From scale noodling to melodic musical phrases?


bouncee
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Joined: 01/18/20
Posts: 26

How to make music or melodic lines? Whn I try to improv it sound like scale drill exercise. At best, I can remember a fitting lick or two to stich together. But I never seem to find notes on the fly that sound great together.

Ok, so I know a few scales and can play em up and down and have done various drills on them to get it into muscle memory. I feel that part is getting there.

When I learn a new song I struggle with improv. If I take the time to learn it note by note I can slowly put it together including solos and fills by watching videos, tutorials and tabs. But I can not do it my way, or make it my own as many says.

Scales are sadly only noodling for me. I mean it is great to learn about intervals and whatever or to know how to play a scale but I can not make music using a scale. It sounds like I am noodling now matter what scale I try.

I spoke with a more experienced guitar picker the other day and he explained it using major scale as an example. When I got back I picked up the guitar and tried it. Not sure if I decoded what he said correctly?

So a chord consist of 1 | 3 | 5.

That makes 2 | 4 | 6 of the scale degree(?) the colorful tones that will ensure it does not sound like an arpeggiated chord or even a scale practice session but more like a melodic line, like you are saying something or singing. According to him those notes (the 2 | 4 | 6's) makes tension that begs for release. I was told to think of them kind of like passing tones that need the release of any one of the chord tones.

As as side note I've kind of seen something similar(?) with the pentatonic minor over a 12 bar blues. If I manage to stay focused rather then stressing out trying to move with the chord changes and loose time or play out of pocket I can target the individual notes of the I | IV | V chords to land a phrase. To my ear it sounds ok if I manage to land (end) a phrase at the down beat on the corresponding note from the scale. I am not fluent and still makes mistakes that sounds awful but I keep drilling. One day.

So back to creating meldoies from the major scales targeting chord tones as the release. Is there any preffered chord tones to use as the release for pharases containing 2 | 4 | 6 mixed in with additional 1 | 3 | 5's? Will a phrase with second last tone on 2 sound better or more correct landing on the 1 | 3 | 5? What about 4 | 6?

I hope this makes sense, I don't yet know much theory nor the musical lingo so I find it hard to express myself and try to explain what I struggle with. If thing is unclear just let me know and I will try to add more info or find a better way to get the point across.

Btw. Trying it out the only musical thing I managed to make was that I suddenly had a line from Brown Eyed Girls going. Not intential. I guess I just stumbled across it using the whole step half step thingy.


# 0
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 7,857
Originally Posted by: bouncee

How to make music or melodic lines? Whn I try to improv it sound like scale drill exercise.[/quote][p]Improvisation consists of 3 steps:

1. Find the key signature (the appropriate scale).

2. Target chord tones.

3. Make musical phrases (melodies).

So finding the scale is just the first step! Then you have to think of interesting things to do with the scale. Just playing it up & down with no rhythmic variation or relation to the chord progression is what makes it sound like an exercise.

Think of what makes a good melody. A line that is sung in a song, or a memorable classical line.

1. Use leaps, not just linear patterns.

2. Use rhythmic variation, not just the same rhythm value all the time.

3. Think of speaking phrases, make a little motif, stop, do a variation on it.

And always look for ways to use the scale to rhythmically emphasize the chord tones of the progression that is happening.

One of the big challenges here is to build a repertiore of licks. A library of things to play you have down so well you can do them automatically. If you listen to any great guitar player they have little phrases & ideas they use & reuse over & again that essentially becomes the essence of their identifiable style.

Learn licks you like, change them around, make them your own.

[quote=bouncee]I mean it is great to learn about intervals and whatever or to know how to play a scale but I can not make music using a scale. It sounds like I am noodling now matter what scale I try.

Learning about scales & intervals is just the first step. Then you have to use that knowledge to learn licks & make your own.

After you learn the alphabet you don't start writing stories with it like:

abcdef, ghijk, lmnop!

