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# Basic Theory

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(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5108

I think the easiest way to start is to use the Pentatonic minor for that key. So if it were D, use the D minor pentatonic. If it's in A, use the A minor pentatonic. From the little I understand, the minor pentatonics give us beginning improvisers the most flexibilty for improvising (that is to say it's harder for us to make a mistake!). A lot of traditional rock and blues solos are built around that model.
Is that helpful?

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon

(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840

To keep it simple: if the key is D, then you need to take one of the 5 "box" patterns. move it to have the root note on D and then use that pattern to improvise. Stay with the one pattern, until you feel comfortable enough to add in another (try using the adjoining pattern, higher up the fretboard)

Here are the patterns in G major

The patterns are cyclic - the top half of the last pattern is the bottom half of the first one. So move the root, on the low E, to the 10th fret and play either tthe first or last pattern. Add the other one later - the two together give you a spread of 7 frets.

To start improvising, just play the scale up and down, but add attitude and feeling - bends, pull-off, hammer-ons, etc. . Add in a few double stops - you'll see that tere are some adjoining strings with the same fingering - just fret both strings and strum them.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
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(@jimscafe)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 119

So if I pick the first pattern, I move the pattern so the root note is on the 10th fret (lower E string) and then play any of the 17 notes in some kind of sequence?

And I do this whichever part of the song is being played, whatever the chord being played?

What is the relevance of these patterns being in G major (Greybeard's Scale Patterns), could they be any scale patterns?

Sorry if these are dumb questions!

(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5108

Yes, you move the root note. Greybeard's patterns are in G just as an example.

I suggest you think of using the pentatonic minor scale for now though. Here's an image of the scale boxes with the root note inside the circle:

(The image is a little funky but you get the idea). Of course, you need to slide scales up and down the fretboard.

The site I borrowed the diagrams from is here.

And play around, as Greybeard suggests, and develop some licks using the scale.

David's article Scaling the Heights should also be valuable for you if you have some time to work through it.

Hope that helps.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon

(@corbind)
Noble Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 1735

Hey Jim, when he's playing the chords, quickly disconnect your cord and run for the door. Just kidding. Let me tell you I'm strictly a rhythm guy who just started working on scales so I'm by far not the guy to listen to. You'll get much better replies from the great lead players we have here.

Yea, that is in the key of D. All of those chords

They key of D contains these chords in order:

1=D
2=Em
3=F#m
4=G
5=A7
6=Bm
7=C#dim

Your songs contains these chords:

1=D
2=Em
4=G
5=A7

Notice the numbers next to the chords. Say I wanted to play this song in a different key, like G. Well G has the chords in this order:

1=G
2=Am
3=Bm
4=C
5=D7
6=Em
7=F#dim

The order of the chord in your song was 1, 2, 4, 5, so in G, we'll play G, Am, C, D7. If you play the song both ways and compare how they sound your brain may hear it has the same order based on the number of the chord. Likely I've confused you more than helped.

So let's get down to the real question. It's in the key of D. You can play the 1 major scale or 6 minor scale. That means D major (or major pentatonic) or B minor (or minor pentatonic). It seems that a tremendous amount of music is made with the minor pentatonic scale so that may be a place to start. That scale contains the notes B, D, E, F# and A. Find those on the fretboard and you'll start getting there.

:)

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."

(@jimscafe)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 119

Can I play any pattern providing the root note is D?

I just tried Em pattern with the root note on the 10th fret - sounded good...

(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840

The five patterns are just a way to simplify the fretboard. They show you all the notes, on the fretboard, that belong to the key that you are playing in. That is a mass of information and, worse still, your brain would have difficulty remembering all of those notes - the human brain likes regularity and patterns. So, at some time in antiquity, someone came up with the idea of chopping the whole into smaller more easily learnt pieces.
Put the box patterns in a line and you'll see that it's an endless chain - 1 goes to 2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5 and finally 5 returns back to 1 - it's like a musical tank track.

The thing about using the patterns is placing the root note. As you'll see from my diagrams, root notes are marked. If you're playing in D, all of the root notes must hit D notes - take the first pattern, the root note (in orange, labelled I) - it's on the 3rd fret of the 6th string, whichh, of course, is a "G", same as the key. To play that pattern in D, we have to move the pattern so that the root note is on the 10th fret (D).

However, the sequence, as I've shown it, wouldn't be a lot of good to you - the patterns disappear off the end of the fretboard. The patterns are a closed loop, so you tack the 5th pattern onto the lower end of the 1st, the 4th onto the lower end of the 5th, etc

Patterns in D:
|2-3---5---|
|2-3---5---|
|2---4-----|
|2---4-5---|
|2---4-5---|
|2-3---5---|

|------5---7----|
|------5---7-8--|
|----4---6-7----|
|----4-5---7----|
|----4-5---7----|
|------5---7----|

|----------7---9-10-|
|----------7-8---10-|
|--------6-7---9----|
|----------7---9----|
|----------7---9-10-|
|----------7---9-10-|

|--------------9-10----12-----|
|----------------10----12-----|
|--------------9----11-12-----|
|--------------9----11-12-----|
|--------------9-10----12-----|
|--------------9-10----12-----|
_________________"D"
_________________Root

|----------------------12----14-15-|
|----------------------12----14-15-|
|-------------------11-12----14----|
|-------------------11-12----14----|
|----------------------12----14----|
|----------------------12----14-15-|

Compare these to the diagrams of G major.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN

(@oldiron)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 111

I have been reading David's lessons to see if I could remember what I had been taught many years ago and see it if I could figure out some of the things I never quite get years ago. I have found the articals very helpful but there are still a couple points that are a bit fuzzy.

I'm I correct with figuring a minor key by reducing the major root by a step and a half? C major to A minor would be C to B 1/2 step B to a 1 step. G major to E minor would be G to F 1/2 step F to E 1 step.

Key signatures: I don't remember how my voice teacher told me how to figure the key signatures for the flats. I remember that when your useing sharps the key signature is the next note above the last sharp. But I can't remember how the flats are figured to save my old hide. Should I just memorize the circle of fifths or is there an easier way.

I may be going to hell in a bucket but at least I'm enjoying the ride. (Jerry Garcea)

(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840

I'm I correct with figuring a minor key by reducing the major root by a step and a half? C major to A minor would be C to B 1/2 step B to a 1 step. G major to E minor would be G to F 1/2 step F to E 1 step.

Yep, that's right.

Key signatures:

Actually, the flats are the same as the sharps, just in reverse order.

Perhaps this will help

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN

(@call_me_kido)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 179

I'd just like to echo what David has to say about theory. It needn't be akin to quantum physics, you can take it in small doses.
For anyone who has been to my web site, you may think that it is a reflection of the theory that I have learnt. The truth is, the creation of that site was HOW I learnt music theory.

AMEN

Kido

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