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Modes And intervals

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SirChick
(@sirchick)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Topic starter  

Im having a real pain the ass problem with my playing. This isn't really theory here as i know my theory.. its more about applying theory to the physical playing.

Let me explain, when i play guitar i play from what i visualize, and what i visualize is patterns of the modes/scales. Now i know i should steer clear of this and thankfully I've only been playing too years so i haven't been using patterns for long so i can prob escape the habit, so I've purposely stopped playing till i work out how to not see patterns and how to see it differently. Reason why is cos i keep repeating the same riffs alot because i know they will work if you get me, seeing patterns is limiting my umm not sure how to explain it really but basically i play alot of similar riffs when improvising because they are my safety nets they wont sound wrong basically. But if wanted to get adventurous i can't think well and end up playing many licks i can already do.

So how should i view the guitar fretboard should it be intervals and also how do i approach seeing and using such visualizations and getting patterns out of my mind to make life easier i really dont know any easy step to doing it.


   
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cnev
 cnev
(@cnev)
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I don't have an answer for you since I'm pretty much in the same boat. But trying to play intervals may be a start.

I kind of have the same impression as you that once you are REALLY comfortable with the positions they will become second nature and you won't see them like that.

doyou tend to play a certain position more than others? If so force yourself to move around the neck. Trying mixing major and minor pent scales. I guess what I'm tryng to say is experiment a bit, you'll find that you can use notes outside the patterns in certain instances and still sound good.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


   
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Ignar Hillström
(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Playing 'free' consists of three parts:

1) Creating a melody in your head. Practice by just humming along with backing tracks.
2) Hearing the intervals of the melody in your head. Practice this with the interval eartrainer at http://www.musictheory.net
3) Play the intervals. Practice this by using the interval trainer again, but now try to play these intervals on as many places on the fretboard as you can find.

After a while you'll be able to play small melodies regardless of what it is. Keep it going and the melodies will get longer and longer.


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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It really is about melody, rather than pattern. You don't want to "see" the fretboard as much as you "hear" it...

If I'm playing in C major at the 5th position, I'm going to need a B note that's not under my fingers. If I "see" the fretboard, I'm stuck the way I see it - I either move to the 4th fret or the 9th for B, depending on how I learned the pattern.

But if I "hear" the fretboard, I'll do whichever one is easier to finger for the line I'm following. I might use both in the same solo.

The quickest way to do that is to learn to read music in all keys and all positions. There are 'faster' ways, but they leave gaps in what you can hear, because they're still pattern based.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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Desi Serna
(@desi-serna)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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SirChick,

I'm not sure I understand your question exactly, but I'm familiar with these topics and I'm certainly aware that they confuse many a guitar player. I think just the fact that you're interested in guitar theory and want to unravel the meaning of intervals and modes is great. Stick with it. You'll work it out.

First thing first, listen to this Guitar Theory Podcast. There's a great episode all about scale modes. If that link doesn't work for you you can find the same podcast at Talkshoe.com by simply searching "Guitar Music Theory Lessons."

For more information about learning how to use and play intervals on the guitar visit the guitar theory blog. Pay special attention to the song references. Learn them and they will help drive home the point.

I'm an author and publisher folks, but don't get the wrong impression. The links above are all free!


   
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Scrybe
(@scrybe)
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All good points. I'll add that John McLaughlin once said in interview that mostly when you're improvising, you're not actually improvising, just playing stuff youv'e payed before - to 'truly' improvise is to play somthing you've never played before, and thos moments are rare, but when they do happen they're the best. So don't do your head n too much, if JM gets this despondence its hardly surprising so many of us do.

The best thing I've done (and, bear in mind my improviging, like my playing, is an ongoing study!) has been to try to learn to sing. Often, now (i was always too, uh, terrified before, lol - at least in public anyways), I'll improv melodies or rhythms using my voice when listening to anything (esp. if its a song that out of my range using the original melody). Now, when I improv on guitar, I try to sing along with it as I'm playing - singing the right notes doesn't matter too much (I'm nowhere near good enough to improv both simultaneously) but it seriously affects what I play on guitr, and in a good way, too.

Another trick is to try to figure melodies out by ear using your guitar.

