Thinking, Knowing And Learning

The difference between information and knowledge


The deepest educational experiences that I’ve had all occurred at the school of hard knocks.  As a student in a traditional music school, I had blocks absorbing information that didn’t seem relevant to what I was doing because I didn’t see how it could relate to what I wanted to do (to be fair, this was also because most of the instructors I had were incapable to presenting the information in a way that showed how it could be adapted to individual styles).  

.

Much of the specific aspects of my style have come about from taking ideas or approaches that were interesting and finding ways to integrate them into what I do.  This might mean hearing a phrase or a chord progression and working it into my repertoire, or exploring unfamiliar ideas or new options in a solo or a compositional challenge.

.

A big part of gaining information is knowing what questions to ask and finding the right people to initially answer them.

Gaining knowledge, however,  is knowing what question is asked, what the real question being asked is and answering them yourself.

 .

I say this because while I can say, “If you’re looking for a Melodic Minor application – try playing a melodic minor scale from the b7 of a minor chord (i.e. Bb Melodic minor over a C minor chord)” to a student, this is just information.  Knowledge of the concept is evident when the student is improvising over a tune and gets to a C minor 7 chord and starts playing phrases that they hear from Bb melodic minor over the chord.  It comes after playing the scale over the chord, developing melodies and phrases based on the idea and learning it on a deeper level.  In other words, when the question is asked, “what do I play over this chord?” the player answers the question.

.

This is the difference between thinking and knowing.  

To think something, you only have to read it.  

To know something, you have to experience it.

.

Learning

.

Learning then, is really a bridge between exposure to an idea and knowledge of that idea. In an over-simplified manner, I  see learning as a process like this:

  • Exposure to an idea, “Did you know that you can do this?”
  • Exploration and  integration of that idea, “I’m trying to see how I can do this.”
  • Knowledge of an idea, “I’m doing this.”

.

The Thinking Trap

.

In the process above, thinking occurs at every step between exposure and knowledge.  In other words, you can think something but know nothing about it.  This is where you get people writing scathing product reviews of things they’ve never owned or used based on manufacturer’s specs or people using dogmatic approaches to situations based on someone else’s “knowledge”.  It’s a perceptual trap to equate thinking and knowing something and for me, this has been a hard-fought and life long process of recognizing that differentiation, understanding it and integrating it but perhaps posting this observation here will save some of you some time.  

.

As always, thanks for reading!

.

-SC

.

For those of you who are interested, there’s some further clarification for how this relates to my pedagogical approach here.

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 12 – Getting Into Modal Arpeggios – Superimpostion

Hello everyone!

Greetings from NYC!  While I’m still unpacking and waiting for instruments and boxes to make it here from South Pasadena I thought I’d mix and match a few ideas from my GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales book and modal arpeggios and talk about more ways to recycle things you already know!

.

2-string or not 2-string

(is that really the question?)

.

I’ve been talking a lot about 2 string arpeggios.  They’re really useful things in soloing because you can take a figure like this:

.

.

and move it in octaves while keeping the same fingering.

.

.

.

It’s a really useful visualization tool, and a relatively easy way to cover a lot of range on the instrument.

.

The real secret behind this approach is how you use the arpeggio or:

“So what about this superimposition thing?”

.

Superimposition is simply playing one thing on top of something that’s related but not in an immediately direct way.   Logic would dictate that you would play a C major 7 arpeggio over a C major chord.  That’s certainly one valid use, but it’s really not superimposing the chord because their directly related (i.e. Cmaj7 and C major).  Playing a C major 7 arpeggio over say a d minor or an e minor chord is getting more into what we’re talking about here.

In the examples below, I’ll be using a bass note to indicate tonality.  If you have a recording of a chord (or a bass note) to play over – just play the c major 7 arpeggio over one of those – otherwise you can use your fretting hand to tap each of the notes of the arpeggio (see the glass noodles post if you’re unfamiliar with the technique) and use your picking hand to tap the bass notes in the figure (and to help mute the strings)!

.

.

If the C major 7 chord is created by stacking ascending 3rds (C, E, G, B) then we should be able to go the reverse direction using descending 3rds from the root.  Going a 3rd below C gives us A which creates A, C, E, G, B or an A minor 9 arpeggio (no root):

.

.

Going a 3rd below A gives us F which implies: F (root), A (3rd), C (5th), E (7th), G (9th) and  B (#4 or #11)  or a F major 9 #11 arpeggio (no root, no 3rd):

.

.

(Note: This concept is explored in much more depth in the Harmonic Combinatorics book but you can get some information about the approach from the slash chords post or the recycling triads posts as well.)

.

You could continue on with this approach, and each time figuring out how the arpeggio functions over different chords, but there is an easier way!

.

The Chromatic Root Interval Chart

In The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales, I devised a chart that would tell the reader how any chord scale would function over any root.  I’ve adapted that chart and utilized it for arpeggios in this lesson.  Here’s the full chart:

.

.

At first glance, this can look confusing but it’s REALLY useful for determining how scales and arpeggios (or chords) function over different tonal centers.  

.

In the steps below, I’m going to outline every step that could be taken to visualize this, but once you understand the process, you can skip a lot of the steps and understand what’s happening almost immediately.

.

Let’s go back to the C maj 7 arpeggio.  The formula for the arpeggio is Root (or R) 3rd, 5th and 7th.  Here’s what it looks like superimposed into the chart.  

.

.

I’ve taken the extra step of removing all of the information in the other columns of the chart to solely show how the Root, 3rd, and 5th of a particular chord functions over other tonal centers. It’s also important to note that this chart accommodates all possible root notes.  So while sharped roots (#R) or flat roots (bR) are really heard as b2 (b9) or 7ths respectively, they’re listed here to show the functions of specific notes over tonal centers (e.g. C maj 7 arpeggio played over a C# tonality).

Okay – now let’s move the information in the chart to the key of C:

.

.

Presented this way,  we can see how things function.  Played over D for example – the C, E, G, B functions as a b7th, 9th, 4th (or 11th) and a 6th.  As a D Dorian sound (C major over D implies D Dorian) you lose the minor 3rd but get the natural 6th flavor of the mode.

.

.

I’ll simplify the chart a little more:

.

.

Again, it’s also important to note that this chart accommodates all possible root notes.  So while sharped roots (#R) or flat roots (bR) are really heard as b2 (b9) or 7ths respectively, they’re listed here to show the functions of specific notes over tonal centers (e.g. C maj 7 arpeggio played over a C# tonality).  This also counts for b4 (which will be heard as a 3rd), and double flats (like bb7 which will be heard as a 6th or bb3 which will be heard as a 2nd).

.

From intervals to chord tones

Since this chart was initially created for chord scales, the intervals all exist within an octave.  For the purposes of chords and arpeggios it’s more beneficial to think of:

  • 2nds as 9ths
  • 4ths as 11ths and 
  • 6ths as 13ths 

.

I’ve converted these intervals to chord tones in the chart below:

.

 .

One sound I get out of this immediately is the Ab which gives a Ab maj 7 (#5, #9 no root) sound.  I’ve resolved it to Ab in the example below – but give it a shot – it takes a generic C major 7 arpeggio and gives it a shot glass of tabasco.

.

.

.

When I went to Berklee and got knee-deep into analysis, my teacher gave me this pearl of insight, 

“Actually the whole point of harmony 1-4 [classes] is to show you how any chord can follow any other chord”.