Scales are just the raw materials of solos. You have to find something musical to do with them! :)

I cover all this in my collection of tutorials on improvisation.

https://www.guitartricks.com/collection/learning-to-improvise


Christopher Schlegel
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# 2
bouncee
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Joined: 01/18/20
Posts: 26

Thank you Chris. Guess nothing to do but doing it. Going back to practicing and will keep what you said in the back of my brain while practicing, trying to find a way to navigate this waters.


# 3
ChristopherSchlegel
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Originally Posted by: bouncee

Thank you Chris. Guess nothing to do but doing it. Going back to practicing and will keep what you said in the back of my brain while practicing, trying to find a way to navigate this waters.

You're welcome! Have fun with it!


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# 4
paulcavaliere
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Hi Christopher,

For context, I've finished GF1&2, Acoustic 1&2, learned about 10 acoustic songs (mix finger picking and strumming) start to finish and can play and sing a few too. [br]I'm now just finished Rock 1. I'm also doing your Scale series as a warmup exercise with each session. Almost done with Major Scale Patterns. Plan on Minor Scale Patterns and Pentatonic Major and Minor series as well.

My goal is to play some rock songs with the solo sections (already can play Wish You We're Here including the solo licks, eventually want to get to Hotel California solos as I can now play the chords and sing the whole thing. Yellow Ledbetter, Layla plugged and unplugged to give you an idea of where I want to go, also on my list. Would also like jam with another guitarist (friends much better than me) using improvisation.

I had found it difficult during Rock 1 to improvise effectively. Also difficult to time it back into the song.

I'd like to get better at improvisation and came upon this post. Was thinking of doing the series you mention here before going to Rock2. I'm worried that your series is ranked at 4 guitar difficulty. Do you suggest I go through Rock 2 or your improv series first? Maybe get more out of Rock 2 if I do improv first but may be too difficult at this stage?


# 5
ChristopherSchlegel
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Originally Posted by: paulcavaliere

I'm now just finished Rock 1. I'm also doing your Scale series as a warmup exercise with each session. Almost done with Major Scale Patterns. Plan on Minor Scale Patterns and Pentatonic Major and Minor series as well.[/quote][p]Congrats on working though Rock 1! Glad you are working in scale exercises. Those will get you ready for 2 important aspects of soloing.

1. Playing single note lines (playing one note at a time is a much different skill set than strumming chords).

2. Getting used to the sound of scale degrees.

Originally Posted by: paulcavaliereMy goal is to play some rock songs with the solo sections . . . [/quote]

Excellent goal. This is how to build a repertoire of licks, a library of things to play when you improvise. Learn the licks you like, that inspire you, then reformulate them, to make them your own.

[quote=paulcavaliere]I had found it difficult during Rock 1 to improvise effectively. Also difficult to time it back into the song.

It takes a lot of time to get used to switching skill sets like that. Sometimes it's helpful to break it into 2 different things to focus on & practice.

1. Switching between rhythm & lead playing.

2. Learning lines to use for improvisation.

Switching between rhythm playing, which is often repetitive & easier because the student has the repertoire of chords ready to go & improvisation, which requires a repertoire of licks ready to go that the student doesn't often have yet!

The point is that these are 2 very different physical & conceptual skills. Lead playing requires very small, intricate, economical motions of playing single note lines (one note a time), quickly & efficiently. Rhythm typically uses bigger motions (strumming chords) & is much more repetitious.

Some students benefit from really focusing on switching between those 2 skill sets as an exercise in it's own right. That's what these tutorials are for.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=170

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=918

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1147

The first one starts with a pretty basic skill level, then they increase quickly. I suggest watching the performances of each to see which one matches your skill level & work with that one.

Some students pick up switching between lead & rhythm just by learning all the parts of a song. But other students need to drill it more to get used to it. So, those tutorials are meant to fill the gap when it's helpful.

[quote=paulcavaliere]I'd like to get better at improvisation and came upon this post. Was thinking of doing the series you mention here before going to Rock2. I'm worried that your series is ranked at 4 guitar difficulty. Do you suggest I go through Rock 2 or your improv series first? Maybe get more out of Rock 2 if I do improv first but may be too difficult at this stage?

