Help me to incorporate chromatic notes into my playing.

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by rhythmisnothing, Jan 31, 2006.


  1. rhythmisnothing

    rhythmisnothing Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona
    I've been improvising with the pentatonic minor/major scale for a good year and a half now, and I want to start incorporating chromatic scales/runs into my playing.


    I don't want to be a buzzboy/shredder, or whatever they are called these days, so I'm not too concerened with speed.


    Chromatic excercises...the whole 1-2-3-4 deal... I don't see it helping me in putting chromatic notes while improvising.

    Are there any excercises/things I need to know about chromatic scales?




    When I play notes outside of the major/minor scale, it doesnt sound "right" if you guys know what I mean.

    any help would be greatly appreciated.

    I just want you guys to know how much I learned just by reading and following along with things on this forum, keep up the good work.
     
  2. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Messages:
    14,044
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Location:
    West Village, NYC
    I think it's more a matter of training your ear to hear what non-diatonic notes sound like than it is anything else. I'd suggest just trying to use one new non-diatonic note at a time. So start trying to add a b6 to your major scale runs and try it on weak beats, then on strong beats, then thrown in to longer phrases, etc. Just experiment until you know exactly how that sounds in context. You could take a week or a month just trying to incorporate one new non-diatonic note into your playing. Once you've got one down, you can move on to the same thing with the b7 in the same context until you get that, then the b5/#11, then the b9 and the #9, etc. You could do the same with the minor and dom. chords while you're at it so it won't get so boring.

    Also, if you know the chord tones of the chord you're playing over, then you will always be able to land on those on strong beats when you're trying to stretch out and use more chromaticism. That's your anchor.

    Good luck and hopefully have fun!
     
  3. rhythmisnothing

    rhythmisnothing Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Location:
    Tucson, Arizona

    that makes sense.

    One thing though, you said "train your ear."

    I can tell that some guitarists use chromatic licks, and I can hear it, but its just a matter of when I try, it turns to whalesh*t.

    Thanks for the tips, I'll try incorporating one note at a time:JAM
     
  4. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Messages:
    14,044
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Location:
    West Village, NYC
    By "train your ear" I meant, you'd know when and where, for instance, a b9 would sound good or not good in a given context and exactly how it might sound, rather than being able to just identify whether chromaticism's being used or not. Also, if your ear hears a b6, you'll know exactly that it's Ab if you're playing in C, etc. I think that's a pretty big difference, but maybe that's just me.
     
  5. rh

    rh Robo Sapien Noise Maker Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,402
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2003
    Location:
    New York, USA
    Maybe you could post a clip of what you're trying to do. That might help others distinguish between the one of two possibilities: That you're using chromatic tones OK, but it simply doesn't sound to you like you are; or, that your ear is accurately telling you that you need to use chromatic tones better.

    The corrective is different in both of those two cases.

    If you're serious about this subject, you could dig up David Lieberman's A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony and Melody. It's an encyclopedia of chromatic techniques, with an accompanying CD to help you hear them.
     
  6. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

    Messages:
    300
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Location:
    The ATL
    One of my various coaches over the years taught me a trick to use to jump start the process...

    Get your foot going in tempo with a chord progression that you want to play over. Then when you solo, drop the "out" notes in only on the upbeats (when your toes are in the air) and resolve it to an "in" note as your foot lands.

    Do it VERY slow and train your ear to hear where they belong, that's half the battle. It may sound like crap because you're hitting the accidentals randomly, and its often when you need to be resolving back to strong consonance against the root.

    It's just a trick, its not perfect...there's tons of theory behind where these notes belong, but this helped my ear and my hands get into it ...hope it helps.
     
  7. landru64

    landru64 Member

    Messages:
    2,418
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Los Angeles area
    1. WHAT: use the chromaticism to arrive at an important chord tone e.g. the 3rd. if you don't know where your 3rds and 7ths are relative to the pentatonics you've been practicing, do that before continuing on your quest

    2. WHEN: figure out when to arrive at said chord tone. to me this is critical, although i don't have a pat formula for you. the most obvious times are on a defining rhythmic moment, like maybe the 1 or the 4 of a bar. but try it for yourself and figure out your own 'truth' about this issue. for me, it required a lot of experimentation, not a lot of cogitation.
     
  8. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Messages:
    14,044
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Location:
    West Village, NYC
    I forgot to mention targeting chord tones by playing the note one half step directly above or below them, then playing (by sliding up/down to) the chord tone. That's another quick and dirty way to get some chromaticism happening.
     
  9. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

    Messages:
    300
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Location:
    The ATL

    ...and can be used to "fix" mistakes if you work fast...;)
     
  10. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Member

    Messages:
    2,427
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2004
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Here's a chromatic idea that more or less works over an A7 chord. The line starts on a maj. 3rd and ends on a 5th. The #11/#4 interval (D#) suggests a lydian dominant tonality, and promotes the somewhat "out" sound.




    -9-8-7-6-5------------------------------------------------------
    -----------8-7-5-4-7-6-4-5--------------------------------------
    ----------------------------6-------4----------------------------
    ------------------------------7-6-5--4--7-5-4-------------------
    ---------------------------------------7-------7-6-4------5-----
    -----------------------------------------------------7-5-3--2-0-
     
  11. RayFlacke

    RayFlacke Guest

    Try this descending chromatic lick.Letting the open strings ring as long as you can will give you a nice cascading effect!

