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felixdcat

Simple question

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felixdcat    0

Hey everybody!

Let's say in the background I have C, F, G playing (I-IV-V)...

If I wanted to solo over C, I can only play 1-3-5 because it's C major. If I wanted to add a 7th, then the 'background' would have to play C7, right?

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si16    10

No felix, you don't need to restrict yourself like that. You can play any note at any time regardless of the chord being played. What you have to bear in mind is that some of these notes will clash badly with the underlying chord and should be used with care.

Using your example of C major

Playing C, the root, will sound very good. Playing E and G (the 3rd and 5th) will sound great. Playing A, B, D, F (the other major scale notes) will be safe (but perhaps a bit bland). The other available notes must be used with caution, linger on them briefly and then 'resolve' the effect they create by playing a chord tone. It is this dissonance and resolution that creates tension and excitement in music.

A good rule of thumb is to start and end each phrase you play with a chord tone, anything in between is up to you.

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scotty_b    16

You can actually play any note over any chord....

But context is always important. Unleashing chromatic lines interspersed with octave-displacement may sound great on a fusion track or a sci-fi film score, but over a Britteny Spears song totally wrong.

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Kirk Lorange    128
You can actually play any note over any chord....

Hey, scotty_b ... can you add to this statement for us? I think many players just getting into the art of improvisation will find this a little confusing.

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hb    0

In my very limited knowledge, I can tell you that after downloading several songs in sheet music form, that a lot of music asked for chords with melody notes that are, in my opinion, totally out of the box. Let alone the fact that they're almost impossible to reach on the guitar, but Kirk's method had helped me find ways of reaching them by searching the entire fret board. I think there's a lot a things that sound good on paper or on the radio, but not that good on guitar and that's where improvising comes in. Just my 2 cents worth!

hb

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scotty_b    16
Hey, scotty_b ... can you add to this statement for us? I think many players just getting into the art of improvisation will find this a little confusing.

Certainly sir.

Well the initial question from Felix asked if he could just play the chord tones over a chord, and if he played the 7th over the chord the accompaniment would need to reflect that - eg play a C7 or C major 7 chord.

Such an approach would yield a sound that would get boring pretty quickly. It would sound too much the same very quickly.

All music has consonance and disonance. Consonance is achieved by notes that blend well together, such as the root and 5th of a major chord. The root and 3rd of a major chord produce a sweet, or consonant, sound.

Disonance is achieved when notes clash or rub against each other. Play the 4th fret , second string and let it ring against the open 1st string. This is a minor second interval, and will give you a very disonant sound.

There are varying degrees of consonance and disonance, and most musical styles employ these devices to create 'movement' within the song or tune. To give you an example, Paul McCartney in 'Yesterday' uses a couple of very disonant notes in the second bar to create a stronger melodic line, yet the melody is extremely strong, ie memorable. 'Penny Lane' is another example of Paul's ability to write very good melodies.He steps outside the orginal key to create stronger movement within those tunes. If he did not employ dissonance neither would be as strong.

So when we come to improvising we see the same thing, but before discussing that musical context is pretty important too. By that I mean that how we approach a tune when soloing we should be considerate of the place we are performing it. Have a think about the end of 'Back to the Future', when Michael J Fox's character rips into Van Halen licks over a Chuck Berry tune. What he plays is cool - but it just doesn't work musically, and the kids at the dance are not ready to hear that - they are only just being exposed to rock and roll.

Anyway, when improvising you have many choices to make, and it is really determined by the sounds you wish to achieve. Wanting to sound bluesy would mean you would opt for certain notes - or dare I say it ,scales - as opposed to other sounds for music such as folk or country. This comes back to consonance and dissonance once more.

When I say that any note can be played over any chord, I am coming from a background in jazz, where jazz musicians employ many devices to play over a tune. And once again this comes back to conceptions of consonance and dissonance, as well as musical context.

Resolutions are an important point to consider in all of this as well. How we employ dissonance by playing 'wrong' notes and how we finish , or 'resolve' the line, makes a big difference. When playing blues I often use a lot of chromatic notes, but will normally seek to resolve (finish) on a chord tone. This gives structure to the line, and it then appears that I have chosen to add some 'colour' to the chord before coming back inside it. Sometimes when playing jazz I don't resolve the lines, and leave them hanging. When playing at a pop or rock gig I normally stay pretty safe, and play arpeggios and scale tones that relate pretty closely to the chord and song. Just because I have the ability to play in one style does not mean I should drop it into everything I do.

Now I should also say that I have been playing for a long time, grew up with a grandfather who was a jazz musician, and was listening to Miles Davis as a little kid. It took me a long time to develop the ability to step in and out of keys when I improvise and make it sound like a strong musical line. There have been plenty of cringe moments in my musical development.

I have to run now, but I will post a couple of brief examples of my playing that show some of these ideas. Nothing too scary, but just some solos that are good examples of how I might employ such ideas.

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Kirk Lorange    128

Thanks, scotty_b, for the response.

Examples will be great. As I often say here: talking about, discussing and debating music using words and even tab/notation is nothing compared to HEARING, since music is all about sounds. That's why I always post examples myself.