It just depends on whether you have the physical skills yet to do the licks in the tutorial. I suggest looking at the performance, backing track play along lessons to see.

Again, my improv tutorials start pretty simple, easy, basic, but then increase in difficulty. So you can probably do the first couple easily. But the later ones might require more time.

Just sticking with Anders's course is a fine plan, too! It has a lot of basic licks to learn to use a building blocks for your soloing repertoire. Just know that either way (Rock course or my improv tutorials) you are aiming for the same goal: learning a vocabulary of licks to use.

That's why I also suggest my collection on blues licks. It's a great way to learn the pentatonic scales & apply it right away to vocabulary building.

https://www.guitartricks.com/collection/Bread-and-Butter-Butter-Blues-Licks

And that's what you do by learning the solos in songs you like. Make sense?

Hope that helps!


Christopher Schlegel
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# 6
paulcavaliere
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Excellent, thank you for giving me some great options on moving forward. I'll will have a look through each and plan my path. They all look great at first glance and excited to complete all of them eventually.


# 7
ChristopherSchlegel
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Originally Posted by: paulcavaliere

Excellent, thank you for giving me some great options on moving forward. I'll will have a look through each and plan my path. They all look great at first glance and excited to complete all of them eventually.

You're welcome! Best of success with it!


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# 8
paulcavaliere
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Hi Chris,

Taking your advice from the above, my current sessions include:

- using your major and minor scale patterns as a warmup

- learning whole songs including solos.

Once I get a nice repertoire under my fingers, I plan on taking your "E Blues Rhythm & Lead: Series" and "Bread and Butter Blues Licks" series and Improvising Series.

My longer term goal is to be able to play with another guitarist in a call and response scenario and/or use a looper to lay down layers when playing by myself.

Also curious about CAGED.

Any suggestions for me?

Are there lessons on using a looper on GT?

Thanks,

Paul


# 9
ChristopherSchlegel
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Originally Posted by: paulcavaliere

Taking your advice from the above, my current sessions include:

- using your major and minor scale patterns as a warmup

- learning whole songs including solos.

[/quote]

Great plan. Hope you are enjoying it & making progress.

Originally Posted by: paulcavaliereOnce I get a nice repertoire under my fingers, I plan on taking your "E Blues Rhythm & Lead: Series" and "Bread and Butter Blues Licks" series and Improvising Series.[/quote]

These are the exact tutorials that will help you with the goal you mention next.

Originally Posted by: paulcavaliere

My longer term goal is to be able to play with another guitarist in a call and response scenario and/or use a looper to lay down layers when playing by myself.

My entire series of Blues Rhythm & Lead goes from beginner to intermediate level showing how to integrate rhythm & lead playing & switch between them. You can use them as complete guide to learning how to play rhythm for a fellow guitarist, or in a looper, then jump to lead when desired.

https://www.guitartricks.com/search.php?search=%22Blues+rhythm+%26+lead%22

Also these tutorials on building a complete blues arrangement can be helpful for that goal.

Building A Blues Arrangement 1

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2380

Building A Blues Arrangement 2

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2768

[quote=paulcavaliere]Also curious about CAGED.

Any suggestions for me?

[p]I have 2 separate tutorials covering CAGED from 2 different perspectives: rhythm & lead. They both cover visualizing the fretboard shapes of CAGED, but for different purposes. I encourage students to do the rhythm guitar tutorial first because that's solely focused on the movable chord shapes. The lead guitar tutorial builds on those concepts by learning to use the chord shapes as visual references for the scale degrees around the shapes to play melodies & licks.

CAGED For Rhythm Guitar

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2614

CAGED For Lead Guitar

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2619

[quote=paulcavaliere]Are there lessons on using a looper on GT?

Not to my knowledge. But it's pretty much a hands on skill. The learning curve is going to be contained in getting one & learning how to use that specific unit for the music you want to play.

Hope that helps!


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# 10
paulcavaliere
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Thanks, as always for the response and advice. Looking forward to lessons and the journey.

(BTW: I am enjoying the Minor and Major Scale Patterns series. A fun challenge to play it clean with 16th notes and am determined to do so.)


