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chorizo

improvising over off-key chords

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chorizo    0

I am familar with improvising over simple chords in a key but when off-key chords appear my instinct is to stick to the safe chord tones, so the improv. looses its spice during that chord. My question i guess is...

Apart from the basic chord tones how do you know what other (non chord tone) spicy notes you can play in an off-key section of a song?

Any examples progressions including unexpected or off-key chords and spicy notes welcome

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Kirk Lorange    128

Try to keep the original key in mind and think of the I chord's tones. More often than not, a combination of the 'outside' chord's tones plus the I (or i, if it's a minor key) will be a good place to start.

For example: If I'm in Am and an E7 comes up, I can be pretty sure that I can throw the C into any lines. C is the #5 of E7, so all I do is think 'E7aug' whenever it comes up; I can also think of the F note that is in the key of Am. F is the flat 9 of E, so now I can think of a E7flat9 too ... I sort of 'potentialize' chords in mind ... "If I were to extend this chord, what could it be and still sound good?" ... after a while of doing this, experimenting, listening and keeping mental tabs, you begin to build up a vocabulary of these 'potential' chords (melody lines) that you know will work in this or that kind of situation. It's a way of thinking about scales/modes but in terms of the chord you're working around rather than just thinking scales/modes and trying to juggle them all around without context, it keeps the Chord of the Moment firmly center-stage where it belongs. Keeping that chord in mind, and knowing where its true chord tones are, allows you experiment freely, always knowing where 'home' is to re-set your ears and get your bearings again.

I hope that helps a bit.

Give us an example of what you're talking about -- a chord progression or change that made you stop and ask.

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chorizo    0

Thanks Kirk, that certainly does help. I was sort of thinking as the odd chords as the I chord but the point you made about thinking of the song's I (or i) chord tones and combining the two makes more sense and gives many more potential combinations. I will have to let this new knowledge sink in (may take some time) Unfortunately, I seem to be drawn to such songs and fumble around not knowing why some things work and others don't, and not knowing my bearings enough to even start pondering on in. Now i have a new tool to help me.

One progression I know i have attempted to improvise over in the past with some bloodcurdling results is (a slow):

Gmaj / / / | Gmaj / / / | Bmaj / / / | Bmaj / / / | Cmaj / / / | Cmaj / / / | Cmin / / / | Cmin / / / | repeating

Hope this makes sense

Many thanks again.

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Kirk Lorange    128

That is an unusual progression ... but if you're thinking chord tones, it's just another progression. That Bmaj7 doesn't allow for any 'key of G muscle memory' but that kind of muscle memory should be banished from anyway.

If you have a backing track for that progression, I'd be happy to play a few lines over it to give an example of my approach.

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Noodler    1

If that happens, can you post it (please)? I'd like to hear what you do with it too.

I did notice that the Bmaj is a III. I find that III and bVII chords come up all the time in songs I like too, and lately VI chords as well.

The C major to c minor thing reminds me of a part of a turnaround, but really, really slow. It'll be cool to see what Kirk does with it.

I'm being taught to use a note from the chord before it and find a linking transition note to the new chord....Hang on a second, that chord progression is Creep by Radiohead. I just played it! :eek: Is that where you got it from? If not, listen to Creep and there's your ideas! :winkthumb: Then listen to Richard Cheese's arrangement of the same song.

But I still want to hear Kirk's.

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Kirk Lorange    128

I had a listen to that tune on YouTube and the G and B are just triads with a little move to the sus4, not Maj7. The C is also just a triad but can have a 7 added. Less of a challenge.

I guess there is no backing track for that.

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Noodler    1

Do you mean listened to "Creep?" No major 7ths there, but none in chorizo's post either:

Gmaj / / / | Gmaj / / / | Bmaj / / / | Bmaj / / / | Cmaj / / / | Cmaj / / / | Cmin / / / | Cmin / / / | repeating

I saw it as maj7ths too, if that's what you did, just becuase I'm used to seeing G major written a just "G", not "Gmaj" unless it's Gmaj7 or something...just to clarify.

I've so got to get set up for recording so I can post stuff and save ideas.

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Noodler    1

I didn't put on Creep before, I just kind of recognised it when I played the chords on my guitar. Kirk is 100% right about the sus4's, I just played along with it.

