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Become great at Improvisation Pt 10 – Note skipping

Hi there,

So the next step in your quest to be an improv god is note skipping through your scales.

Note skipping is where you play your first note of the scale, skip to the 3rd, come back to the 2nd note, skip to the 4th, come back to the 3rd and so on.

It’s a truly excellent way to learn your scales as you really have to know your shapes well to be able to do this effectively. It also allows you to further randomize your shapes, providing you with more ideas for coming up with riffs and melodies.

Here’s the 1st shape of the A minor pentatonic using this exercise. (both ascending and descending)

PENTATONIC NOTE SKIPPING

Here’s the 1st shape of the A major scale using this exercise. (both ascending and descending). This is also known as going up and down in 3rd’s

NOTE SKIPPING WITH A MAJOR SCALE

Remember you can get perform this exercise with all 5 shapes of the minor/ major pentatonic and all 7 shapes of the Major/ Natural Minor scales, plus any other scales you learn.

You can find other free excellent info on all things guitar via the Jsmusicschool twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks for reading

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

James

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2014 in Improvisation

 

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Become great at Improvisation – Pt 8 – Pentatonic scales on 1 string

Hi there,

Thanks for reading my blogs, feel free to ask any questions.

The next blog in this Improv series will look at playing the pentatonic scales just on 1 string at a time. This is another great way of learning how to integrate your scales + move across the neck easily.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of this exercise you’ll want to learn how the pentatonic scales are constructed.

The Minor pentatonic scale is built up of a root note (1), Minor 3rd (b3), Perfect 4th (4), Perfect 5th (5) and Minor 7 (b7) intervals

– Minor 3rd interval is 1 1/2 tones in size e.g. A to C

– A Perfect 4th is 2 1/2 tones in size e.g. D to G

– A Perfect 5th is 3 1/2 tones in size e.g. F to C

– A Minor 7th is 5 tones in size e.g. C to Bb

So let’s take A minor pentatonic as an example. The notes would be:

– A, C, D, E + G . So using the 5 shapes of A minor pentatonic, these are the only 5 notes you would be playing.

– An extremely useful exercise would be to play all the available notes of the pentatonic scale on 1 string at a time from the first available note. So if we took the 6th Low E string. You’d start with the open E, then G, A, C and so on.

Here’s all the available notes of the A minor pentatonic on the E string:

fretboard

The intervallic formula for the major pentatonic is as follows: Root note (1), Major 2nd (2), Major 3rd (3), Perfect 5th (5) and Major 6th (6)

Let’s take the D major pentatonic for example: The notes would be:

D, E, F#, A + B

So you can use the exact same process as above.

So practice this in all keys on all 6 strings , and that will really help you to further your improv skills by getting to know the neck + keys a lot better.

Hope you’ve found this blog useful, you can find other great free info via the Js Music School twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

James

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Improvisation

 

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Become great at Improvisation Pt 6 – Pentatonic bends

Hi there,

Thanks again for reading my blogs, feel good about spreading the word if you have found them useful.

So the next few blogs are going to really get stuck into pitch bends with the minor pentatonic scale, then move onto using them in the major and minor scales.

Pitch bends are a really great way of linking up shapes and creating variety in your lead playing. You are basically picking a note then bending the string with your fretting hand to reach another note. Often you are simply just bending the note to reach the pitch of the next note in the scale.

To keep it simple i’m going to just display the most essential bends of the 5 shapes on the G, B and E strings. These are the ones you are going to use the most.

In the picture below you’ll see the red circles on which to perform the pitch bends. In each pitch bend you are bending up the note to reach the next note (that would be in the connecting shape)

  • The red circle highlights a ‘tone bend’. A tone is 2 notes (so E to F# or G to A)
  • The red circle with a blue circle around it highlights ‘a tone and a half bend’ which means 3 semitones in total (so E to G or G to A#)

PENTATONICS FOR STRING BENDING

As the shapes are the same for the major pentatonic you can use the bends in exactly the same way.

Hope you’ve found this blog useful, we’ll go onto the major/minor scales next where you can add semitone bends to your repertoire.

You can find other excellent free tips via the Js Music School twitter feed @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

James

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2013 in Improvisation

 

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Become great at Improvisation Pt.5 – String skipping, hammer on’s and pull off’s

Hi there,

Thanks again for reading my blogs, if you’ve found them useful feel good about recommending other guitarists to read the blog.

So on part 5 of the Improv series we’re going to look at integrating String Skipping, Hammer on’s and pull off’s into your scale exercises.

So far we’ve looked at learning your 4 essential scales, then patterns of 3’s and 4’s. IMHO the next exercise is another excellent way to help integrate your scales into using them in a more musical context.

