some band that was playing that night. Hadnt heard of them, but I saw a Shobud steel, and some classic vintage amps, and the equipment they were loading made me think, maybe these guys know their stuff.

So as I was hanging out, and they are setting up they pipe music through the PA and I hear a song that is kind of cool, kind of catchy, has a laid back attitude, and just sounds "good". I grab my iPhone and Siri he name of it, and it's a band I never heard of and a song I never heard f, so I mentally file the name for the next time I decide I wanna Spotify a new band and fall down the musical rabbit hole, exploring their tracks.

So fast forward to the other night, I do just that, and as I play the song - Uncle Lucius - Liquor Store, I grab my guitar off the side of the bed and in 2 seconds...yes two seconds, I have the entire key, chord progression, and licks and am playing along to it.

And...that's when the moment went from "this is a cool song" to


It actually lost its shine because I figured it out that fast. It wasnt as "special". I initially listened to it munching BBQ and enjoying the cool Texas evening. It was grand, I wasnt trying to figure it out, I wasnt analyzing it, but as soon as I played it in 2 seconds, I didn't want to play it anymore.

Has this ever happened to any of you? Or is this just me? Has deconstructing a tune for you, ever made it lose it's initial shine?


Yeah it's totally 90s, but I liked some of the funky double stops, it wasn't bad, and you could hear some subtle voice changes in those licks. Berklee? That's awesome man, I hope that it works out for you if that's what you want. You have the passion for it, that's for sure!


Quote by J23L
I've made up solos to backing tracks using only pentatonic scales and they sound pretty decent. I'm sure making up a lead part in relation to the background chords could possibly make a better solo, but even if you don't do this you can still make a good solo. I've only been playing for a year, but I feel that one of the major elements to creating a good solo is to know how to play along with the other instruments. For example, if there is a snare drum or hi-hat present in the song you could sync up with that to keep a rhythm going. I feel like it's more how you play a solo is what makes it good rather than what notes you're playing. I don't think you need to line-up perfectly with the chords, all you need to do is stay in the key and keep a rhythm and it will sound good. However, I have only been playing for a year so i could be wrong on all of this, but from the massive amounts of hours i have been practicing this is what I feel makes the solo unique

Most people do that already - it's called being rhythmically aware, and musically mature. Nearly all of us at some point discover its a pretty good idea to be aware of the snare and bass and high hat, when playing to a track. You well said, you've been at it a year. Here's my challenge:

Record yourself playing what you "know" as far as improvising, for 30 seconds over 5 different backing tracks in different keys, and then transcribe your work. See how many unique ideas you came up with. Now, look and see how many of the solo parts were exactly the same as other songs. It will open your eyes, I think.

It may not happen in year 1, but at some point you're going to find that you are treading over the same tired ground and playing a lot of notes and saying nothing. When you get there, you won't think that your solo is "good". You'll see the rut you're in, plowing the same ground to exhaustion only to discover the fruit it yields is less and less satisfying.

So, yes it's a year for you, but you're still in the honeymoon phase. My advice is, enjoy it for all it teaches, and then let those dry spots inspire you to evolve. Whether its stylistically, genre or knowledge, use them to break from that rut, and then you will also see that your opinion on a good solo or self expression will change as well. Right now, you are new to the pitch collections, and still finding new things to say, but just keep what I said in mind, and if possible, stay ahead of the rut by always making yourself learn something new that stretches you.


Wow - you just stumbled upon the linchpin of everything I do and why Jerry.

Here's the bottom line. It takes a long time to learn. It doesn't have to, but, the shortest distance in any theory topic, is a LONG time.

I wrote a rant/blog recently, expressing my frustration on this, then I turned that into an animation, and put it on YouTube. It was borne from all the people that have come here for the last, I don't know, I got here in 2009, and before I proceed further, I want to give everyone, a heads up. I'm about to bash on a "sacred cow" here in MT.


I vomit a little bit every time that I see someone recommend that site as a wonderful resource for "learning music theory".

