Question about soloing over changes. What made it click for you?

fenderlead

Member
Messages
5,053
In Rock sus4 chords are not usually held, so I don't know what they are listening to if they hold a 4th too long, maybe it's just that they pattern run without their ears being involved too much.

Just listening to basic Rock will show how sus4 chords (or playing a 4th) usually goes.

Keef sus4 chords go back to the main chord, Townshend as well.

Cold As Ice and I Was Made For Loving You (Stanley probably inspired by Cold As Ice), sus4 chords going back to the main chord.

sus4 usually sounds like it needs to go somewhere and not rest, in Rock anyway but the intent in the opening of Hard Days Night or in some Andy Summers is an unresolved chord that might/might not get resolved after a delay (floating).

But there is the Blues 4th, and if the 4th is part of a Blues phrase then that might be a bit different or if the tempo is fast as well or if the 4th might blend in to an upcoming chord (anticipation).
 
Last edited:

AZJim

Member
Messages
282
Thanks for posting. You’re in a good place and seem to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of harmony. The scale/note choices sound fine. You don’t need to take any different or mystical theoretical approach. That’s how it’s done- You just need to be continually learning stuff by ear and you will become more proficient at speaking the language (Ok, the process is a little more in depth but those are the sparknotes). You understand the concepts, but only immersion will help you attain fluency.

I’m sure a bunch of people will come out of the woodwork to tell you that you need to use more “interesting” notes or “get out of pentatonic stuff.” I think that’s silly. Ever hear gospel singers wail on stuff like this? It’s killing, and it’s not because it’s adventurous in terms of scales. Expanding the pool of note choices won’t suddenly make your playing what you want it to be.

I’ve said this before, but if you can’t write a compelling story with 200 words then learning 500 more words isn’t going to give you that ability. A speaker’s efficacy is rarely determined by the size of their vocabulary.
Yup, this. All day long. I'd even say that after a basic grasp of what notes to play, we all need to focus on the OTHER element, the one that's nearly impossible to teach, which is why schools and teachers don't: RHYTHM. The true art of matching up your "correct" note choices with rhythmic patterns that GROOVE, or rock, or swing, or whatever the genre that your song is in requires to tell that story.
 

Gemma25

Member
Messages
21
A little late to this party, but something that has helped me tremendously In this regard is ear training; being able to identify the Do or tonal center/home of the song allows you to set a great base for licks or solos
 

MatttO

Member
Messages
157
I've been trying to study "playing over changes" for a long time and it's one thing that always alludes me. Certain concepts seem to work in certain situations, but then not in others. There seems to be a trick to it that I just haven't unlocked yet.

One technique I hear mentioned a lot is to play the "pentatonic of the chord" but I find that most of the time, this actually doesn't sound very good.

For example, tonight I was playing over Purple Rain by Prince.

At a high level, it's basically a I vi V IV. In this case Bb Gm F and Eb

I tried the pentatonic over every chord approach and tried Bb major pentatonic, G minor pentatonic, F major pent, and Eb pent.

I found that this doesn't really sound that great. What I noticed was that only the first few notes of each pentatonic sound ok, but the rest of the notes sound bad.

I actually had the best success with sticking to Bb major pentatonic over the entire progression and landing on chord tones of the other chords.

I discovered that this works 95% of the time, however not always.

In country "chickin pickin" style music it seems like they turn every chord into a dominant 7 and treat each chord as a new key. If you take something like Vince Gill's Liza Jane, it seems like that is exactly what he is doing, treating each chord as a new dominant 7 key.

I'm not really sure exactly what my question is but I guess it is:

Why does the theory seem to constantly be shifting?

In one song, playing the pentatonics for each chord sounds great, for example Hendrix style stuff where it sounds like that is what he is doing for each chord. Example: Little Wing.

Yet when you try to do that in a lot of songs, it all of a sudden doesn't work, and it works better to stick to the pentatonic of the key and add chord tones. Example, majority of songs, but "Purple Rain" for the example in this thread.

Then you get country music in which the above all of a sudden doesn't work and you need to treat each diatonic progression as a series of 7th chords, and each chord is essentially a new key. Example: Vince Gill - Liza Jane.

How did you guys tie all of this together, and when did it finally click for you?
Not sure what you mean, but if you're changing scale according to Bb Gm F and Eb you obviously have to switch between major and minor i.e. are you playing the scales of Bbmaj, Gm, Fmaj and Ebmaj?
 

