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herrKanin

Learning Blues Improv

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Thanks Kirk, I think it's beginning to sink in and fit together.

I've got to know the boxes quite well enough that i can grab many sounds that i choose out of them add other scale notes at will. I also see how they relate to chord shapes and the scale.

I don't always think about the chord shapes when i play. I do see how this would be a very flexible and solid way to view all types of music on the guitar so i am really interested in improving this skill.

I'll try to explain where i am at the moment. I think one reason for me not seeing the chords immediately is due to the way i play/approach guitar. I find it fun to just "join" a song i'm hearing (on the radio, a CD or with a fellow guitarist) without knowing the key or chords in advance. My musical ear is far from perfect (e.g. I can't reliably tell a major from a minor chord and i definitely can't hear a chord and think oh that's a G). So this is the order i go in.

1. Start from the notes to get the key signature

2. Find the "strongest" note (i think this usually turns out to be the root note of the song)

3. Once i have that i know where i am in terms of possible notes (i know they're all possible but u know what i mean).

OK! this is where the old box shapes would come into play, now i can play with some feel. yeh! now i'm starting to have fun woohoo! :D

At this point i generally know the key of the song and have a good idea for the feel of the song, my notes seem to fit with the chord progression even though i don't necessarily know it.

4. Now I can start to think about chords.

**btw The above 4 steps usually takes me 10-15 seconds**.

I guess thats why chords hasn't been 1st and foremost in my mind, this is the order of things i have got used to. Now i think i need to start doing things the other way round i.e doing its "properly" and knowing chords first and keeping them at the front of my mind and working with them, they contain the information (Especially when the off key chords pop up of the song changes into another key altogether). I think i need to spend time with some simple songs and just see the chords changing.

Regarding my approach to guitar above. Some people may consider this approach lazy or whatever but it works fine for simple progressions and i enjoy the little 4 step process above and still get a mini hit of joy every time i do it even after all these years.

btw I just bought tickets to see Peter Green (and friends) The Pigalle Club, London Dec 8th :)

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...I have been practicing for a couple of days with the following progression:

Am,D,F7,G

To me it seems D is an odd chord but concentrating on seeing each of the chords as they appear and fitting it in with the notes and so far so good. Still slow in seeing shapes at first but feels like i've added another string to my bow (or guitar :laughingg: )

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So to improvise using the chord tones of the chord of the moment is fine, it will be safe. But if i want to vary the sound more by adding additional notes and extend those chords i think you need a very good understanding of where the COTM fits in with the notes of the key (for example you need to track whether you are playing and A G-shape as a I,IV or V chord or whether it is an "odd" chord for the key) because the addional notes will depend very much on that. Does that make sense?

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So to improvise using the chord tones of the chord of the moment is fine, it will be safe. But if i want to vary the sound more by adding additional notes and extend those chords i think you need a very good understanding of where the COTM fits in with the notes of the key (for example you need to track whether you are playing and A G-shape as a I,IV or V chord or whether it is an "odd" chord for the key) because the addional notes will depend very much on that. Does that make sense?

I think I understand what you mean. But I think you may be limiting yourself in thinking that only the fingerings available within the chord. Yes, this is a great start. But, the idea isn't about finding a static physical chord 'safe zone' necessarily but rather beginning to hear the musical chord structure of the tune. The melody of the tune is within the musical chord structure. All 'possible' harmonies to the melody exist within the musical chord structure. Therefore all the melodic and harmonic possibilities on the fretboard (where the physical chord form is) exist within the musical chord structure of the song.

CAGED and other physical structures on the fretboard exist to provide us a map for the possibilities, not to dictate how and what we play. For example, when following the COTM of the progression and thinking about each chord, frozen in time, we look at the roadmap to see the possibilities. Not just from the fingerings of the COTM and how each shape is connected with one another, but also the available notes provided by the chord form. This is why it's important to have a good understanding of the major scale and it's intervals.