There's NOTHING about Music Theory as far as the way it's traditionally taught or understood that's easy. That's why so many don't know it. The time and drab monotonous investment required, is not fun. Some learn it because they go to music school, others learn it via immersion in sites like these.

I was recently (in the last week) expressing to my friend, a non guitar player, and a non musician, my frustrations, because I get asked a lot, about "what do I do"? When they learn that I am a music/guitar instructor. I always wonder, how do I tell my story in such a way that reaches people right where they are? After he listened to me rant (If you haven't picked up on this yet, I'm pretty damned passionate about what I do) he said:

"You know what you are? You're basically a life-hacker. You've looked at Music Theory and Guitar and found all these fast ways to get it down, you're a life hacker for musicians."

Wow, leave it to a non-musician to put it a thousand times better than I can, about what I do.

But this also frames my bias - so what do I dislike about Music Theory - everything. Go look up any Music Theory term on Wikipedia, for example: Enharmonic.

"In modern musical notation and tuning, an enharmonic equivalent is a note, interval, or key signature that is equivalent to some other note, interval, or key signature but "spelled", or named differently. Thus, the enharmonic spelling of a written note, interval, or chord is an alternative way to write that note, interval, or chord. For example, in twelve-tone equal temperament (the currently predominant system of musical tuning in Western music), the notes C♯ and D♭ are enharmonic (or enharmonically equivalent) notes. Namely, they are the same key on a keyboard, and thus they are identical in pitch, although they have different names and different roles in harmony and chord progressions.

In other words, if two notes have the same pitch but are represented by different letter names and accidentals, they are enharmonic.[1] "Enharmonic intervals are intervals with the same sound that are spelled differently...[resulting], of course, from enharmonic tones."[2]

Prior to this modern meaning, "enharmonic" referred to relations in which there is no exact equivalence in pitch between a sharpened note such as F♯ and a flattened note such as G♭,[3] as in enharmonic scale. "Enharmonic equivalence is peculiar to post-tonal theory."[4] "Much music since at least the 18th century, however, exploits enharmonic equivalence for purposes of modulation and this requires that enharmonic equivalents in fact be equivalent."[5]"

So, I dunno, you tell me. I simply teach that an enharmonic is one note/pitch, 2 possible names. I did that in 5 words. I demonstrate it in 5 seconds, and we are good to go.

It's hyper academic, in most topics, yet I can name any scale and chord probably as fast as your best graduate. But why can I teach that in 2 lessons? Because I've life hacked traditional approaches.

Tme - the very thing that the traditional way of learning steals away. It's made over complicated. In 2 lessons I life-hacked sight reading, and published it here on UG, in my Published Lessons years ago. The ironic thing there, is I don't teach sight reading. It's not needed to understand music theory . I can teach it and I have, but I find that unless you have very specific needs (which I cover in my animated rant) sight reading is pointless. Even rhythm can be taught without traditional sightreading. But even it can be hacked and made easier and faster. I get 5-6 emails a week thanking me for those lessons I published in 2009.

So what I have against Music Theory and the Guitar as well as far as how traditionally it's taught? Everything. Because it robs you of life, and most musicians instead of just moving on and playing, for the rest of their lives, continue to piecemeal their theory together, or they get overwhelmed with the abstractness and volume of it, and terminology and they give up - most cant go to traditional music school, most have jobs and careers. Many of us here that teach and help others, we're lucky. But I was once that kid who was inspired by Wolf Marshall and his long hair and UCLA music degree, talking about modes, and ostinatos, and playing the hell out of a Van Halen song one minute and then sharing the stage with Foghat the next. Joe Satriani was the guru who inspired me further. But the damn trip took 12 years.

Most people will either try to grind through it, and give up, or they will never take it, and they will rationalize away it's use with the "Jimi Hendrix didn't know theory", arguments.

The fact is most people are afraid of it - they are afraid at how boring it is, how much time it will take to be usable in real time. Only a small handful of people here can do chords in real time, recognize scales in real time, spell out any major scale and correctly identify this chord and name it with the correct alphabetic term:

E G# B D Fx in real time.

