Playing "Outside"

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by simeon, Oct 19, 2004.


  1. simeon

    simeon Member

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    i've posted this on a couple of boards before, but i thought i'd put it up here anyway...

    this is a distillation of some of the things i've learned...i can't say i'm particularly fluent at any of them, but hopefully some people might find them useful...i'd be interested to hear some other approaches as well...!

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    playing "outside" does not involve chucking a bunch of random notes into a solo that aren't in key - try it - it sounds pretty crap!

    playing "outside" can be described as actually playing inside a different key to the one that the rhythm section is playing, or using some identifiable "logic". this "insideness" is what gives the outside section of the solo musical sense.
    so to play successfully "outside", you need to be able to play successfully "inside" - which means practicing over changes and being able to analyse chord/scale relationships so that you can use scales appropriate to the chords that you're playing over.

    there are several ways to play outside - here are some of them...

    implying changes that aren't being played by the band
    sidestepping
    approach tones
    sequences
    tonal subsitution


    implying changes that aren't being played by the band...

    john scofield is the master of this style - check out Uberjam which is full of one chord vamps - because the band is grooving on one chord, you can easily hear when sco is moving in and out of the tonality.
    for example - the band is grooving on an Am chord, so instead of just playing A Dorian, you can pretend that the band is actually playing Am and then playing C7b9 / F#7#9 / Bm7b5 / E7#9 - you play those changes, but the band just plays Am for those four bars. your lines are "outside" Am, but follow a common III VI II V jazz chord sequence - a very strong sound that the listener can follow and that makes musical sense.
    a simpler example would be to imply Valt / Im / Valt / Im etc, so play E7alt licks for one bar followed by Am licks for one bar

    sidestepping...

    a bit simpler this one - just move sideways for a bit, so if you're playing over Am, play Bbm licks for a bit, or Abm licks for a bit - as with all outside playing - be tasteful and always try to end on a chord tone - so finish your outside lick on an A, C, E or G note

    approach tones...

    this a a bebop technique - scott henderson and holdsworth are good at this - approach chord tones with a note that's a semi-tone above or below your target note, so in Am, approach an E from Eb or F. these sound good if you play the approach note on a weak offbeat. they sound even better if you use lots and play really fast! a slightly more advanced version of this is "double chromaticism", where you play an approach tone, like Eb (going to E), but instead of playing E as your next note, you play another chord tone and then play the E

    sequences...

    man, you could spend your life studying sequences...
    there are basically two types - diatonic and non-diatonic
    diatonic sequences involve playing a pattern of 3 or 4 or 5 notes and then cycling that pattern through the parent scale - keeping all the notes within the scale (the intervals in the sequence will change to keep all the notes "in" - non-diatonic sequences step outside the parent scale by keeping the intervals in the sequence the same - for example...
    the band is grooving on Am and you play C B G A
    you now have a choice and you decide to play a diatonic sequence moving through each note of A Dorian, so you follow that up with D C A B, E D B C, F# E C D etc etc (you're not stepping outside the scale of A Dorian)
    in an alternate universe you decide to play a non-diatonic sequence that cycles all the first notes of the sequence through all the notes of an Am arpeggio, so you play C B G A, E Eb B C#, G F# D E, A Ab E F#
    the first notes of each group of four notes = C E G and A = Am arpeggio
    if you wanted to sound more outside then the first sequence of notes could have contained outside notes and you could have cycled it through the arpeggio of an Em chord...
    or the first sequence could have contained notes from an E7 alt chord and you could have cycled it non-diatonically through the notes in an E diminished scale...
    hopefully you're beginning to see that this is a BIG topic!
    one very effective way to use sequences is to move them chromatically - so shift a lick by semitones, tones or minor thirds, or even major thirds for a hip bebop sound - you're not implying another key by doing this, but the chromaticism forms the basis of your logic and the listener will pick up on it

    tonal substitution....

    basically subsitute the scale you're using for another one -
    the band continues to vamp on an Am (bless their cotton socks!) and you're happily using an A dorian scale, but then you decide to use an Eb Dorian scale for 2 bars, you go back to A dorian and then you play C Dorian for two bars (you've kept the same mode, but changed the root) - you could play C# Lydian, C Altered or B Locrian (changing key and mode) - almost anything, really...it depends on what you like the sound of and how far "out" you want to go!. this technique can become too obvious if overused, so only dip into it once during a solo for maximum effect....
     
  2. tonedrip

    tonedrip Member

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    That's an awsome post. Thank you !

    I love tasty outside playing to standard type progressions(ala Scott Henderson etc) . There are a few methods you have noted that I had not heard of. I will look forward to applying them.

