Playing out of the box II

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by eddie101, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. eddie101

    eddie101 Member

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    How many of you Pros do it on "purpose"? I have been doing it quite a bit lately but rather than sounding "refreshing", I sound like I am showing off. In some situations, it does not really flow with the music as I'd like. I don't know if I should ditch it all together or stick with it and embellish(?) it.

    Your thoughts? What else can I do to make it sound, uh, "cool & interesting"? I am under the impression that as long as I land/end with the root note of the key, I am "safe". Is that ALWAYS the case? If so, how FAR out can I be w/o sounding WAY out of the key?
    [​IMG]
     
  2. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    I'm not sure, but I take "the box" to mean a scale pattern, likely a blues scale pattern?

    If that's correct, here are my thoughts: Notes is notes. It doesn't matter what pattern you use to play them, or even what instrument they're played on. What's holding you up is your reliance on a pattern and not understanding the way the guitar works.

    Don't get me wrong, the guitar is a hard instrument to understand, and at first we need to learn things as patterns. But eventually you should try and get passed that, to the point where you can play things anywhere on the neck. To get there the next step is to learn more patters, then connect these patterns, and eventually you may see things without these patterns at all.

    As far as resolving on the root and how far "out" you can take it, it's all subjective. Everyone (both players and listeners) have a different tolerance for what they'll accept as passable. And most often it's not what you say but how you say it. My guess is that's your issue with "the box", you've practiced playing in the box so much that you can make things sound good, but outside of that your phrasing isn't as solid as you're not as sure of yourself. But I will tell you that you'll have much better luck with your resolutions if you're playing a solid, well thought idea when you step outside, rather than just thinking about stepping outside some box or fingering pattern.
     
  3. re-animator

    re-animator Senior Member

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    i'm by no means a pro, but I enjoy playing outside of key and mode sometimes... it makes for really memorable sounds I think.


    This was one of the first songs I have ever recorded... I was obsessed with learning about counterpoint. I was 16 at the time:

    CLICKY


    basically my approach to taking it really far out and pushing the envelope of outside the box playing was to first improvise a keyboard part.... doing some faux-counterpoint stuff by just switching up right hand and left-hand stuff... creating some tension.

    Then when it came time for the guitar part... I would hit "record" and I did my guitar part on the fly. That way I wouldn't know which keys were coming... i didn't know what notes i needed to hit.

    It forces you to play outside and focus on the Moods, Themes, and Motifs of the music rather than something like the notes - which when it comes down to it, can be relatively trivial to a lot of listeners.


    Of course when you do this though, a lot of people are gonna HATE your music. It definitely doesn't work for everybody. most likely you will have parts of the song which you LOVE and think work greatly with the underlying themes, and the hard part is getting over the majority of parts where it seems like pointless noddling. The way I look at it - if you reach a point to where you can accept your music the way it is, then you've already moved towards your musical goals.


    a few weeks ago I was listening to that old track and decided I wanted to do something to replicate that sort of dynamic, so i recorded THIS.

    Its not as off-the-wall as the first track... it settles into a little more of a groove, but it doesn't stay in the same key at all and I used the same performance technique. I think it shows growth, but also that there is SOOOO much to explore with outside-the-box playing.

     
  4. eddie101

    eddie101 Member

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    That is my problem and you basically nailed it. When I "move out", I try to stay away from same ol'cliched licks based on major/minor scales and sometimes I do get "lucky" but most of the times, I get frustrated at the outcome. Perhaps I need to listen to Coltrane more. I don't know. :(
     
  5. Swain

    Swain Member

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    Yeah, you need to have a melodic line to follow. Otherwise, you're going to go out and stay out.

    Your line needs to have a logical flow and resolution to it.

    Maybe think of one in your head, with no instrument around. One that fits over the rhythms and harmony of a tune in your set. Then write it out on paper. Then pick up your guitar, and learn to play it.

    Just pick one tune of your set, at first. A tune that can serve as a "test bed", or platform for your explorations. This will give you a stable, unchanging platform to work from. Maybe a 12 Bar Blues tune? Any tune would work. But I'd suggest one of the less harmonically challenging tunes. Once you've gotten pretty good at working over that one tune (like 2 or 3 months of the first tune), add another test bed tune. After you have repeated this process with a dozen tunes or so, you'll probably have a better handle on the process. And your set list will be all the better for it!
     
