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Which notes to bend?


(@rparker)
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I know in at least the Blues world that it's common to bend the 3rd when touting your way around a Minot Pentatonic Scale. For example, on an Am Pent Scale I would bend the the D. Most often for me, this would mean the g-string on the 7th fret.I can also just go hit the next fret and have that D# and come away with what some call the Blues Scale. (or at least part of it).

My questions is this. Say I'm doing an A-Major scale at the 5th, like so:

(A) = denotes the root
fret 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
E |----|----|----|-G--|-(A)|----|-B--|----|----|----|----|----|
B |----|----|----|----|-E--|----|-F#-|----|----|----|----|----|
G |----|----|----|-B--|----|-C#-|-D--|----|----|----|----|----|
D |----|----|----|-F#-|----|-G--|-(A)|----|----|----|----|----|
A |----|----|----|-C#-|-D--|----|-E--|----|----|----|----|----|
E |----|----|----|----|-(A)|----|-B--|----|----|----|----|----|

Which note(s) are common to bend or otherwise color. I know I can bend anything I want, but do different genres take this scale and make it their own by coloring a particular step, or in the chart above, a particular note (or step in the scale, if you prefer)?

I think I've got the question worded properly. :?

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@hbriem)
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I know nothing about common bending practices, but just want to add this comment.

The third note of the Minor Pentatonic scale is actually the 4th. Be careful not to refer to it as the 3rd even though it's the third note. If you know what I mean.

I.e. the minor pent consists of the root, minor 3rd, 4th, 5th and minor 7th.

A minor quibble but quite important.

---

As for your question in general, the #9th (#2nd, b3) is a common colour note in blues (the "Hendrix" chord), and often used as an approach note to the major 3rd, so that can definitely be made to work.

The b5 (#4) made by bending up the 4th can almost certainly be used and will give a Lydian flavour.

Bending up the 6th to a b7 might work (Mixolydian flavour).

The b2 and b6 are avoid notes in general but I'm sure there are people who make them work.

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


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 cnev
(@cnev)
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I know when I went over scales my instructor circled the ones that would normally be bent. I think this was for the Minor pents only I'll look. If I have them for a major scale I'll shoot one to you to look at.

"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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(@rparker)
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Thanks guys.

Modes. That's the phrase I iwas trying to think of. I think I've got them in one of David's books or somewhere else. Thanks for the nudge in the right direction. :)

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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 cnev
(@cnev)
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Personally I wouldn't even think modes they will only confuse you. I would (and I'm in the same boat) work on soling with the major/minor pent. There are endless possibilities there. If you can't solo using those you aren't going to find anything magical in modes.

"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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(@rparker)
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I've been doing the minor pent all along. I decided to add another. I noticed the major was just a few mor notes, going low e to high e, than the major pent, so that's what I decided. I figure if I know ahead of time which mode is jazzy or bluegrassy or whatever that it would only give me a shove in the right direction. I'm able to make some pretty noises just doing the major scale already and it's only been about a week to 10 days.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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 cnev
(@cnev)
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Roy obviously you can try anything you want but to me it's like going from simple addition to advanced calculus in one shot. Making a sweet sound is fairly easy (your playing notes within the scale that dont sound out of place) but making the solo musical is another thing.

You should be able to make great solo's from one scale position if you can't (I can't)then I still don't think modes will add anything and that's if you really play the modes correctly.

Most people that think they are playing modes aren't playing modes and wonder why they don't sound any different. The modes use the same notes but they are not the same scale pattern they have a pattern all their own. It's not just playing the same scale starting from a different root.

Anyway there is nothing wrong with experimentation so do whatever you feel.

The more I think about this (cuz I rarely practice soloing) I think in the long run you really have to know the fretboard and internalize the sounds being tied to scales etc will always limit you.

"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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(@rparker)
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Ahhhh. gotchya. I see what you're saying. I'll digest that some.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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 cnev
(@cnev)
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I'm not trying to tell you not to do anything cuz I'm pretty much in the same boat personally I don't think learning alot of scales or modes means anything unless you have totally worn out everything you can do with the major/minor scales.

If you read Tom's new article about soloing as a language that's more what I'm talking about. Using just one note as one of his instructors made him do sounds like a both a good idea and probably difficult to do at the same time.

Adding modes now would be like wanting to speak Italian when you can't really communicate in English yet. Sure you can probably do it but I think it would distract you from learning how to speak fluent English if you get what I mean.

"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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(@noteboat)
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I agree w/cnev - you need to get the major scale down before venturing into modes.

But as a bonus, I'll give you the way to actually use modes once you have that scale down: change one note.

The Lydian mode is the major scale with a #4. So if you're in C major, just play the C scale and sharp all the F notes.

The Mixolydian mode is the major scale with a b7. In C, just flat all the B notes.

To do the Dorian and Phrygian, learn the natural minor scale first. Then Dorian is the natural minor with a #6 - if you're in A minor, you sharp all the F notes. The Phrygian is the natural minor with a b2 - in A minor, flat all the B notes.

(You might have noticed that the notes you alter are the SAME pitches in the major and relative minor keys... there's a reason for that, but I won't get into it now. Study the circle of fifths, and you might discover it for yourself!)

If you want to mess around with Locrian, get the Phrygian down first. Locrian is just Phrygian with a b5 - if you're in A Locrian, you're playing A Phrygian with all the E notes flatted.

Thinking of the modes as alterations of other scales will let you use them coherently, without over-thinking things.

As far as which notes to bend in any scale, it depends on what you want it to do. Bending the third in a blues scale brings you up to a chord tone IF you're playing over the I chord; you create a nice consonant harmony... but it won't work so well over the IV chord (where you'd be creating a IVmaj7) or the V7 chord (where you'd be creating a V13 - that'll work, but it depends on the context of the other stuff you're putting in your line).

Whole step bends on the b3, 4 or b7 will take you to the next scale tone (the 4, 5, or root). You're basically slurring into the next scale note, but doing it with a bend instead of a hammer-on.

Half step bends on the 4 bring you to the 'blue note' - the b5 that's in a blues scale, but not in the pentatonic.

You can also use bends to get other chord tones not in the scale; the IV chord compared to the major scale contains 4, 6, and 1 - a whole step bend on 5 gets you to 6. Over a V7 chord, the chord tones are the 5, 7, 2, and 4 of the major scale... so you can bend the b7 a half step, or the 1 a whole step.

Other bends are possible too. You can bend, hold, and bend some more on 4 or b7, creating a passing tone to the next scale pitch. You can bend and then release practically any scale tone, creating a 'neighbor note'. And you can pre-bend practically any scale tone and release it to the pitch, creating an appoggiatura. Just let your ears be your guide.

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