Welcome!
Just a few a ground rules first...

Promotion, advertising and link building is not permitted.

If you are keen to learn, get to grips with something with the willing help of one of the net's original musician forums
or possess a genuine willingness to contribute knowledge - you've come to the right place!

Register >

- Close -
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 18

Thread: You have nothing to lose but you're chains

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    20

    You have nothing to lose but you're chains

    For a couple of years now I have been trying to get my head around fitting all of the different scale positions over the coresponding caged positions and I have finally realized why I could never fully internalize it. Its because they are two completely different ways of thinking and no matter how proficient one is at remembering these shapes one is only thinking within the framework of shapes, forgetting entirely about the functionality of each note. Although I was completly aware of what chord shapes I was playing over, my playing either fell within scalar forms or arpeggio forms, with never the two meeting.

    I have now given up this futile quest after all these years and concentrated playing solely with the functioning of the intervals in mind. My playing is alot slower, and it takes me longer to adjust, but I am making leaps and strides with this each passing day, and my playing is more fluent and melodic then ever.

    My question then is, is this how all advanced guitarists play mentally? Is this a rite of passage that all guitarists must make at some point? Because frankly, I don't see how it is possible to progress past a certain point without it. Many people may be deterred by this way of thinking in regards to acheiving a high speed but I see this as a simple matter of internalising the outlay of notes on the fretboard to a greater degree. What do you guys think?

  2. #2
    realizing dreams
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Guildford
    Posts
    575
    Of course I agree! I've started a similar thread a while ago called "**** shapes"

    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ghlight=shapes

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    56
    I tend to agree. After having read some threads here where people tried to really know their fretboard (whether it's knowing the notes,the scales, the arpeggios, the caged system, or a mix of one or more of thoses), I tried for a while to do the same. Of course I already had some scale and chord knowledge as well as few arpeggios licks but I really tried to be aware of the scale degrees of each note for a given position and in some way be able to visualize instantly the various chords or scale or arpeggios mapping onto those scales degrees. Finally, It was an attempt to unify my various knowledges about guitar into one global awareness.

    I guess I succeeded in some way for few positions but noticed it didn't really helped to play by ear or improvise because it may be too intellectual or it doesn't fit well with the way I find my notes usually.

    After that I went the opposite way, trying to play completly by ear for a while and it worked well, I was quite creative but it was usually quite slow.

    Now I think I'm in between those two extremes trying to play by ear but still using my knowledge of fretboard to help me and I guess it's the solution which works best. I even found out that there are times where I don't have a clue of where I am on fretboard and play totally by ear. Surpinsingly it seems that by accepting your knowledge you become able at some point to totally free yourself from it.

    I'm not sure playing only by interval trying to not use any pattern knowledge (by pattern, I means any scale, arpeggios or whatever shape of notes you remember) is the solution, but maybe it is because I haven't tried long enought. Anyway, I think soon or later you start to remember some common patterns that you repeat and that become part of your vocabulary. How could you avoid that ?

    However I you become good at this and can play by ear at any speed please let us know.

  4. #4
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Twickenham, UK
    Posts
    4,959
    Quote Originally Posted by iainmac
    For a couple of years now I have been trying to get my head around fitting all of the different scale positions over the coresponding caged positions and I have finally realized why I could never fully internalize it. Its because they are two completely different ways of thinking and no matter how proficient one is at remembering these shapes one is only thinking within the framework of shapes, forgetting entirely about the functionality of each note. Although I was completly aware of what chord shapes I was playing over, my playing either fell within scalar forms or arpeggio forms, with never the two meeting.

    I have now given up this futile quest after all these years and concentrated playing solely with the functioning of the intervals in mind. My playing is alot slower, and it takes me longer to adjust, but I am making leaps and strides with this each passing day, and my playing is more fluent and melodic then ever.

    My question then is, is this how all advanced guitarists play mentally? Is this a rite of passage that all guitarists must make at some point? Because frankly, I don't see how it is possible to progress past a certain point without it. Many people may be deterred by this way of thinking in regards to acheiving a high speed but I see this as a simple matter of internalising the outlay of notes on the fretboard to a greater degree. What do you guys think?
    Absolutely agree.