Larsenpeople

Senior Member
Messages
484
I think "playing over changes" is too broad to have it just click.

Could be jazz with many II-V-I, a pop / rock register underlying unmodulated chords , exploring scales in a modal context, or classical subtonic driven cadences, also blues, gypsy ... it is very context related, and you may not find a one size fit all system. Each style has a history of idioms that the listener will have in mind.

I believe the right approach is to multiply angles of practice for the genres you're learning.
 

Trenchant63

Member
Messages
180
I've been trying to study "playing over changes" for a long time and it's one thing that always alludes me. Certain concepts seem to work in certain situations, but then not in others. There seems to be a trick to it that I just haven't unlocked yet.

One technique I hear mentioned a lot is to play the "pentatonic of the chord" but I find that most of the time, this actually doesn't sound very good.

For example, tonight I was playing over Purple Rain by Prince.

At a high level, it's basically a I vi V IV. In this case Bb Gm F and Eb

I tried the pentatonic over every chord approach and tried Bb major pentatonic, G minor pentatonic, F major pent, and Eb pent.

I found that this doesn't really sound that great. What I noticed was that only the first few notes of each pentatonic sound ok, but the rest of the notes sound bad.

I actually had the best success with sticking to Bb major pentatonic over the entire progression and landing on chord tones of the other chords.

I discovered that this works 95% of the time, however not always.

In country "chickin pickin" style music it seems like they turn every chord into a dominant 7 and treat each chord as a new key. If you take something like Vince Gill's Liza Jane, it seems like that is exactly what he is doing, treating each chord as a new dominant 7 key.

I'm not really sure exactly what my question is but I guess it is:

Why does the theory seem to constantly be shifting?

In one song, playing the pentatonics for each chord sounds great, for example Hendrix style stuff where it sounds like that is what he is doing for each chord. Example: Little Wing.

Yet when you try to do that in a lot of songs, it all of a sudden doesn't work, and it works better to stick to the pentatonic of the key and add chord tones. Example, majority of songs, but "Purple Rain" for the example in this thread.

Then you get country music in which the above all of a sudden doesn't work and you need to treat each diatonic progression as a series of 7th chords, and each chord is essentially a new key. Example: Vince Gill - Liza Jane.

How did you guys tie all of this together, and when did it finally click for you?
One simple way is to learn the chord change arpeggios vs scales. Do this for one song as a learning base. Experiment with arpeggios starting from different positions ascending/Descending over the song changes. Go slow so you can optimize your note choice. Once you’re comfortable, start adding passing notes to tie your arpeggios together more smoothly. Then start exploring scales. I found starting with scales was too difficult. Blending scales and arpeggios is good so you’re not doing too much of one thing.
 

mwtzzz

Member
Messages
216
If you hear what other people do that sounds good, here's what you'll find:
1. any solo that resolves to the tonic center of the passage works, regardless of what "chord progression" that particular solo follows.
2. the thing that makes it work is more phrasing and rhythm rather than the particular notes they're choosing.

You gotta view a solo as reflecting its own chord progression which is not necessarily the chord progression of the song.

But at the end of the day, none of this theorizing and cerebralizing is going to help you at all. The only thing that works is having an ear for it.
 

mwtzzz

Member
Messages
216
But basically you're going to have to start internalizing, not cerebralizing, the notes. You gotta internalize them so that you can be able to play where your ear leads you to.

And at the end of the day some people are born soloists and others aren't. You gotta figure out which camp you're in. You know Sultans of Swing, right?
"guitar George, he knows-all the chords
Mind, it's strictly rhythm he doesn't want to make it cry or sing

"
 

mwtzzz

Member
Messages
216
i shouldn't be a d*ck and say something like "you gotta internalize it" without explaining how to do it.

There's only one way to do it and it's a non-thinking process: you gotta play along with, imitate, learn the solos from your favorite recordings. without looking at chords or sheet music, this is all by ear. you gotta do it every day on all the songs that you like. eventually your ear and brain start to connect the dots and take over.
 

57gold

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,353
Been playing for decades, in last decade have attempted to "learn jazz" from books, online lessons, some periodic lessons with university trained jazz instructors.

