Does a Break Have to Follow the Melody?


#1

As a general rule of thumb, does a break have to follow the melody, or can a break simply be a series of licks played over the chord progressions?


#2

To my way of thinking I would go with melody as it is the most important thing. many people improvise around a five note scale and claim they can do no wrong as long as the note does not have to be resolved . (Five note pentatonic scale)you can hit any note in a key of those five and it is musically correct ,. but the melody may suffer . If you are good on the fly and can emulate out of those five notes a pretty good resemblance to the melody line you are on your way to being a better player . those five notes can be used in the chord progression say like a G C ,D the pentatonic will fit with any of those chords . I hope I have not muddied the waters here and maybe someone here can give a better explanation .


#3

The waters have been slightly muddied, but that’s okay because it means we’re digging for buried treasure!

This pentatonic scale you speak of, I have never heard of. Further explanation, please!


#4

This is a really good question and hopefully we get a ton of replies to look over.

My answer is No, a break does not have to follow the melody. However, the absolute best breaks I’ve played and heard are those that “touch” the melody without copying or even following the melody. When this happens it seems to add another dimension to a song. It is important to add that degree of difficulty, speed, or volume may or may not play a role here.

John


#5

Depends on your goal for the song and who you are playing with.

If your sitting around experimenting, and everyone understands that…do whatever.

If your playing with people who are on the edge of their ability just getting the chords right and playing in time, higher ideas of melody or timing might throw them off enough to lose track of where they are.

Playing with who your with at the time makes everyone more comfortable.


#6

— Begin quote from ____

The waters have been slightly muddied, but that’s okay because it means we’re digging for buried treasure!

This pentatonic scale you speak of, I have never heard of. Further explanation, please!

— End quote

Can’t tell if your kidding, but as a recovering “pentaholic” beware. ( as noted in an earlier thread in theory on a video) The scales are useful but can be a crutch. On the melody on a break I agree the best breaks are a mixture, but when at a jam sometimes it is what ever you can do. There is no real wrong answer, and different pros stray from the melody some don’t.


#7

There are infinite paths to a great break. My preference is to build on the melody as a base, but that’s just a preference. The only absolute in my opinion is that if it sounds good, it is good!


#8

Duke Ellington!!


#9

when I think about breaks and banjos, this song always comes to mind. Let me know if you like it

MY UNCLE ( written by Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons)

Steve Earle’s version from his CD Sidetracks. (this version only)

great mandolin intro n fills on this too!!


#10

I looked for that version of “My Uncle”, but couldn’t find it on youTube. Anyone got a link to that version?

I didn’t know (or possibly forgot) that was a Duke saying, but that makes sense… he wasn’t the type to follow the rules.


#11

youtube.com/watch?v=uXpzANFevGI

Hope this works! If not, search on YT… Steve Earle Sidetracks. On the right side of the page you can pick any song from the album.

This very well might be my favorite banjo solo.


#12

I like that solo. It fits great.