    The visual nature of guitar fretboard is seductive - even hypnotic (just check out some of Pat Martino's ideas...). Easy to think the answer lies in memorising patterns and shapes. And to some extent it does, of course! (We play shapes and patterns whether we like it or not.)

    The trick is to remember that those patterns are totally arbitrary in a musical sense. (Change the tuning of the guitar, the shapes will all change.)
    What matters musically is intervals - the relationship of each note with those around it - a sound relationship, not a visual one.
    Of course (accepting we don't change our tuning), each sound is represented by a position. But - on guitar - each sound has more than one position (there are many places to play middle C, many shapes to give us a C7 chord).
    So we use shapes; but we don't think shapes. It's as if we are standing on the shapes, but looking beyond them.

    Even the note names are just a similar stepping stone, labels we use to help us get to the ultimate goal: which is hearing a sound in our heads, and knowing the various ways we can play it, immediately.

    We can never escape the patterns. But they can become subconscious, the way the grammar of a foreign language becomes subconscious when we (eventually) learn how to speak it.

  5. #5
    realizing dreams
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Guildford
    Posts
    575
    JonR for president.

  6. #6
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Twickenham, UK
    Posts
    4,959
    Quote Originally Posted by Padawan
    JonR for president.
    Bring it on!
    Soon as I'm in, we'll invade Canada...
    Those bastards got it coming...

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    258
    Quote Originally Posted by iainmac
    For a couple of years now I have been trying to get my head around fitting all of the different scale positions over the coresponding caged positions and I have finally realized why I could never fully internalize it. Its because they are two completely different ways of thinking and no matter how proficient one is at remembering these shapes one is only thinking within the framework of shapes, forgetting entirely about the functionality of each note. Although I was completly aware of what chord shapes I was playing over, my playing either fell within scalar forms or arpeggio forms, with never the two meeting.

    I have now given up this futile quest after all these years and concentrated playing solely with the functioning of the intervals in mind. My playing is alot slower, and it takes me longer to adjust, but I am making leaps and strides with this each passing day, and my playing is more fluent and melodic then ever.

    My question then is, is this how all advanced guitarists play mentally? Is this a rite of passage that all guitarists must make at some point? Because frankly, I don't see how it is possible to progress past a certain point without it. Many people may be deterred by this way of thinking in regards to acheiving a high speed but I see this as a simple matter of internalising the outlay of notes on the fretboard to a greater degree. What do you guys think?
    leegordo here, the simplest answer to your dilema is to GET A K/BOARD and spend as long studying music- on the said K/Board- as you have' up to now' wasted on the guitar
    There is no way that any one can play ALL the chords that one would like to be able to play on any other chord instrument in existance. The most useful aspect of the K/board is, that -unless you are blind- You can see every key on the K/board without having to play it, because it's name and position is there , one can touch all the keys in any sequence' only limited by physical ability -one could wish , also, one can see any chord or any Inversion of any chord, and know that if you play it, it WILL sound correct First and every time!
    You cannot claim that ANY other instrument in the entire world is any where nearly as versatile as the old 'Joanna' or '88'! Go ON, ask your nearest professional pianist1 Incidentally the fact that all guitarists will resent and deny my opinions does not, prove that I am mistaken in any way

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    266
    teletubby here...

    the answer is to buy a leegordo and eat it

  9. #9
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Britney's basement
    Posts
    1,072
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    Bring it on!
    Soon as I'm in, we'll invade Canada...
    Those bastards got it coming...
    Hey hey now! Tryin' to pick a fight with us, Jon? We'll pull your shirts over your heads and wail away like we do in our hockey fights!
    Karma Chameleon...You come and go...You come and go, oh..........MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!!!!!!!!

  10. #10
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Britney's basement
    Posts
    1,072
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    Absolutely agree.