    Cheers !
     
  3. glendrix

    glendrix Member

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    Very informative post! Thanks
     
  4. simeon

    simeon Member

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    cool!

    has anybody else got some other "methods" we could try?

    sim
     
  5. art420guitar

    art420guitar Member

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    i just hit notes with reckless abandon but always make sure i land on a note in key. ;) for me personally, once i become too analytical about it, i start to repeat myself for some reason.
     
  6. spaceboy

    spaceboy Member

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    wow, awsome stuff! i THINK it's all stuff that's come up before in some form or other, but I know i didn't remember them all til now, and they probably weren't as well explained!

    i know what you mean about the repetition, but i often think that if that happens, it's not because of the analyticalism, but because I'm using that knowledge and way of thinking in the wrong way...

    but there's always a place for letting out whatever wants to come.
     
  7. Shakkal

    Shakkal Member

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    That's a great post. I actually have it printed out from when you posted it at HC ... must have been over a year ago ...
     
  8. Joe

    Joe Senior Member

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    I think of the 21 modes according to tonality.

    The tones IMO are:

    Minor
    Major
    Dominant
    Diminished
    Minor major

    So once I establish the tonality of the underlaying chords, I can decide if I desire to stay within the tonality or not. Then I can select a mode that fits the choice I have made.

    Over a major sounding change you could play ionian or lydian.

    Want to go more out? Lydian augmented or Lydian b9

    Want to put a dominant feel to it? Lydian dominant

    Want to build to lydian dominant? Start ionian, go lydian, then add lydian alterations and wind up playing lydian dominant, with or without alterations from the format of R 2 3 #4 5 6 b7 and go for an altered dominant sound, over a major vamp that is a very OUTSIDE sound that you can establish by building up to it.

    There are 12 notes, 7 are diatonic, the other 5 can all be used if done so correctly. In reality the ONLY thing preventing you from playing all 12 notes all the time is your ability to place the outside notes in a tasteful way. There is nothing accidental about the "accidentals" you see in your key signature unless the writer really sucks, so all we are doing is justifying why it works.
     
  9. EricT

    EricT Member

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    Excellent post simeon!
    A very alternative approach is to use either a whammy pedal or guitar synth, and don't sweep the pedal all the way up. This is of course extremly outside, but works well for fast transition licks or if you want some really high tension!
     
  10. simeon

    simeon Member

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    joe - good tips - that's the "tonal substitution" technique, i think...

    eric - another good tip for a whammy pedal is to move it randomly about (never to the minimum or maximum) while hammering on notes with the left hand and simultaneously moving the tremelo arm up and down - this works well with tons of delay.
    make sure you play all your solos this way throughout the whole gig and gradually turn up between each tune, so that by the end, you're at maximum volume.
    for maximum effect, wear sunglasses and a cowboy hat and stick out your tongue during every solo.

    ;)
     
  11. EricT

    EricT Member

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    More tension, MORE tension, MORE TENSION!!!:dude
     
  12. jzucker

    jzucker Member

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    Very nice post.

    Personally, I feel that the tonal substitution and implying changes is the same thing. When you play Eb Dorian over Am7 you are implying a Dbmaj tonality.

    Another thing that can be fascinating is the use of dodecaphonics - i.e. chord synonyms.

    In dodecaphonics, the theory is that any given diatonic chord can be freely substituted for any other diatonic chord. This is true because chords are built in 3rds so oddly spaced chords (i.e. built in the 1-3-5-7-9-11-13) are simply inversions of each other with upper extensions. Evenly spaced chords (2,4,6,8,etc) are simply the extensions of the previous chord.

    Thus, Cmaj7,Dm7,Em7,Fmaj7,G7,Am7, Bm7b5 are all the same chord.

    Once you understand that, it opens up incredible poly-tonal variations.

    For example, most jazzers use the common tritone substitution (i.e. Db7 in place of G7).

    If you take the diatonic extensions of the Db7 you get:
    Gbmaj7,Abm7,Bbm7,Cbmaj7,Db7,Ebm7,Fm7b5

    Now, try taking a chord from the tritone's synonyms and playing it over the original G7 chord. For example, Abm7.

    This is what Coltrane was doing back in the '60s as he derived his advanced concepts.

    You can keep going with this stuff too.

    If you take the Abdim7 chord, you see that it can be viewed as a G7b9,Bb7b9,Db7b9 and E7b9.

    Now, take the synonyms for each of those 4 tonalities, put them into a table and begin using tones from one of those chords.

    For example, the ii chord of the Bb7 (key of Eb) is Fm7. Try using Fm7 over the G7.

    You can keep getting further and further out with this stuff.

