Great Video On Improv


#1

Yes it is very long, but if you are like me, you are always looking for info on “improv” and what it takes to play on the fly. Here is a great 2 hour + video on the concept.

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2txO_u2eNg[/video]


#2

I don’t have time to watch the whole thing tonight, but I like the way it starts. I’ll need to go do some homework to be ready for this, but I like listening to him. I was with him up until about when he said Ionian. :smiley: I wish the blackboard could be read in the video.


#3

Whew! That guy is wading way into the weeds.

That’s a lot of info, and I think I understood some of it. Seems to be geared more towards jazz improvization, though.


#4

Yep, your individual mileage may vary on this vid!

Even though I am as dumb as a box of rocks I tend to get more from the “theory side” than I do from the “artistic” side of music.

Never was good at golf (not a natural) until I decided to do a “technical analysis” of a swing and to learn a bit about golf course management (that’s when you chip back out in the fairway vs trying to hit a miraculous shot out of the trees on the green), well once I figured out a golf swing and the technique behind it I went from a 90’s golfer to a 2 handicap in about 1.5 years and then got a golf scholarship. Most thought I was a “natural” once I got good at the game, however it was pure “repetition” and discipline that got me there, to this day when I hit a ball most of the time I am trying to mimic a machine.

My formal education is in engineering - rules, laws and facts, not a lot of “artistic ideas” going on there.

So I guess through my learning styles throughout my life have been by a “book” where as the artistic side of me gets little chance to shine or come out.

With this said, this video on improv showed me how to approach soloing from a technical perspective. Is this the best way…um I really don’t know. But I do find the “rules of music” to be pretty cool. Maybe the term “rules” is wrongly applied in my definition, guess that is why they call it “theory”.

Scales and modes - yes I understand them. I can identify any note visually on the guitar but still can’t identify one aurally but hope pt be able to one day. I can play most my scales and modes “on the fly” from as many as 5 positions to as few as 3 positions. I can learn just about any guitar tune and work on it and perform it up to speed…but damn it man I still fall apart in “jamming” and following a melody.

With this all this said this video really helped me a lot in the technical side of improv…your mileage may vary!


#5

I’m thinking if you process everything in that video you’ll be a 2 handicapper at flatpicking, too. :smiley: By the time he got to the symmetrical diminished scale I knew I was in over my head.


#6

Whew… Got through it, although it took me two days. Not bad I think I learned something, of course every time I learn something new something old gets kicked out. Like when it took that wine tasting course, I forgot how to drive :laughing:

Anyway for those intimidated by the timing most of the info is the first hour, the rest is him and students playing with him commenting. Some good tid bits in the comments but really all the info is in hour one. It is basically the theory of chord scales, or you play different scales and arrpegios on top of each chord as the chord changes through the song. The talk can be intimidating if you don’t know about modes and there crazy names, but in bluegrass think you would really only use 2 Ionian (the major scale) and Dorian (a major scale starting and ending on the 2nd note) and in addition as Ben does, blues scales. Don Julin has a much simplified version of this chord scale thing using pentatonic scales for mandolin somewhere on the web.

The take away for me was know the notes of scales cold all over the neck and get used to practicing them in a nonlinear way, jump around and try to repeat patterns within that scale all over. Then do that going between scales like jumping between G, C and D major as the chords of a song go. I doubt I will get there this year, but something to strive for ( right after I learn foggy mt breakdown on gtr )


#7

verneq

I think you will find that “true” in using those 2 scales (Ionian and Dorian) However the “flatted 7th” shows up in the Mixolydian mode and boy do we ever use that a lot in bluegrass…just think how many times that thing shows up (F note) when playing out of G and using the “blues scale”


#8

Oldhat

I think just had on of those ah ha moments. I usually mix or go back and forth with my modes/ scales during a jam, run up in Dorian and down in Major or vice versa for some bluegrass songs. If you mix Dorian, flat 3rd and flat 7th, with Major/Ionian no flats I bet my runs are probably mixolydian since I leave out the flat 3rd more than the 7th.


#9

Yep that’s one way to look at it.

One way I look at it that is not “true to the mode” is that for instance if you are playing out of G major. Well since most of us know our minor pentatonic scales we can switch to those scales that compliment the G major. For instance, have a song that goes to a say A minor in the progression then play the A minor pentatonic as A minor is the chord inside the G scale. Same goes for B minor pentatonic and E minor pentatonic…want something that has all the tones that should fit inside a G major progression then play one of those minor pentatonics. Same goes the C major and D major…play a C major Pentatonic or a D major pentatonic in a G major progression and you are good to go…in essence you are playing in all the modes by using the pentatonics.

So to get quicker on your feet then play your G major or G pentatonic, or even some G minor pentatonic over top of that G chord/strum…when it changes to another chord then think of that chords pentatonic (minor or major) and play it over that chord.

Rememember in the G scale we have the following notes that represent the following chords:

G - Major (Most G Scales) - Ionian
A - Minor (Use your A minor Pentatonic scale) - Dorian
B - Minor (Use your B minor Pentatonic scale) Phrygian
C- Major (Use your C major Pentatonic scale) Lydian
D - Major (Use your D major Pentatonic scale) Mixolydian
E - Minor (Use your E minor pentatonic scale) Aeolian Which are the exact same notes as the G pentatonic…this is why the 6th is the “relative minor” of the major because the G pentatonic and E minor pentatonic scales are exactly the same.
F#Dim - who ever play this over G? SO forget about it…although the pentatonic is the same notes in the G scale.

This is a “beginners way” to look at the modes and a good way to recognize what notes you can use and move around the fret board.