    The visual nature of guitar fretboard is seductive - even hypnotic (just check out some of Pat Martino's ideas...). Easy to think the answer lies in memorising patterns and shapes. And to some extent it does, of course! (We play shapes and patterns whether we like it or not.)

    The trick is to remember that those patterns are totally arbitrary in a musical sense. (Change the tuning of the guitar, the shapes will all change.)
    What matters musically is intervals - the relationship of each note with those around it - a sound relationship, not a visual one.
    Of course (accepting we don't change our tuning), each sound is represented by a position. But - on guitar - each sound has more than one position (there are many places to play middle C, many shapes to give us a C7 chord).
    So we use shapes; but we don't think shapes. It's as if we are standing on the shapes, but looking beyond them.

    Even the note names are just a similar stepping stone, labels we use to help us get to the ultimate goal: which is hearing a sound in our heads, and knowing the various ways we can play it, immediately.

    We can never escape the patterns. But they can become subconscious, the way the grammar of a foreign language becomes subconscious when we (eventually) learn how to speak it.
    I agree that it's better to play with an "interval of the moment" kind of visualization, but I also believe that practicing the scales and arpeggios in context over a proper backing (ie, playing G Mixolydian arps over a G7 vamp or simple 2 or 3 chord progression) strengthens the connection between your fingers and your mind's ear because you will almost subconsciously recognize these efficient 'routes' between intervals without actually having to visualize the shapes necessarily...Try jamming to a CD or with a backing track with a blindfold to see if you can recreate the sounds you hear when practicing your scales and arps, trying to vary the paths so you can explore all the possibilities...For example, try and play a standard G7 arp all over the fretboard and then try playing the chord tones along one string, skip strings etc etc...I'm not sure if this makes much sense, but I thought I'd try to express my 2 cents anyways...
    Last edited by curiousgeorge; 08-25-2008 at 01:12 AM.
    Karma Chameleon...You come and go...You come and go, oh..........MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!!!!!!!!

  11. #11
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Twickenham, UK
    Posts
    4,959
    Quote Originally Posted by Teletubby
    teletubby here...

    the answer is to buy a leegordo and eat it
    Too tough and chewy for my taste...

  12. #12
    Moderator
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    London, England
    Posts
    1,657
    Quote Originally Posted by iainmac
    My question then is, is this how all advanced guitarists play mentally? Is this a rite of passage that all guitarists must make at some point? Because frankly, I don't see how it is possible to progress past a certain point without it.
    I think that will strike a chord (ha, ha "chord", get it, oh ok never mind...) with many players. Though I don't think it's essential to see things that way.

    Ie, I suspect players certainly can, & do, progress to a high level without going through the stages of (1)memorising scales purely as visual patterns, (2)scale patterns with recognition of some of the notes as chord tones, (3)scales and arpeggios played by intervals rather than visualising/memorising overall patterns.

    But I think that is a common path which many people will take.

    I agree with what I think Jon is saying about intervals. Because in the end that's how we make music, ie going from one note to the next, ie an "interval".

    For example, reducing this to absolute basics - the very first thing is to play the first note, just one single note. Well that's not music, because it has no context...it's just a single isolated sound. It only starts to become "music" when we add the second note. Because then the two sounds have a contextual relationship to one-another ... and that's what we call an "interval", ie going from the first note to the second. So "music" is made by a progression of intervals. And you can think of all your playing that way.

    Rewind (metaphorically) - for decades I played without even knowing one single scale. Not one! When trying to copy famous records, I'd just try to copy the notes by ear. Well, OK that's nothing new, we've all done that. But what I mean is this - I learnt to improvise stuff, and to copy stuff without knowing any scales at all, without knowing what an arpeggio was, and never having even heard of the word "interval".

    No I'm not recommending that way to learn LoL ... it's a terrible way. What I'm trying to say is this - I played that way since getting my first guitar as a kid in the mid 1960's, but it's only since I started to re-learn guitar in later life, ie over the past 7 or 8 years (& maybe only the last 2 years seriously applying theory) that I've begun to relate my earlier playing to scale patterns, arpeggio shapes, and intervals.

