Author Topic: Theory as applied to guitar  (Read 4186 times)

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Offline JeremyK

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Theory as applied to guitar
« on: September 28, 2013, 04:54:19 pm »
Hi, I won't give you my background, but I am new to scales and have very old lost theory knowledge.

What I would like to know is what types of scales you can mix, I am messing with A minor pentatonic.. and the major pentatonic shape,but i dont know where the root is in major pentatonic shape..

Also I think I found that the major pentatonic shape is the same as the second minor pentatonic shape,

But my question is can you play A minor pentatonic with C major, A major and C minor for instance ?

Have to admit i've only been on the site for a short time so i don't know if there is a lesson that covers which scales and chords you can use together when learning improvisation Thanks.

Offline bradt

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2013, 05:06:19 pm »
I don't know that there are lessons covering precisely that, but it is possible. I'm sure that others will be able to answer your questions for you.

The one thing I can say, is that if you are trying to learn theory relating to guitar pick up Justin's book, Practical Music Theory. It's not one of those books that goes super in depth and tries to explain esoteric concepts. It goes through the basics of theory and applies it to the guitar in a clear and concise way. It's a great starting point covering chords, scales, an a few other topics. Well worth the purchase in my opinion.

Offline JeremyK

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2013, 05:07:43 pm »
Thanks I'll look into that  :)

Offline asura

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2013, 05:41:25 pm »
Probably the best place to look at is the section under Scales :)
 
The root is always the note that gives the scale its name.
A min pentatonic:  A C D E G
C maj pentatonic: C D E G A

Both have the same notes inside.

If you play this pentatonic to a chord you need to compare the notes from the pentatonic to the notes from the chord.

The C maj chord contains: C E G
This three notes are also in the A min pentatonic. So you need only check the A and the D note. Both are not direct adjacent to the notes so it won't create a dissonance.

The C min chord: C Eb G
Here the E and the Eb is direct adjacent and can cause problems.

The A maj chord: A C# E
Here the C and C# can cause problems.

You can still use it but it takes more care to do it. Somehow Blues and Jazz "breaks" some of the rules and some dissonances are desired.
If you use only the "correct" pentatonic(s) you are more on the safe side and cannot create big unwanted dissonances.


Offline mouser9169

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2013, 06:15:32 pm »
Remember, the major pentatonic scale is the riff to 'My Girl'.   :-*

That should help you finding it inside other scale shapes.
Mouser's Rules of Music:

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Offline Majik

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2013, 06:43:10 pm »
Firstly, it's good to understand which key you are playing in. You mention keys so I'm guessing you have some idea of that.

The key you are in dictates which chords you should be using and which scales will work best (although, sometimes, you can break the "rules").

There is a very strong relationship between the chords and the scales you can use: they use the same notes. In particular, the notes in the most common chords will be based on 3 or more of the following notes of the scale:

The root note
The 3rd or flattened 3rd
The 5th
The 7th or flattened 7th

On the guitar, the CAGED system is one way to associate common chords and the scales that are commonly used with them.

Note that many scales are very similar to each other. For instance, the major pentatonic scale is the same as the major scale, but with the 4th and 7th note missing. So wherever you can use the major scale, you can also use the equivalent major pentatonic scale.

There's also a strong relationship between major and minor keys, in that every major key has a relative minor key. For instance, the major key of C has a relative minor key of Am, as you have found out. The association is that they use the same notes in the scale. The difference is in how you play them. As you suggested, the root note position (and, hence, the 3rd and 5th notes) changes between the major and minor version.

If you look at the scale box shapes for Minor Pentatonic and Major Pentatonic you will see that (for instance) the Minor pentatonic shape 1 is the same as the major pentatonic shape 5. You can see that the root note is one scale note higher in the Major pentatonic.

Note that this relationship doesn;t work the other way around: the relative minor key for C major is A minor, but the relative minor key for A major is F# minor.

So when you are playing A minor pentatonic, the relative major is C major. Using the Minor pentatonic shape 1 gives you the root note on the 6th string, 5th fret. The relative major (C) is the same shape but with the root note on the 6th string 8th fret.