And when jammin (even with a backing track) its often good to resist the temptation to play when you first go to do that. Like, you're about to start playing something, stop yourself and try to play something different. It just throws the brain and shakes you out of just repeating tired phrases.

hth

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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Misanthrope
(@misanthrope)
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And when jammin (even with a backing track) its often good to resist the temptation to play when you first go to do that. Like, you're about to start playing something, stop yourself and try to play something different. It just throws the brain and shakes you out of just repeating tired phrases.
That reminds me of Douglas Adams' description of how to fly: throw yourself at the ground and miss ;)

Seriously though, it's a very good tip. I also get a lot of use out of finding two similar but distinct riffs and between them at random times (not just at the end). (A good example is the solo to Floyd the Barber and the bassline to Sliver for all you Nirvana fans)

ChordsAndScales.co.uk - Guitar Chord/Scale Finder/Viewer


   
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fleaaaaaa
(@fleaaaaaa)
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Find some music where the modes are used i.e. I got a book "Jam with Joe Satriani" fair enough I can't play a lot of what is in the book but it tells you when he moves into a different mode i.e. G dorian - C lydian etc. I can then hear and play what those modes sound like and how they work with the music behind it such as the chords and bass line.

To be honest with you I'm still trying to figure out when it's appropriate to use each mode and what modes work with what chords..... does anyone know any good info on that?

together we stand, divided we fall..........


   
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Scrybe
(@scrybe)
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honestly? the best advice I might have on modes is this....forget about them. I'm not sure why guitarists hang so much weight on being able to play/understand modes. myself included, at one stage (I got very heavily into Kind of Blue, lol).

its like we learn a few tunes, then we learn maybe a minor pentatonic, and woo hoo, now we can improvise a blues! yay. next up is the major scale. yippee some country going on, too. now modes. oh hell. confusion. panic. feelings of inferiority.

but who ever listens to a piece of music and goes, "man, that was a totally awesome Locrian riff he used over that Fdim7b9sharpened231st chord!"???

Exaclty. No one.

A riff is either kewl, or not kewl. A solo - kewl or not kewl (or kewl up until that bit, then it's not kewl). A song - kewl or not kewl.

I hereby propose my own patented music theory - there is only kewl and not kewl. 8)

On a slightly more helpful and on-point note, however....... the best thing to do is hear (mentally visualise.....hearealise) a riff. lick or solo, and then play that. just work on being able to play what you hear, as soon as you hear it. if what you hear happens to be some really obscure gypsy scale, great. if you only hear a basic major riff, great too. because at the end of the day, the complexity or relative complexity of music matters not one jot. all that matters is if it sounds good. and if you can't imagine a good riff/solo/whatever, no amount of theory is going to change that, imho.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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Ignar Hillström
(@ignar-hillstrom)
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You can apply it more practically and easily while keeping it kewl. ;) let's use C as an example:

C-major (ionian)
C D E F G A B
C Dm Em F G Am Bmb5

C Lydian (starting G-major on the C-note):
C D E F# G A B
C D Em F#mb5 G Am Bm

If you're bored of C-Ionian progressions, write a song in C using these chords. Here's an Example using B-minor & B-Locrian:
http://www.box.net/shared/int3cz7knq

Note how the one where the backing is minor resolves perfectly whereas the Locrian one is drifting, the homechord is now diminished.


   
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Rob77
(@rob77)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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I subscribe to Scrybe's theory.
Modes etc are all well & good if you want to be a neo-classical shredder, & don't let me stop you if you do. But for my style of music (Blues / rock etc) don't get hung up on theory & DON'T STOP PLAYING. Lot's of great guitarists are self taught & see the frettboard in patterns (I believe SRV was one - no doubt I'll be corrected if I got it wrong). It's about feeling. So here's what I do -
1) try & steal some licks that are cool, to have as back -up. & keep doing that.
2) Jam alot with backing music, CD's other guitarists.
But I find best of all is 3) NOODLE. Just jam by yourself, to a tempo & just do solo's & let your fingers wander. You'll find you get to a point where you're not thinking much & then all of a sudden - whammo, something sounds cool, so you go back, figure it out & learn it...then you can add it to the pile of licks in 1)!

In my (probably very incorrect way) of seeing things (& I have the GREATEST respect for people who do understand music theory, but I'm not one of them) there's no wrong notes, just playing them at the wrong time. Some of the best stuff happens when you accidently go a-tonal & it fits! :lol:

"Who says you can't 'dive bomb' a bigsby?!"


