Idiots guide to improvising...

#1
I have watched so many different tutorials on how to begin to improvise, alot of the 'lessons' seem to be more about the teacher just flexing their ability rather than actually help you understand, sometimes i feel like you just need to know how to do things in layman's terms and theory will start to make sense.

obviously this is an objective point of view and how i would rather see things... i am a beginner btw, so sorry if i dont use the right jargons or if im out of context etc.

Here's what i understand so far...
Lets use the A minor pentatonic scale as an example, from what i understand if we are using the root of A, we would start a lick with A, hit some other notes in the scale and resolve the lick in A, add some techniques like bending/sliding etc to give it some flavour to make it more interesting.

Thats all i pretty much understand right now, im guessing you can move between the 5 different positions by finding the root notes of A in those positions? or can you move into any note of the next position too but resolve in A?

Also is there an over simplified explanation of using chord arpeggios in the scale (lets say A, D,E)?

if we took that 1,4,5 progression in A, do we play the scales in the appropriate key to the backing track? so A - play in A, when the backing track goes to D, play in D and so on?

Hopefully you fretboard masters can share your wisdom, again... i understand i may have it all wrong, i dont want to trigger people.
 

johnniegoat

Stop, don’t, come back.
#2
rob chapman, the person this forum was initiated by, actually is quite good at this type of thing on YT. you should look up some of his older things, although i am not sure how advanced his stuff can be

i also like the tutorial stuff by Music is Win, Mike Bradley, Robert Baker have some good stuff too

if you are playing A (1) D (4) E (5), you could play in A (A-C-D-E-G) pentatonic or blues (same but include E flat) at the 5th position. i find myself bending 7th fret G string with the 5th string on the B for a double stop. then resolve on 5th fret G, which is the minor 6th. so wrong. but music is meant to be wrong

you can also play over the same chords at the 2nd fret in F# (F#-A-B-C#-E), as that pentatonic includes all the notes that the A-D-E chords use

i am watching this punk doc on YT, so really - play what makes you happy :)
 

@ssinine

Professional noodler
#3
I'm an idiot but here's my two cents.
I started 'improvising' without realizing it. I had learnt a major scale and found that I could play those notes over a song. I'd keep replaying that song and trying to find interesting things to play over it. That has eventually progressed into aimless noodling.

1. Figure out what your end goal is with respect to improvisation. The pinnacle is hearing something in your head and instantly playing that on your instrument. Your starting point will have to be your own imagination, though. Best way of training this that I've come across is to put the guitar away and record myself vocalizing a solo / short phrase. Then pick the guitar up and try to play that.

2. Scales are a support structure. When you're starting off, you just want to play along with some music and have it sound decent. Scales are a cheat sheet of sort. So are these guidelines like 'start and end on the root'. Follow these guidelines but remember why they exist. These aren't rules.

3.
if we took that 1,4,5 progression in A, do we play the scales in the appropriate key to the backing track? so A - play in A, when the backing track goes to D, play in D and so on?
Try this yourself and ask yourself if you like what you hear. The general principle is to focus on the chord tones. If the track stays in key of A then playing something from a different scale (like D #Edit: bad example but you get the gist#) might not 'fit' as much as you'd like.

4.
play what makes you happy
THIS is where it's all at.
Good to see you around, monsieur Goat!

Links:
This is one of a series. Watch the others as well.

Look up snippets on YT from Guthrie Govan as well. I love the way he explains things.
There's also Melodic Control by Marty Friedman on YT.
 
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mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#4
If the progression is A D E you get the scale of A (or the equivalent minor scale)
Saying you need to play different notes when the D is being played puzzles me a bit. Because in that scale of A all the notes are present to play the D. At the same time there are different notes in the scale of D so you might use those as bonus notes on top of the scale of A.

I learned a lot of improvising just by starting an Am blues lick and bashing around in Am pentatonic. My teacher actually did jams with me and he slowed down so I could play off him and replicate some of his tricks.
At some point I started recording and listening to what I was doing and started to get more aware of what note works where. I'm currently trying to use intervals more aware. If an A is being played, what does a 2nd, or 3rd get for feeling? And what does resolving it do? Does a 5th keep tension? Or is it a nice ending to a lick? Combine this with note knowledge of the fretboard and you suddenly have a LOT of options to repeat licks and keep the same feeling of your solo.