I think it's a great track for someone like myself who's a beginner at PT because the shapes don't move much geographically so you can play with your "clingers". :yes: And the tempo is slow, so you've got time to think about the changes and the chord in play which I'm finding is the hardest part of "getting it." ie chords keep changing too fast. So it's a good song for me to practice PT with, anyway.

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Kirk Lorange    128

Huh? Fooled me, I saw Maj7. chorizo, when writing plain old major chords down, just write the letter name, as in

G, B and C ... that's standard practice. No need for 'maj' and, as you can see, it causes confusion.

Noodler, can we keep any PT references to the PT forum? Cheers, mate. :winkthumb:

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Noodler    1

Of course, sorry Kirk.

My problem with these sorts of chords (mainly III and bVII) is that they tend to be fleeting. eg There's a famous progression in lots of songs that goes E, G, D, A.

In that progression above, I loved the way F# sounds against the B chord. It's like you can emphasise G going down a semitone to F# like a descending line. Then E is in the C major chord, Eb in the C minor, but it sounds better to emphasise that one up in a higher register. I love the way accenting those descending notes sounds.

Then there's another line through the chords that goes D, Eb,E,Eb on the B string and it's a cool little thing to milk as well, IMO. ie D against the G, Eb against the B, etc.

Anyone have a listen to Richard Cheese's lounge version? :cool:

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chorizo    0

Hey Noodler, i agree with you that this song has slow changes which are slightly unusual, perfect for learning improv.

Even though the Creep chords are basic triads, i find that if i stray from these triad notes during an off key chord i'm not sure what my options are. I will try to keep the original key in mind, but doesn't this mean you need to picture the scales of the original to locate the favourable notes?

I was trying to remember examples of slow songs where i would have a bit more time to think things through and first thing that came to mind was the Creep progression however, another song to do improv over could be Little Wing - Jimi Hendrix slightly odd progression, (I thought i had seen a video with Kirk playing this). Anyone have a link ?

.

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Noodler    1
but doesn't this mean you need to picture the scales of the original to locate the favourable notes?

To be honest, my thinking on that has changed a lot in the last year or so. It's really just that B that's non-diatonic (out of key). I would tend to look at the time spent on that B chord as it's own time. Not in the key of B exactly, but playing around the B chord. For that time, the B chord is your focus, rather than the G major scale.

Kirk's got a secret method for dealing with all this stuff in detail (Plane Talk, which includes follow-up so he makes sure you can use the ideas), so I can't give too much away. But this is just one idea of what can be done:

You could try those kinds of ideas over the B, then the same kind of ideas over the C chord.

I always wondered how Jimi could do it! I was trying to fret an A-shaped barre chord and reach those notes with my pinky! That you tube video unlocked a huge door for me.

Jimi used his thumb a lot to fret the 6th string and mute the 5th with his thumb too, so a lot of his style helps if you have big hands. I've finally met someone who can do it actually Jimi style, and it just frees up fingers to play all those embellishments we love from Jimi.

Search Kirk's lessons for Little Wing (top of this page), or Youtube. Good luck. Just put the song on repeat and experiment. Your ear will tell you what sounds good.

Edit: watch this guy's thumb and how he fingers E shaped chords:

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Kirk Lorange    128

Here's the video my melodic ramblings over the Little Wing chord progression, chorizo. You'll hear that I make no attempt to emulate Jimi's version, I just use the chords as a backdrop. I'm using a slide, but I'm in standard tuning, so the mindset I spell out in PlaneTalk still applies.

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Noodler    1

Did that say improv? Wow!

Reminded me a lot of David Gilmour/ Pink Floyd. :claping: :claping: :claping: Who doesn't like those solos? Remind me of happy times.

Sweet overdrive tone there, too. Like a modded Blues Driver or a Tube Zone and a touch of reverb and delay. A bit too crunchy for a Russian Muff...can you share how you got it?

To be honest, my thinking on that has changed a lot in the last year or so. It's really just that B that's non-diatonic (out of key). I would tend to look at the time spent on that B chord as it's own time. Not in the key of B exactly, but playing around the B chord. For that time, the B chord is your focus, rather than the G major scale.
Have I got this right?

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Kirk Lorange    128

Thanks, Noodler ... that was just through my little amp modeler, RP-100 (I think ... it's been sidelined since I got a Pod).

Yes, that B I would treat as a stand-alone chord and I think I'd hint at it being a 7th.

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