  6. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    OK, so what kind of stuff are you playing? Are you playing jazz?

    Basically, outside means different things to different people. A lot of what one considers out someone else doesn't. But you learn to play "out" the same way you do to play in, which means you either a) cop lines from other players, or b) with trial and error. Either way it's about building up a vocabulary of stuff that you like.

    There are some very basic techniques you can use and play around with. The first would be to take a phrase and move it, start with a half step. Play one of your pet phrases and repeat it up a half step. See how it sounds. Sometimes you'll want to repeate the prhasing verbatim and others you'll want to alter it. You can try moving stuff up a minor 3rd (this usually gives the feel of an altered 7th chord), down a whole step, all sorts of things. When you do this really try and get the sound into your head, and use your ears to figure out how to resolve, not your fingers.

    Beyond that, I recommend learning how each note sounds over a single chord. Start with a dom7 chord, let's say C7. Start with maybe the Ab (#5)- play around with that note over C7, get a feel for how it sounds and other notes that go along with it. Next try Eb, Db, Gb, etc. Mess around and when you find stuff you like, make a phrase out of it. Along the same lines you can think in terms of arpeggios and shift them around to get different sounds. Take Gmin7 over C7:

    1)
    2)
    3)---------7--10
    4)----8
    5)10
    6)

    Then come down on Abmin7 starting on the 7th:

    1)
    2)
    3)9--6
    4)-------7
    5)-----------9
    6)

    ...and see where that takes you. Or take that Gmin7:

    1)
    2)
    3)---------7--10
    4)----8
    5)10
    6)

    And repeat it up a b3rd:

    1)
    2)----6--9
    3)--6
    4)8
    5)
    6)

    Like I said, its a lot of trial and error, but as you do this you should be opening up your ears and getting better at it as you go. And ALWAYS rely on your ears to guide you when it comes to resolutions- that's what will make you actually hear this stuff.
     
  7. CNOTE

    CNOTE Member

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    :AOK
    :AOK Very, Very Dignified and on the Money:;)
     
  8. eddie101

    eddie101 Member

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    Thanks for your valuable time and some great ideas - I appreciate that. :dude I am in a contemporary gospel band but on the side, I play Rock/Blues. I "try" to emulate Robben Ford licks whenever I can and even try to incorporate that into gospel music. I can sound pretty decent at times when everything clicks but that does not happen very often, I am afraid. :(

    I can't wait to try your suggestions later on this evening. You MUST be a Jazz player, NO?
     
  9. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    It sounds forced when the idea is to 'play out of the box'.

    If you have an ear that's sincerely attracted to chromatic, non-diatonic melodies, then it comes out a lot easier.

    Thereby enlarging the box.

    (Does a Messaien or Dolphy melody sound beautiful to you, or 'out'?)
     
  10. eddie101

    eddie101 Member

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    Ken, do you have any example(s) so that I can follow what you mean by "enlarging" the box? FWIW, I am attracted to chromatic runs as they sound refreshing/flash at the same time and I've seen/heard RF pull that trick from time to time. I do not know Messaien/Dolphy melody, btw. I may have to look that up.
     
  11. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Kinda a funny tangent, but I've taken ideas from an urban/contemporary gospel keyboard DVD and applied them to guitar. Lots of cool ideas on that DVD for passing tones, tritone usage, etc.

    I recently got the "Tritone Extravaganza" DVD by the same author and am looking forward to checkin that stuff out, even though that, too, is keyboard oriented.
     
  12. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    What I mean is - are you attracted to non-diatonic melody?

    I don't mean a Robben Ford chromatic run, I mean have you ever sung along with a Bartok melody because it's beautiful?

    I mean, instead of thinking 'outside' of the box, have you considered getting a bigger box?

    I've discussed this with Robben, he's able to drop that stuff in because he loves Dolphy, Coleman, Shepp, Sanders, Haden, Cherry, etc and has a sincere ear for that stuff. He doesn't play in their idiom - at all - but dropping little bits of chromaticism comes pretty naturally because of it.