Mixing relative major and minor scales is perfectly fine (they use the same notes) and is actually a technique used by many players like Jimmy Page, Clapton, and Slash. It does take a good familiarity with playing both scales to do it really well, although the beauty of pentatonic scales is that almost anything you play is unlikely to sound bad. It can be a really useful exercise IMO to practice switching between playing minor pentatonic and major pentatonic in the same position. It takes some time to actually make them sound distinctively major or minor.

Cheers,

Keith

Offline JeremyK

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2013, 06:58:41 pm »
Thanks for that last post, as I stated my knowledge of music theory is mostly lost and forgotten, but you definitely have the knowledge i am looking to pick up and expand upon , so thanks for your post I will have to look into it and study it furthur

Online stitch101

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2013, 07:08:06 pm »
Quote
Note that this relationship doesn;t work the other way around: the relative minor key for C major is A minor, but the relative minor key for A major is F# minor.

The relative minor is the 6th of the major scale. So Am is the 6th of C major scale.
The chords are C Dm Em F G Am Bdim
This works for every scale this is why Cm isn't the relative minor to A

Offline JeremyK

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2013, 07:16:03 pm »





So when you are playing A minor pentatonic, the relative major is C major. Using the Minor pentatonic shape 1 gives you the root note on the 6th string, 5th fret. The relative major (C) is the same shape but with the root note on the 6th string 8th fret.

Mixing relative major and minor scales is perfectly fine (they use the same notes) and is actually a technique used by many players like Jimmy Page, Clapton, and Slash. It does take a good familiarity with playing both scales to do it really well, although the beauty of pentatonic scales is that almost anything you play is unlikely to sound bad. It can be a really useful exercise IMO to practice switching between playing minor pentatonic and major pentatonic in the same position. It takes some time to actually make them sound distinctively major or minor.

Cheers,

Keith

Could someone explain some of this a little further, in particular the highlighted part...
I think I understand that u can play first position minor on 5th fret or 1st position major on 8th fret, but what is the major scale block to play in 4 or 5 or 6th position?.. what is major and minor shapes in the same position plz, Thanks

Offline mouser9169

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2013, 08:07:02 pm »
Could someone explain some of this a little further, in particular the highlighted part...
I think I understand that u can play first position minor on 5th fret or 1st position major on 8th fret, but what is the major scale block to play in 4 or 5 or 6th position?.. what is major and minor shapes in the same position plz, Thanks

Easiest example is what I call first position of the minor pentatonic - or "the box" [thick to thin: 1-4, 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, 1-4, 1-4]. If you start that shape on the 3rd fret and begin the scale with the lowest note you'd be playing G minor pentatonic. Keeping the same shape, if you begin playing the scale on the 2nd note (the '4' of the thick E string), you'd be playing the Bb major pentatonic scale (the 'My Girl' riff).

The difficulty in playing them both in the same position is establishing two tonal centers so close together and switching between them. Done well, it can work like a 'call and response'. Done poorly, it's pretty much a mess, though it won't sound dissonant because all of the notes 'work'.
Mouser's Rules of Music:

1) Always Trust your Muse.
2) See Rule 1)

Offline Majik

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2013, 09:02:23 pm »

Could someone explain some of this a little further, in particular the highlighted part...
I think I understand that u can play first position minor on 5th fret or 1st position major on 8th fret, but what is the major scale block to play in 4 or 5 or 6th position?.. what is major and minor shapes in the same position plz, Thanks

What I meant by this is if you play the first shape of the minor pentatonic, starting at the 5th fret to start (A minor pentatonic)

Then play the 5th shape of the major pentatonic with the root note as the C on the 8th fret (C major pentatonic). In this shape the lowest note of the scale is the 5th fret and the shape is identical to the Am pentatonic. The difference is which notes you emphasise, the tonal centre as mouser9169 states.

If you look at the scale charts I linked to, on the Major Pentatonic scale you will see notes marked in red. These are the Root, 3rd, and 5th notes of the scale. If you emphasise these notes by starting and ending any phrase with one of them, and reserving the others for passing notes, that shape will sound major.