.

The reality behind all of the charts and theory is, if you understand how an arpeggio functions then you’re more likely to be able to resolve it – regardless of what chord you play it over.  

That’s a big picture concept – you may want to give it a second to let it sink in.

.

The thing to start to focus on is how things sound to you – specifically how various chord tones and intervals sound over various chords you’re using.  How do you like the sound of a #4 over a major chord?  Or a b9 on a minor chord?  As you start to find chord tones that you like over those areas, you’ll start to find that you’ll seek those sounds out.   The chart is just a shortcut for seeing how things function – but it’s reliant on what you hear.

My recommendation is take this arpeggio, play it (slowly at first) over all the tonal centers and really be aware of how the notes are functioning.  And (here’s the step most people skip) if it sounds “bad” to you – find a way to resolve it (like going to the Ab in the example above).  I call this the Van Halen approach, there are plenty of times that Eddie hits clams – but he finds cool ways to work them around so that you say, “wow what a cool idea” rather than “oh he botched that one”.

I’ll talk more about the importance of knowing how to “fix” things in a future post, but trust me – it’s worth spending some time on.

.

In the next lesson post, I’ll get into arpeggio modification slash chord stylie.  It’ll be really cool and if I have my audio converters delivered in time I can even go back to posting audio clips again!

ah the joys of moving….

.

I hope this helps and thanks for reading!

.

-SC

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Chord Scales Is Out Now (As Well As The New 4 Book Pdf Bundle!)

The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales

.

Update – 2/3/2013

Hello everyone!  As of 2/1/2013, all of my books are available for order exclusively on my Lulu.com page and on Amazon which means that while I may run an e-book  bundle offer directly in the future as of right now, unfortunately, no bundle options are available.

I’m leaving the page up for archival purposes but if you go to the Books link at the top of the page, you’ll find more detailed information about the books below and the other books in the GuitArchitect’s Guide To:  series.

.

I’m happy to announce that the Chord Scale book is done (with the help of massive edits from John Harper and Doug Kearns – thank you both!)!  

.

 I’ll talk about it a little more below – but as a shortcut there are now 5 ways to buy the book.

(based on the 6/5/12 – pricing model)

.

  • If you would like to purchase the Chord Scales pdf (or any other individual book pdf)  for $15 (usd) please click the PayPal link below.  (Also, when ordering, please specify which book you’d like – The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Melodic PatternsThe GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes:  Harmonic CombinatoricsThe GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration, or The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales).

 Any 1 GuitArchitecture pdf for $15

.
  • If you would like to purchase any two book pdfs for $20 USD (and save $10 off of individual orders) please click the PayPal link below.  (Also, when ordering, please specify which 2 pdfs you’d like – The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Melodic PatternsThe GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes:  Harmonic CombinatoricsThe GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration, or The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales).

  Any 2 GuitArchitecture pdfs for $20.

.
  • If you would like to purchase any three book pdfs for $30 USD (and save $15 off of individual orders) please click the PayPal link below.  (Also, when ordering, please specify which 3 pdfs you’d like – The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Melodic PatternsThe GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes:  Harmonic CombinatoricsThe GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration, or The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales).

Any 3 GuitArchitecture pdfs for $30. 

  • The  Four-book PDF bundle (which includes The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Melodic PatternsThe GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes:  Harmonic CombinatoricsThe GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration, and The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Chord Scales) is available for $40 USD using the PayPal bundle button below.  (A $20 savings off ordering the books on their own).

4 GuitArchitecture books for $40. 

 . 

  • If you’d like a paper based version (and save yourself printing and binding costs), you can go to the link here ( Lulu.com ) to buy a nicely bound version of any of the books.

.

Please note:

I turn all orders around within the same day I receive payment notification.

.

Chord Scales is 190 pages of instruction and reference.  It’s the shortest book I’ve written, but it’s just as deep as any of the other books.  The big difference between this book and the other books, is that this book starts by taking one chord scale and really putting it through the ringer and demonstrating how to use it in ways that are intuitive and musical.   Once the process for what to do with a chord scale is demonstrated, the book  then goes on to outline all the unique chord scales from 3-12 notes!!!

.

The book has a lot of performance insights and presents the material in a way I believe to be truly unique (at least I’ve never seen it dealt with this way before).  It’s incredible exciting to me, and while it’s been written as a soloing, compositional or improvisational resource for guitarists – it could be invaluable to musicians in general.

.

Here’s the front  cover (more jpegs of the book can be seen below).


For more information about ordering, just skip to the bottom of the page.  For those of you who want to know more about the book, just keep reading.There are a couple of posts that I’ve put up that excerpts and adapts material directly from this book.  To get a sample of the book’s style you can check out :

.

CREATING CHORDS AND LINES FROM ANY SCALE – A HARMONIC COMBINATORICS / SPREAD VOICINGS LESSON

.

Making Music Out Of Scales

.

The lulu.com page includes a preview option for the first 12 pages of the book, but I’ve included some additional jpegs of some of the Chord Scales book  pages below.  Since the jpegs were converted from the pdf of the book, there’s some pixelation in the jpegs that’s not present in the pdf,  but these will still give you an idea of what’s in the book.

.

.

.
.

.

.

More Information:

If you’d like to find out more about the other books in the GuitArchitecture series, you may want to check out this post as well:

.

DIFFERENT PRICING TIERS ANNOUNCED FOR BOOK PDFS

.

As I said about the books, I’m striving to create content that represents something I would be psyched to find on the web and hopefully it evokes a similar reaction in you as well.

.

Thanks for reading!

.

-SC

GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes Part 10 – Getting into Modal Arpeggios – Triads

Hello everyone!!

I’ll be delving into individual modes in more depth in the coming weeks and months ahead but as a preliminary step, I wanted to get into modal arpeggios a bit as they’ll be important components in future lessons.

.

Scales = Chords

.

Since chords and scales are made up of the building blocks (notes), they are essentially 2 sides of the same coin.

For example, let’s look at an ascending C major scale on the B and E strings:

.

If we remove every other note of the first for notes we can see arpeggiated versions of the triads associated with those modes.

While 2-string arpeggios are often neglected by guitarists, they are certainly worth investigating for helping with visualization.

.

2-String Triadic Visualization

.

The major scale is made up of three types of triads:  major, minor and diminished. Played as unique notes, any triad has three typical voicings:

  • Root position with the root as the bass note: (i.e. Root, 3rd, 5th)
  • 1st inversion with the 3rd as the bass note: (i.e. 3rd, 5th, Root)
  • 2nd inversion with the 5th as the bass note: (i.e. 5th, Root, 3rd)

.

Here are some sample fingerings of each of the chord types played as 2-string arpeggios in each inversion:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

2-string Major Scale Triads

.

Now I’ll apply each of these arpeggio shapes to the C major scale starting with the root position.

As a reminder here are the triads of the C major scale.

.

 .

Since the fingerings are on 2-strings, they’ll be the same on the E/A, D/G and B/e strings.

.

.

Here are the arpeggios in 1st inversion.  Again, since the fingerings are on 2-strings, they’ll be the same on the E/A and B/e strings as well.

.

C major scale triads in 1st inversion ascending by scale degree

.

And finally, here are the arpeggios in 2nd inversion.