   
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Scrybe
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I'm, uh, grateful. I know that's not the word, but I'm, uh, drunk. :oops:

Flattered. That was it. :P

But I should perhaps clarify slightly. I've nothing against modes. I like them and hope to become better acquainted with them as time passes. I also hope that about theory generally. I just think guitarists have a slight I-dont-wanna-do-theory-but-I-wanna-do-something-theoretical-to-show-off kinda weird oedipus-like complex. We wanna run away from the theory, but at the same time secretly hope we're doing something complex 'by ear'. Generalising, I know, but I think it does hold, at least a little.

Anyone who falls into this category has two choices.

(1) Learn theory and understand what you're doing and why it works. Or

(2) Stay away from theory and trust your ears, and really pay no mind to the 'complexity' of what you're doing.

I'm not SRV, so I can't accurately say, but I don't think he did what he did by patterns, at least no visual patterns. He did that by ear, albeit very possibly an ear he trained over a long period of intense study, no matter how obviously-theoretically grounded or otherwise.

Personally, my theory sucks. But not as much as it did. So, having tried to 'do' modes, I've now primarily subscribed to method (2). That said, I'm still chipping away at method (1) and hope to combine the two (the ideal way? I bloody hope so, lol). So, one thing I have planned for the next year, is recording one-chord vamps and then more complex chord progressions and trying to improvise using modes. But when I play out, modes pretty much go out the window - I use bits every now and then, but only bits. As I get more comfortable, I'll use more. They're really not shredder-centric (and maybe I did benefit here, from learning 'theory' completely divorced from guitar). But at the end of the day, I love the intro to Machine Gun by Hendrix. And I'm gonna love it no matter how theoretically complex or otherwise it is. Its damn kewl. There's little denying it (imho). My point being that I think a lot of theory-phobic(ish) guitarists reach for modes (mostly, but other stuff too) as a way of 'doing something special' perhaps out of a feeling that all the kewl riffs in the pentatonic, major, harmonic minor, etc, have been written. But it clearly aint so.

My suggestion to ignore modes comes more from seeing so many guitarists (and why is it primarily guitarists? or is that just my experience?), myself included, try to jump into them, then get thoroughly confused. Either because they're just not explained properly, or because you hit information-overload.

Either way, to my mind, there are two key reasons to 'learn theory'

(1) to explain what you did. why it works. etc.

(2) to learn to 'hear' new things.

now, you need theory (or a roland synth guitar and a good piece of software and maybe a theory-head too) to do (1). But you don't necessarily need theory to do (2). And I think a lot of guitarists reach for modes (and theory generally) in a bid to do (2). But it might be easier and better (at least in the short term) to try doing that by ear rather than by theory.

My short term experience has been that trying to hear the intervals and do it by ear has been more successful than memorising a bunch of names and patterns, it frees me up a little. Perhaps because I learned to play before I learned theory at all.....but I find my playing far exceeds my theory-knowledge. Every now and then, learning theory prompts my playing (I got well into Messiaen for A level music and started messing with superimposed time signatures and alternating time signatures.....brilliant fun, and theory helped tons with prompting that), but mostly I find I understand theory better when I can relate it to pieces I play and what I write. So,a s has historically been the case again, imho), theory follows creativity most of the time.

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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321Barf
(@321barf)
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Learn lots of songs and see what chords and modes were used and how they were used.
The more songs you learn the more you will come to grips with how to use modes.


   
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Ignar Hillström
(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Oh, that's definitely too Scrybe. I know plenty of people who would play over an C-Am-F-G pattern in the C-major scale but claim they're playing each chord in a different mode because 'they start on that note'. That's just a way to overcomplicate what you're doing. In retrospect my former guitar teacher had absolutely no clue what modes were, but I didnt know at the time. IMHO, if you're going 'by ear' you'll usually get stuck in the sounds you know. If you listen to blues the pentatonic scale etc etc. By 'forcing' yourself to work within a new scale or mode (heck, just any combination of notes, make up your own scale for all I care) you (or atleast I) find all kinds of cool sounds that are new or foreign. But after that it is up to your ears. You can decide to use a scale but the scale can't decide which notes, scales are just frameworks instead of musical recipes.

Apart from all else, learning theory is 10 times easier on a piano. If you got a keybord use that for modes: just write seven tunes using just the white keys with every song having a different tonal centre. Can't think of a better introduction to modes.


   
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Rob77
(@rob77)
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I fall into the category of "would secretly love to know more theory but can't find the time to stick to it ":oops:
I still find noodling to be a big help in getting out of musical rutts, but it can be time consuming & doesn't always work. Some days you're the windsheild, some days you're the bug.

"Who says you can't 'dive bomb' a bigsby?!"


   
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