So how would you propose Joe Pentatonic and Jack Caged, And Steve Sweeparpeggio get from where they are to where we are?

We all know hat the answer is ridiculous amounts of time. And the fact that I know it DOESN'T take that much time at all, is what I have against Music Theory and the traditional methods that are taught.

I understand that it's what almost everyone here that knows had to contend with, whether you're a Privileged Berklee Trustfund baby, or you just slugged it out in Night School, or maybe you were one of the hardy ones in High School band and Music that had a natural affinity for it. However you got there, much respect because with few exceptions, most of us took a LONG time, and an enormous amount of work and repetition. Some caught it after years of being here via osmosis in the forums, and even they had to work at the bits they got.

My gripe is, it takes longer than it has to, but that is the predominant school of thought:

1. It's the only way
2. Everyone learns it this way, so it must be the best way.

And in a nutshell, that's what my life has been about. Because I know if people could grab it quickly, and easily, they would, and be on with the rest of their lives playing enjoying and understanding and guitar, music theory, using it every day in real life, without the student music school debt, the years of dry text, and mind numbing practice to where they have it in real time. Music Theory wouldn't be the abstract elusive spectre that it is for so many people.

If I told someone today, hey, can you say the Alphabet from A to G and count from 1-7? And, if that was ALL that it took to understand theory, if that's ALL it required and every player here would have it, I would suggest that by nights end, 90 percent of the people here would say, "Yeah I'd like that skill" and there'd be no more "theory is boring, theory is complicated"....we'd all know it.

Now we both know, that's not how it works, but the point is, if it were easy to do and learn, and be able to use in real time, just like you and I do and can, that, there'd be no more debate about its usefulness. That would be like arguing against the need to learn to read versus, memorize what certain words look like by the chunks of letters and characteristic "squiggles" in each word.


Jet - Congrats, and that is quite an accomplishment. I have a question for you.

"JP you just graduated what are you going to do next?"

Quote by Billie_J
I can find the notes on the fretboard. But the chord you told me to find. I can't find any handy fingerings for. I may find 4 of the notes and then notice that one is missing and it's nowhere close. Also IMO some chords simply sound "shitty". Something like those 11th chords that just don't sound good. Maybe if connected properly but alone, no way.

You bring a good point up about fingerings. Sometimes you have drop 2 voicings, and maybe have to switch intervals by an octave. A lot of times, the 5th can go if it's unaltered. On guitar you have 4 fingers and 6 strings (unless you use your thumb). So you can make some intelligent decisions. The bottom line, though, is you know the notes on the neck and can apply things. That was the question. If you found a R b3 b7 and 9 that would be fine

For example:

x 3 1 3 3 x C Eb Bb and D - Great voicing because the 9th is clear in the upper voice. Notice I didn't use a 5th in this. That's not a big deal at all.

I could also use b3 b7 and 9 - and leave the root to the bass. That's done all the time, stripping down chords to their "essentials" .

Point I was making, is if you're good with notes on the neck, you're already well ahead on your way to understanding - kudos!

On your other follow up question: I teach my students "a 9th is a 9th" Doesn't matter if it's major or minor. If you raise the 9th from D to D#, you've made an *altered* 9th, for example, Cm7#9. If you lower the 9th a half step to Db, you're a Cm7b9 for example.

Now if you had Cmaj9 and Cm9 and wanted to switch between them, then you'd mess with the 3rd (and modify the 7th as well).

C Maj 9th C E G B D
Minor 9th - C Eb G Bb D


I respectfully disagree. I come from a context of being a full time teacher with over 150 students at present.

I have taught people to play to a backing track without needing to know the underlying chords.

It could be a Minor 9 chord, the person soloing doesn't NEED to know "that was a minor 9th". They understand that most times, music is diatonic, stays in one key, and when outside chords (Modal interchange) are used, they are usually temporary, and using your ear, allows you to treat an off note as a passing tone.