    There's a lot more of this information in my book (sorry about the spam...) :D
     
  13. simeon

    simeon Member

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    nice post - i do have a question though...

    i've used this technique when substituting chords in a sequence - i'm not a big fan of altered dominant chords, so i tend to substitute with another chord from the same key - so for example, instead of playing an Ab altered chord, i might play an Am maj7 chord instead.

    in terms of soloing over this sequence though, you're still using the same notes, so you havn't really stepped outside the tonality...so isn't it the same deal with using Abm7 instead of Db7? - aren't you still using the notes from Db lydian b7 / G altered?

    sim
     
  14. jzucker

    jzucker Member

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    Yes, the synonyms in each key are parallel, i.e. they are the same tonality. So playing over Abm7 instead of Db7 is not a substitution but a synonym.

    However, playing Abm7 over G7 would be changing the tonality from Cmajor to Gbmaj or one of it's synonyms.

    P.S.

    In doing this type of subbing, I actually enjoy using the b7 of the Abm7 (i.e. the note Gb over the G7 chord.

    When I first heard 'Trane doing it, I was disturbed but it now sounds fine to me. Obviously, everything's in how you resolve it. Anything outside can be made to sound pretty if it's resolved properly.
     
  15. simeon

    simeon Member

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    isn't a popular be-bop technique to use a V after the Abm7 (thinking of it as a II chord) - so approach a C chord with Abm7 / Db7?

    i've seen this several times in the real book...

    sim
     
  16. jzucker

    jzucker Member

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    Yes, that's a popular bop technique. Personally, I prefer to leave that kind of device to the players.

    I would typically just write G7 C and allow the band to create the resolution they wanted unless I was writing for horns or strings and had harmonized that kind of sub.

    I don't remember if you mentioned this in the original post but you can always use symetrical displacement to play outside.

    i.e. play up or down a 1/2 step, whole step, min 3rd, etc.

    Many of these lead you down the same path.

    For example, playing over Dbm7-G7 or Ebm7-Ab7 over G7.

    Often times I'll do that in my soloing. Creating a temporary chord progression over:
    G7 C
    : / / / / : / / / / :

    And I might play:

    : Ebm7 Ab7 Dm7 G7 : Abm7 Db7 Cmaj7 :

    That's how Coltrane's Countdown came about:

    : Dm7 Eb7 Abmaj7 B7 : Emaj7 G7 Cmaj7 :
     
  17. simeon

    simeon Member

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    i'm not quite good enough to squeeze that many chords into a bar, but i do quite often sidestep and also play up a minor third, which sounds nice if you play Gm licks over an E7 vamp, for example (very henderson!)

    on a good day, i might be able to imply III VI II V over two bars!

    thanks for the tips!

    sim
     
  18. jzucker

    jzucker Member

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    I've heard your stuff and I think you're plenty good enough to play any of those subs!

    Thank you for sharing your tips as well.

    Do you ever practice playing over Countdown? I find it to be a good exercise for playing out. You can take the countdown sequence and superimpose it over any static chord.

    For example, on a Dm7 or G7 funk groove I'll often play Countdown sequences of

    Dm7 Eb7 Abmaj7 B7 Emaj7 G7
     
  19. simeon

    simeon Member

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    i'm locked into a bit of a rut when it comes to playing over funk grooves - root minor pents and blues licks all the way - i'd love to be able to play some really hip lines like our sax player does (i always try to solo first if i can, cos if i go second, it's like - bleurgh! pentatonics! and if the keyboard player takes one, then that's it...no chance mate! )

    i'm going to make it my mission to practice Countdown changes and i'll post a clip when i think i've got it together.

    any other cool sequences that sound hip over one chord vamps that i could try?

    :)

    sim
     
  20. jzucker

    jzucker Member

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    I like the way Metheny does his sequencing. He'll take a lick like (cmin) G Eb D C (descending and pulling off from the Eb to the D) and he'll move it up in whole steps or even 1/2 whole (diminished scale).

    Those are cool to use.

    Another chordal sequence;

    Take a lick that comes from the diminished scale and move it up and down the neck in whole steps or take an augmented lick and move it up and down in minor 3rds.

    Use the diminished or whole tone scale for root movement and apply different upper structures.

    A real simple one is:

    Dm7 Ebm7 Fm7 Gbm7 Abm7 Am7 Bm7 Cm7

    Or

    Dm7 Em7 F#m7 G#m7 A#m7 Cm7

    Practice playing over those progressions both staying in a single position as well as moving the lick up vertically up the neck.

    Another interesting one is maj thirds.

    Dm7 Bbm7 Gbm7 Dm7
     

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