Did I make any sense here?


#10

I agree and remember the day I noticed that the pentatonic scales fit into the modes and other scales, it was a major revelation. The problem for me was it acted as crutch and I sat on my pentatonic licks and runs for too long.


#11

— Begin quote from “verneq”

I agree and remember the day I noticed that the pentatonic scales fit into the modes and other scales, it was a major revelation. The problem for me was it acted as crutch and I sat on my pentatonic licks and runs for too long.

— End quote

My name’s Julian and I’m a recovering pentatonaholic. Pentatonic stuff is like a trap – fall into it far enough, and you might never manage to claw your way out. Especially on electric guitar, it’s so easy to develop a pentatonic style that is focused on the left-hand (slides, pull-offs, hammer-ons) and really neglects the picking hand. Many intermediate-level blues/pentatonic electric guitar players only pick once per string; the other notes are sounded with the left hand. I used to be one of those people, but I managed to climb out of the trap. The deadly combination of pentatonic scales, along with my (former) preference for fingerpicking, meant I only picked (or finger-plucked) the string once, even when I played multiple notes per string.


#12

— Begin quote from “Julian”

— Begin quote from “verneq”

I agree and remember the day I noticed that the pentatonic scales fit into the modes and other scales, it was a major revelation. The problem for me was it acted as crutch and I sat on my pentatonic licks and runs for too long.

— End quote

My name’s Julian and I’m a recovering pentatonaholic. Pentatonic stuff is like a trap – fall into it far enough, and you might never manage to claw your way out. Especially on electric guitar, it’s so easy to develop a pentatonic style that is focused on the left-hand (slides, pull-offs, hammer-ons) and really neglects the picking hand. Many intermediate-level blues/pentatonic electric guitar players only pick once per string; the other notes are sounded with the left hand. I used to be one of those people, but I managed to climb out of the trap. The deadly combination of pentatonic scales, along with my (former) preference for fingerpicking, meant I only picked (or finger-plucked) the string once, even when I played multiple notes per string.

— End quote

Very good observation. I guess part of me with the wanting to become a better improv guy is relying on the ease of falling into the pentatonic scales. So you are saying for me to avoid going down this path even though I am not a finger picker? What is your suggestion in how one should go about it? I am all ears. As I can see the scales on the fret board and notes, but fall apart on my breaks on the fly as sometimes it just turns out not be so “musical” and make sense. I will say that when it does fall apart it’s typically on a pentatonic scale and the ability to multiple pick notes like both of you have mentioned but I am not into pentatonic scales that much, I am more disciplined in playing the major scale but am looking for “that” bluegrass sound.


#13

I think practice a couple things 1) fiddle tunes and the licks encompassed (especially the turnarounds) within will help with musicality plus they go beyond the pentatonic sometimes and 2) what the guy in the video said, in your break you should be able to hear the chord changes. You are right bluegrass helps when I was in pentatonicville I was playing mostly rock/blues, bluegrass breaks tie more back to the melody ( which if you know great) but i sense you are frustrated with jamming on songs you don’t know as well. Anyway, even before the video i was trying this, but try practicing solos truly solo, no backing music. If you can hear the chord changes Or the melody of the song i think you are on the right track. Of course if this was easy everyone would do it and they don’t.


#14

— Begin quote from “Oldhat”

So you are saying for me to avoid going down this path even though I am not a finger picker? What is your suggestion in how one should go about it? I am all ears.

— End quote

I don’t know; all I know is I was ‘stuck’ in pentatonicville for quite some time, and it was because I wasn’t a good picker. Once my picking improved, I got out of the trap.

Pentatonic scales, especially pentatonic minors, just “fit” on the guitar very well. They’re a crutch that allows us to play fast. So yeah, everyone should know how to use these patterns.

But the problem, as I see it, is that they’re not very musical. You can play pentatonic patterns up and down, but there is no real melody. For the most part, it’s just noise. I can plug my electric guitar into an amp and play real fast metal-sounding solos, but there’s nothing that’s really musical about it. It doesn’t satisfy me very much. That’s why I describe my experience as being in a trap - yes, I could play rapid notes, but the notes didn’t really mean anything.

The other thing I don’t particularly like about them is that pentatonic stuff doesn’t transfer very well to other instruments. Guitar wasn’t invented to be a lead instrumetn like the fiddle, but when people started trying to play lead guitar, they found that pentatonic scales are the easiest thing to play on the guitar in closed positions. On other instruments they sound ridiculous, in my opinion.

I’m not trying to give advice. I’m just relating my experience of starting with pentatonic stuff and finding it extremely unsatisfying. Yes, it can be used to play fast over chord changes, but it doesn’t really sound good if that’s all I ever do.

There are millions of casual guitar players who can play some pentatonic patterns to impress their friends. But I’m sure they’d all give their eye teeth to be able to play Ben’s breaks for something really melodic.


#15

— Begin quote from ____

I was ‘stuck’ in pentatonicville for quite some time, and it was because I wasn’t a good picker. Once my picking improved, I got out of the trap.

— End quote

I can understand that! Before I started practicing seriously, I thought I was pretty good at improvising - all I needed was the pentatonic scale (to hide my lack of theory), a bunch of sustain (to hide my lack of speed), and little overdrive (to hide my lack of tone).

Now, after two years of hard work, I realize I’m pretty lousy at improvising. I guess that’s progress.


#16

— Begin quote from ____

Now, after two years of hard work, I realize I’m pretty lousy at improvising. I guess that’s progress.

— End quote

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing: Tell me about it!
When will some electric shredders realise this? :unamused: