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What's the key of improvising?

Technique
Nightmare  
10 Nov 2009 04:42 | Quote
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I don't if I'm asking the right question here, but I kinda watch like my drummer get along with whatever something getting playing on the guitar and I sorta can play along with some drums too. I dunno how I do it that's the problem, cause if I don't know how I do it I wont be able to get to know how to practice to get better at it. so I guess the question is how to be good at improvising or just play your correct stuff without preparing it?
case211  
10 Nov 2009 07:33 | Quote
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Improv's come from the soul man, seriously if you just kind of play whatever you feel you will be amazed at how you will sound.

That's at least what I believe.
carlsnow  
10 Nov 2009 07:53 | Quote
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"Improvising is the art of composing in real-time, with no re-writes" - (many sources original-unknown)

@case211
You nailed (another aspect) it as well!

Two *Milestones (*pun) of Improvisation =
Miles Davis - 'Kind of Blue'
John Coltrane - 'Giant Steps'
(in both cases a VERY sparse 'outline' was presented for the band to Vamp(improvise) over ... the only restrictions presented were "find your way back"- Miles Davis on the tune 'So What' (from the book 'Coltrane')

RAWK!
Cs



*('Milestones' was the Miles Davis Lp preceding 'Kind of Blue')
BodomBeachTerror  
10 Nov 2009 11:02 | Quote
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just do it... alot, the more you improvise the more farmilliar you will be with the scales. soon enough you will be able to fly around the neck without thinking of where to put your fingers

and if you find a lick or something you like, try to remember what you played and pop it in later as you improvising
vincejonesiii  
10 Nov 2009 12:24 | Quote
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all i do is improv stuff.. i like food :D
fender_bender  
10 Nov 2009 15:06 | Quote
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The dirty little secret about drums is that it is 10 times easier to improvise (for me at least). There are no wrong/right notes. Just beats and rhythms. When I am playing drums all I do is improvise. I never play things the same way twice unless I did something I really liked (doesn't happen very often, lol). I can play drums on a song without ever hearing it before and get something usable. Its usually different from the original, but it works. I can't do that with a guitar yet. I would think that if you know some common scales and what chords/keys go together you would be able to improvise and get something usable. Learning solos of your favorite songs would help a lot. Then you could 'borrow' some licks from them and adapt them to whatever you are improvising.
JazzMaverick  
11 Nov 2009 11:07 | Quote
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Exactly what they said, but the bright side to it is that you can use "licks" to help guide you into a decent improvisation, should you run out of ideas anyway.

The idea is to know what chords you're playing over so you're able to justify your solo, otherwise it could turn into a real mess.
BodomBeachTerror  
11 Nov 2009 11:11 | Quote
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JazzMaverick says:
The idea is to know what chords you're playing over so you're able to justify your solo, otherwise it could turn into a real mess.


COULD, ive done improvising and had no idea what i was playing over, and for the most part sounded good. so you can play without knowing what chords, just use your ears.
not saying its a better way, just saying
case211  
11 Nov 2009 11:32 | Quote
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I believe the ears are the real way to go, I mean nothing on music theory, but even if you know what your playing(mode, key, chords, etc.) I would say let your ears take you.
I've done some jam sessions with my bassist and drummer and I had no idea what my bass player was doing as far as notes, but I managed to find something that sounded good and kept coming back to it and it was actually pretty cool sounding.

BUT if you do know the chords that are being played, and if you match the mode to it, it will naturally sound good, but I'm still saying that you should let your ears be the real judge, because though it may match the chords and the mode, it may not sound good to YOU.
carlsnow  
11 Nov 2009 13:27 | Quote
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case211 says:
I believe the ears are the real way to go, I mean nothing on music theory, but even if you know what your playing(mode, key, chords, etc.) I would say let your ears take you.


Bingo!

MANY times "theory" can hold back a good idea if the player starts thinking "mmm...is this correct"-"what if he plays a A9dim?"-ETC

thing is folks take Theory as 'fact' and that just aint true, ask Bird, Monk, 'Trane , Miles, Hendrix, Belew, Frissel, etc...

I can honestly say that though i have studied theory for almost 34 years now, i have rarely ever used it while soloing. its easier now because i can "hear the frets before i play the notes" but 'searching' is important...ALMOST important as "failure".

AKA: use theory; don't let theory use you!

RAWK!
Cs


PS: this is not to say that the beginning musician should avoid theory, or the study of it...far from it the study of theory allows you to know when its safe (much depends on experience and years) to zig-zag through a theoretical impasse or when to step on its head.
JazzMaverick  
11 Nov 2009 22:08 | Quote
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carlsnow says:

MANY times "theory" can hold back a good idea if the player starts thinking "mmm...is this correct"-


IMHO That totally depends on the ambition of that musician. I'm also not saying to ignore your ears - I'm just saying to know where you are. Like what I always say: Learn the rules, then break them! Besides, the more you know; the more you'll be able to improvise great ideas.