.

.

Putting it together positionally

 .

At the top of the page, I showed how I extracted arpeggios from ascending 2 string patterns.  This same process can be applied positionally.  For example, here’s a 3-note per string C major scale played  in 8th position.

.

.

Now I’ll apply each of these arpeggio shapes to the C major scale starting with the root position. To create a modal arpeggio, simply remove every other note.  Doing so with this scale creates a C Ionian modal arpeggio.

.

.

Modal arpeggios are sonically cool because they convey the full sound of the mode but break it out of a scalar pattern.

Modal arpeggios are cool in this method, because if you can visualize a scale then making the arpeggio is relatively easy.

.

The trouble with Ionian

..

The “problem” with the Ionian mode in general is that the natural 4th is an avoid tone over major 7th chords with the same root.  (i.e. C Ionian played over C maj7).  For this reason, I generally avoid Ionian as a mode and instead focus on the major scale for visualization purposes.  

.

With that in mind, here ‘s another approach for using this arpeggio.

.

I really dig playing this particular arpeggio over D minor – to create a D Dorian type of sound. In the example below, I’ve used the C and the E pitches on the low E string to encircle the D (one note above and one below) to help emphasize the D minor 13 sound of the arpeggio and end it on the 9th.

.

.

The final visualization trick

.

If we look at the positional arpeggio again:

.

.

Take a close look at the positional modal arpeggio!  If you look at it as a group of 3-note shapes you’ll see that it’s actually made of of 3 triadic arpeggios: C Major, B diminished and A minor.  

.

C Ionian = C maj + B dim + A min

.

Going back to the 2-string scalar observation in part 3 of this post, as the pitches ascend, the related arpeggios descend.  This is true of any of the modal arpeggios – so it might be a cool way for you to visualize it! Try it with your own arpeggio forms!

 .

In the next post, I’ll go through 7th chord arpeggios.  In the meantime, try practicing the 2-string arpeggios over all of the chords of the C major scale:

  • C maj 7
  • D min 7
  • E min 7
  • F maj 7
  • G7
  • A min 7
  • B min7 b5

.

and then over whatever other tonal centers inspire youI hope this helps!  As always, thanks for reading!

.

-SC

.

PS  – if you like this post, you may also like:

.

Books:

.

Lessons

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 9 – Visualizing Melodic and Harmonic Minor

A while ago, I had posted that given an hour, I could get almost anyone at an intermediate level to visualize any of the Major, Melodic Minor or Harmonic Minor modes anywhere on the guitar.  In this overdue return to the serialization of the guide to modes book –  I guess this is my put up or shut up moment. ; )  Since this is print as a pixel based medium – I’m going to cover it in a lot more detail than I might normally in, say a 1/2 hour lesson.
.

As a precursor, all of the information here works off of the 2-string (3 note-per string) pattern visualization method that I’ve covered in parts 3a and 3b of this series, if any of the initial shapes (or connecting ideas) in this post seem confusing, just go back and review the following:

.

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3B – Seeing The Six-String Major Scale

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3A – Seeing The Six-String Major Scale

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 2 – Seeing The Two String Major Scale

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 1 – Seeing The Single String Major Scale

.

A Pedagogical note (taken from part 2)

Since the initial emphasis of this lesson series is on sonic visualization and making sense out of 2-string and positional fingerings, I’m only dealing with visualizing parent scales (Major, Melodic Minor or Harmonic Minor in this case)  as a whole here.

While modes are always associated with a chord or a chord progression, I’m limiting harmonic options only to C Major/Melodic Minor/Harmonic Minor  for now.

Extremely important elements in this process, such as harmony, modal interchange, arpeggios, individual modes and actual music making are the topics for other posts.  Having said that, it is important to state again, that modes (or any scale), in and of themselves, are not music but are only a tool in making music.   Anything I post here should always be filtered through your own aesthetic and utilized, adapted or even ignored accordingly (i.e. take what works for you).

With that in mind here’s a review of much of the information as it relates to C major.  For the Melodic and Harmonic minor shapes – just skip down to the next section.

.

Major Scale/Modal Visualization Review

  • The guitar fingerboard can be divided into 3 sets of two strings. Any 2-string fingering pattern that starts on the B string can be moved to the same starting pitch on the D or the low E string and keep the same fingering.
  • The major scale can be broken down into seven two-string modes that follow a specific order based on its scale degree from the parent scale (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, Locrian). The two-string patterns are modular and can be adapted to positional playing (see rules above).

.

The modular 2 string modal shapes I use look like this (The numbers represent fingers).

.

.

Here’s a C major scale played  on only the B and E strings:

.

Comparing the initial shapes to the ascending pattern, the positional patterns can be broken down into the seven 2-string modal fingerings that ascend in sequential order  (i.e. C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, A Aeolian and B Locrian).

.

Since the two-string patterns are modular they can also be adapted to positional playing.  So if we look at a C Major scale played in the 8th position and starting from C:

.

.

This 6-string fingering can be seen as containing three distinct patterns:

.

 Two-string sets of C Ionian

.

Here are the important things you need to know for visualizing this:

.

As the fingering pattern ascends across the strings,

the six note modal fingerings descend to the next modal pattern.  

.

Like wise, as the fingering pattern descends across the strings,

the six-note modal fingerings ascend to the next modal pattern.    

.

This is true of any 2-string pattern.

.

Adapting Major shapes to create Melodic and Harmonic Minor fingerings

.

I’ve talked before about the modal microscope and seeing things on the parent major level.  The advantage of this comes into play right here. First, let’s take another look at a C major scale played in the 8th position again:

.

.

Here’s the audio.

.

Note:

In all the audio examples, I’ve played the example first as sextuplets – then at a slower tempo (i.e. 16ths) – then as sextuplets again.

.

.

Each mode is associated with chords as well.  Here’s a chart of the triad and 7th chords  for C Major:

.

.

In all of the chord examples below, I’ve taken sample diatonic 7th chord shapes for the E, D, G and B strings with the roots on the low E string. These are certainly not the only way to play these chords, but if you’re not familiar with the voicings they’re not a bad place to start.  Also, while I’ve notated each chord as a 1/4 note, I’ve held each chord for 2 bar lengths (i.e. 8 beats) to be able to play the scale patterns against.

.

.

.

Also, distortion tends to wash out chords with larger voicings, so for all the examples in this exercise, I’ve used a clean setting courtesy of Scuffham Amps.

.

.

Melodic Minor

.

To visualize Melodic Minor Patterns – simply flat the 3rd of the Parent Major scale.

(i.e. to visualize C Melodic Minor just play C major but change every E  to Eb).

.

It’s important to note that all of the fingering conventions mentioned here are solely to assist with visualization. Melodic and Harmonic Minor really aren’t directly related to the Major scale sonically.  

.

.

.

Melodic Minor short cuts:

.

Using the Parent Major patterns above here’s a list of short cut’s to help you visualize the patterns.

.

.

Note: in the F Lydian shape – there’s no change from the major shape since there’s no Eb in the 2-string pattern.

.

.

.

Here’s the initial melodic pattern with the modified major fingerings written above the 2-string shapes:

.

.

Here are the diatonic triads and 7th chords.

.

.

.

Try playing the initial C Melodic Minor shape over any of these chords..

.

.

.

Harmonic Minor

.