    He's got a bigger box, you dig?

    John Scofield told me he could sing along with Messaien's "Quatuor Pour le Fin Du Temps" like it was "Soul Man", he loved it so much.

    Scofield's box is huge...
     
  13. Gene

    Gene Member

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    To hear it is to play it. This has always served me. Since I was a kid not knowing anything about theory and labels. You hear it and you play it. (physical and instrument limitations aside).

    I always sing every tune I learn. I sing every technique I learn for improv. I sing polytonal sounds by singing C major while playing E major, etc. I transcribe with no instruments and just paper of everything I hear that I think is hip/cool/beautiful.

    Not sure what "out of the box" is these days but to play it has to be "heard it and then played it".
     
  14. eddie101

    eddie101 Member

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    I think I am confused about the terminology here. :confused: Are we not talking about the samething? Non-diatonic melody, which means out-of-key melody and "outside", which implies to the notes that are NOT in the key. Hence, non-diatonic melody basically consists of the notes that are NOT in the key that you are in. Am I making any sense here?

    With that in mind, your idea of "bigger box" contains both RIGHT/WRONG notes, if you will. Am I in the ball park, ken? :eek: :)
     
  15. gennation

    gennation Member

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    You can take the basic Major and Minor Pentatonics and combine them into one scale and use them over Dominant chords all day. This is where there are a tons of Chromatic connectors.

    Check out this tutorial, it'll open your eyes to a whole other level of using those scales, especially in rock and blues, and Gospel for that matter since there's A LOT of Dominant chords in Gospel music: http://lessons.mikedodge.com/lessons/AdvPent/AvdPentTOC.htm

    Definitely check that. It'll show you "what's in that box" and a ton of that's ALL around it.

    As far as Robben's stuff goes there's PLENTY of material around with him showing how he views the I-IV as a V-I (or a V-I/V-I) progression allowing him, all of us actually, to incorporate altered sounds during the change. Also, he shows when he uses a 13b9 chords as a sub for various 7th chords allows him, all of us actually, to incorporate Diminished lines over these chords, or to imply these 13b9 chords in solo'ing.

    Robben has done plenty of seminars, magazine articles, I would think even video's of him explaining this stuff. It doesn't have to be a mystery "what" he does, but "how" he's able to do it with such a firm direction, may always be a mystery. The dude's GOOD!
     
  16. Swain

    Swain Member

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    You might want to try some Diatonic Chord-On-Chord lines. It won't be really "outside". But, it may help your ear to start hearing more possibilities. Plus, it'll pretty much always sound okay. It's a nice safety net, when wanting to venture farther out.

    EX:

    Key Of G

    Over a G Chord, try these Triad Arpeggios;

    Am (This can give the impression of a G13)

    Bm (GM7)

    C (Gsus13)

    D (GM9)

    Em (G6, G13)

    F#dim. (G11)

    Once your ear gets used to some of these "extensions", it'll be more of a natural progression towards the really "outside" stuff.

    After that, you might try superimposing some ii V's over the measures that are approaching the song's Major chords.

    EX:

    When there's a G chord coming up, try playing some Am-D or Am7-D7 lines in the measure preceding the G chord.
     
  17. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    No, it's different. "Non-diatonic" means 'not based on a diatonic tonality'. There is polytonal, pantonal, atonal, serial, all kinds of ways of putting music together that is not 'diatonic', and then when you get into various world musics it gets even deeper.

    "Outside" is entirely relative.

    Do you know any of Stravinsky's music at all? It's not 'outside' at all, not a note of it, but the harmonic & melodic structures used have a much deeper and expansive use of harmony than 'key centers and notes that are either in or out'. And it's incredibly beautiful stuff.
     
  18. purestmonk

    purestmonk Member

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    totally digging what ken is saying in this thread
    cheers for that
     
  19. Muris_Varajic

    Muris_Varajic Member

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    I do some "outs" here and there,
    it depends of song and type of gig
    but I'm trying to keep it on purpose and not by mistake,yeah. :)
     
  20. GuitaristZ

    GuitaristZ Guest

    my ears hurt after listening to all this atonal music

    lol
     

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