Now later as they learn keys, chords and the notes of every chord, sure, that adds to their skill sets. Now that C#m9 chord coming up in bar 3 has a more direct possibility that they might target a high D# on the change, and bend a half step to the 3rd of the chord. Effective sure. On point, yes.

So while I agree, the problem is that your idea of what "good" is might differ from my idea. I know lots of people like Jeff Beck. I went and saw him last Sunday. I've never gotten into him, because I hear mostly an out of tune guitar when he plays. It depends on who you ask. I think Johnny Winter overplays the blues, others like what he does. It depends upon who you ask.

Ultimately, the person playing, needs to settle upon what THEY feel about the solo they do.

I agree that the culture of guitar has changed and the value of what is important on the guitar, has changed from what it used to be, but that's the times we are in. One area I've seen this, is in the gradual shift from the guitar as a melodic instrument to one where its more sonic than melodic.


Music Reading for Guitar - David Oates


Quote by J23L
Im currently learning how to solo and i feel like it's impossible to memorize each pentatonic scale note by note. I don't see how anyone can possibly learn 12 scales and memorize them perfectly. Won't it be much quicker and easier to learn how to solo by memorizing only the roots and randomly playing the notes around them? That seems way more feasible than trying to memorize a ton of scales

If you're trying to memorize the pentatonic scale, note for note, you're probably wasting your time.

Imagine memorizing every word of the US Constitution. And now imagine just "knowing how to read". Now I can appreciate the content of the Constitution because I know how to read, not because I memorized a sequence of words.

What if you could play the pentatonic scale anywhere, and all you needed to know, is the note to start out on? As you said, the "root". Now would you play "random" from the root? Not really, unless you meant "random within the notes of that pentatonic". Then sure, why not?

When I initially teach people to play lead guitar, the first thing I do is have them improvising and exploring those pitches in the context of a backing track. It's a great way to find things you like, and get comfortable with pitch collections, and then build upon that with repertoire, as in learning solos, and adding to your knowledge.


E 0-4-------------4-------------------------0-4-------------2b2-0

In analysis, I try and get as much information about the song, including melody, chords, bassline etc. I also take what I know already about that genre, and use that to frame my initial ideas.

For example If I know the basics of a 12 bar blues, and I understand a quick change to the IV, then my analysis of a blues solo is going to listen for chord tones over the IV change. Makes sense, right?

But the only thing I know about your post is that it's Rockabilly and the notes of this riff. So I have to have some outside knowledge to make assumptions about where this was played and the likely chords that incorporated this.

So let's look at your lick, but I'm going to convert these into musical notes, and see what emerges.

So I see an open E followed by a G#

Immediately, I'm "alerted" that the odds that this is in the key of Em are almost none. I've just eliminated the idea that it's in Em in just 2 notes. How?

Because if you have the ability to instantly name the notes of any chord, then you will know when a scale shows those similarities.

I know that The notes of an E Major chord are E G# B...

Did you see that? E G#...

That's how I eliminated Em from the key, and now, I'm thinking E major, and now I've mentally "mapped" the likely chords to expect in E major, which I can do instantly

E F#m G#m A B C#m D#o

Instantly, I am expecting this to be in E - I'm going to eliminate the D#o because that's not going to be a common chord in most songs. However a bVII is common, so I'll expect a possible D which signals to me that I have a bVII - easy enough, right?

Now I have an instant set of possibilities as I run this analysis...and that's only 2 notes of your riff. Pretty cool.

So As we run this, Lets just list the notes of an E major scale: E F# G# A B C# D# E

There we go, now lets look at the riff, and see how many fit that scale:

E G# B C# D C# B

See that D? I knew to expect there's my b7. Ah, what kind of E major has a b7? E7!

Now I have more to go on, I'm most likely dealing with an E7 chord. And, if not, the riff is strongly suggesting an E7 to E6 move. Very common in blues, which as I said, takes from what I already know about that genre.