To visualize Harmonic Minor Patterns – simply flat the 3rd and the 6th of the Parent Major scale.

(i.e. to visualize C Harmonic Minor just play C major but change every E  to Eb and every A  to Ab).

.

.

.

Here are the pattern adaptations.  In a situation like this, it can get confusing to remember a formula like “Dorian b2, b5” so as an alternative you may just want to try remembering something like “Pattern 1” for Ionian b3, b6, “Pattern 2” for Dorian b2, b5, etc.

.

.
.
.
..
Here’s the same scale pattern – I left off Pattern 6 by mistake but the sequence is Ionian b3, b6 (Pattern 1 ), Locrian b4 (Pattern 7) and Ionian b5, bRoot (Pattern 6).  You can really see this if you compare it to the initial major patterns.
.
.
Here are the diatonic triads and 7th chords:
.
..
Try playing the initial C Harmonic Minor shape over any of these chords…
.
.
.

Performance Notes:

  • This whole process just a short cut for a visualization process to see C Major/Melodic Minor/Harmonic Minor on the fingerboard.  In parts 3a and 3b of this series, I’ve provided every C major positional fingering.  As a first step, you should consider adapting each of those fingerings to Melodic and Harmonic Minor.  After you get the shapes under your fingers, try moving them to other keys as well.
  • In addition to using a time keeping device of some kind (like a metronome, drum loop, etc) playing along to a chord or a bass note will help establish tonality and help associate each pattern with a sound).  I’ll get more into application in further lessons, but for now try playing the patterns over any of the bass notes or chords in the mp3s and once you get familiar with the chord shapes, try writing tunes or solos with the material.

.

Technical Notes:

  • While it’s natural to want to progress quickly, trying to play too quickly too soon results in excess hand tension which will increase the difficulty of what you’re trying to play.  Fluidity comes from focused, relaxed repetition.  
  • Fretting hand: When playing these patterns, practice using just the fingertip to fret the notes and use the minimum amount of tension needed for the note to sound cleanly.  Additionally, try to keep the fingers down on the strings when playing and remove them from the string only when necessary.
  • Picking Hand:  Try using the above picking pattern on the top two strings or alternate picking.
  • Practice the scale ascending and descending and really focus on clarity of notes, hand tension and timing.  Even many intermediate to advanced players can gain something by really focusing on making clean transitions between the fingering shapes.
  • Isolate problem areas and work out.  You’re not going to be able to play the sequence cleanly if any of the individual components aren’t 100%.  This isn’t a bad thing.  Things you develop over time are more likely to stay with you (and thus be accessible when you’re improvising).

.

Musical:

  • Making music from the patterns is a whole other skill set, but you need to know where to put your fingers on the strings while you  bend, slide and phrase your way into making music.  Having said that, since the visualization process doesn’t take that long,  as soon as you get the shapes down I’d recommend to start manipulating them to try to make them more musical to your ear.   See Part 2 of this series for more specifics or the making music out of scales post for some suggestions for how to do this.

.

Like I said before, I’ll be going deeper into using these scales (and using them in other harmonic contexts) in future posts.  With any lesson material, I recommend you just go through the lesson at your own pace and return as you need to.  Please feel free to post any questions you might have (or pm me at guitar.blueprint@gmail.com).

.

I hope this helps.   As always, thanks for reading!

.

-SC

.

P.S. If you like this post – you may also like:

.

Books:

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Harmonic Combinatorics “Pre-Release” Now Available

THE GUITARCHITECT’S POSITIONAL EXPLORATION PRE-RELEASE NOW AVAILABLE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES: MELODIC PATTERNS BOOK “PRE-RELEASE” NOW AVAILABLE

.

LESSONS

.

Modes:

The Modal Microscope And A Sequenced Arpeggio Approach

Slash and Burn – Creating More Complex Sounds With Slash Chords

The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes Part 8 – Major Positional Modal Interchange and Complimenting Modes with Chords

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 7 – MINOR POSITIONAL MODAL INTERCHANGE AND COMPLIMENTING MODES WITH CHORDS

.

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 6 – THE CIRCLE OF 5THS AND MODAL INTERCHANGE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 5 – MAKING THE MOST OF ONE PATTERN

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 4 – Modes and Chords

.

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3B – SEEING THE SIX-STRING MAJOR SCALE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3A – SEEING THE SIX-STRING MAJOR SCALE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 2 – SEEING THE TWO STRING MAJOR SCALE

.

The GuitArchitecture Guide To Modes Part 1 – Seeing The Single String Major Scale

Making Music Out Of Scales

.

Pentatonics:

Making Sense Of The Pentatonic Scale – Diagonal Forms – Part Two

MAKING SENSE OF THE PENTATONIC SCALE – DIAGONAL FORMS – PART ONE

Free Sweeping Pentatonic Minor Scale Lesson on Live4Guitar.com now online

.

2 STRING SHAPES OR MAKING SENSE OF THE PENTATONIC MINOR SCALE

THE BAKER’S DOZEN APPROACH TO PENTATONIC SCALES

GUITARCHITECTURE, SONIC VISUALIZATION AND A PENTATONIC APPROACH FOR THE HOLIDAYS

.

Chords/Triads/Superimposition/Arpeggios:

CREATING CHORDS AND LINES FROM ANY SCALE – A HARMONIC COMBINATORICS / SPREAD VOICINGS LESSON

AUGMENT YOUR KNOWLEDGE: SONIC SHAPES AND GETTING MORE FROM AUGMENTED CHORDS

Slash and Burn – Creating More Complex Sounds With Slash Chords

.

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 3

Getting Hipness From A Major Triad Or More Chord Recycling Part 2

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 1

.

Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 3

Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 2

GETTING THROUGH THE GIG – NEGOTIATING A CHORD CHART PART 1

.

RECYCLING CHORDS PART II: TRIAD TRANSFORMATION

RECYCLING CHORDS PART I OR WHERE’S THE ROOT?

.

FAVORED CURRY OR SPICING UP CHORD SCALES AND TRIADS PART 2

FAVORED CURRY OR SPICING UP CHORD SCALES AND TRIADS PART 1

.

RECYCLING SHAPES OR MODULAR ARPEGGIOS FOR FUN AND PROFIT

GLASS NOODLES – ADAPTING A PHILIP GLASS ARPEGGIO APPROACH TO GUITAR

.

Practicing:

MELVILLE, MADNESS AND PRACTICING – OR FINDING THE DEEPER LESSON PART 2

Some Useful Online Practice Tools

POSSESSION IS 9/10S OF THE LAW BUT PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING OR PRACTICING PART VII

TESTING YOUR VOCABULARY OR PRACTICING PART VI

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PLAY OR PRACTICING PART V

.

DEFINITIONS AND DOCUMENTS OR PRACTICING PART IV

TENSION AND THE SODA CAN OR PRACTICING PART III

PROPER POSTURE IS REQUIRED FOR PROPER PERFORMANCE – PRACTICING PART II

PRACTICE MAKES BETTER AKA PRACTICING PART I

 .

Creating Chords And Lines From Any Scale – A Harmonic Combinatorics / Spread Voicings Lesson

Hello everyone!

.

I wanted to post a lesson up that uses one of my approaches to harmonizing scales from my Harmonic Combinatorics book.  It’s a cool way to not only get away from stock voicings but also to generate new lines as well!