    Nowadays, when I practice, I'll sometimes play almost everything from intervals. Ie, I'll just deliberately "forget" scale patterns & arpeggio shapes etc., and instead I'll just hit the first note, and from there I'll play scales or arpeggios purely by intervals, and I'd probably improvise stuff that way too. Eg, if I'm practicing min7b5 arpeggio's, then I might hit any note to start, and from there play the first convenient b3rd, and from there go to a b5th, and then a b7th, and extend that to higher octaves, and then try varying the order of the notes etc. ... ie without memorising any particular shapes or patterns for those arpeggios.

    You can do the same thing with scales of course. Eg, you know the scale formula in terms of whole steps and half steps, say just the Major scale. And then you can try playing all other scales and modal patterns on one single string, ie just from knowing which intervals have changed compared to the Major scale. Eg, compared to the Major scale, we'd just make the 4th sharp to play Lydian, or make the 3rd flat for Melodic Minor etc. Then you might take that idea across pairs of strings, or across larger groups of strings.

    The point is that you're practicing the scales without trying to memorise the usual patterns, but instead by knowing the intervals from the first note.

    However, despite all that, I should admit that when I actually play, eg if improvising, then overall I still rely most on visualising the standard scale patterns (2nps and 3nps), but I'll also recognise some chord tones in those patterns (inc. higher octave notes like 9th and 13th), and I'll recognise complete or partial arpeggio/triad patterns within the scales, or I'll play some arpeggios just as a series of intervals, etc.

    Ian.

  13. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Posts
    4
    I think the value of CAGED/form/whatever thinking is that it addresses the intuitive disconnect of the way music is organized on fretted instruments. Keyboardist do have it way easier in this regard, and being able to see the entire fretboard as a big interlocking grid of musical information is as close to the "Oh, Middle C is right here. Always. Invariably. By the way, yours is an octave too low" advantage key players have.

    By no means does this mean you shouldn't thoroughly investigate, listen and understand the intervals those shapes are made of. In fact, if you're just doing pattern based finger wiggling, you're missing the point entirely. Patterns and mechanics are attractive *because* they're easy to commit to muscle memory, and once they've been stored that way you get to autopilot them.

    But this results in a very weird phenomenon: the technically accomplished player who isn't actually listening to what they (or anyone else on the bandstand) are playing. I've had a lot of success moving students (and myself) in the direction of interval and pitch awareness by encouraging singing and pitch matching along with the CAGED system. It can start as simply as learning a Christmas song in every position and form, then playing that through the Cycle of 5hts/4ths while singing along with it. You can expand this a little further by singing the note names or scale degrees instead of just vocally matching the pitch. (ex."Joy to the World":8-76-5, 4 3 2 1).

    All those patterns and shapes are just a means to an end: getting you familiar enough with the sounds available to you all over the neck that you can begin to relate them to the music you hear in your head. There's a reason so many great players sing along with what they play!

    It's also important to keep in mind that music is a listening art form and all the theoretical and mechanical practice in the world is only there to make it easier for you to understand and then communicate what you HEAR.