It's like what I've said on my profile:

I believe music is about what the artist wants...true that some focus too much on the technical side with less catching melodies. But the best of both worlds is also possible and more challenging to the artist. So many of these artists aren't appreciated as much as they should be. Being amazingly self aware of the importance of melody behind the awesome skills!
carlsnow  
12 Nov 2009 04:40 | Quote
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JazzMaverick says:
Learn the rules, then break them!


Jazzy...read the post again--thats basically what i said.

My main point is simple:
- While theory is a great tool, many people view it as a set of "rules" rather than the system of discovery it should be.- Cs


but a few others have said it far better than this particular 44 year old guitar teacher from Tennessee Via Atlanta, so i'll share two of my favorite Quotes on the subject.
(or should i say the favorites i could remember at 5:30 a.m.? LOL)

"Don't fear mistakes: there are none..."
-Miles Davis

"Don't play the saxophone. Let it play you."
-Charlie Parker

RAWK!
Cs

Nightmare  
12 Nov 2009 05:11 | Quote
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case211 says:
Improv's come from the soul man, seriously if you just kind of play whatever you feel you will be amazed at how you will sound.


that's why I want to be better at improvising.

BodomBeachTerror says:
the more you improvise the more farmilliar you will be with the scales


true but, that's saying " take the long way"

fender_bender says:
The dirty little secret about drums is that it is 10 times easier to improvise


You mean it easier when it comes to improvising and not playing right? cause I gotta convince that to my drummer.

fender_bender says:
I would think that if you know some common scales and what chords/keys go together you would be able to improvise and get something usable. Learning solos of your favorite songs would help a lot. Then you could 'borrow' some licks from them and adapt them to whatever you are improvising.


That's exactly what I'm doing, but when I try to come "outside the boxes" of which I usually solo on, things start to get messy.

carlsnow says:
MANY times "theory" can hold back a good idea if the player starts thinking "mmm...is this correct"-"what if he plays a A9dim?"-ETC


excatly.


The thing is, I believe I should know my scales, but that's like memorizing and stuff (if I'm not too lazy for that, I got a lot of other stuff to do). So what I'm doing is getting tabs of the songs I play and start learning using chords tabs and not the numbers thing tabs, but that seems to help only when it comes to learning the chords and not scales, which doesn't help me for improvising solos. So what I'm doing is just playing a lot of solos and let my ear do the job, so when I improvise I'd have a clear idea of what will it sound like if I played the following but that consumes time learning some pretty hard solos, so any shortcut for that?
case211  
12 Nov 2009 07:34 | Quote
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@nightmare

dude, there is no shortcut to being a good guitarist, you truly have to do everything the long way.
RA  
12 Nov 2009 10:56 | Quote
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carlsnow says:
use theory; don't let theory use you!


Honestly, that's your answer there on that topic.


carlsnow says:
While theory is a great tool, many people view it as a set of "rules" rather than the system of discovery it should be.


Damn straight, when people start talking about rules I get antsy, where are these rules? someone if you know where they are, please tell me, i can't find them. The only thing that came close was books on 17 century polyphony, and when i started breaking down songs no one really followed them that closely


Nightmare says:
true but, that's saying " take the long way"

answer
case211 says:
you truly have to do everything the long way

plus you find a short cut please that us in on it.



Nightmare says:
You mean it easier when it comes to improvising and not playing right? cause I gotta convince that to my drummer.


it can be because western music is really only in 4/4, but that doesn't mean you can't do some crazy things impossible like things with it, nor don't mean just switching to 5/4 is going to make it that much more of anything, but rhythm playing can get involved too look at the Indian tabla players(only saying them because there should be no problem finding them on youtube) to see some crazy things going on. Jazz drumming gets off the wall too but there to much white noise in there for me to send you off in a duck hunk in that direction.