# 11
ChristopherSchlegel
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Originally Posted by: paulcavaliere

Thanks, as always for the response and advice. Looking forward to lessons and the journey.

(BTW: I am enjoying the Minor and Major Scale Patterns series. A fun challenge to play it clean with 16th notes and am determined to do so.)

You're welcome! Glad you are enjoying those scales. :)


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# 12
paulcavaliere
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Hi Christopher,

I'm at a point that I want to dig in to some lessons again. To recap from above, completed Fundamentals 1&2 , Acoustic 1&2 and Rock 1&2. Minor and Major Scale Patterns series. Learned quite a bit of songs, including a few solos. I'm playing songs with other guitarists now. So gratifying so far and having lots of fun.

My goal is to unlock the fretboard and be able to improvise with others.

You have already provided some suggestions.

1. For learning to improvise:

https://www.guitartricks.com/collection/learning-to-improvise

2. Your collection on blues licks. A great way to learn the pentatonic scales & apply it right away to vocabulary building.

https://www.guitartricks.com/collection/Bread-and-Butter-Butter-Blues-Licks

3. For rythm and lead with other guitarist (or on a looper), your series of Blues Rhythm & Lead to integrate rhythm & lead playing & switch between them. Help with playing rhythm for a fellow guitarist, or in a looper, then jump to lead when desired.

https://www.guitartricks.com/search.php?search=%22Blues+rhythm+%26+lead%22

and

Building A Blues Arrangement 1

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2380

Building A Blues Arrangement 2

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2768

4. To unlock the fretboard

CAGED For Rhythm Guitar

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2614

CAGED For Lead Guitar

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2619

What order would you recommend to do these series in?

Thanks,

Paul


# 13
ChristopherSchlegel
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Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 7,857
Originally Posted by: paulcavaliere

Learned quite a bit of songs, including a few solos. I'm playing songs with other guitarists now. So gratifying so far and having lots of fun.[/quote][p]Congrats on your accomplishments so far! Glad you are enjoying guitar.

Originally Posted by: paulcavaliereMy goal is to unlock the fretboard and be able to improvise with others.

Remember there are two distinct parts of this: the conceptual understanding of music & the guitar layout & the physical skills of playing chords, riffs & licks based on those patterns.

[quote=paulcavaliere]What order would you recommend to do these series in?

Some of that is going to depend on your goals. First & foremost I'd say keep learning songs & solos. After that, I'm thinking this order will give you a good mixture of theory & practice.

Blues Rhythm & Lead

https://www.guitartricks.com/search.php?search=%22Blues+rhythm+%26+lead%22

Build vocabulary

https://www.guitartricks.com/collection/Bread-and-Butter-Butter-Blues-Licks

CAGED For Rhythm Guitar

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2614

Improvising

https://www.guitartricks.com/collection/learning-to-improvise

[br]Building A Blues Arrangement 1

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2380

CAGED For Lead Guitar

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2619

Building A Blues Arrangement 2

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2768

Please ask more as necessary. Hope that helps!


Christopher Schlegel
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# 14
paulcavaliere
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Hi Christopher,


Thanks.  I've finished and comfortable with Blues, Rythym and Lead.  Now, going onto your second recommendation:


Build vocabulary


https://www.guitartricks.com/collection/Bread-and-Butter-Butter-Blues-Licks


In that link, it takes me to several library series: "Basic Blues Licks", "Bread and Butter Blues Licks", "Spiced Up Blues" and "Building a Blues Arrangement".


You recommend Building a Blues Arrangement later on, so for now are you suggesting "Bread and Butter Blues Licks"


# 15
ChristopherSchlegel
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#15 Originally Posted by: paulcavaliere

Hi Christopher,


Thanks.  I've finished and comfortable with Blues, Rythym and Lead.  Now, going onto your second recommendation:


Build vocabulary


https://www.guitartricks.com/collection/Bread-and-Butter-Butter-Blues-Licks


In that link, it takes me to several library series: "Basic Blues Licks", "Bread and Butter Blues Licks", "Spiced Up Blues" and "Building a Blues Arrangement".