  14. #14
    ClashlandHands ClashlandHands's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    87
    It's interesting to hear you diminish the importance of shapes for guitarists, but perhaps my understanding of what a shape is on keyboard is totally different than what one is on guitar. To me, a shape is a selection of usually 2-5 tones which obviously contains intervals, which is instantly available melody. I usually conceptualize a shape not by what intervals it contains, but by what it actually is derived from (pent shapes, whole tone scale shape, cluster with a bomb at the bottom, symmetrical shape, Maj 7th) Thinking intervalically will always be too slow at pretty much any tempo (other than say a ballad) because you would essentially be thinking one note at a time. Further, there is a melodic disconnect of focusing too narrowly on notes and not thinking at a broader phrasal level (i.e. sequence, inversion, hemiolae, drives into target notes, transposition or whatever other compositional techniques you employ in your improvisation) Next interval... next interval... Thinking in shapes [note sets], you are moving much more quickly mentally regardless of whether you end up using all or any of the shape or not. I would think that shapes on guitar would be even more effective than piano because on a guitar, it would always feel somewhat the same no matter what string(s) you play it on, no matter what key you play it in. Of course it would feel different at the top of the neck vs. the bottom, but the fretting would be the same. The bitch of it is that, I'd think w/ guitar you'd have the exact same set of notes (not transposed) in multiple places with different hand shapes needed to execute it, so where as a pianist, I only need to think of a shape as {R,m6,M7,9} and I can instantly put that in whatever key or octave I want to with only a few different feelings for the shape, w/ guitar I'm sure it feels much different. (Does it?) This is only half-way there though.
    The other half is the rhythms. I hear a lot of guitarists sort of slide along playing just streams of straight eighths with little interest in what they are doing rhythmically. Sure, they sound really smooth, but they also sound somewhat bored and well... boring. It's like I'm waiting for something interesting to happen in their solo, and the solo goes by, they've played stylistically perfect, swung hard, and it was totally forgettable because nothing emotional happened! They played so many "hip" notes, nailing every altered chord, that it was all a chromatic wash that had the self-negating effect of nothing really standing out, nothing out of the ordinary, perfectly balanced. The real interest of an improvisation, the drama of it is that you're up there telling a story with rhythm. I would say it's even twice as important as what notes you use to tell it, or whether you arrive at those notes via a caged shape or intervalically. Note choices won't make or break a solo assuming you have resonable control over melody and understand the notes. There are better and worse note choices out there, but plenty of great solos didn't have particularly unusual or interesting melody. Sucky rhythms totally will make or break a solo though because they'll fail to inspire you through to the solo's completion or transferance to the next guy who is blowing.
    Hearing the melody in your head and being able to realize that is for ballads, in my book, because there, melody is key, and rhythm is secondary. For anything more up tempo though skatting the rhythms, and being able to fire any rhythm into any shape is where I've had the most success because I end up with a solo where I haven't relied on "licks", which I'd consider to be auto- we'll say co-pilot, the rhythms were interesting because we all have all of the rhythms available in speech of whatever language we speak to draw from [Just, forget about it! = 16r 8n 16n 4-16notes], and the notes were all great because I had my shapes (melody) instantly available.

    Is this the same as a guitarist's conception of shapes? I'm trying to imagine playing a really narrow 6-manual organ where each manual was only about an octave and a half, all the keys were black, and then playing that exclusively with my left hand! Daunting. I'm confused, because shapes are really the only way I think when I'm improvising. If I'm not thinking shapes, I'm not really improvising. Maybe playing licks or quoting somebody, but it's pre-heard material. When I start trying to hum melodies out in my head, and play that, the solo get's much lamer than when I just trust the rhythms and end up with melodies I never could dream up if not in that "zone."

  15. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    56
    Hello iainmac, it's been about 6 month since your post. I would like to know: have you persisted in you interval mode of improvisation? If yes, what are the results so far?

    Myself, I spent some time trying to know better my scale degrees but I sometimes wonder if anything I learn is really usefull since I'm at my best when I don't think at all and just play whatever sound comes out from my head. However I don't reach that state as often as I would like. It requires some kind a complete relaxation that is not always easy to reach. Of course I know some people will argue that it's because of I subconsciously integrated my fretboard that I can do so but how can they be so sure ?

    Maybe this kind of fretboard knowledge is above all, a way to reassure myself in case I fail be in "the zone" as some people call it. But if it's the case it's a pretty negative process isn't it ? It like preparing yourself to fail whereas no trying to rely on any theorical knowledge would be learning to trust your ability to play what you hear.

Similar Threads

  1. Alice in Chains "Angry Chair" revealed!!
    By tucker97325 in forum iBreathe Cafe
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-08-2006, 07:18 PM
  2. Anybody tried the National Guitar Workshop?
    By CaptainTapp in forum Guitar Technique
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 03-07-2005, 05:41 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •