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Making improvization more interesting

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#1 gcwannab

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 04:00 PM

If you're tired of noodling with just the diatonic chords, here's an idea that seems to work musically and can add color and interest to your playing.
Consider the key of G. Start to incorporate SOME non diatonic chords that contain a G note within the chord such as A7, AbMaj7, C-, Eb, Eb7, Fadd9, G-, D-add11 etc... As long as you work your way back to G or G- via D7 you can retain a key center and create some listenable music. Here are a few simple example progressions that illustrate this concept.

G-, Eb, C-, D7, G-

G, C-, AbMag7, D7, G, C-, A7, D7, G

This is similar to borrowing from the parallel and relative minor keys but still slightly different.


#2 Kirk Lorange

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 05:37 AM

Interesting stuff. Can you elaborate a bit on what you mean and how to go about it?

#3 eddiez152


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Posted 21 April 2011 - 11:36 AM

That was interesting. I just tried fooling around with these grips a bit. (grips) a phrase i learned from Rockerbob. I chuckle every-time I think of it.
Thank you for letting me try them out.

Don't have a clue as to the theory but may learn that some day too.
Nothin sweeter than the sound of music comin out of a 6 string box - EZ me Music / ASCAP "Music is a social act of communication, a gesture of friendship,the strongest there is"-Malcolm Arnold

#4 gcwannab

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 12:33 PM

After looking at sheet music with chord diagrams above the staff I noticed that many songs will borrow chords from other keys without modulating to a different key. The most common out of key chords are secondary dominants, next would be the 7 flat major and 3 flat major from blues harmony. Many Beatles tunes do both of these a lot. Also, you'll notice that most of the time an out of key chord will still have it's root note within the scale key; secondary dominants illustrate this fact very well. An example would be a B7 chord leading to an Em in the key of G. B7 is out of key but the B root is still in G. What out of key chords can we use that aren't secondary dominants or flat7 flat3? I'm thinking chords that still contain the key note somewhere inside them.

In the key of G it's obvious that G is the most important note in the scale since it's the key note, root note, tonic note, home note, whatever you want to call it. But here's the kicker. If I'm composing a song in the key of G and a G note is being sung in a particular place in the song, There's no rule that says I must harmonize that G with a diatonic chord from the G major scale. There are other chords/triads that have a G note in them that are not in the key of G (Gm, Cm, Eb(root not diatonic)). There are many more extended, augmented, and diminished chords that contain a G. Composers can throw in some curve balls to make the music more interesting.

If you're sitting around improvising you can play around with these chords and see how they sound. I've found that to retain a good key center it's best to get back to D7 G when you're throwing these in. Here's some more chords containing a G note outside the key: Fadd9, A7, AbMaj7, Gdim, Gdim7, Bbm add6. As long as the ear hears a G sound in each chord that's out of key it'll still sound like music.

#5 Kirk Lorange

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Posted 06 May 2011 - 05:18 AM

Yes, I'm with you. There are so many ways to make music interesting, and that's certainly one of them.

#6 LaughingLoz

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 09:14 PM

I am a beginner when it comes to playing scales on guitar and I have recently been practising the C blues scale.

I am also learning how to improvise while playing this scale.


I have tried recording myself playing the 12 bar blues then the blues chords over the top of it (on Garage Band).

Then I have been practising the C blues scale with the recording and trying to introduce riffs for improvisation.


I'm not sure if this is the best way to learn improvisation?

#7 mset3

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Posted 06 March 2015 - 09:31 AM



Take a look at Kirk's PlaneTalk method. It will get you on the right track to improvising.



#8 Marks graph paper guitar

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 10:55 AM

I have a somewhat similar compositional tool.  I have to qualify that I haven't done much with it yet, but things I have done seem promising.   You can increase your everyday diatonic chord palette by including chords from the key's a 4th above or a 5th below your original key.  Why?  Theory Hot tip..   these keys only differ by one note, so the chords will sound different enough to add in a new flavor or direction, but not entirely outside, or abruptly shifting directions.    


So for example...   if your original key was C , F the 4th and G the 5th, contain your 'drift away' chord pallett     In D? no worries G and A respectively.   Ab? = Db Eb. so on and so forth.


For me, I view chords from any of the 11 other key's as free to use, it just depends on my attempt to change direction..  subtlety or more abruptly.

(this is all focused on composing using the major / and relative minor scales)  I do use all other scale systems as well, but that's just another bag of tricks.


All this being said, thanks to the OP...that's a great new trick I'm going to incorporate.    

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