1. The Rules have been updated regarding posting as a business on TGP. Thread with details here: Thread Here
    Dismiss Notice

working from arpeggios vs parent scale....

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by boo radley, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. boo radley

    boo radley Member

    Messages:
    1,697
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2011
    I'm trying to find a..."reliable" is the word I'm looking for, I guess, to improvisation. I recognize that there is no single answer: one can work from the melody, chord scales, insert lines, or pieces of lines, from stuff you've learned, etc., etc., and approaches I've never even fathomed. :)

    But all that said, I'd like a starting point for hearing the song, looking at the chart, and being able to take a solo over the changes for a chorus or two.

    Lately, I've been treating each chord individually, and playing the arpeggio, sometimes adding chromatics, and often playing the triad within the chord, eg, Em for CM7, or Bdim for G7 -- and there's a ton of meat here.

    The problem I'm getting is everything sounds like I'm playing an arpeggio for each chord. Maybe I'm inserting an unconscious pause, but nothing sounds like it's flowing between chords. This isn't the case, if I just noodle around with, a parent major scale -- there's some fluidity you get from just working up and down a scale....

    I'm curious how others are able to develop lines from the arpeggios without sounding disjointed. Also, I've heard, "never start on the root!" Why? Thx!
     
    duffman and deeohgee like this.
  2. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    16,696
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2002
    Try mixing arpeggios and melodic snippets with smaller intervals.

    1-3-5-7 and 1-2-3-5, for example. And permutations of these.

    You might analyze some solos (Coltrane, for example) to see this in action.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2017
  3. vintagelove

    vintagelove Member

    Messages:
    1,773
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    One of the best places you can learn to do what you're searching for, is studying Bach. His inventions are a great place to start.

    Truthfully, studying his music, taught me more about the nuts and bolts of music, than anything else. There's a reason every music school, teaches practically every musician, regardless of instrument, his music some 300+ years later.

    Hope that helps.


    The D minor one is universally cool.
     
  4. Phletch

    Phletch Member

    Messages:
    9,934
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2012
    Location:
    Treasure Coast, Florida
    I think the hardest part of improvisation is actually having something to say, and by that I mean an idea, a statement that you hear in your head. If one has something to say, the rest takes care of itself, and the more you play around with scales, arps, licks, whatever, the more ideas you develop. We've talked a lot about it here as "building a vocabulary."

    Personally, I often start with just a simple motif, something derived from the melody of the song. Maybe I'll repeat it, making an alteration by slightly reharmonizing the initial motif. That tends to fuel my imagination, and then I'm away, and I don't think about *how* I'm doing it. I might be working from a parent scale or an arpeggio or triads that form the upper extensions of the chords (regardless of whether or not the chords are themselves extended), or the "included" triads that you mentioned (like Em over CM7, etc.).

    I guess the tl;dr version is, "Yes, all of the above."
     
  5. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

    Messages:
    17,130
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    Separate the chops, scale-arpeggios, from the vocabulary. The vocabulary is aided by having the chops in place.
     
    deeohgee, MGT, Bb7 and 2 others like this.
  6. Ejay

    Ejay Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,785
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2017
    Maybe you should look at the chord notes as “anchors”...or beacons...where you hook your lines you want to play to.
    Learning lines you want to play to them seems your challange.
    (Vocabulary)
    Theres not one way to learn that.

    One valuable way for me was to work on concepts around those chord notes.
    Mastering 1 concept will never give you enough to make an interesting solo...but the combination of a lot of them bring you a long way.

    Concepts you can make up endelessly...try to make them musical ;)

    example 1
    Chromatic under the 1-1, chromatic under the 3-3, chromatic under the 5-5

    Example 2
    Note in the scale above the 1- chromatic under the 1-1, note in scale above 3- chromatic under 3-3, etc

    Example 3
    Chromatic under 5-5-9-3

    Play those concepts over all the chords in the tune....in time!!...start with 1/4 notes...then speed up to 1/8...1/16

    This approach helped me a Lot building vocabulary and learning the neck!
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2017
    derekd likes this.
  7. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

    Messages:
    34,613
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Location:
    In a van down by the river
    Starting on the root makes it sound too much like an arpeggio.

    Arps+chromatics=much of what bebop is. Of course, it gets more complicated than that, but it is tough to go wrong using arpeggios along with passing tones to play changes.
     
    Washburnmemphis likes this.
  8. JonR

    JonR Member

    Messages:
    12,037
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Location:
    London
    The arpeggios are just the foundation. They are target notes to either start from, or to aim to end a phrase on.
    You can still make them flow if you plan the transitions from chord to chord: whatever note you end an arpeggio on should move to he nearest note in the next chord; it might even be the same note.
    This is a basic arpeggio practice exercise, in fact. I.e., don't just play 1-3-5-7 on every chord. Look at the chord shapes in the same position on the neck, and keep the phrases close. Look for "voice-leading" from chord to chord. (This is still very basic in terms of improvised solos, but is very useful for playing changes and comping.)

    In between the chord tones, you can use any other note.
    The diatonic passing notes are (a) the other key scale notes, or (b) notes from chords either side. (In the simplest music these are the same notes.)
    Chromatic passing notes are basically anything else.

    To begin with, it's best to treat any notes not in the chord as passing notes. I.e, on weak beats, played between the beats, and only as short, unaccented notes.

