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View Full Version : Did Garcia primarily use the Mixolydian mode?


FenderBigot
03-18-2011, 08:22 PM
I'm a guy that's lived mostly in the maj/min pentatonic world for most of my guitar playing life. I'm trying to expand my knowledge and get into the "jam band" category more.

Did JG use mixolydian for the most part?

I know there's quite a few Garcia guys here, so in your view... what's the best way to approach Jerry's style of playing solos? I can copy certain songs note for note and I can do his pull offs and half step bends a la Jimmy Herring... but I want to go beyond faking it.

shooter1371
03-18-2011, 08:27 PM
Yep, that's the one.

russ6100
03-18-2011, 09:15 PM
I think you should get the notion out of your head right away that learning his solos is in any way going to contribute to you "faking it" - quite the contrary.

At certain stages of development, there is often this feeling that one has to be able to pidgeon-hole the exact origin (in this case the mixolydian mode) of some musical material in order to legitimize it, so that you "really know what you're doing".

JG's depth as a player went far beyond his being familiar with the mixolydian mode BUT - should you spend some time getting more familiar with it? Of course - learn it all over the neck. But to gain more real insight into what made his solos tick, learn them. *Then* if you want to analyze them from whatever perspective (including modal), go for it.

But just getting familiar with the mixo mode all over the neck in and of itself will *not* enable you to make music.

bjjp2
03-18-2011, 09:28 PM
Yes.

mondaythursday
03-18-2011, 10:37 PM
To my ears Jerry Garcia played like he was playing jazz. He knew where all the notes were.

dhdfoster
03-18-2011, 10:38 PM
Yes. Clumsily.

russ6100
03-18-2011, 10:42 PM
Yes. Clumsily.

Hey mods - hater on aisle 5.....

Lance
03-18-2011, 10:51 PM
One thing I have noticed about Jerry dudes. Or, players trying to cop his style. The one thing that many don't get right, are the cool, little, clean, gurdly verse fills. In between vocal lines he plays the most melodic stuff, that is almost always just right for the moment in time it is happening within.

dhdfoster
03-18-2011, 11:02 PM
Hey mods - hater on aisle 5.....

Really?

russ6100
03-18-2011, 11:08 PM
Really?

Oh wait - I forgot - it's ok to bag on a musician if he's dead, my bad...

:aok

dhdfoster
03-18-2011, 11:22 PM
Oh wait - I forgot - it's ok to bag on a musician if he's dead, my bad...

:aok


Well, I guess it's a good thing you're here to defend his good name, then. You can report me directly if you really feel you need need to.

charley
03-18-2011, 11:42 PM
When I think of Garcia's playing, I think about what a vocal quality his playing had. When he played his most "inside" playing he had the ability to recite melody lines by only hitting the most critical notes,and embellishing upon the key phrases of a line as if the melody of the song suddenly took on a life of it's own. Ralph Ellison once said something along the lines of how a good blues singer has the ability to take a line and somehow give it a meaning and immediate relevance that transcended the words. Garcia was able to do this vocally, and especially with his playing. When he played his most "outside," he sounded like a horn player to me.

To try to put it in a music theory language is difficult. Modally, I find myself hanging in dorian and mixolydian quite a bit, though that is in many ways an oversimplification.

FenderBigot
03-19-2011, 09:29 AM
Thanks Charley... good insight.

lhallam
03-19-2011, 09:47 AM
When I think of Garcia's playing, I think about what a vocal quality his playing had. When he played his most "inside" playing he had the ability to recite melody lines by only hitting the most critical notes,and embellishing upon the key phrases of a line as if the melody of the song suddenly took on a life of it's own. Ralph Ellison once said something along the lines of how a good blues singer has the ability to take a line and somehow give it a meaning and immediate relevance that transcended the words. Garcia was able to do this vocally, and especially with his playing. When he played his most "outside," he sounded like a horn player to me.

To try to put it in a music theory language is difficult. Modally, I find myself hanging in dorian and mixolydian quite a bit, though that is in many ways an oversimplification.


Pretty much says it.

Remember that the Dead played many different styles, so if it was a blues or bluegrass song, he'd basically staying in the pentatonic.

His solo on "You Win Again" is a combination of pentatonic mixed in with some very tasteful chromaticism.

His accompaniment on "Cumberland Blues" is pretty much all pentatonic.

He had a great ability using static notes at the right time to garner tension.

As stated, Garcia focused on melody first, apparently something the musically ignorant simply cannot grasp and/or hear.

hangten
03-19-2011, 10:12 AM
I think it is silly to say that Garcia primarily used mixolydian.
He played a very wide variety of music and used whatever notes he chose to use.
you could call that at various times mixolydian, ionian, dorian, phrygian, diminished, chromatic, whatever you want to hang your hat on...

if you can learn songs note for note maybe work with a teacher on analyzing a particular solo...

direwolf
03-19-2011, 11:50 AM
IIRC he studied any kind of music book for any instrument.

riker4208
03-19-2011, 12:27 PM
Let me ask you this, is every note of the major and minor scale contained within the mixolydian scale? I think this kind of over simplification can be interesting, and I have looked into it, but also misleading. Jerry played a lot within several kinds of systems and I know this from a healthy stint of transcribing and listening for several years long ago. He wasn't necessarily married to any of those but it was his "landmarks" for his mind map of the guitar. Just like Pat Martino primarily used a minor mode for his mind map and the way he related conceptually to the guitar's layout.

Jerry also heavily used pentatonics in his solos and melodies. For instance just like the Allman Bro's he uses the pentatonic starting from the 6th of the major scale against a I major chord.