As far as those two McCartney tunes you mention, to me the melody lines are firmly anchored to chord tones. I don't hear anything 'outside' the chords.

We look forward to the examples. :winkthumb:

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scotty_b    16

Sorry

I probably did not explain the McCartney example well.

The melody in 'Yesterday' steps outside the original key, being F, and uses a B and C# notes. He does employ harmonies to reflect the melody - the use of an A7 chord to move into the Dm is where he employs the B note - which is consistent with the A7 harmony in isolation but not within the key. Most composers employing the III b7chord would opt to use the Bb note, being derived from the 'parent key' if you will. Elsewhere in the melody Paul uses the Bb. His use of these two notes from outside the key centre makes for a very strong melody.

I have just come home from an outdoor gig in 7 degrees, so I am defrosting in front of the heater. I will get a couple of examples up soon when I am warm again

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scotty_b    16

Here are a couple of examples of using 'outside' notes over chords.

The first one is really only notable in terms of this discussion for the first line I played.

The second is somewhat longer, and is played over 'rhythm changes'. There are elements of non-chord and non-scale tones throughout.

I must apologise for the bass on the track if it sounds strange. I recorded this a few years ago, and when I pulled the file back up into Cubase the bass seemed to have this 'warble' to it.

From my perspective, the strength of any line is how it resolves to the chord it concludes on. Targetting chord tones at the end of a phrase allows for the tension to be resolved, and that works for me. Some genres allow for much greater tension, and therefore lack of resolution (fusion/metal) but musically that does not work for me.

solo example one.mp3

solo example two.mp3

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scotty_b    16
I actually hear an Em7 between the F and A7 ... that's where the B comes from. ;)

Well that would explain it then - I was going by memory with the melody - couldn't think of the harmony in my head.

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MalcolmAmos    0

Look forward to Scotty's examples ....

If I wanted to solo over C, I can only play 1-3-5 because it's C major. If I wanted to add a 7th, then the 'background' would have to play C7, right?

I am not sure what you are asking....... With C F G7 playing as background harmony. I think you are asking -- over the C chord I can only play a C note. Then you ask; "If I wanted to add a 7th, then the background would have to play C7, right?"

Not really. We don't have to be that exact. Without getting too deep here are some of your solo choices - as I see them.

Over C F G7 loop

Any combination of notes from the C Major scale could be played over the entire progression.

Any combination of notes from the C Major pentatonic scale could be played over the entire progression.

Any combination of the C Blues scale could be played over the entire progression.

And you do not have to use all the notes of those scale or play them in any certain order -- play the good ones and leave the bad ones out -- LOL -- sorry about that there are no bad notes as long as you stay in scale, any of them will work.

Much more you could do and I look forward to Scotty's examples. Here is an easy improv "exercise" you might give some thought to.

Start with the C Blues scale. Go up the scale - 6th string to the first string. Then come back down using the C major pentatonic scale (come back down without the blue notes). Back up using the C Major (full 7 note) scale and come home with the C Blues scale.

Then back up using the C Blues scale to the first blue note, jump back to the C note on the 6th string and come forward with another C Blues scale to the second blue note. Come home using whatever you think fits. Mix and match ...... get used to using these three scales and moving between them. Have fun.

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MalcolmAmos    0

Look forward to Scotty's examples ....

I am not sure what you are asking.......

With C F G7 playing as background harmony. I think you are asking -- over the C chord I can only play a C note. Then you ask; "If I wanted to add a 7th, then the background would have to play C7, right?"

EDIT -- ARE YOU BASS GUITAR? Just thought of that, if you are what you are asking fits with the bass guitar. A 1-3-5 or a 1-5 loop over each chord does make since. Now if you are not Bass that would become boring and the following would apply.

Not really. We don't have to be that exact. Without getting too deep here are some of your solo choices - as I see them.

Over C F G7 loop

Any combination of notes from the C Major scale could be played over the entire progression.

Any combination of notes from the C Major pentatonic scale could be played over the entire progression.

Any combination of the C Blues scale could be played over the entire progression.

And you do not have to use all the notes of those scale or play them in any certain order -- play the good ones and leave the bad ones out -- LOL -- sorry about that there are no bad notes as long as you stay in scale, any of them will work.

Much more you could do and I look forward to Scotty's examples. Here is an easy improv "exercise" you might give some thought to.

Start with the C Blues scale. Go up the scale - 6th string to the first string. Then come back down using the C major pentatonic scale (come back down without the blue notes). Back up using the C Major (full 7 note) scale and come home with the C Blues scale.

Then back up using the C Blues scale to the first blue note, jump back to the C note on the 6th string and come forward with another C Blues scale to the second blue note. Come home using whatever you think fits. Mix and match ...... get used to using these three scales and moving between them. Have fun

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st_jo    0

ok, Scotty_b

"a long time to develop the ability to step in and out of keys when I improvise and make it sound like a strong musical line"

i'm on that journey at this moment. well, at THIS moment i am at work, but later at home i will journey once again.

Scotty..... any shortcuts on that journey? i'm not adverse to lenghty trips only mine is nearly 20 years long and the scenery should change more rapidly in my opinion.

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