Unfortunately Justin's diagram for the Minor Pentatonic only shows the root notes, but the idea is the same: if you focus your playing based around the root notes you won't go far wrong, and it will sound minor.

The reason I think this is an important exercise is this aspect of music is slightly mind boggling when you first come across it, but understanding and getting a feel for what "tonality" is, and how it relates to chords and scales, really helps your innate understanding of how music works. Or at least it did for me.

Quote
but what is the major scale block to play in 4 or 5 or 6th position?

I'm not sure I understand your question, but if by "position" you mean "shape", there are only 5 shapes for either the major or minor pentatonic.

"Position" is which frets you hand is playing
"Shape" is which scale pattern you use, also often called "pattern" or "box".

It's an important distinction to avoid confusion.

By the way, I recommend you print out the scale shapes so you can look at them whilst playing.

Cheers,

Keith





Offline JeremyK

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2013, 09:27:23 pm »
Ok so just to clarify, you are saying play 5th fret .. 1st position shape Am pentatonic... then play .. same shape in same position, but start on the 8th fret with 4th finger the C ? but then go to 5th fret 1 finger and continue the Am, shape in  5th position but emphasize different tone while playing the same shape in the same position ?  Plz attempt to clarify this once and for all if possible, I appreciate your help... initially i was messing around playing Am shape and i guess.. A# major shape?, but i am trying to learn what is the appropriate thing to do , when mixing Am to ?Major shapes. Thanks

Offline Majik

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2013, 09:55:18 pm »
OK, here is a specific example.

The first 4 bar song is A minor pentatonic (1st shape):



It uses this shape:


The second one is C major pentatonic (5th shape):



It uses this shape:


Try playing these both. You should see that they both use the same notes, but one sounds minor, and the other major.

Cheers,

Keith

Offline JeremyK

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2013, 10:01:06 pm »
Thanks so much for your knowledge, patience, and help :) Best wishes !

Offline Majik

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2013, 10:11:12 pm »
Thanks so much for your knowledge, patience, and help :) Best wishes !

By the way, I'm not sure what stage you are at in learning the guitar but, if you are close to being a beginner, I recommend starting at the beginning with Justin's course and don't be tempted to skip ahead.

This stuff I would count as "skipping ahead" if you've not got a reasonable background in the rest of it.

If you follow Justin's course, and look at some of the materials like his Practical Music Theory eBook, a lot of this stuff is explained, you would gain a lot of this basic knowledge and it lays the groundwork for a much better understanding of all of this. Whilst there is no single lesson that I know of that is specific to this, a lot of it is encapsulated in the other lessons and understanding it will make you a better and more rounded musician.

Cheers,

Keith

Offline JeremyK

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2013, 10:20:21 pm »
Well I will finally mention, that I studied guitar for 10 years, but I only studied classical, which had to do with learning technique, learning to read music ,and memorizing songs

I am a complete beginner with improvisation and scales and I only took the first lvl of music theory in college and that was years ago, so I know I have a lot to gain from this site and I plan on ordering Justin's music theory book in a few days.

I am a total beginner to learning theory as it applies to guitar :) Thanks again.

Offline Majik

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2013, 11:11:25 pm »
In that case, as well as Practical Music Theory,  I would suggest you consider selecting some of the stuff from stage 7/8/9 of the Beginners course (http://justinguitar.com/en/BC-000-BeginnersCourse.php) and  from the Intermediate Method course (http://justinguitar.com/en/IM-000-IntermediateMethod.php)

It's probably not worth you doing the whole course as it will be covering stuff you already know, but scale-related ones and things like Building Melodic Patterns (http://justinguitar.com/en/IM-136-BuildingMelodicPatterns.php) are probably valuable to you.

That's the free stuff, but you might also want to consider his "Mastering The Major Scale" DVD which has some very useful exercises to do with learning and applying scales.