I’m using C Major as the tonal center for this lesson but the approach can (and probably should be) be adapted to any scale.

.

A couple of lessons ago, I talked about the modal microscope  – which was a term I used to discuss examining modes on multiple levels and the advantage of viewing modes as subsets of a parent scale.  Before I get into the harmonization approach I want to expand on this idea of the microscope analogy and apply it to harmony.

.

The Harmonic Microscope

If I harmonize a parent major scale in the key of C, I’ll end up with the following chords on each scale degree.

.

.

So if you’re playing in the key of C and want to get into more harmonic depth on an E minor chord, it’s time to reach into your chord bag and pull out your stock  minor 11 (b9, b13) voicing.  Oh, you don’t have one?  Don’t worry – most guitarists don’t.  Learning stock voicings and inversions for this specific chord form probably isn’t the best use of your time anyway.

Using the microscope analogy, this is really looking at the chord on a 2x setting.

.

Here’s the 1x setting for this example:

playing any combination of the notes from C Major over the root E creates some variant of an

E min / min7 / min7 (b9) / min 11 (b9, b13)  chord.

.

And here’s the bigger picture:

Once you are aware of the types of sounds that are created from various chord types, you can start thinking about chords and chord voicings on the macro (i.e. parent scale) level. This means that if I’m playing over a D minor chord and using notes from the C major scale, I don’t have to analyze each indidual chord because I know it’s all under some type of generic D minor 7/minor 9/minor 11 or minor 13 umbrella. 

Harmonic Combinatorics

Harmonic Combinatorics refers to a process of identifying “countable discrete structures” harmonically.  In other words, it examines unique combinations of notes on all of the possible string combinations for the purposes of develop harmonic and melodic possibilities.  One way to do this is through a method that I use to generate unique ideas through a process that some people refer to as spread voicings.

.

A Systematic Method For Harmonizing Any Scale Or Mode On The Guitar

It’s important to state at the outset that the method I’m employing is only one possible way to approach this exploration.  I’ve taken this approach to maximize the number of unique voicings, but you should feel free to take any of the rules that I’ve applied to this approach (like eliminating octaves) with a grain of salt.  The object is to gain new sounds – so change the patterns here in whatever ways necessary.

.

Here’s an approach that will give you more voicings and lines than you might have thought possible.

.

  • Step 1:  Write out a scale and write the scale degree under each note.

(Example:  C Major)

.
  • Step 2:  On a blank chord sheet – write out the scale degrees on each string up to the 5th fret.

.

(To clarify: The numbers on the left hand side of the diagram are the fret numbers ).

.

.

  • Step 3:  Starting with the lowest note on the lowest string, write out all the initial voicing of all possible 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 note harmonies by scale degree on different string sets.

.

For example, if I was looking at the G, B and high E strings, some sample initial voicings would be

573, 574, 576, 513, 514, 516, 523, 524, 526, 534, 536

673, 674, 675, 613, 623

713, 723

173, 174, 175, 176, 123

.

You may have noticed that I skipped some voicings:

.

If you want to save some time and increase the number of unique chords try the following parameters:

.

  • No doubling of chord tones (Ex. 363).  (Again – if you like that sound – use it!  but the point of this process is to generate unique voicings with unique notes.)
  • At least one note in the voicing has to be the lowest on a string.  If you look at 614 on the G, B and high E strings you’ll see that it’s really the second voicing of 573 on the frets below it.  Having at least one note be the bottom note on any string will help ensure that you’re not just working out voicings that you may have already done.
  • The highest fret to be used in the first voicing is the 5th fret.  This last step is going to produce some voicings that aren’t playable on the lower frets, but might work in the upper registers.

.

  • Step 4:  Select a string set and move the voicing in scale-wise motion up the strings to the octave.

.

For the purposes of this lesson – I’m going to focus primarily on 3 string groups, but this idea is applicable on any 2-6 string set of strings.  (It’s worth mentioning that – Harmonic Combinatorics does all the work for this process for all string sets – (it’s also why it’s over 400 pages long!!)).

.

.

(Again, while this book follows this process through the key of C Major, this process can be applied to any tonal center.)

.

  •  I’ve written out an example based on the D, G and B string set (i.e. 432) and gone with an initial voicing of a F, G and D (or 452).

.

(Note:  The reason I start with numbers instead of notes is 1.  It’s a lot easier to see if I’ve missed a number in a sequence when working these things out and 2.  It eliminates the initial step of wondering what harmony I’m creating.  This is simply a process that I’ve used with good results.  If the numbering is weird for you, just use what works for you.)

.

.

.

  • This creates seven different voicings which could be played as a modal chord progression, used as the basis for a melodic idea or even isolated into individual chords.  If this process yields even one chord that you like it’s worthwhile.

.

  • The function of the voicings will depend on the root. If you want to dig deeper into this area, you can use other notes as a root (note Harmonic Combinatorics includes a chart which shows all chord tones based on scale degree).  I’ve posted  the sound of the chords being played against an A root below. A was picked as a root because it’s an open string, but you could just as easily tap any note from the C major scale to create various modal sounds:

.

  1. Playing C as the bass note will give you C Ionian sounds
  2. Playing D as the bass note will give you D Dorian sounds
  3. Playing E as the bass note will give you E Phrygian sounds
  4. Playing F as the bass note will give you F Lydian sounds
  5. Playing G as the bass note will give you G Mixolydian sounds
  6. Playing A as the bass note will give you A Aeolian sounds
  7. Playing B as the bass note will give you B Locrian sounds

.

Check out these chord sounds over A.  In addition to possible comping ideas, these can be arpeggiated for melodic ideas as well.

.

.

A few notes on working with voicings

.

Here are some additional points to consider when using this process:

.

  • Common sense is your friend.  If a chord seems difficult to play:

.

.

there is almost always an easier way to play it on another string set.

.

.
Since the voicings presented are in the key of C Major with no sharps or flats, the information (and approach) here is easily adaptable to other scales, modes etc…

.

  • If you find a voicing in C Major you like, just move it to whatever other key you’re playing in.
  • To create all of the C Melodic Minor (i.e. Jazz Minor) voicings – just change any E to Eb.
  • To create all of the C Harmonic Minor voicingsjust change any E to Eb and any A to Ab.

.

Now I’ll talk about making melodic lines from this material.

.

Melodic Variations

.

As I mentioned earlier, these voicings can be played as melodies simply by playing the notes one at a time.  In The GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration and the GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes: Melodic Patterns, I’ve outlined a series of methods for generating melodic variations. But since this approach is about combining things, it makes sense to at least look at some melodic possibilities with regards to note choice.  I’ve decided to take a three-note voicing as it offers enough possibilites to be interesting, but not too many to be over-whelming and have chosen this pattern simply because I like the first voicing.

.

.

It sounds a little deceptive if you play it as is.  This is because the first voicing is actually a G major chord in 1st inversion (i.e. with B in the bass).  Here it is with the root of each chord added to the low E string (Try working them out and playing them!!  There are come challenging chords there.)

.

.

but when you play it with the B as the lowest note it sounds like a B minor with the b3rd on the B string.

.

.

If you play it without harmonic backing, try changing any F natural to F # and it should sound more pleasing to you.

.

“Variety is the spice of life”

.

There are six unique melodic variations of any three-note chord or pattern.

.

.