So in my opinion the mixo thing lends itself more to WHERE Jerry plays his licks then from what he actually plays. I mean he can start a note from any one of the scale tones within that mixo position. To me that is just how he gets around the guitar. He plays lot's of melody and it's just silly to say that all those melodic phrases stem from mixolydian.

tdarian
03-19-2011, 12:38 PM
I loved to listen and watch Jerry play. Nothin more to add.

'70 RS
03-19-2011, 01:03 PM
Yes. Clumsily.

Hey mods - hater on aisle 5.....

Really?

Oh wait - I forgot - it's ok to bag on a musician if he's dead, my bad...

:aok

Well, I guess it's a good thing you're here to defend his good name, then. You can report me directly if you really feel you need need to.


Just so I'm up to date on TGP etiquette:

Pagey 'clumsy' = Mojo + Vibe
Jerry 'clumsy' = Hater

Is that about right?

'70 RS
03-19-2011, 01:07 PM
FWIW, I agree with dhdfoster. That's not a knock, it's part of what makes Garcia sound like Garcia, and not just another Garcia fan who spent years 'perfecting' the style.

Same can be said for Blackmore v. Malmsteen for instance.

greggorypeccary
03-19-2011, 02:03 PM
One thing I have noticed about Jerry dudes. Or, players trying to cop his style. The one thing that many don't get right, are the cool, little, clean, gurdly verse fills. In between vocal lines he plays the most melodic stuff, that is almost always just right for the moment in time it is happening within.

So true. Jerry was insanely melodic in his playing, both leads and backing the vocals, unless he wanted to go outside.

A lot of his lesser imitators just noodle.

mudster
03-19-2011, 06:10 PM
The things about Jerry's playing that I like include the following (which I know has nothing to do with Mixolodian mode) - He had deep roots. Jerry loved a lot of musical styles, but he had some deep bluegrass and country roots along with all the other styles he loved. He had spent a lot of time playing these styles before getting into blues w/ Pigpen and all that.
Jerry had restraint - he knew how to bide his time. Jerry had a great sense of melody and even though he could go into deep space, he could play a ballad like nobody's business.
Finally, he had emotional commitment to the music - when a song was emotional he could really express himself.
I think his sense of melody and note choice is much more a part of his style than the modes he used when jamming out. The Dead didn't always just space out; some of their best performances are tight and in the pocket with fairly concise solos from Jerry.

mInoRcHoRdMajOrJaZz
03-19-2011, 07:16 PM
that guy from darkstar is a jerry clone

lhallam
03-19-2011, 07:36 PM
Just so I'm up to date on TGP etiquette:

Pagey 'clumsy' = Mojo + Vibe
Jerry 'clumsy' = Hater

Is that about right?

NO.

mInoRcHoRdMajOrJaZz
03-19-2011, 07:41 PM
jerry garcia band.......to me was tighter and more unified than the grateful dead

but his bluegrass stuff is good to......check out the pizza tapes with tony rice and david grissman

Crowbar
03-19-2011, 07:49 PM
"Dark Star" off of Live Dead is an exersize in mixolydian.

I think "China Cat Sunflower" is mostly regular major scale till the break in the second solo, then it goes mixolydian over the E chord, you can hear the difference between the modes there.

mInoRcHoRdMajOrJaZz
03-19-2011, 08:15 PM
yea and the band darkstar orchestra has a guitar player that nails jerry's style better than anyone iv'e ever heard

charley
03-19-2011, 09:03 PM
To paraphrase another insight from Ralph Ellison, with regards to jazz musicians, there have been many attempts to bring a more rigid academia to jazz playing, and to create a "jazz theory," but these are only attempts. The jam session is the real academy of the jazz musician, and the theory part, as it pertains to jazz, is an afterthought, something that tried to put a rigid language upon an inner voice of the musician. This "one size fits all" theory was constantly broken, and in these breaks one finds "style and personality."

I say this because in many ways I believe it to be particularly true of Garcia. Sure he hung out in the modes of the major scale, but never at the price or compromise of melody or voice. He broke a lot of rules. That made him sound a lot more like Jerry Garcia.

orogeny
03-19-2011, 09:28 PM
yea and the band darkstar orchestra has a guitar player that nails jerry's style better than anyone iv'e ever heard
if you're talkin' about john kadlecik. . . . the dead scooped him up. haven't seen DSO since john left. . .

butchie sochorow plays with splintered sunlight and does a tremendous job.

mdog114
03-19-2011, 10:09 PM
Oh wait - I forgot - it's ok to bag on a musician if he's dead, my bad...

:aok

Why does he have to be dead?

Some like Oranges, some like Apples, and who cares if some say as much?

jordanL
03-22-2011, 08:44 AM
If you listen to some of the "one chord" Jams then you'll hear lots of Mixolydian - (Dark Star,Bird Song, Scarlet Begonias going into Fire) and Dorian (Other one, Playing).As others have said its just one of the tools in his arsenal. Jerry's playing was a stew composed of many bits of americana, some are ingredients are easier to hear than others.

Tonekat
03-22-2011, 11:43 AM
FWIW, I agree with dhdfoster. That's not a knock, it's part of what makes Garcia sound like Garcia, and not just another Garcia fan who spent years 'perfecting' the style.

Same can be said for Blackmore v. Malmsteen for instance.

I concur, that was just the way it was, didn't stop me from going back and seeing him play again.

marcher5877
03-22-2011, 11:50 AM
Jerry was really focused on Melody, and yes, a lot of Grateful Dead songs melodies are in the mixolydian mode, but the melody is the main thing, and 99.9% Jerry is either playing to the melody or away from the melody. The other 0.01% he is looking for a cheeseburger.