Playing and Playing and Playing and Playing and ...

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black3dots
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Playing and Playing and Playing and Playing and ...

#1 Post by black3dots » Thu Apr 03, 2008 1:18 am

going around in circles ...

I practice my scales, all the modes, songs, etc.

My problem is... when I come up to a song... I'm completely aware as to what Scale to use, but I'm lost on "Note Selection".

Any help on ideas as to how to improve my Note Selection and make things sound more interesting would be greatly appreciated.



I should note that I'm talking about Improv, not making up lines just to use over and over ... which I'm sure you picked up, but Still :P

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Big Bad Bill
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#2 Post by Big Bad Bill » Thu Apr 03, 2008 2:10 am

Use chromatic notes to spice things up a bit but always try and resolve onto a chord tone (in descending order of 'satisfaction' 1-> 5 ->3 ->7)

Slow it down. I always try and cram in lots of interesting notes, but if you listen to Steve et al. you'll notice that more time is often devoted to slower passages and making them 'soulful' by adding vibrato or articulating with the vibrato bar etc.

Make your underlying harmony a little more interesting (not just I, IV, V) and use chord extensions too. Music is about interesting foundations as well as the lead! However, remember the more extensions you use the more limited you'll probably be in your scale choice.

Try singing a lead line along to the backing and only then pick up a guitar and work it out verbatim. Don't let the way the notes and strings are laid out on the guitar dictate the notes you select, let your inner sense of melody do this. However, this can make the fingerings etc awkward, but it worth it.

Anybody else want to help me out here?

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#3 Post by black3dots » Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:14 am

Hey,
I think those are some useful tips that I'll try right now, thanks!
If anyone else has anything to say on the topic I'd appreciate it :-)

thanks again "Big Bad Bill"

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#4 Post by guyver_dio » Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:26 am

There's an assload of ways to improve your note selection (I should be practicing many of them myself but I guess we don't practice what we preach nearly enough as we should).

As BBB said, don't try and cram or think you need to throw in a few complex runs all the time. Remember improv is a progressive learning experience that is endless, you can't compare yourself with guys like vai and such straight off the mark.

Try putting on a backing track or record an easy bassline which you know the scale to. A simple pentatonic would be perfect for this exercise. Take two notes from the pentatonic scale on the same string, when you play the backing track the only notes you are allowed to use to solo are those two notes. Play the track and have a go. The point here is you'll be forced to be creative and use the two notes in various ways to make it sound somewhat musical, this will teach you that you can get a lot out of just two notes. Try playing them just 1,2 1,2 1,2 1,2, picking on one note for awhile and inserting the other note every now and again, mix up the patterns, bending, slides, whammy, pinch harmonics, picking positions, hammers, anything to add flavour to those two notes. I like to think of my pick like I'm playing on the drums or tapping on the desk, just scat and experiment with timings. Then you can try it with 3 notes, then 4 and so on. This will help you think musically instead of theoretically.

I've got a stack of different things you can use to spice up or help develop your improv but I'll let some others add there two cents. Most people would have a better way to explain things than me on here.

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#5 Post by black3dots » Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:41 am

Thanks, I'll try that too guyver_dio.


I probably should of noted that I'm trying to play over the top of 7th chords using phrygian dominant, arpeggios, whole tone, half step/whole step scales, etc.

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#6 Post by spanishphrygian » Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:20 pm

Try not thinking so much! I think that it is good that you know scales and chords and techniques, but that is as you found just one tool.

I say spend a moment everyday just comming up with stuff without thinking. Then after comming up with something that comes from another part of the brain analyze it and find out what scale, chord, technique, phrase structure you actually applied (only to have a shema for memories to chuck with).

If you are in as bad as shape as I was then you may even have to go more extreme. I had to just start sliding grips around randomly to break out of the extreme analytical phase that was freezing me up.

Another angle is to play something like a blues scale which is probably ingrained in you know. Then with out thinking insert some notes out of the scale.

Also you could just try different finger tweaks like instead of 123 123 do 113 231 232 123 2313 or whatever, but that sort of thing bothers me alot because it is too digital.

Really I think that the trick is just to not think so darn hard. Forget everything and just listen and play it as you are talking, walking, looking, feeling etc.

Of course it is just a matter of practice, and before you know it you will have endless flowing fresh ideas everytime you pick up the guitar.

Just take the first bold step my friend and you might end up sort of not really worrying about theory alltogether anyway.

In the final analysis sometimes a lot can be said in places we never could have imagined would be possible with out thinking, trying, and torturing ourselves so much.

I hope that I could help at least with one idea here.

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#7 Post by another virtuoso » Fri Apr 04, 2008 6:03 pm

check out paul gilberts "intense rock 1 & 2" dvd. it has some good improv tips.

one i thought was a cool idea:
play a riff and put yourself on loop with it, just play it over and over
after a few measures when the riff starts over, play a lead fill as you're going back into the riff again
biggest thing - dont be afraid to mess up. just jump into the lick and let your fingers work out something cool

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#8 Post by TongueNGroove » Sat Apr 05, 2008 3:19 pm

The first thing I do when I come across a new backing that I want to jam over is to take a minute and disect the backing. Figure out what chords are in the backing and in what order.

When you know which chord you are playing over you can choose your lead notes to fit with the chord. When it comes to play over a simple 5 chord (Your typical 2 note rock chord) you can pretty much play anything in that key and it will sound ok(remember to land on the root of the chord if you decide to accent a note).

But if you are playing over a backing that actualy uses full chords like Maj, Min, 7th,9th etc.. then you can realy play off that by accenting some of the notes in which ever chord you are playing over.

Heres a simple example that you can try to see what I mean.

Chord progression is:
Aminor(A E C)
Emaj(E G# B)
Gmaj(G B D)
Dmaj(D A F#)

Now, over these chords you can use the basic Aminor pentatonic scale (A C D E G) and do just fine. As you can see the root notes to all of those chords are in the Aminor pentatonic scale.

But, if you really want it to sound interesting you need to take advantage of the notes that arent in the Aminor Pent scale, but are found in those chords.

For instance:

When playing over the Aminor chord use the notes in the Aminor pent scale.

When playing over the Emaj chord use the Aminor pent scale, but add in that G# note. It realy stands out and makes it interesting.

When playing over the Gmaj chord use the Aminor pent scale and elude to that extra B note that is in the chord, just to add some flavour.

When playing over the Dmaj chord use the Aminor pent scale but add that F# note.

Its up to you on how long to stay on a note or whatever. You can use them as passing tones or you can just sit on the note and vibrato it. But either way it will enhance your improvising.

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#9 Post by vinccenzzo » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:20 pm

Big Bad Bill wrote:Try singing a lead line along to the backing and only then pick up a guitar and work it out verbatim. Don't let the way the notes and strings are laid out on the guitar dictate the notes you select, let your inner sense of melody do this. However, this can make the fingerings etc awkward, but it worth it.

You've said it all brother!
I've been playing the guitar for 20 years and my brain still writes better solos and melodies than my fingers. I think the differences lies in the fact that, in my case, I can create better rhythms in my head than I can actually play them.
So it's not about what note to choose but more when to play it.

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#10 Post by Big Bad Bill » Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:08 am

vinccenzzo wrote:[I think the differences lies in the fact that, in my case, I can create better rhythms in my head than I can actually play them.
So it's not about what note to choose but more when to play it.
A very good point-you may have selected the most mellifluous notes in the Universe, but without a sympathetic rhythm, their magic could be lost. My problem is I just rattle through my melodies and hold the last note (with a bit of vibrato)! It can sound like I'm 'snatching' at the melody-stopping and starting- its not so good. So I bought John McLaughlin and S. Ganesh Vinayakram's 'The Gateway to Rhythm ' to try and spice up my rhythmic applications-with some success!

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