These numbers represent note order.  Assigning 1 as the lowest note and 3 as the highest – here are the unique variations on the first three notes.

.

Applying this idea, one possibility for 123 looks like this:

.

.

.

Two things to consider:

.

1.  I’ve notated this as triplets for ease of reading, but the very first thing you should probably do (after getting the notes under your fingers is look for a more musical phrasing).

.

.

2. Again, if you play this without harmonic backing this may sound more “right” to you:

.

.

Alternating groups of 123 and 321 for each chord produces:

.

.

.

Combining the first 2 chords into a 6-note pattern allows even more flexibility.  Here, I’ve moved the number order around and made a more interesting line.

.

.

.

One part of this phrase has caught my ear:

.

.

When I add a low E root, I get a cool little Phrygian phrase (with a couple of notes snuck in on the high E string).

.

.

The GuitArchitect’s Positional Exploration and the GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes: Melodic Patterns, has a systematic approach to exploring these types of variations.  Having said that, those of you who want to do the work, could just write down a collection of numbers and apply them to different ideas and see what happens.

.

The first important thing, however, is to experiment with different rhythms (including rests!), phrasings (like slides, hammer-on/pull offs) and make some music out this raw material.

.

The second important thing to consider is that with any approach like this you should:

  • take the things you like
  • use them in what you’re currently working on (songs, solos, etc)
  • make what you keep part of your sound and discard (or ignore) what you don’t use.

.

I cover some other approaches and break down the theory a little more in depth in Harmonic Combinatorics but I hope this lesson here helps and if you like this idea – you should check out the book (if you haven’t already)!

.

Thanks for reading!

.

-SC

.

If you like this post you may also like:

.

Books:

The Modal Microscope And A Sequenced Arpeggio Approach

Slash and Burn – Creating More Complex Sounds With Slash Chords

Making Music Out Of Scales

.

Chords/Triads/Superimposition/Arpeggios:

AUGMENT YOUR KNOWLEDGE: SONIC SHAPES AND GETTING MORE FROM AUGMENTED CHORDS

.

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 3

Getting Hipness From A Major Triad Or More Chord Recycling Part 2

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 1

.

Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 3

Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 2

GETTING THROUGH THE GIG – NEGOTIATING A CHORD CHART PART 1

.

RECYCLING CHORDS PART II: TRIAD TRANSFORMATION

RECYCLING CHORDS PART I OR WHERE’S THE ROOT?

.

FAVORED CURRY OR SPICING UP CHORD SCALES AND TRIADS PART 2

FAVORED CURRY OR SPICING UP CHORD SCALES AND TRIADS PART 1

.

RECYCLING SHAPES OR MODULAR ARPEGGIOS FOR FUN AND PROFIT

GLASS NOODLES – ADAPTING A PHILIP GLASS ARPEGGIO APPROACH TO GUITAR

.

The Modal Microscope And A Sequenced Arpeggio Approach

Hello everyone!

.

I’ve been cleaning up a lot of the text for the GuitArchitecture book releases and wanted to post a lesson that uses some ideas and approaches from my Melodic Patterns book (available here).  But first, I need to talk about…

.

The Modal Microscope

.

When I explain using modes to students – I typically use the analogy of a microscope to discuss viewing modes conceptually on multiple levels.

.

Let’s say I want to solo over a D min7 chord.  So I’ll put that “under the microscope”.

.

On the 2x setting, I see that a number of minor modes will work over D min7.  In this case,  I’ll choose Dorian.

.

Going to the 4x setting on the microscope, I see that Dorian is made up of a series of interlocking 2-string patterns.

.

Note: 

If you’re unfamiliar with the 2-string approach I’m discussing I definitely recommend that you check out part 2, part 3a or part 3b of my guide to modes posts.

.

If I go to the 8x setting, I can break the 2-string patterns down into 1 string shapes and going to a higher resolution (16x) I can see those shapes as individual notes.  At the 16x setting – maybe I’m looking at the individual notes of D min7 (D, F, A and C) and thinking about accenting those notes in my playing.

.

If I now go out to the 1x setting – I see that D Dorian is just a subset of C major.  The thing is if you go playing a bunch of C major scales over D dorian and don’t resolve anything (or focus on the chord tones) – you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle.

.

It’s good to understand modes on multiple levels but if you see how all of the related modes interlock with each other, then (using the microscope analogy), you can deal with using modes with chords on the 1x or 2x level but use information from the higher levels in your playing.

.

Putting this to use:

.

I’ve posted a number of technical things here and decided to use a much lower gain approach than normal and slow things down a bit.  The same practice points as before (Tone, Tension and Timing) apply – but this exercise is all about how to find variations in small things.  (If you like the technical things don’t worry I’ve included some deceptively tricky variations as well!)

.

Let’s take a 2-string G Major shape.

.

.

.

The nice things about 2-string patterns like this is that the fingering repeats at each octave.  (So you only need to remember one fingering for a multi octave run).

.

.

.

One process I explore in my Melodic Patterns book is systematically breaking down patterns to get new sounds out of them.  In this case, I’m going to remove the 2nd and 4th note from the pattern which leaves me with this shape:

.

.

.

Looking closely at the notes reveals that I have a G, B, C and E which is a C maj7 arpeggio. By limiting it to a  2-string shape,  I can move it in octaves and the fingering stays the same.

.

Note:

The drums are the same pattern I’ve used on my other posts, so you can play against it for any other the things I post here (more info below).

.

.

.(I’ve added a C maj7 chord in front of this to give a sense of tonality.)

.

.

Going to a higher resolution

.

I know that G parent major also contains A Dorian – which works well over A minor chords.  So playing this shape over A minor the notes – now become: b7 (G), 9 (B), b3 (C) and 5th (E).  Which has a cool sound associated with it.  (I’ve subbed out A min7 for C maj 7 here for the opening chord).

.

.

.

Sequencing the ideas:

.

However cool any scale or arpeggio is, playing it in a linear up and down manner will only get you so far.  By playing groups of notes in short sequences, the arpeggio gains a little melodic drive.

.

In this first variation I’ll play groups of 3 (So I’m playing 3 ascending notes from each note of the arpeggio).  One way to immediately make this more interesting is to break the 3 note grouping out of the triplet rhythm.  Playing the same pattern in 16ths – displaces the first note of each pattern across different beats.

.

.

.

Here’s the same idea descending: (This is another case where the microscope idea comes into play.  The A note ending the phrase isn’t part of the 4 note arpeggio – but gives the descending line a sense of resolution.  Since I’m seeing and hearing the phrase as an A minor tonality – I’m resolving it to the tonic (A),  third (C) or 5th (E).

.

.

.

For a little variety –  I’ve taken the same idea but played it as sextuplets instead.  I’ve notated the first bar of it (as the notes are the same as the patterns above) – but I play it ascending and descending on the mp3 below.

.

.

.

5 alive

.

To get a little more mileage out of this arpeggio, I’m going to play the notes in groups of 5.  Here it is in a 1/16 note rhythm (I’ve left off the last 2 notes to keep it on one line).

.

.

.

Technical note:

Watch the position skip on the A/D and the B/ G strings!!

Here it is as septuplets (5 notes to the beat).

.

.

.

Changing the note order

.

You may have noticed that all of these arpeggios use a linear note order in the sequence.  So if G is the first note of the 1st pattern and B is the 2nd note – every pattern moves in straight ascending or descending order.