You recommend Building a Blues Arrangement later on, so for now are you suggesting "Bread and Butter Blues Licks"

I apologize for not being clear!  Yes, do the tutorials on Basic blues Licks, Bread & Butter Licks & Spiced Up Blues.  Then you can save the Blues Arrangements for later.  I didn't consider that those are also a later part of the overall collection on blues licks. 


Having said all that, you probably could do those arrangement tutorials, then switch to the CAGED tutorials in my list.  It's most important to start building vocabulary.  Then I think once you get some basic licks under your fingers it's important to use them to play music.  And then you can go back to CAGED & fretboard mapping & see how it all works together.  Or you can stop with the licks, work on CAGED & then do the arrangement tutorials.


So, either order is fine.  Some of that is at your discretion.  Whatever you find most interesting at at any point to work on.


Hope that helps!


Christopher Schlegel
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# 16
paulcavaliere
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#16 Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

I apologize for not being clear!  Yes, do the tutorials on Basic blues Licks, Bread & Butter Licks & Spiced Up Blues.  Then you can save the Blues Arrangements for later.  I didn't consider that those are also a later part of the overall collection on blues licks. 


Having said all that, you probably could do those arrangement tutorials, then switch to the CAGED tutorials in my list.  It's most important to start building vocabulary.  Then I think once you get some basic licks under your fingers it's important to use them to play music.  And then you can go back to CAGED & fretboard mapping & see how it all works together.  Or you can stop with the licks, work on CAGED & then do the arrangement tutorials.


So, either order is fine.  Some of that is at your discretion.  Whatever you find most interesting at at any point to work on.


Hope that helps!

Hi Christopher,
I'm doing the tutorials in the order that you have recommended.  I've completed Basic blues Licks, Bread & Butter Licks & Spiced Up Blues.  Plus with the Rock course and other song solos I have learned so far, I am comfortable with a basic vocabulary of licks to play.  I am also planning to learn more songs and solos to build my vocabulary further.  So, I understand the path for building a vocabulary.
I've completed CAGED for Rythm Guitar and understand the concepts and can play through it all.


 I have completed the Improvisation for Beginners Series.  Before moving on to Improvisation in a Major Key and Minor Key series, I have a few questions.


I understand the three main components to improvising.  1. Identifying and Playing in Key.  2. Targeting Chord Tones 3.  Playing melodies.


I don't have the notes on the fretboard internalized.  That is, I can identify the notes and find the notes on each string, but it takes a bit to do the math.  Should I spend more time here?  If so, are there exercises to help me internalize and immediately find the notes.  I'm finding that as I'm going through the tutorials and targeting chord tones, it is helping me remember where the notes are.  The more I do the tutorials, leads me to find the notes faster.


I understand the concept of finding the key signature.  Identify the chords in the chord progression.  Identify the notes in the those chordes (1,3,5).  Right them all down and identify what scale they form.  You state after some practice it's really very simple.  At this point, without referencing a chart, I don't know the 1,3,5 for each chord.  D for example is D, F#, A (I had to look it up).  Then once I right them all down (after referencing a chart) I have to reference another chart to identify the scale they form.  I am missing the link to make this very simple.  Any suggestions?


Thanks, Paul.


 


 


 


# 17
ChristopherSchlegel
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Hey, there!  Congrats on working through all that material.


Memorizing the fretboard in terms of notes is definitely something that happens over time as you keep using the entire fretboard.  I have a couple of other collections that can help with that.


These tutorials are specifically on visualizing the fretboard.  These are aimed at visualizing & playing patterns of repeating octaves.  So it works more for scale degrees & linear patterns.


Visualizing 1


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial/419


Visualizing 2


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial/898


Visualizing 3


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial/899


Visualizing 4


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial/462


Next, these are aimed at learning to visualize chord tones.  This is essentially taking the CAGED patterns & learning to break them down into the fundamental major & minor triads & inversions that cover the fretboard.  The first one is my chord theory tutorial that explains the basic concept.  You might want to just start at the 3rd one that starts in on the triad & inversion patterns.


https://guitartricks.com/collection/triads-and-inversions


Regarding learning the notes versus the scale degrees & chord tones.  You definitely need to know both.  But I find that once I'm actually playing some song or piece of music I've already established the notes as musical alphabet letters.  I actually see & think in terms of scale degrees & chord tones because that's more directly related to the sounds that are happening, or that I want to create while improvsing.


