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No one ever told me...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Lucky Strike, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. That I've been practicing wrong all this time!

    I had a great lesson with a local pro a couple of days ago and it has really changed how I practice. Regarding improvisation, scales, arpeggios and modes, I would do the basics of learning the shapes, playing them in two octaves, different hand positions and all that stuff... But I was always counting on my fingers and mental map of the fretboard to select the notes I played, not my ear.

    I know that having a mental map of the fretboard and seeing the matrix of notes all over the fretboard is a good and necessary thing, but I always stopped there.

    I've been encouraged to try and hear the differences, such as what the difference between the 6th note of Dorian sounds like versus the 6th note of Aeolian.

    This has revolutionized improvisation for me. No longer do I just 'discover' what the melody sounds like as my fingers run around the map of 'allowable' notes, but instead I'm learning to hear the notes first, then put them onto the fretboard. No more surprises, the sounds are in my head first, and then into my fingers.

    This has caused me to be more judicious in my note selection, and gives my solo's more space and meaning. I can stop pouring a hot bowl of note-meal all over the fretboard, and just hear the melodies that my ear wants to enjoy.

    This means that I am singing the notes before playing them... Because if you can't sing a solo in Dorian over a static minor chord vamp, then you don't really 'know' Dorian...

    I know many of you know this stuff already, but I felt like sharing it. Anyone else have this experience? Was I the only guy living under a rock?
  2. Johnny DeVille

    Johnny DeVille

    Feb 18, 2012
    Apparently I have been. Good stuff. Gonna take me a awhile
  3. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
  4. Good point!

    I dare say you are one of the few that understand Dorian needs to be played over a static minor chord vamp.

    That part gets lost in the mix........... Check this out. http://www.riddleworks.com/modalharm3.html What is Dorian's signature note? The natural 6. Phrygian's is the b2. If going major; Lydian's is the #4, Mixolydian is the b7. Those signature notes need to be droning for the vamp to sustain the modal melody you are shooting for. That is the part that gets lost in the mix.

    In this video Scott Devine will use the droning E string as his vamp - envision what could be added using a two chord vamp with the signature note thrown into the mix. http://scottsbasslessons.com/welcome-to-the-shed

    Point in all this, if you want the modal sound to sustain use a vamp - not a V-I cadience.
  5. Good stuff MalcolmAmos, thanks for the links!
  6. Already In Use

    Already In Use

    Jan 3, 2010
  7. i have no idea what Dorian or static minor chord vamp means.. so im pretty sure ive been doing it wrong for about 10 years now
  8. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    I have never understood what it means to hear something in your head and then play it.

    Now I grew up playing drums and that is the only instrument that I can say where that does happen. But keyboard or stringed instrument, it's not exactly a shot in the dark -- more based on what physical placement has worked before.
    So that also accounts for a flurry of notes looking for the one I wanted and when that sounds then looking for something that would go with that.
    So ear training and playing what you want to hear -- that would turn things around.
    Thanks for the re-orientation.
  9. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I'm glad I just play for fun :)
  10. Good thread!
    and great links shared so far!

    For awhile now, I've been hearing intervals in my head while I play in the way that I will play a note and I seem to know that the next note I want is in a general direction; however, I've never been very specific about it. I may play a note and know that the next note I want is lower than a 3rd but not as low as a 7th...and probably lower than a 5th...so it's probably around the ballpark of a 6th. Then I'll play the 6th and it's hit or miss. Sometimes, I nail it and sometimes I'm close but a bit sharp or flat.

    I found an iPhone app that I've been using (since it's very convenient to have it with me on the phone) and it has helped me train my brain to more accurately recognize intervals. For me, I've found "the trick" to using it (again...for ME) is to hum the notes while using the training app. I've found that my progress is much faster that way.

    I know what sounds good to me and I usually know what I want to play, but I don't always know exactly where it is on the fretboard. This app has been helping me get more accurate.

    Anyway...great thread! Sub'd
  11. Someone recently showed me this YouTube link. I think he does a very good job of explaining how to take a Zen approach to practicing and playing. I found this video very enlightening.
  12. derekd


    Feb 16, 2009
    I play just for fun, too. However, I find it fun to keep growing as a musician and learning more and more about the possibilities under my fingers.

    One of the things I do with both guitar and bass students is to take their well worn pentatonic scales and replace a note with one of the modal notes MalcolmAmos talked about. So instead of a garden variety minor pentatonic, you can get a Dorian pent if you toss in the major 6th instead of flat seventh. Gives it a new flavor.

    Mixolydian pentatonic tosses in the flat 7, Lydian pent features the #4, etc.

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