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Improvising? If That Is What You Call It...

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Thanks. I get that stuff. Many thanks.  I guess some of the questions that I have are related to mixing scales.  Like I have practiced the A minor pentatonic scale starting at the 5th and then moved down to where it starts at the 8th I believe.  But my questions are:  Lets say I learn the G minor or D scale or whatever.  I play these scales and try to create something.  Maybe a solo over a backing track or come good sounding solos.  What if the A minor pentatonic scale doesn't go with the D scale or the G minor?  Or do they go together? Is there a name from running scales together?  How do you find out which ones go together?

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Here's the basics on the minor pentatonic scale, the scale you're playing starting on the 5th fret is the A minor pent scale because you're starting on the 5th fret of the E string which is an A. The way the fret board is setup all you have to do is know that pattern and then you can start it anywhere on the E string and it will sound the same over the corresponding key. So if you're wanting to play over a song in D minor, start the scale/pattern on the D (10th fret) of the E string. G minor would be the 3rd fret and so on. If you want to play over a Major key all you need to do is move down 3 frets so for example, when you're playing Am pentatonic you're also playing Cmaj pentatonic. If you want to get more advanced than that you will need to sit down and learn theory, which isn't as hard as it sounds but to just jam out over some 60's, 70's, 80's rock and blues the pentatonic scale will get you by. As far as the scales running together, the scale you're playing at the fifth fret starts and ends on another pentatonic scale starting on a different note of that scale. Just watch some YouTube videos of the different pentatonic patterns and you'll see. Again these are just some basics.

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I read a bit of it but not all the links. I'm not sure if you're disputing that the fret board allows for the same scale pattern to be transposed anywhere on the neck or if you're confirming that. I would think it'd be obvious that it no longer applies once you get to the nut. CAGED chord shapes pretty much do the same thing. Learn the chord shape and move them up and down the neck. You'll have to barre anything that would normally be open as you go up but it's still the same shape. C chord shape is the shape, the chord is whatever you create. Even the shape of a minor 6 or a minor 7 will be the same anywhere on the neck because the chord structure is the same. I'm a little out of practice so maybe I'm missing something but I don't think so. Of course you can invert and re-voice them however you feel but the O/P seems to most be concerned with being able to jam out or play some improvised licks. The quickest way to pull that off is to learn a few of the patterns of the pentatonic scale and apply them to the key you're working out of. I don't think he's looking to become a professional or even preform for more than a few friends. As long as he's having fun, he doesn't need to learn exactly what's going on.  

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"But my questions are:  Lets say I learn the G minor or D scale or whatever.  I play these scales and try to create something.  Maybe a solo over a backing track or come good sounding solos.  What if the A minor pentatonic scale doesn't go with the D scale or the G minor?  Or do they go together? Is there a name from running scales together?  How do you find out which ones go together?"

 

 

There are as many ways to learn how scales fit with chords as there are players.  It comes down to either practical theory or practical experience and most times a bit of both.  Even a totally self taught player will have someone eventually explain a rule that puts one with the other.  

 

The harder way is to ignore all the advice you've been given and just keep hitting wrong notes until you finally understand not to play that note then.   That's a lesson too.   

 

 

 

Now, remember when I said music was contextual?  That means what you play depends on what you just played and what you will play next.  Musicians tend to be less rigid about rules than the public at large so you'll find a lot of players who think of the rules as no more than a map which shows point A and point B.  They can take all the backroads and hit all the greasy spoon rest stops and still find their way from point to point.  If you've never listened to Miles Davis, give his career a shot.  Listen to early, mid and late Davis and you'll hear a musician who took theory as the theme to his playing, not the text.

 

Or you could read all the "How to Play Like XXX" articles ever written in all the guitar magazines in the world.  These are people who, IMO, totally overthink the entire thing.  They are the antithesis of the guy on youtube pushing a single pattern that will magically transform you into an "amaze all your friends" player.  Maybe you're too young to remember the Charles Atlas ads in the comic books of the '60's (https://www.google.com/search?q=charles+atlas+advertising&rlz=1CAACAJ_enUS705US705&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjEpr-Dl5_TAhVO8GMKHZ81CvkQsAQIKA&biw=911&bih=420)

 

Think of the pattern player as the guitar equivalent to Atlas' ads.  Joe Weider made millions from it and used it to turn Arnold into a Mr. Universe.  Neither happened overnight.  

 

The "How to Play Like" guys talk in terms of playing the flatted seventh of the Major scale and then moving to the B which is the third of the Mixolydian mode before hitting the third of another mode and that's where my head explodes.  I'm pretty sure Lightnin' Hopkins never thought of the Phrygian mode when he played.   He played what sounded good together and he learned how to mix what sounded good in this situation with what was going to sound good in the next situation.  

 

But he learned.  

 

In Hopkins' day and location, he had mostly practical players to show him the way.  Lots of old timers taught themself how to play by listening to the radio.  They heard other players playing and they worked out their playing from that, not from book lessons.  (http://www.folkways.si.edu/elizabeth-cotten-master-american-folk/music/article/smithsonian)   Today I would say there is no need for that type of hit and miss process.   

 

I really think you need to get the idea playing scales out of your head.  That is such a small part of how most players think that you are only going to work against you goal of simply playing.  Scales are not much different for a player than letters are for a writer or hand tools are for that woodworker I mentioned.  They all have a use but most users don't think about using this tool or that tool.  They think about the end result and not the means.  

 

They eventually reach the point where, like Hopkins, they are just thinking about what sounded good last time and how they can arrange that to sound good in the context of what they are playing now and next.  

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"I read a bit of it but not all the links."

 

 

LOL!!!  That's hilarious!  

 

 

"I'm not sure if you're disputing that the fret board allows for the same scale pattern to be transposed anywhere on the neck or if you're confirming that." 

 

 

I'm not "disputing" any of that.  Not even discussing it.

 

I'm giving a practical example of practical music theory.  Doesn't have a thing to do with transposing patterns.  No more, at least, than a chicken has to do with an egg.

 

 

"I would think it'd be obvious that it no longer applies once you get to the nut."

 

Look at the CAGED chord shapes and compare the "C" form to the "D" form.  They're basically the same but one is more played out than the other.  But it wouldn't have caught on if they'd have just called it the "AGED" method.  

 

The "E" shape is just the "F" shape with your finger being the nut when you play the "E".  Again, wouldn't have caught on if they'd called it the CAGFD method.  

 

 

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19 hours ago, collegefbfan said:

Thanks. I get that stuff. Many thanks.  I guess some of the questions that I have are related to mixing scales.  Like I have practiced the A minor pentatonic scale starting at the 5th and then moved down to where it starts at the 8th I believe.  But my questions are:  Lets say I learn the G minor or D scale or whatever.  I play these scales and try to create something.  Maybe a solo over a backing track or come good sounding solos.  What if the A minor pentatonic scale doesn't go with the D scale or the G minor?  Or do they go together? Is there a name from running scales together?  How do you find out which ones go together?

 

You're already getting all tangled up in scales and you've only just started playing. Believe me, collegefbfan, thinking scales will get you nowhere fast. Think melody, not scales. You will find melody in the chords of a tune. Yes, the chords come from scales, and the chords have already done the job of selecting the strongest notes for that moment in the tune for you. My advice is to practice making very basic melody out of the notes that are there in the chord shapes that you see under your fingers. Don't hold down the chord, just see all the notes as single notes and string some of them together into simple melody lines. Melody starts and stops, so there's no need to play every single eighth beat. So while (for example) the chord is C, use notes from the C chord; when it changes to G, use notes from the G chord. Some will be the same in two different chords. This is fine, you'll start to know which ones are common to different chords within a key. 

 

I've been playing these things for 57 years. You can trust my advice. 

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7 hours ago, Kirk Lorange said:

 

You're already getting all tangled up in scales and you've only just started playing. Believe me, collegefbfan, thinking scales will get you nowhere fast. Think melody, not scales. You will find melody in the chords of a tune. Yes, the chords come from scales, and the chords have already done the job of selecting the strongest notes for that moment in the tune for you. My advice is to practice making very basic melody out of the notes that are there in the chord shapes that you see under your fingers. Don't hold down the chord, just see all the notes as single notes and string some of them together into simple melody lines. Melody starts and stops, so there's no need to play every single eighth beat. So while (for example) the chord is C, use notes from the C chord; when it changes to G, use notes from the G chord. Some will be the same in two different chords. This is fine, you'll start to know which ones are common to different chords within a key. 

 

I've been playing these things for 57 years. You can trust my advice. 

 

What he said

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Thanks again. I haven't just started though. I played for 3-4 years, but that was a very long time ago.  I have been practicing with melodies and continuously practicing my chords. 

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8 hours ago, Kirk Lorange said:

I've been playing these things for 57 years. You can trust my advice. 

 

Geez, you must be old.  I've only been playing these things for 50 years. :P

 

Between you and I we have 107 years experience.  107 is a prime number.  Add one year for each of us gives us another prime number, 109.  Thinking about prime numbers will not help your playing, but they are cool if you like Mathematics.  Cryptography frequently uses large prime numbers as the modulus for the specific algorithm.

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1 hour ago, Rockerbob said:

Thinking about prime numbers will not help your playing, but they are cool if you like Mathematics

 

I think my prime number was around 31. Then I tore my MCL and it's been downhill ever since. 37 wasn't so good health wise either but it wasn't a bad year for life. Big plans by 40 so 41 should be my new prime.

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2 hours ago, Random Robot said:

 

I think my prime number was around 31. Then I tore my MCL and it's been downhill ever since. 37 wasn't so good health wise either but it wasn't a bad year for life. Big plans by 40 so 41 should be my new prime.

We (Lewis & Walker) recorded a song called Number Crazy.  We had a robot voice reading prime numbers throughout the song, but mostly beginning and end.  I think I started with primes higher than 5003.  Hey!  I thought it was a good idea.  I doubt that anyone hearing it would realize they are all primes unless they study Math for fun and profit.  My list only went up to 10,007.

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