Learned a bunch of music theory that one doesn't get as a rock/blues/pop player who could do all the Classic Rock guitar tunes - EC, Stones, ABB, The Who, Police, US, Led Zep...et al. Including jazz chords (alterations, inversions, substitutions...), introduced to the classic jazz repertoire/standards (the stuff that preceded Weather Report, Metheny, Scofield, Stern...what I listened to as jazz), jazz harmonic analysis (breaking down tunes into ii/Vs, substitutions, turnarounds...)...all great stuff that makes me appreciate the art form. Can "fake" my way through tunes with simple changes, like jazz blues and modal tunes. But when I got to attempting to solo a la "real" jazz (bop, complicated and/or fast moving changes - like quick, descending chromatic ii/Vs)...crap.

So, I located the most experienced university level jazz guitar instructor in this half of the state and went in for a lesson. He put down a chart (ATTYA) and said play the chords simply once through then play it with some color the second time through > OK, you know some chords but your rhythm needs work. Then he asked me to play the melody over his rhythm, which was a bit of a trainwreck because my reading sucks, but it was ATTYA so I could fake my way through it and then asked me to solo over the second time through...which was a mess.

He summarized my situation thusly - jazz is a language and you know some letters (notes), words (chords), and grammar (chord scale relationships et al) but you don't know how to make sentences (short phrases), never mind paragraphs nor stories (long lines and solos). You need to learn how to speak in jazz by learning how fluent speakers talk. Only way to get there is to learn/transcribe great lines and solos to practice speaking jazz like real players and use that as a starting point to be able to tell your own stories in jazz language.
 

Guitardave

Member
Messages
11,414
Been playing for decades, in last decade have attempted to "learn jazz" from books, online lessons, some periodic lessons with university trained jazz instructors.

Learned a bunch of music theory that one doesn't get as a rock/blues/pop player who could do all the Classic Rock guitar tunes - EC, Stones, ABB, The Who, Police, US, Led Zep...et al. Including jazz chords (alterations, inversions, substitutions...), introduced to the classic jazz repertoire/standards (the stuff that preceded Weather Report, Metheny, Scofield, Stern...what I listened to as jazz), jazz harmonic analysis (breaking down tunes into ii/Vs, substitutions, turnarounds...)...all great stuff that makes me appreciate the art form. Can "fake" my way through tunes with simple changes, like jazz blues and modal tunes. But when I got to attempting to solo a la "real" jazz (bop, complicated and/or fast moving changes - like quick, descending chromatic ii/Vs)...crap.

So, I located the most experienced university level jazz guitar instructor in this half of the state and went in for a lesson. He put down a chart (ATTYA) and said play the chords simply once through then play it with some color the second time through > OK, you know some chords but your rhythm needs work. Then he asked me to play the melody over his rhythm, which was a bit of a trainwreck because my reading sucks, but it was ATTYA so I could fake my way through it and then asked me to solo over the second time through...which was a mess.

He summarized my situation thusly - jazz is a language and you know some letters (notes), words (chords), and grammar (chord scale relationships et al) but you don't know how to make sentences (short phrases), never mind paragraphs nor stories (long lines and solos). You need to learn how to speak in jazz by learning how fluent speakers talk. Only way to get there is to learn/transcribe great lines and solos to practice speaking jazz like real players and use that as a starting point to be able to tell your own stories in jazz language.

Well said - I'm going through the same thing at the moment after joining an americana/bluegrass band.

Bluegrass had it's own repertoire, different song structures and the vocabulary and "sound" to the phrases takes time to get in your ear and fingers. At least the theory is straightforward.
 

tonyhay

Member
Messages
5,562
The biggest single thing for me was learning how to add diminished arpeggios to solos. That opened a gateway to being able to play the changes much more convincingly, and producing much more interesting solos.
 
Messages
950
I can only give you a general idea re: basic approaches which have worked for me:

1. Key center approach. Pretty self-explanatory, i.e., when all of the chords in a progression belong to a single key or tonal center, then improvise over the entire progression using vocabulary derived only from the parent scale.

2. Chord/scale approach. Use this approach when the chords in a sequence (a) last long enough to allow development of longer scale-based lines or melodic ideas, AND (b) where there are shifts in tonal center (although you can still use this approach even when no such shifts occur.) Improvise over each chord with vocabulary derived from its corresponding scale or mode.