Oh, and this is pertinent: http://justinguitar.com/en/QT-005-WhenNOTToLearnScales.php

Cheers,

Keith

Online stitch101

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2013, 12:07:25 am »
Here's a chart that I made a few years ago that shows how these scales relate to each other. The orange
notes are the root note the blue note are the blues notes. The C Major Pentatonic is the same as the Am
Pentatonic with the C root note

Offline JeremyK

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2013, 12:46:02 am »
I think some of what i was stumbling upon while playing "wrong notes" is covered in BL-028 • Blues Lead Guitar #18 - The Dorian Approach

I guess what I am trying to find is if you start with an Am pentatonic on 5th fret 6th string, what are all the other notes you can add in and that still work. in that same positon, for instance what "shapes" cover all the notes you CAN play in that position for different styles.

Thanks for all the replies, I have a lot to learn still, but i have been looking over the SC-scales section of the site for part of today and trying to learn more Thanks !

Offline mouser9169

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2013, 11:01:45 am »
I guess what I am trying to find is if you start with an Am pentatonic on 5th fret 6th string, what are all the other notes you can add in and that still work. in that same positon, for instance what "shapes" cover all the notes you CAN play in that position for different styles.

This way lies madness...

ANY note can be played and sound good depending on the context. If you keep playing fast enough you could play straight up the chromatic scale, and as long as you didn't rest on any note for too long none of the notes would sound 'wrong'. Btw, the corollary is also true - any note (even the 1 or tonic) can sound like crap if played at the wrong time or against the wrong backing.

Guys like Albert King (even moreso than B.B.) could do so much with just two or three notes. There's a wealth of sounds you can make by just playing a single note on the fretboard. It's natural to want to add more, but your time is honestly better spent learning to use what you have better. The 'more' will come with time and experience. And don't forget the most important sound of all - silence.
Mouser's Rules of Music:

1) Always Trust your Muse.
2) See Rule 1)

Offline Majik

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2013, 11:18:54 am »
I tend to agree with mouser9169.

I would say it's best to start with the pentatonics and make sure you can use those really well. Those alone will give you a huge arsenal for improvisation. Most people start with the minor pentatonic, and many including some of the great blues legends stick with this. Musicality is generally not about being clever or fancy, and the blues and jazz in particular, tend to take a "less is more" approach.

Major pentatonic adds another flavour but, on it's own is more suited to country music than, say, the blues.

Maybe throw the blues scale in there too (which is an extra note in the minor pentatonic). Even adding this one note should give you a whole new set of licks which you could easily spend a weeks experimenting with and mastering.

Then, when you want to go beyond these, look at the major scales.

Bear in mind if you are looking to play the blues, a lot of blues improvisation is about learning short phrases or "licks" and joining them together with, as mouser9169 suggests, a fair bit of space.

And as for what other notes can be played, as Justin says: "if it sounds good, it is good". There's no hard and fast rules.

I would also consider trying some basic songwriting. Trying creating a short song with a structure something like intro, verse, chorus, verse chorus, outro. Pick a key and, for each section, come up with a chord progression and strumming pattern. Work on that until you are happy with it. Then record it, and come up with some melody to play along to it.

It doesn't have to be complex. In fact starting simple is the key. Just this exercise requires you to know a fair bit about song structure, chord relationships, and some scales. If you struggle to know where to start, then I would suggest you're not quite ready yet, and need to do some more learning of the basics.

Cheers,

Keith
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 12:02:18 pm by Majik »

Offline JeremyK

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Re: Theory as applied to guitar
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2013, 01:54:20 pm »
Thanks for your feedback, since  I am just beginning to learn scales and improvisation ....
I will try to stick to a scale for awhile and then as suggested just try another scale like blues scale for awhile before attempting  to combine the 2...

Sorry I got carried away, but these are the questions my mind came up with as I was messing around and hitting " wrong notes" for the Am pentatonic but they still sounded good.

EDIT: i am just adding that i am trying to learn blues solely to learn and understand improvisation... but I have 2 goals.. one is to become a well rounded player in order to teach guitar.. the other and my personal goal is to learn to improvise flamenco using combination of scales and chords.

 

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