.

3 Note Pattern: G, B, C/B, C, E/C, E, G

in note order = 1,2, 3/2, 3, 4/ 3, 4, 1 etc.

.

But what if we varied up the note order?  In this example, I’m going to take play groups of 3 descending notes on each ascending note of the arpeggio. (So instead of playing note numbers 1,2 3  – I’m playing 3-2-1).

.

.

.

Here it is descending:

.

.

.

Displacing the rhythm by a 1/16 makes it cooler.

.

.

.

And again, descending:

.

.

Obligatory Plug

.

I’m only scratching the surface of what’s possible here.  The big takeway here is – if you really go deep on even something small – you can probably find interesting things that will work in your playing.

.

I would also be remiss in not mentioning that my melodic patterns book shows every possible unique combination of notes (and rests) in 1 – 6 note shapes and then shows how to combine them into longer sequences (up to 9 note patterns).  It is a deep resource that can open all manner of melodic and compositional doors (and makes a great gift as well!) ; )

.

Tones

.

I went with another tonal variation here and tried some of the lower gain settings on the Scuffham amp AU.  It’s a cool product and I should have a review up soon.  In the meantime – he’s a screenshot of the laptop set up I used to track this:

Click to see full size

.

I‘ve mentioned this in the laptop guitar posts – but the varispeed is a useful plug-in!  When I get bored with a metronome sound – I’ll throw a drum loop into the AU fileplayer and then use the varispeed to control the speed of the loop.

.

As always, I hope this helps!

.

-SC

.

If you like this post, you may also like:

.

Books:

LESSONS

.

Slash and Burn – Creating More Complex Sounds With Slash Chords

The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes Part 8 – Major Positional Modal Interchange and Complimenting Modes with Chords

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 7 – MINOR POSITIONAL MODAL INTERCHANGE AND COMPLIMENTING MODES WITH CHORDS

.

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 6 – THE CIRCLE OF 5THS AND MODAL INTERCHANGE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 5 – MAKING THE MOST OF ONE PATTERN

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes Part 4 – Modes and Chords

.

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3B – SEEING THE SIX-STRING MAJOR SCALE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3A – SEEING THE SIX-STRING MAJOR SCALE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 2 – SEEING THE TWO STRING MAJOR SCALE

.

The GuitArchitecture Guide To Modes Part 1 – Seeing The Single String Major Scale

Making Music Out Of Scales

.

Chords/Triads/Superimposition/Arpeggios:

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 3

Getting Hipness From A Major Triad Or More Chord Recycling Part 2

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 1

.

Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 3

Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 2

GETTING THROUGH THE GIG – NEGOTIATING A CHORD CHART PART 1

.

RECYCLING CHORDS PART II: TRIAD TRANSFORMATION

RECYCLING CHORDS PART I OR WHERE’S THE ROOT?

.

FAVORED CURRY OR SPICING UP CHORD SCALES AND TRIADS PART 2

FAVORED CURRY OR SPICING UP CHORD SCALES AND TRIADS PART 1

.

RECYCLING SHAPES OR MODULAR ARPEGGIOS FOR FUN AND PROFIT

GLASS NOODLES – ADAPTING A PHILIP GLASS ARPEGGIO APPROACH TO GUITAR

.

Practicing:

MELVILLE, MADNESS AND PRACTICING – OR FINDING THE DEEPER LESSON PART 2

Some Useful Online Practice Tools

POSSESSION IS 9/10S OF THE LAW BUT PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING OR PRACTICING PART VII

TESTING YOUR VOCABULARY OR PRACTICING PART VI

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PLAY OR PRACTICING PART V

.

DEFINITIONS AND DOCUMENTS OR PRACTICING PART IV

TENSION AND THE SODA CAN OR PRACTICING PART III

PROPER POSTURE IS REQUIRED FOR PROPER PERFORMANCE – PRACTICING PART II

PRACTICE MAKES BETTER AKA PRACTICING PART I

.

Melville, Madness and Practicing – Or Finding The Deeper Lesson Part 2

Condensed Cliff Notes

.

Years ago, I found a back issue of National Lampoon that had a faux ad for Condensed Cliff Notes (“for people who didn’t have time to read the original”).  The joke was that major literary works were just boiled down into one sentence descriptions that couldn’t possibly encompass the scope of the book.  The Condensed Cliff Notes for Moby Dick was, “A whale bites off a man’s leg and he can’t forget about it.”

I don’t know how many of you have read Moby Dick.  I hated it when I had to read it in high school but really got to appreciate it when I was in college and read it again.  One of the central characters in the book was Captain Ahab, a man who not only couldn’t forget about the whale that bit his leg off – but was on monomaniacal mission of revenge that enveloped everyone around him in its wake.   At the end of the book, it’s also his undoing.

.

The Ahab effect and practicing

.

The nature of practicing music (seemingly endless repetition) makes it easy to fall into the Ahab role of obsessively trying to get a musical passage under your fingers.  I once had a lick I couldn’t get down.  It was challenging, but it certainly was something that was well with in my skill set.

.

But the more I worked at it  – the worse it got.

.

I’d work on this lick everyday for hours and get the metronome to a certain point.  When I came back to it, I’d have to knock the metronome back down 20 bpm – often 10 bpm lower than where I started the lick the day before!

You can imagine what this did for my sanity.

.

After a week of this – I started noticing a few things:

.

  • My goal line kept changing.  As I was working on the lick, I kept finding things wrong that I wanted to correct.  I was playing it clean, and then hear other technical issues when I switched to distortion. I was flubbing certain notes, and would go back to fix those.  I was rushing the parts where there were position changes.  I was over thinking it and the more energy I was putting into it the worse it got.  I was actually getting better at playing it, but because I kept adjusting the standard of what I was hearing I seemed further and further away from the goal.
  • I was in a rush.  I was putting all of this emphasis on this lick because I wanted to use it in a live context and  (finally)
  • I was hung up about the fact that I SHOULD be able to play it.

.

The operative terms here are, “hung up” and “should”.

.

Should is a faulty term. It implies value judgements that are hard, if not impossible to live up to and negates reality.   This might sound really  touchy-feely  to some people but this is the type of mindset that trips up musicians.  It’s why people get carpel tunnel (or Focal Dystonia)  – because they go all Ahab on something and assume that if they just work harder, that they’re going to get results quicker.

Everyone is different and this approach may work. for some people but it never worked for me.

.

Here’s what did work for me.

.

  • I got some distance and took a break.  I stopped playing for a couple fo days and came back to it fresh.
  • When did come back to it I had the lick down, but it taught me to try to approach all practicing more meditatively.  I noticed things that were wrong and worked on adjusting them rather than beating myself up about why I couldn’t do something.  When I did slip up and get angry or riled up – I made a note of that and tried smiling instead.

I found that I was really listening on a deeper level than I was before and using practicing to get to a deeper part of myself. I was really getting into the nuances of what I was playing and digging deeper into the pocket than I every had.  I noticed technical things that weren’t working and ultimately – I made a series of changes that had major technical ramifications for me in the long run.

.

All from one lick.

.

Anything has that potential to open the door to deeper expression.  But you won’t find it if all of your energy and attention is fixated on something.

.

In the next post, I’ll have some lesson material that uses approaches from my Melodic Patterns book, and we’ll get a glimpse into just how tricky playing 4 notes can be.