3. Chord tone approach. Way to approach playing through progressions where the chords change more rapidly, e.g., as in bebop, or when you want to outline the sound of the chord changes via target tones (primarily the 3rds and 7ths of chords.) Of course, applications of this approach aren’t limited to jazz; listen to a guy like Peter Frampton for a master class in how to use it on rock or pop tunes.
 

GT3

Member
Messages
2,780
The biggest single thing for me was learning how to add diminished arpeggios to solos. That opened a gateway to being able to play the changes much more convincingly, and producing much more interesting solos.
 

Guitardave

Member
Messages
11,414
I'm playing some Americana/bluegrass stuff acoustically with a new group of players and they throw this tune at me.



It's really a classic set of changes for swing/ragtime/old timey stuff.

D7 F#7 B7 E7 A7 is the primary set of repeating chords for the verse and add in a D D7 G Bb
Bridge is Em B7 (repeated) F#m C#7 (repeated) E7 A7

I'm too lazy to chart if out so listen to the tune for the timing/details etc.

I'll start a separate thread at some point on it and video how I'm approaching it but to me this sort of stuff is amazingly humbling progression to try and improvise over. You can't BS your way thru it playing in one scale pattern, pentatonic runs won't work, bluesing your way thru it sounds equally off. And to stay even reasonably accurate to the style doesn't allow for what I like to call "bad jazz" where the changes are ignored and playing bad notes gets explained away as "playing outside". I'd bet that many/most of the jazz greats cut their teeth playing this type of harmony BEFORE they moved on to working on reharmonizing and adding substitutions. When I listen to the Tommy Emmanuel, Birelli Lagrene, Oberg, etc. it's obvious they can shred over this type of harmony and actually hit the changes.

This type of harmony is really forcing me to acknowledge and work thru gaps in my ear, playing vocabulary and fretboard knowledge. Bottom line is the only way I can figure out how to approach it is to slowly go thru each set of chords and figure out melody/phrases that start and end with a clear path to the next chord(s) while still paying attention to the key center (with shifts). And that is just the starting point of getting comfortable...it'll take a lot of work to be truly spontaneous and let my ear guide me.

And I'll take a solo break over it at a gig this afternoon - I'm sure I'll flub my way thru a few sections but hopefully won't fall flat on my face.
 
Last edited:

mwtzzz

Member
Messages
216
I'm playing some Americana/bluegrass stuff acoustically with a new group of players and they throw this tune at me.



It's really a classic set of changes for swing/ragtime/old timey stuff.

D7 F7 B7 E7 A7 is the primary set of repeating chords for the verse and add in a D D7 G Bb
Bridge is Em B7 (repeated) F#m C#7 (repeated) E7 A7

I'm too lazy to chart if out so listen to the tune for the timing/details etc.

I'll start a separate thread at some point on it and video how I'm approaching it but to me this sort of stuff is amazingly humbling progression to try and improvise over. You can't BS your way thru it playing in one scale pattern, pentatonic runs won't work, bluesing your way thru it sounds equally off. And to stay even reasonably accurate to the style doesn't allow for what I like to call "bad jazz" where the changes are ignored and playing bad notes gets explained away as "playing outside". I'd bet that many/most of the jazz greats cut their teeth playing this type of harmony BEFORE they moved on to working on reharmonizing and adding substitutions. When I listen to the Tommy Emmanuel, Birelli Lagrene, Oberg, etc. it's obvious they can shred over this type of harmony and actually hit the changes.

This type of harmony is really forcing me to acknowledge and work thru gaps in my ear, playing vocabulary and fretboard knowledge. Bottom line is the only way I can figure out how to approach it is to slowly go thru each set of chords and figure out melody/phrases that start and end with a clear path to the next chord(s) while still paying attention to the key center (with shifts). And that is just the starting point of getting comfortable...it'll take a lot of work to be truly spontaneous and let my ear guide me.

And I'll take a solo break over it at a gig this afternoon - I'm sure I'll flub my way thru a few sections but hopefully won't fall flat on my face.

It might be helpful to folks if you record that and post it up. The original poster of the thread (and others) can then hear what you're doing, and how it's developing for you, the approach you're taking, etc.
 

mwtzzz

Member
Messages
216
It might be helpful to folks if you record your gig (this song) and post it up. The original poster of the thread (and others) can then hear what you're doing, and how it's developing for you, the approach you're taking, etc.
 




Top Bottom