So I might look for the note E, but once I visually identify it, then I'm looking at all the notes surrounding it as scale degrees relative to it for sound options.  That's because the concept "major 3rd", or "minor 7th" is related to a sound more directly than "g-sharp", or "d natural".  Make sense?


Quickly identifying the chord tones 1-3-5 is something that also happens with more practice & use.  That's where my triads collection will help,


I think the missing link here is mostly the time spent in repetitious practice doing it.


You might want to have a look at CAGED for lead guitar.  That shows more on how the chord tones are surrounded by & part of the overall scale patterns.  But even then, all that requires the time spent working on it so it's automated.


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial/2619


Hope that helps!


 


 


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# 18
paulcavaliere
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#18 Originally Posted by: ChristopherSchlegel

Hey, there!  Congrats on working through all that material.


Memorizing the fretboard in terms of notes is definitely something that happens over time as you keep using the entire fretboard.  I have a couple of other collections that can help with that.


These tutorials are specifically on visualizing the fretboard.  These are aimed at visualizing & playing patterns of repeating octaves.  So it works more for scale degrees & linear patterns.


Visualizing 1


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial/419


Visualizing 2


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial/898


Visualizing 3


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial/899


Visualizing 4


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial/462


Next, these are aimed at learning to visualize chord tones.  This is essentially taking the CAGED patterns & learning to break them down into the fundamental major & minor triads & inversions that cover the fretboard.  The first one is my chord theory tutorial that explains the basic concept.  You might want to just start at the 3rd one that starts in on the triad & inversion patterns.


https://guitartricks.com/collection/triads-and-inversions


Regarding learning the notes versus the scale degrees & chord tones.  You definitely need to know both.  But I find that once I'm actually playing some song or piece of music I've already established the notes as musical alphabet letters.  I actually see & think in terms of scale degrees & chord tones because that's more directly related to the sounds that are happening, or that I want to create while improvsing.


So I might look for the note E, but once I visually identify it, then I'm looking at all the notes surrounding it as scale degrees relative to it for sound options.  That's because the concept "major 3rd", or "minor 7th" is related to a sound more directly than "g-sharp", or "d natural".  Make sense?


Quickly identifying the chord tones 1-3-5 is something that also happens with more practice & use.  That's where my triads collection will help,


I think the missing link here is mostly the time spent in repetitious practice doing it.


You might want to have a look at CAGED for lead guitar.  That shows more on how the chord tones are surrounded by & part of the overall scale patterns.  But even then, all that requires the time spent working on it so it's automated.


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial/2619


Hope that helps!


 


 

Thanks Christopher.


I've added those collections to my list.  The remaining collections on my list from your recommendations:


[br]Building A Blues Arrangement 1


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2380


CAGED For Lead Guitar


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2619


Building A Blues Arrangement 2


https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=2768


 


Visualizing


Triads and Inversions


I'm currently working through Improvisation in Major and Minor Keys. 


 


Can you recommend the order I should complete the above collections.


Thanks again,
Paul


# 19
ChristopherSchlegel
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Posts: 7,857

Hey, Paul.


I suggest continuing on with the blues licks.  Then do the CAGED lead guitar.  That way you'll continue to build your vocabulary.


After that you can work on the visualizing & triads collections.  Those have a lot of play along practicing, but they are more about systematic fretboard mapping through drills.  They are meant to help you see & understand how licks work.  And how to expand on them, manipulate them & move them around.  But it's more useful to have the licks in the first place to play music & to have something to experiment with.  


You do those in either order as they are mutually reinforcing.  In fact it might be fun to alternate between them.  Do a couple of triad tutorials, then a visualizing, repeat!


Hope that helps!


Christopher Schlegel
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# 20