.

Thanks for reading!

-SC

.

If you like this post – you may also like:

The GuitArchitect’s Guide To Modes: Harmonic Combinatorics “Pre-Release” Now Available

6/5/12

.

The official version of this book has been released as both a print and PDF version, so I’m leaving this page up  as a pointer for  historical purposes (and so that people who are interested in the book can get some more detailed information).   

.

All ordering information (including an overview of the book and jpegs of sample pages) can be found here.

.

Thanks!

-SC


The GuitArchitect’s Guide to Modes Part 7 – Minor Positional Modal Interchange and Complimenting Modes with Chords

Welcome to the seventh installment of the GuitArcitecture Mode Visualization lesson series.

If you see anything unfamiliar here, you may want to check out:

.

.

In the last lesson, I took a look at the modes and the circle of 5ths.  In this lesson, I’m going to:

.

  • show how to modify a minor chord to cover minor modal interchanges and
  • show how to switch modal patterns in position

.

Complimenting Modes with Chords

.

A lot of print has been used to describe how modes fit with chords but substantially less has been written about modifying chords to fit various modes. I’ve developed this approach as an introductory way to work on modal interchange it does three things:

  • Limits harmonic content to simplify the modal interchange process
  • show a way to modify chords to work with modes and
  • develops the skill set for changing modes in position.

.

(All useful skills to have – btw).  Since I’ve been dealing with C major – I’m going to look at A minor (the relative minor chord) first.

.

One Chord Modal Interchange Exercise – Minor

.

Before we get into the exercise, let’s make sure we’re clear about the modes we’ll be using.  Of the parent major scale modes I’ve covered – there are 3 that can be used over an A minor chord:

.

  • A Dorian (G major):

.

Click to enlarge

.

  • A Aeolian (C major):

.

Click to enlarge

.

  • A Phrygian (F major):

.

Click to enlarge

.

Here’s the accompaniment pattern:

..

Repeat each bar 2-4 times ** Click to enlarge**

.

Here are the steps:

  • Record or loop the pattern in time 
  • Playing over the loop practice switching modes each bar.  I’ve outlined the fingerings above (see earlier posts in the series if you want to see how I derived them) with a sample rhythm.  As an initial step – just practice ascending and descending the patterns in a scalar fashion.
  • As the level of familiarity with the modal interchanges increases, try removing the repeats and increasing the tempo (thus increasing the difficulty level).

.

Note:

Make sure you don’t start every bar with the low A root!

The goal of this is to be able to switch between modes “mid-stream”.   As a first step, when playing these ascending and descending make sure that wherever you are in the pattern ascending or descending that you transition into the next mode smoothly.  The initial goal here isn’t speed – it’s fluidity and being in control of switching between modes.

(See the melodic note below for some other tips once you get comfortable with the transition).

.

Now let’s examine each chord (and mode) individually:

.

  • First measure: arpeggiate a minor chord in 4/4 time (in this case A minor).

.

A minor – Play A Dorian, A Aeolian or A Phrygian – Click to enlarge

.

In order of increasing darkness, the modes could be played over that chord are:

.

A Dorian, A Aeolian and A Phrygian

.

  • Measure 2: adapt the chord to a specific mode using the mode’s characteristic note.

.

The first mode explored in this example will be A Phrygian.  Since Phrygian’s characteristic note is the b2, I’ll change the 2nd root (A) with the b2 (Bb) creating an A minor (add b9).

.

A minor add b9 – Play A Phrygian – Click to enlarge

.

  • Measure 3:  I’ll continue the chromatic motion on the G string changing the Bb to B natural. This produces an A minor (add 9).

.

A minor add 9 – Play A Dorian or A Aeolian – Click to enlarge

.

  • Measure 4:  Now the 5th of the chord (E) will move chromatically to F, emphasizing the b6 of the Aeolian mode creating an A minor (add 9, b6) chord.

.

A minor add 9 add b6 – Play A Aeolian – click to enlarge

.

  • Measure 5:  The 6th of the chord will now move chromatically to F#  emphasizing the natural 6 of the Dorian mode and creating an A minor (add 6, 9) chord.

.

A minor add 6, 9 – Play A Dorian – Click to enlarge

.

The chord progression then goes back to A minor where any of the 3 modes could be used.

.

Notes:

  • Harmonic – If you’re playing with another musician try taking this one chord vamp idea and using your ear to change the chord when the soloist changes modes.  You can make other chordal alterations as well creating melodic movement in the voicing –  is a great approach to use both in comping on a single chord as well as creating melodic movement between 2 chords (more on that in another lesson).

.

  • Melodic – As the soloist in this approach – try to change modes then the rhythm player changes chords.  As soon as you get comfortable with the shapes – try making melodies and taking them through each modal change.  (See part 5  for an example of that process with one modal shape).

.

The nice thing about playing with human beings (rather than sequences) is that people can introduce random factors into playing.  A person can make all kinds of melodic or harmonic decisions that require the other person to change and adapt.  It develops a dialog and allows people to become more attune to playing with other people (and ultimately more musical).

.

The next lesson will cover Major chord variations in this same style.  But if you want to get a head start the process is the same as what I just covered, the characteristic notes for the major modes are:

.

Lydian: #4

Major: Natural 7

Mixolydian: b7

.

As before, just go through the lesson at your own pace and return to it as you need to.  Also please feel free to post any questions you might have (or pm me at guitar.blueprint@gmail.com).

.

I hope this helps and as always, thanks for reading!

.

-SC

.

P.S. If you like this post – you may also like:

.

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 6 – THE CIRCLE OF 5THS AND MODAL INTERCHANGE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 5 – MAKING THE MOST OF ONE PATTERN

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 4 – MODES AND CHORDS

.

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3B – SEEING THE SIX-STRING MAJOR SCALE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 3A – SEEING THE SIX-STRING MAJOR SCALE

THE GUITARCHITECT’S GUIDE TO MODES PART 2 – SEEING THE TWO STRING MAJOR SCALE

THE GUITARCHITECTURE GUIDE TO MODES PART 1 – SEEING THE SINGLE STRING MAJOR SCALE

.

Making Music Out Of Scales

A BRIEF THOUGHT ABOUT MUSIC THEORY

.

PRACTICE MAKES BETTER AKA PRACTICING PART I

PROPER POSTURE IS REQUIRED FOR PROPER PERFORMANCE – PRACTICING PART II

TENSION AND THE SODA CAN OR PRACTICING PART III

DEFINITIONS AND DOCUMENTS OR PRACTICING PART IV

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PLAY OR PRACTICING PART V

TESTING YOUR VOCABULARY OR PRACTICING PART VI

POSSESSION IS 9/10S OF THE LAW BUT PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING OR PRACTICING PART VII

SOME USEFUL ONLINE PRACTICE TOOLS

.

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 3

Getting Hipness From A Major Triad Or More Chord Recycling Part 2

GETTING HIPNESS FROM A MAJOR TRIAD OR MORE CHORD RECYCLING PART 1

.

Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 3

Getting Through The Gig – Negotiating A Chord Chart Part 2

GETTING THROUGH THE GIG – NEGOTIATING A CHORD CHART PART 1

.

WARMING UP: FINGER EXERCISES, THE 3 T’S AND THE NECESSITY OF MISTAKES

.