Combine that with stealing licks. The first lick of sultans of swing. Or parts of the comfortably numb solo are GREAT. But what if you switch around some notes? Change the rhythm. What can you do with them? Can you make them your own? Use them in other songs? Stich method has great video's on this "in the mind of" explaining those riffs.


Maybe we should do a live forum jam sometime.. I'm going to look into the tech to see if that's possible..
 

AdiHughes

Sessions, Lessons & Shred
#5
This is a massive subject, and one even the very best musicians will constantly be looking to improve on, so there's no quick answer or fix. Load up on as much knowledge as you can, keep an open mind, and don't take everything some YouTuber (or me!) says as gospel. For example, Music is Win is quoted above, but that guy, whilst he makes great content, has a very poor understanding of scales, so its best to widen your source of information to make your own judgement.

If the progression is A D E you get the scale of A (or the equivalent minor scale)
Saying you need to play different notes when the D is being played puzzles me a bit. Because in that scale of A all the notes are present to play the D. At the same time there are different notes in the scale of D so you might use those as bonus notes on top of the scale of A.
I'll pick on this one to stir some thoughts for further exploration. Lets make it minor as most are familiar with that, progression becomes Am Dm Em.

Chord tones (notes) of Am are A, C, E
Chord tones (notes) of Dm are D, F, G
Chord tones (notes) of Em are E, G, B

Using A minor pentatonic, you get the notes A C D E G.

So if you use A minor pentatonic over the Am chord, you hit all the chord tones (A C E), and get 2 colour tones.
If you use A minor pentatonic over the Dm chord, you hit 2 chord tones (D G), and 3 colour tones. Note at this point, you are omitting the very important F note (minor 3rd), which is what makes it a D minor chord.
If you use it over the Em chord, you get 2 chord tones (E G), and 3 colour tones.
So you are in key using the same A minor pentatonic scale over all 3 chords, but when the Dm and Em chords are being played, your harmony becomes weaker due to omitting chord tones

If you use Am pentatonic over the Am chord, Dm pentatonic over the Dm chord, Em pentatonic over the Em chord, you are ensuring that you are regularly hitting chord tones, giving the impression that you are spelling out the chord changes ie modulation, modal playing, hitting the changes, following the chords ...etc.

There's lots of different approaches, this one is pentatonic modulation, but you can use guide tones, triads, arpeggios, chord patterns... all to a similar effect.

If you're interested, write out the notes of those 3 pentatonic scales, then compare them to the A natural minor scale (aeolian), and see what you end up with, then ask the original question why might you use a different scale for each chord, and why might you not, and in which circumstances it might be better applied or ignored.
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#7
I've been mucking about with switching to the appropriate patterns for chords and it instantly made my improvs sound a lot better. It's helping me a lot to learn where notes are on the fretboard because I'm demanding of myself to switch quickly. My next step will be to think about how patterns overlap. While it works, there's no reason to go to the 10th fret for the Dm in pentatonic 1. Sure it helps me go about the fretboard as if I know what I'm doing but it needs to be a choice. I need to learn better whatever pattern Dm pentatonic has around the 5th and 7th fret so I can keep playing there.

It's funny. I must've read about this a million times and it never clicked for me until now and I'm improving by miles while learning this.
 

AdiHughes

Sessions, Lessons & Shred
#8
I've been mucking about with switching to the appropriate patterns for chords and it instantly made my improvs sound a lot better. It's helping me a lot to learn where notes are on the fretboard because I'm demanding of myself to switch quickly. My next step will be to think about how patterns overlap. While it works, there's no reason to go to the 10th fret for the Dm in pentatonic 1. Sure it helps me go about the fretboard as if I know what I'm doing but it needs to be a choice. I need to learn better whatever pattern Dm pentatonic has around the 5th and 7th fret so I can keep playing there.

It's funny. I must've read about this a million times and it never clicked for me until now and I'm improving by miles while learning this.
:heart:
 
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