Did Garcia primarily use the Mixolydian mode?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by FenderBigot, Mar 18, 2011.

  1. FenderBigot

    FenderBigot Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  2. shooter1371

    shooter1371 Member

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    Yep, that's the one.
     
  3. russ6100

    russ6100 Member

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    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.
     
  4. bjjp2

    bjjp2 Gold Supporting Member

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    Yes.
     
  5. mondaythursday

    mondaythursday Senior Member

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    To my ears Jerry Garcia played like he was playing jazz. He knew where all the notes were.
     
  6. dhdfoster

    dhdfoster Silver Supporting Member

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    Yes. Clumsily.
     
  7. russ6100

    russ6100 Member

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

    Lance Member

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    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.
     
  9. dhdfoster

    dhdfoster Silver Supporting Member

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    Really?
     
  10. russ6100

    russ6100 Member

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

    :aok
     
  11. dhdfoster

    dhdfoster Silver Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  12. charley

    charley Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  13. FenderBigot

    FenderBigot Supporting Member

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    Thanks Charley... good insight.
     
  14. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    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.
     
  15. hangten

    hangten Silver Supporting Member

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    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...
     
  16. direwolf

    direwolf Supporting Member

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    IIRC he studied any kind of music book for any instrument.
     
  17. riker4208

    riker4208 Member

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    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.
     
  18. tdarian

    tdarian Gold Supporting Member

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    I loved to listen and watch Jerry play. Nothin more to add.
     
  19. '70 RS

    '70 RS Member

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

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

    Is that about right?
     
  20. '70 RS

    '70 RS Member

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    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.
     

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