  • Often in riffs and solo’s guitarists will play a pattern and then switch to a string that’s not necessarily next to it. Being able to jump across strings whilst still using the same scale is a great skill to have.
  • Hammer on’s and pull off’s are used a lot in creating riffs, melodies and solos as they provide you with different sounds and ways of connecting up shapes.
  • A ‘hammer on’ is where you pick a note on a string and literally hammer on the next note with another fretting finger (without picking)
  • A ‘pull off’ is where you are picking a note and then creating another note by pulling off your finger (with another finger already pressed down)
  • This exercise combines 3 techniques at once so it’s a fantastic one to learn.
  • With the 3 examples below when ascending up the shape you use hammer on’s and coming back down you use pull off’s

Here’s the 1st shape of the A minor pentatonic using the exercise:

A MINOR PENT STRING SKIPPING

Here’s an audio clip of me playing it:

Here’s the 1st shape of the A major scale using the exercise:

A MAJOR STRING SKIPPING

Here’s an audio clip of me playing it:

Here’s the 1st shape of the A minor scale using the exercise:

A MINOR STRING SKIPPING

Here’s an audio clip of me playing it:

Have fun using these exercises, you’ll also find them great at stretching those fingers. Remember to practice them in all shapes and keys.

You can find other excellent free info via the Js Music School twitter feeds @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks

Rock ‘n’ roll

James

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2013 in Improvisation

 

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Become great at Improvisation Pt.4 – Groups of 4

Hi there,

Thanks for reading my blogs,

So far in this improv series we’ve learned the essential scales that you’ll want to use to improvise with. The last blog introduced a great exercise to integrate with the scales in order to start randomizing the scales. One of the challenges of improvising is to
not sound ‘scale like’ which is why lots of interesting patterns will help solve that issue.

In the last blog we looked at ascending and descending through the scales using groups of 3. Now we can have a look at Groups of 4. You can think of it in 2 ways:

  • Playing 4 notes from the first note of the scale, then 4 notes from the second note of the scale and so on
  • Playing 4 notes, then go back 2 notes and then play the next 4 and so on.

With these patterns it may take a little while to get used to them but after you get the pattern you can then apply to all shapes and scales.

Here’s the 1st shape of the A minor pentatonic using groups of 4: (you can click on the picture to bring up a larger version)

A MINOR PENTATONIC (4'S)

Here’s an audio clip of me playing it:

Here’s the 1st shape of the A major pentatonic using groups of 4:

A MAJOR 4'S PT 1
A MAJOR 4'S PT 2

Here’s an audio clip of me playing it:

Remember to practice these patterns with all shapes and keys. It’s also very useful to play these along to a metronome or drum machine and gradually increase the speed once the accuracy is there. Go for crotchets then quavers, semi quavers, triplets etc.

Hope you’ve found this blog useful – in the next few chapters we’ll look at hammer on’s, pull off’s and string skipping

You can find other excellent free info via Js Music School on twitter. @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

Many thanks

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL

James

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2013 in Improvisation

 

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Become great at improvisation Pt 1 – Pentatonic Scales

Hi everyone,

Thanks for reading my blogs so far – feel good about asking any questions you may have in the comments section.

I get lots of guitar students asking me questions like

1.’how long will it take me to become a good lead player’

2. I want to get better at improvising but don’t know how to make up solos/riffs

3. How do I know what scales to use over what chords?

Answers:

1. It all depends on how much proper practicing you put in. If you practice all the things in the upcoming blogs regularly you can get to where you want to be faster.

2. In the next series of blogs I will explain a lot of the techniques and exercises that will help you to achieve question 1. There are hundreds of examples out there but I will just keep it simple and list the most essential.

3. Learning how the harmonized major/minor scales work and how they link to scales is essential, I will provide examples in this series of blogs.

So firstly learn your shapes of the major + minor pentatonic scales + major and minor scales. These are the most widely used scales and the most essential. The blue dots are the ‘Root’ or ‘Key’ notes of the scale. These become very important for phrasing your riffs and solo’s.

MINOR AND MAJOR PENTATONIC SHAPES

Key points:

1. The Pentatonic scales only contain 5 notes! they are just repeated.

2. There are 12 keys in music (A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab) and each key contains the 5 shapes so there are 60 possible shapes for the Major and Minor pentatonics (120 in total)

3. They link together like a jigsaw. The 2nd note of each shape becomes the first note of the next shape.

For examples F Minor pentatonic, Shape 1 starts on Fret 1 (F), Shape 2 on Fret 4 (Ab), Shape 3 on Fret 6 (Bb), Shape 4 on Fret 8 (C) and Shape 5 on Fret 11 (Eb)

As you can see from the patterns the major pentatonic shapes are actually the same as the minor pentatonic but shape 2 now becomes shape 1 and the root notes change. This may seem a little weird but it will all makes sense later!

So for F major pentatonic shape 1 starts on Fret 1 (F) , Shape 2 starts on Fret 3 (G) , shape 3 starts on Fret 5 (A) , shape 4 starts on Fret 8 (C), shape 5 starts on Fret 10 (D)

Practice the scale shapes going up and down and finish on one of the root notes. You’ll start to hear how the shapes function.

So before moving on to the next step (learning the shapes is only the start of being able to use them) get cracking with all these in every key

Hope you’ve found this blog useful – in the next blog i’ll lay out the major and minor shapes

Rock ‘n’ roll

Many thanks

James

You can find Js Music School on twitter @jsmusicschool @harvey_jsmusic

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Improvisation

 

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