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Random Robot

Chord of the moment help.

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So I'm working on following the chords of say a i iv v progression and doing alright with it but... Is the idea only to use chord tones? I've noticed if I play pentatonics or arpeggios everything sounds pretty good but if I try to play more notes of the scale of the COTM I get into trouble and it starts to sound more like just playing in a certin key. Does that have to do with knowing wether or not the chord is dominate, diminished, major or minor? Just looking for some help on understanding this technique a little better. I know a while back someone had posted a i iv v helper thread but I can't find it in the forum now.

Thanks,

Tyler

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Hi, random Robot.

No, improvising with the COTM mindset doesn't mean playing through the scale of each chord, at least not to me. I don't ever think about scales, but I do follow the chord of tune when I'm improvising lines. To do that, I zero in on the chord tones, not the scale, of the chords. Chord tones are the notes that make up the chord. So a major chord has 1-3-5 as its chord tones, minor chord 1-b3-5, sus4 chords 1-4-5, etc. But most tunes don't simply use plain old triadic chords, they use 7ths and extended chords, so you get more tones to play around with. The beauty of this way of thinking is that all the tones you get to play with are good, solid melody notes. So long as they're chord tones, they're going to be right, sweet.

In a blues tune, each of the three major chords are at least 7ths, so each chord has 4 good, solid notes to underpin any melodic lines: 1-3-5-b7. But, in the blues, you can also see the 3s as being a sort of double-note: b3-3 ... you can always approach the three from the b3 (in fact you can approach any note from the semitone below), so that adds to the palette too. But the main idea is to base your lines around the chord tones of each chord. This come in particularly handy when there's an outside chord in the progression, like a C#7 in the key of A, or an E7 in the key of C. They're easily dealt with if you're seeing them as an array of chord tones, not as some new scale or mode. If you can see the chord tones, you're always seeing the 'good' notes.

If you're not playing the blues, but playing 'in key' music (diatonic), the mindset works just as well. Even though all the chords come from one scale, you're always looking at that moment's strongest tones.

But, ALL notes are eligible when playing lines, all 12. You just need to know how to insert them into lines that are fundamentally built on chord tones.

PlaneTalk teaches a very simple way (with plenty of practice, of course) of seeing the fretboard as one big, long array of chord tones, shifting with each change ... once you can see them there, the fun begins: joining the dots in a musical, heartfelt manner.

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Another aspect of this that melody is king. You might begin getting the attitude that if you can hum it, you can play it. When you begin to translate what's in your head to your hands, that's a powerful tool.

Chord tones will always take you far and never leave you, but often times you'll add to your toolbox by just gaining an understanding of the melody of the song. This, in a sense, is the template for how the chord structure of the song is written. And improvisation is just that: improvising on the main theme of the song.

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Thanks guys. So there is a difference in playing COTM and Chord tones, right? I mean you can play the chord tones of the chord of the moment but also I can play ideas from the COTM. I very much want to order PT but it seems like I'm always buying physical gear instead of mental gear. I'm really going to try to make it my next purchase in the next month or so. I've been hesitant on buying it because I'm already taking lessons. Now it's getting to the point where I think my lessons are kind of touching on alot of the same stuff that PT is about and one will help me understand the other. Anyways back on topic, What I'm doing right now is on said chord, I'm playing ideas from that chord. So if the song is on an Am7 chord, I'll play Am pent, Am7 arps, Cmaj7 arps, A dorian, things like that then when the song moves to Dm7 I'll do the same playing Dm pent, Dm7 arp, D dorian, Fmaj7 arps and then the same type stuff for the Em7. I'm kind of wondering how much I have to pay attention to the the fact that sometimes I'm going to be running into the V chord or the vii chord and will that throw me for a loop.

Kirk, in regaurds to something else you mentioned in your post, I like playing up from a half-step down to the note I want. Sometimes I'll take the chord and play each note that way for a run, kind of a bebop type thing.

Thanks again

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... So if the song is on an Am7 chord, I'll play Am pent, Am7 arps, Cmaj7 arps, A dorian, things like that then when the song moves to Dm7 I'll do the same playing Dm pent, Dm7 arp, D dorian, Fmaj7 arps and then the same type stuff for the Em7....

I'd say you're still making it way too complicated for yourself, RR. If the chord is Am7, work your melody around the chord tones for Am7: A (1), C (b3), E (5) and G (b7) ... by all means use other notes, but as passing tones to move between chord tones. Think of all those other scales/modes/arpeggios would clutter my brain, that's for sure. All you really want to concentrate on is the evolving melody line, and it will always sound best when it's kept nice and simple and to the point. Besides which, you can't "do the same" for each chord if you're thinking scales. Remember that you're in a key ... the mode/scale for each chord will not necessarily be the same. The only notes that you can count on as always being 'good' are the chord tones.

Using chord tones doesn't mean staying in one little area of the neck reiterating the same 3 or 4 notes over and over again. Once you see the whole fretboard as 'the chord', in other words, once you see ALL the 1-3-5-b7s (for example) scattered from one end of the fretboard to the other, there are countless ways of moving through them, of turning those 4 notes into fresh sounding melody.

Have another look at http://www.guitarforbeginners.com/forum/general-lessons/6265-power-chord-tones/ to see that just using chord tones need not be boring or same-sounding.

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Kirk, Thanks for spending some time on me. Where my instructors is a Jazz guy we've spent alot of time on 7th arpeggios and chord structure, is this kind of what your saying? Do you usally just play arpeggios and change the notes according to the structure of the chord? I going to take some time to go back and watch you're videos again and try to really pay attention to what you're doing now that for the most part I recognize what I'm hearing. I think you're a very good player so it's great to be a ble to watch, hear and talk to someone on you're level. Thanks for helping us all.

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My pleasure, RR.

Yes, I guess that's what I'm talking about. The vast majority of chords have, at their core, 1-3-5 (if it's minor, 1-b3-5). So if you can see them at all times, you're seeing the essence of the moment, and you can always fiddle around with them when you're getting your bearings. If you're into the blues/jazz, then add the b7 to those three building blocks, and you've got the essence of most COTMs. They are scattered across the fretboard at all times. You can either see them in clusters as chords, or as single notes ready to become melody line notes. The gaps between them are 'the other notes', the 4s, 6s, 9s, #4s, b5s etc. They're there at all times too, of course, ready to act as stepping stones from one chord tone to another, or to become full fledged chord tones if the chord is, say, a 9th, or 13th, or min6th.

It's all a lot easier than it seems, once you can see those chord tones standing out at any given moment in the piece.

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And your book will teach me how to find all these chord tones at will? Now that I've got my new G&L I'm more than likely going to sell my Ibanez and use that money to buy PT. So what do you think, is PT (and maybe an ABY switcher) worth my Ibanez Artcore? :whistling It's alot to know if the chord you're on is a Maj13 and you can find all those notes everywhere on the the fretboard, is that what PT is about? That would be amazing.

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Hi, RR. PT is a simple way of mapping the fretboard, and one of the things you can do with the map is 'see' chord tones. So ... yes. It takes practice, of course. :yes:

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Hi, RR. PT is a simple way of mapping the fretboard, and one of the things you can do with the map is 'see' chord tones. So ... yes. It takes practice, of course. :yes:

RR, think of it sort of like all of the spots on the fretboard that contain the chord tones of the Chord of the Moment become little lightbulbs at those spots and your mind's eye 'sees' them:winkthumb:

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