    1)A note on the High E string (5th fret)(index)
    2)On the B string (9th fret)G# G F# F(pinkie,ring,middle,index*)when you have played the F note strike the open E string letting it ring as you go to...
    3)On the G string(8th fret)E flat D C# C (*p,r,m,i)then strike the open B string letting that ring as you go to....
    4)On the D string(8th fret)B flat A G#(*p,m,i,)then strike the open G string letting that ring...........see if you can work out the rest all the way down to the open A string!
    As your not concerned about speed you can "pick" anyway that feels right to you,i start with a down stroke on the first note(A 5th fret)and an upstroke on the D string (Eflat 8th fret)You don't say whether you use your fingers on the right hand.......i strike the open strings with my middle finger right hand!Hope this helps,take your time at first giving EVERY NOTE full value! Let me know,eh? Ray
     
  12. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    16,847
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2002
    Location:
    Trenton, NJ
    Practice playing melodies of old standards, Christmas carols, etc.
     
  13. lhallam

    lhallam Member

    Messages:
    15,526
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Location:
    Lost
    In a blues and jazz context, it's very common to play descending lick; root, #7, b7. So in an A minor pent scale (A-Ab-G)
    you can play any one of these at the end of a phrase:

    -5-4-3--------------
    --------------------
    --------------------
    --------7-6-5-------
    ---------------------
    ---------------5-4-3-

    Hendrix uses this lick in Red House.

    You can also play it ascending which accentuates the root.

    Another common idea is 4th,b5,5 either ascending or descending. In A min pent (D-Eb-E):


    ---------------
    --------------
    ----7-8-9------
    ---------------
    ----------5-6-7-
    ---------------

    A cool lick starts on the root then 3rd then 4th,b5,5.

    Another is b3,3rd and 4th. In A = C-C#-D.

    Mess around with them, you're probably playing this stuff already with bends but don't realize it.
     
  14. Ray Ramadon

    Ray Ramadon Guest

    Listen to Gerry Garcia, from the Grateful Dead. he was a master at chromatic runs/passages. You should also learn your passing tones for all your pantotonic scales then you'll see the connection dont get bogged down with to much theory just look at it in a simple way then build on that. so recap: Pentotonic scales then your Blues scales , then your passing notes you can use with those. Then start using a couple at a time and you will see the connection with chromatic usage with these "building blocks" Does this seem clear to you?
    -Ray
    www.jonnylaw.us
     
  15. KLB

    KLB Member

    Messages:
    3,047
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Location:
    West of the Sun, East of the Moon
    Transcribe horn and keyboard solos.

    This will help get you out of the guitar pattern box.

    Someone else suggested learning lots of melodies and hooks.
    Great idea!

    Practice scat-singing chromatic ideas.
    When you find something you like, learn to play it on guitar.
    Excellent ear training.
     
  16. StevenA

    StevenA Member

    Messages:
    3,209
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2005
    Location:
    Warren, NJ
    You should really be on your way to chromatic fantasy land using the information provided in all who have posted. As I am trying to increase my own fluency, I would like to pass on the following information:

    1. Become more adept at hearing and playing the dominant and major Bebop scales. These are played both diatonically and descending adding chromatic notes as you go. Roni Ben-Hur's book "Talk Jazz Guitar" is the best at demonstrating this.

    2. Jay Umble's book "Jazz Guitar Thesaurus" has some really cool licks that include chromatic lines.

    3. Bert Ligon's book "Connecting Chords Through Linear Harmony" is a chromatic players dream come true. Taking simple concepts and showing how famous soloists used chromatics puts this book at the top of my collection (and I have quite a library).
     
  17. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Messages:
    14,044
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Location:
    West Village, NYC
    You must! Because I do too, and you rattled off three books I'd not even heard of. Thanks!
     
  18. Nodin

    Nodin Member

    Messages:
    59
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2005
    Location:
    Somewhere between new Mexico and California and Ut
    ya + that (although I'd recomend Jerry Garcia) live and Breathe the Grateful Dead and JGB for a while
     
  19. willhutch

    willhutch Member

    Messages:
    1,802
    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2006
    I've gotten heavily into chromatics lately. I took a couple lessons from a heavy-hitting jazz cat that helped me pull chromatics into focus and get cool results.

    The key for me is this: making chromatic runs sound good hinges on landing on the chord tones.

    My teacher suggested that the key to jazz playing is to visualize the CHORDS as opposed to the SCALES.

    Now, if you are visualizing the chords, it is not that hard to string adacent notes together that land on a chord tone at the desired time (in jazz, usually on the downbeat). The "string" of notes could be just a single note a half-step down from a chord tone that resolves up to the targeted chord tone on the downbeat. The string could be two notes leading to the targeted note. Or you could play a half step above, then a half step below then resolve to the target note. The trick is to time your "approach note" correctly to land on the chord tone on the downbeat.

    I've found that my studies into chromaticism have led to increased awareness of where available chord tones lie. Being able to nail the chord tones really tightens up your playing, allowing you to really reflect the harmony of the songs as you solo. If you can do this, then, at least for me, adding chromatic "approaches" is not that big of a step.
     
  20. gennation

    gennation Member

    Messages:
    6,642
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I can help you take those basic Pentatonic scales and super impose them and turn your basic pentatonic stuff into chromatic phrases overnight.

    Stop over to my site, I have just what the doctor ordered.

    http://lessons.mikedodge.com

    Follow the links to the Advanced Pentatonic Tutorial. There's over 50 lessons there with audio, tabs, fretboards, explanation. Once you look at things this way you can play in practically any style...because your using all the notes.

    Not only will you get some great ideas but you will understand how they were derived. So, you'll be able to create new things on your own for years, that's what it's done for me.

    Make sure you read the Introduction as it will more than likely explain your exact situation and show how this all came about. It will give you the understanding so you're not just learning licks.

    Check these out for sure, I've using this method/mind frame for over 20 years and have been able to get rock, blues, country, jazz, and other gig of various styles.

    This will open quite a few doors for you and you'll never look at the fretboard quite the same.

    Enjoy, they're free :)
     

Share This Page