Looking at the D string now: E F# G...that G is...curious to me.

That G is not in E major. So, does this indicate a chord change? Possibly. What are the two chords that it most likely might change to?

The IV or V. So this might have gone to the A or B. If it went to A then we have A C# E G - G would be the b7, so maybe the chords, changed to an A7 and the lick indicated that.

But would G F# and E, work over that A7? It turns out, yes. G would be the b7, F# would be a 6 and E is in the A7 chord (as the 5th). So these are very consistent to an A7.

So, in reading the rest of these notes, the only "different" note from those I've names is the F#. I see that this chord progression might be a I IV I (E7 - A7 - E7) over this lick, and the analysis I listed above, led me to this as a possibility..


Quote by Billie_J
Alright... But just about the theory "part". Where should I start learning theory then? Buy a book? Use the Internet? Wat? I agree on the ear improving, I've been doing that but sometimes you just can't use your ears if you wouldn't even understand if someone said " Yeah the song uses scale X". So you must know things before using them. Might have fked up with the explanation but I think you got the point

There are a lot of ways to learn theory. Some are better than others, in my opinion. Have you ever considered taking private lessons, or getting a guitar teacher that can walk you through understanding it?

How well do you know the notes on the neck of the guitar? Can you play any string at any fret and call out the note, in real time, or instantly? That's a useful skill set to have, because if you want to apply what you learn to the guitar, you probably are hoping to be able to do so without too much stress or delay, right? If you "know" theory but can't actually "use" it as you like, then you more or less have an abstract understanding.

For example, let's say that you learn a cool chord like C# minor 9, consists of C# E G# B and D# and now you want to go play it. How long would it take you right now, to play it as a chord on the neck, say from the 5th string root?

Just for fun, try it now. How long did it take? 5 minutes? For most it's like trying to run, but...while wearing bricks on their feet; they can get there....eventually.

A good approach to learning theory, is also finding ways to express/apply it on your instrument.


I see this same idea in Blue Bossa all the time, where it sets up for the V chord, by simple voice leading.

Dm7b5 G7sus Cm... it's just ii V I


Quote by wiggedy
How long did it take you?

I am again to learn the fret board again... This time I am using an approach used by one of the online courses. Basically learning the A minor pentatonic up and down each string and by position by Name and Degree. Then fleshing that out by adding extra intervals that work with the minor Pentatonic, basically the Composite Blues Scale.

Do people like Joe Bonamassa, Eric Johnson have like a photographic memory? Is that what set these players apart from us mere mortals?

How long did it take me? 12 years. But it was that journey that lead to understanding the best way to teach it.

Your online approach sounds....clunky to my ear.

I guess that's because with most students, I teach it to proficiency in two to four days. When I say "proficiency" I should probably qualify what that means - it means 2 seconds or faster, being able to use it in real time, however they need it. I tend to see that as an essential skill if you want to ever learn to apply theoretical ideas to your playing.

For example, if you just learned a G minor triad was G Bb D, and you know the stings of the guitar in real time, you can find that triad in about 3 seconds now, everywhere - all 6 strings starting on any of them, or two handed tapping them, adding a min 7th (F), skies the limit, as to what you do with that information. That's what I mean by applying knowledge to the neck.

Is it photographic memory? I don't think so, at least not in my case. For me it's been in discovering understanding how the brain optimally learns retains and can recall a piece of information, using the shortest path. In simple terms, meaning less work and in a shorter amount of time, and then bringing those observations to bear in what I do.

There are a lot of ways though, that people go about learning the neck. Most of them take a lot of time and practice (which most of it is boring, in my opinion) to where they can do it quickly. Best estimates I've seen, range from several weeks to months.

Many learn by years of immersion. After a while, if you play the guitar long enough or study or learn to sightread, you get it by virtue of doing it. In the years I've been teaching, and the thousand plus students I've helped, I don't know of a single person that learned it via photographic memory. I'd suspect that the number of instances where that comes into play are rare.