From the major scale comes the available pool of tones where we find the melody. From the major scale we find the available pool of tones where we find the harmony notes. When you put the melody together with the harmony notes, we make musical chords. These are the same musical structures we play, only we also call them physical chords because they have a structure to them which is represented on the neck.

So, we think of all the possibilities that the structures of the musical chord presents itself on the fretboard with the COTM. We see the possible melodies, the possible harmonies presented by the connected physical chord shapes. This becomes our canvas. And this becomes the pool of tones from which we can draw.

All of the above is only set-up work. All of the above is learning the craft so the craft can serve the inspiration. It's like describing a box with tools but the artistry is left up to us. It's also second fiddle to just hearing the melody and playing with the that. The melody of the song is the true driver, whether sung or played or both. It's true that the melodies will fit within the chord structures of the song, but it's how we play with the melodies that count, not how technically correct we are. It's about keeping it simple and complementing the melodies. It's about learning to hear the numbers of the intervals of the components of the chords (the notes) and how they fit together and complement the melody.

So a guitarist would need to keep less track of the shape they're playing from and pay more attention to the melody and the intervals of the major scale. The music portion only exists in our mind but we somehow have to translate that to the neck!

I know, you say, 'but the chord is minor'. You can play a major scale interval melody over that. It really depends on the melody.

Is that getting closer?

Steve

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thanks solidwalnut, i see you have put a lot of thought in. I will need a bit of time to mull it over.

Because the way we all learn/approach guitar varies so much it's hard to describe.

Generally i am fairly happy with my improv. esp over Blues based songs and i think i can express a lot of the "feel" i want. If i compare my style of playing to others i jam with it would be - how can i put it - less of strictly following the melody and more creating tension against the backing chords/melody using bends/holding notes and repeating notes and pairs of notes - you could say i like my sounds to be more "Dirty" and you could definitely say i'm at the opposite end of the scale from "shredders" i think this works well with blues.

So generally when playing blues i don't stay on the chord tones for long as they are more neutral - If i think chord tones i end up searching around them but not on them.

When i play more cleanly over different styles where my "dirty boy" playing doesn't work, i.e songs involving odd chords, i am aware that i am missing some possible notes which i would be using if i played using COTM but have trouble seeing them in time.

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Hi,

Blues is a language. If you have a favorite player great!

Spend some time transcribing a few short licks and understand their relationship with the chords they were played over.

If you are looking for an amazing course on blues I have just come across a course called "Playing Through the Blues" that I will teach you to play blues in tons of styles. It's incredibly practical and you don't need to be able to read music to study it.

You'll find a quick review clicking on the site that appears in my signature.

Good luck man!

Francesco

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Cannot help you too much but try this site for inspiration and ideas:

Slowhand Blues Guitar - Clapton Style Blues Guitar Tutorial And Forum

Apart from that treat your self to looper, learn the blues scale and prepare for lots of blisters from practicing morning, noon and night

I just had a quick look through that site looks cool has lots of good ideas for lics thanks for sharing

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With scales use the minor pent and shove in the blue notes or not. Use the relative majors (three up and two down). Use roots on the sixth, fifth and fourth strings. Watch what you are doing and see where the common notes are. Learn where all the duplicate notes and octaves are. Remember the sevenths and minors. (flat 8 and flat flat 8 and flat third.)Put on Clapton Unplugged or whatever does it for you and use all those notes, and LISTEN to them. Guarantee you´ll find out in a couple of goes what works and what dont. Its not that hard to make progress, set aside about three years and you´ll be pretty pleased with yourself. There are other ways of going at it too, but its just different directions to get you to the same place and none of it is magic.

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Whelkom to the site Jeremy.

Heh heh I nearly missed that one Carol. Hi.

Hey Deltabluesman no offence but that there Robert Johnson, if he could play blues and I believe you that he could,

knew most of that stuff, though he may not have known that he did. If you learn scales, you are picking up all the building blocks without having to work them out for yourself. As a starter you only need a couple and you can chuck your own stuff in on top and they are very very easy to learn. I have seen a Planetalk book, that works too, but if you know your Planetalk stuff then you know your scales, though you may not realise it at first.

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