    But when you find yourself getting bored with jumping from chord tone to chord tone (either straight arpeggio phrases, or scale runs with passing notes between) - start accenting some of those passing notes.
    Some of them (most of the diatonic ones) make good chord extensions, which are a more expressive kind of chord tone. 6ths, 7ths and 9ths make mild or sweet tensions, while 11ths and 13ths are stronger ones. (A 13th is the same note as a 6th, but is stronger because of the tension with the 7th in the chord.). Listen to how it sounds to hang on a 9th on each chord, or an 11th - does the latter need to resolve down, or not? (sometimes yes, sometimes no.)
    Meanwhile the chromatics act as chord alterations, which are very edgy and normally need to resolve straight back to a chord tone. Jazz musicians can put whole runs of these together as "outside" phrases, but that takes practice and good listening experience. They are technically "wrong notes", of course, and the skill in using them is to make them sound right.

    Above all, don't forget rhythm. Good solos are at least as much (probably more) about interesting rhythms than interesting note choices. Accent different beats in the bar, or off-beats, regardless of what note you happen to be playing.
     
    Phletch likes this.
  9. No457 Snowy

    No457 Snowy Member

    Messages:
    657
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Location:
    Australia
    What helped me with this type of thing was knowing the basic melody down cold, listening carefully to the piece of music you are trying to improvise over and come up with a nice sounding improvised variation to the basic melody in your head, kind of scat style, even just a bar or two to start with. I'd try to do that first and when you can do that then find that phrase on the fingerboard and play it, if the improvised phrasing in your head sounded good you'll find that the devices/tools like arps and scales are actually built in and that's why it actually sounds like it fits, if you know them then you will be able to spot them buried in your phrase.

    The important point is that they will naturally be in there but not as angular sounding exercise material and it can give some insight into bending them to your will so to speak, take special note of how you are approaching those arp notes/chord tones and working around them. It also sounds more natural because you heard it in your head as music first and then found it on the instrument rather than your fingers playing "shapes" and having those dictate the end result, to me this always "sounds" like a Lego block construction "looks". It is hard work at first but I find it's one way that helps break through the situation where the fingering patterns, arps and scales, etc are playing you instead of you playing music. It may not work for you but it's a simple thing to try.
     
    derekd and Phletch like this.
  10. StanG

    StanG Member

    Messages:
    4,406
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    A big part of the bebop style is arpeggio up, scale fragment hitting chord tones on strong beats down. Remember that horns have a much more limited range than piano or guitar. After coming down, they need to go back up to stay in their range.
     
    huw, derekd and Phletch like this.
  11. Sascha Franck

    Sascha Franck Member

    Messages:
    5,760
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Location:
    Grrrmany
    The most important thing, regardless of your musical style and note choices, is your phrasing.
    For whatever strange reasons, hardly any thread in this part of TGP ever deals with it - it's almost as if good phrasing is a given or can't be worked on. Both being untrue. I know several guitar players knowing just about everything, running circles around pretty much everyone technically - and yet, their phrasing is so sub-par it almost makes me cringe.

    Guess it's time to start a phrasing thread. Guess I'll do so later on.
     
    chopsley, derekd, Tag and 2 others like this.
  12. NewLeaf09

    NewLeaf09 Supporting Member

    Messages:
    2,022
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    Coventry
    Please do.
     
    derekd likes this.
  13. ChampReverb

    ChampReverb Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    8,982
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Location:
    Slightly west of Boston
    One thing try is using smaller repetitive melodic/rhythmic phrases that adapt to each new chord as needed or that are harmonically ambiguous enough that they work over multiple chords in a progression.

    In other words, stop and really work a smaller patch of harmonic terrain instead of wandering so far and wide.

    -bEn r.
     
  14. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

    Messages:
    17,130
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    When said thread created, would help to include notation. Is that possible?
     
  15. aiq

    aiq Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,716
    Joined:
    May 10, 2009
    Location:
    Northern Gulf Coast
    A nice little book is Mike Stern's Jazz Notes. I found it on Scribd. You can get it with the DVD from the usual places.

    Concise.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
  16. Sascha Franck

    Sascha Franck Member

    Messages:
    5,760
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Location:
    Grrrmany
    Probably not needed. But let's see.
    (Still kids time)
     
  17. JonR

    JonR Member

    Messages:
    12,037
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Location:
    London
    I've found imgur is quite quick to upload images and link to them. Of course you have to prepare the notation first and then make an image out of it.
     
  18. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    31,869
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Totally agree with this. When I say melodic lines, it could also be called melodic phrases. Its what makes music. Scales and arps do not do that. One musical phrase to the next is how every great player plays.
     
    derekd likes this.
  19. frdagaa

    frdagaa Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,701
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Recently I've been struck by how great improvisers use patterns and sequences. I'm not saying anything new here. Most would be scale-based. The reason they work is they set up expected notes in the listener's ear. The improvisor then has the ability to meet expectation or twist it a bit. Many similarities to any melodic vocabulary -- listeners have some expectation of what lines will come out in a bebop solo. Or a metal solo. Those expectations need to be acknowledged and dealt with (though they shouldn't be always met completely -- that's where the art of the line comes in).

    Arpeggios and chord tones anchor many lines, and you need to handle them appropriately. But you need more.

    I bring up the patterns and sequences just because they can give a big bang for the buck. But don't overuse them.
     
    Tag likes this.
  20. boo radley

    boo radley Member

    Messages:
    1,697
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2011
    Thanks all - a lot of meat here, to chew on....

    To put this in context, the folks I play with, were playing "Mack The Knife," and I was comping -- C6 | Dm7 | G7 | C6 | Am7 | Dm7 | G7 | C6. I waved off a chance to take a solo, and when I got home, started messing with it, and getting really annoyed: it's a simple song with a strong melody.

    eta: there's a fair amount of whining, here. :) It's a just a bit discouraging, because this is a rare case where I believe I have sufficient 'theoretical' chops to handle the song, but just nothing, yet, that sounds 'legit,' and certainly nothing I could pull out spontaneously.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017

Share This Page