Some mental exercises for guitar neck awareness

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by johnboggs, May 28, 2008.

  1. johnboggs

    johnboggs Member

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    After attending a class at National Guitar Workshop last summer (TGPer harryj's Blues & Beyond class - highly recommended), I realized that my command of the neck was considerably weaker than it should be. Upon my return home I set out to change that. Here are two completely mental - no guitar in hand - exercises that I believe have helped me a lot. Hope they can help anyone with similar issues.

    1. String-to-string intervals:

    I learned the CAGED system a while back and it was an eye opener but it didn't address the issues of either building chord voicings from scratch or analyzing known voicings. I decided to memorize the string-to-string same-fret intervals for each possible string location of the root.

    For example, if the root is on the 6th string, what is the interval from that root to the same fret on the 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings? In this case, the intervals are 4th, dom7th, min3rd, 5th and root.

    Rather than sit down with guitar, I did this by visualizing the neck in my head and working out the different intervals, repeating them over and over until I had them memorized for each root string.

    Now if I want to build a chord with a root in a particular place, I can figure it out pretty quickly by picking the intervals from the same and adjacent frets based on my knowledge of the same-fret intervals.

    2. Note positions on the neck:

    I had a pretty good grasp of note names at positions up to about the 5th fret but was weak above that. I started a new exercise to identify and memorize the note names at each marked fret (3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, etc.) working both up each string from open position and across the board at each marked fret.

    After a few days of that, I can now almost instantly name the note at each marked fret of each string and can easily identify the notes at adjacent and nearby frets through interpolation.


    In truth, I spend about and hour between 4:30am and 5:30am every morning sitting with a cup of coffee in hand and the dog in my lap waiting for the others in my house to get up and really needed something to occupy my mind during that time. I think I put the time to good use.
     
  2. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    we eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of beer

    That's exactly what I recommend. Once you understand the intervals you can build any chord, scale, or arpeggio you want anywhere on the neck. IMO, it's the first step in being able to see the guitar in a more linear way, like a piano. Good work!
     
  3. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

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    good stuff, Jon Damion's book Chord Factory has an excercise of writing out the notes in the book, which I have recommended, write out the notes on a sheet of paper, and throw away the paper, after doing that a couple times the notes should be in your head. the note relays are also good.

    Chords are good as well, flash cards would work, drawing out the chords and the relationships would be good, flash cards for keys would be good as well, getting away from pattern learning and learning how to create music is what I think its all about.
     
  4. spacelord

    spacelord Member

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    Great idea on the string intervals. I'm going to work that into my "offline" guitar exercises.

    Currently I am trying to learn the circle of fifths, the order of modes and the notes on the 5th and 10th frets like the back of my hand. I do the flashcards twice a day. Nothing too taxing.. I'm taking the slow and steady approach. I do notice that I can spit out the answers quicker each day.
    I wrote some quick software to do "flashcards" on the computer.
     
  5. tbone666

    tbone666 Supporting Member

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    that's excellent - i truly believe, that after playing for 20+ years, by sitting in the car driving to practice going over scales in my head, and thinking about different position for execution have made me become better player more so.
     
  6. johnboggs

    johnboggs Member

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    Thanks to all for the comments.

    Spacelord, here are two mnemonics I learned years ago for the circle of fifths. Actually, the first one I learned and the second I made up.

    Sharp keys - clockwise around the circle graphic:

    Cathy Got Dave An Empty Bottle For Christmas

    Flat keys - counterclockwise around the graphic (and really the reverse of the first one, starting at the F:

    Fred Bought Ethel A Dog Gone Cat

    May this be of help to someone.
     
  7. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

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    Circle of 5ths and Circle of 4ths
    The circle of 5th is used to construct Keys in the Diatonic Scale,
    the Diatonic keys are found by adding sharps and flats one way to remember the keys is by a phrase, and knowing that the 7th is added the key name is the next note up, this is a Circle of Fifths, the 5th of C is G, the 5th of G is D, and so on. The Diatonic Keys are developed from this.
    Key of C no sharps or flats.......C D E F G A B
    Father..............key of G.........G A B C D E F#
    Charles ............Key of D.........D E F# G A B C#
    Goes ...............Key of A.........A B C# D E F# G#
    Down ..............Key of E.........E F# G# A B C# D#
    And ................Key of B.........B C# D# E F# G# A#
    Ends ...............Key of F#.......F# G# A# B C# D# E#
    Battle..............Key of C#.......C# D# E# F# G# A# B#
    note that B# is C and E# is F, it just works better to call them by the sharps, that is how it is notated in sheet music,

    Circle of 4ths
    The flats work by reversing the phrase, the previous flat is the key, If you know how they are added, that works, the first one you just know, the flat added is the 4th, which is a harder way to remember it.
    Battle ........... Key of F.........F G A Bb C D E
    Ends .............Key of Bb........Bb C D Eb F G A
    And ..............Key of Eb........Eb F G Ab Bb C D
    Down ............Key of Ab.......Ab Bb C Db Eb F G
    Goes .............Key of Db.......Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
    Charles'..........Key of Gb.......Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F
    Father...........Key of Cb........Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb
    Fb is E and Cb is B, just works easier to call them flats.

    Some of the Keys are duplicated,
    Key of Db and C# are identical
    Key of Cb and B are identical
    Key of Gb and F# are identical
    Its just how the key is notated, either with flats or sharps.

    Key of B..........B C# D# E F# G# A#
    Key of Cb........Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb
    Key of F#.......F# G# A# B C# D# E#
    Key of Gb.......Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F
    Key of C#.......C# D# E# F# G# A# B#
    Key of Db........Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
     

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