Nightmare says:
The thing is, I believe I should know my scales, but that's like memorizing and stuff (if I'm not too lazy for that, I got a lot of other stuff to do). So what I'm doing is getting tabs of the songs I play and start learning using chords tabs and not the numbers thing tabs, but that seems to help only when it comes to learning the chords and not scales, which doesn't help me for improvising solos. So what I'm doing is just playing a lot of solos and let my ear do the job, so when I improvise I'd have a clear idea of what will it sound like if I played the following but that consumes time learning some pretty hard solos, so any shortcut for that?



learning songs doesn't really do anything unless you break them down and understand them bit by bit(reason why i don't like the lick approach you just missing the whole point), and the only way to do that is to hit the books/teacher. Also chords and scales are the same things just on different planes of hearing.
see that people seem to be in love with EVH remember him saying that his brother use to leave for party's at six and come home at three in the morning while Eddie would be at home with a six back playing the hole time. Now obviously I'm not telling you to have that kind of devotion or not play at all, but hopefully you can get the point.
what your looking for doesn't exist, there is nothing to it but to do it, it just a process of getting/understand little bits at a time and to do that all you have to do is listen


@Carl what about Joe pass? it goes something like "a mistake is an idea not used," or something of the short. I have always like that, hell i like Joe pass what can i say
Nightmare  
12 Nov 2009 12:14 | Quote
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case211 says:
dude, there is no shortcut to being a good guitarist

I'm sorry I think you miss understood 'cause I shouldn't have said shortcut, by shortcut I meant an easy way to learn the scales, 'cause there's isn't a shortcut in anything even when it comes to guitar playing.

RA says:
Nightmare says:
true but, that's saying " take the long way"

answer
case211 says:
you truly have to do everything the long way

plus you find a short cut please that us in on it.


Read what bodom said before I told him that's the long way! he said improvise to learn the scales, while I think it's better to learn the scales first so you could improvise.

RA says:
learning songs doesn't really do anything unless you break them down and understand them bit by bit


well ya that's what I am saying, I mean at least you'd know what that chord sounds like and how's it played.

RA says:
Also chords and scales are the same things just on different planes of hearing.


correct me if I'm wrong, but scales are a series of notes played sequentially, that is, one after another while a chord is a selection of notes played at the same time. scales can be used musically for moving from one note or section of music to another higher or lower note or section, to fill in empty space.

RA says:
Now obviously I'm not telling you to have that kind of devotion or not play at all, but hopefully you can get the point.


ya got your point. how may hours do you think one should practice daily? I know the more you practice the better but we only have 24 hours per day and as it happens to be some of us arent not EVH and got some other stuff to do in life, although I believe anyone could become like Eddie.

JazzMaverick says:
Learn the rules, then break them!

carlsnow says:
While theory is a great tool, many people view it as a set of "rules" rather than the system of discovery it should be.- Cs


I think both are correct, what differs is the sense of discovery. and thats what I meant by there's a long way and a short way, it's all learning but it is either by instruction or by discovery.


BodomBeachTerror  
12 Nov 2009 12:19 | Quote
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Nightmare says:
Read what bodom said before I told him that's the long way! he said improvise to learn the scales, while I think it's better to learn the scales first so you could improvise.


of course learn the scales first, but if you dont want to just be going up and down the scales you have to just play and experiment
Nightmare  
12 Nov 2009 12:21 | Quote
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Ya I know man and you're right
carlsnow  
12 Nov 2009 13:18 | Quote
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RA says:
@Carl what about Joe pass? it goes something like "a mistake is an idea not used," or something of the short. I have always like that, hell i like Joe pass what can i say


RA! LOL! ..swear to Hendrix i WAS gonna plop that up there! ...seriously!
and YES that IS the exact quote, Bro... from an old artical in Downbeat, i believe. But see? IF i had thrown Joe Pass in there i'd have opened myself to Ornette/Ulmer, etc(Harmolodics), Jim Hall (some great ones) and worst/best of all that rapier-sharp Zappa-tongue, and hell it was just wayyyy too early in the morning LOL !

Ya RAWK! RA!

RAWK!
Cs


PS, RA
Pass ALSO said "If you hit a 'bad' note cover it up with the next one" ..
RA  
14 Nov 2009 15:55 | Quote
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@night---Whats the difference between C Ionian and C major 13? There differences are petty when you really think about it. Just part of the same thing in a different dimension(think math(X&Y) not Si-fi). I can go on and on about it but this isn't the medium to do it most theory books will go into it. And chords can do the same thing in fact western music uses harmonic functions to add movement and such(counter point). and only you know how much to practice is, Music doesn't have to be a competition(not there is anything wrong with that), you could be in it just for the love of sounds, or the social aspects, or whatever other reason there is. So you tell me how much you want to practice because that what is really important in life(you think your happy and you are happy if that's what your happy for). and the only Eddie is Eddie just like the only you is you(hopefully).

@carl your great what can i say



Edit forgot to add
@nightmare
on bracking the song down, you know the voicing of each chord?, why it sounds good play the way it does?(by it self?, with the next chord? the last?), reason why the chords there, Chords that could be used instead, different voices that could be used, movements that are going on?(with the chord it's self, the next, the last). Moments that are are for the melody, for the counter point and support harmony in general. That just a good bit on harmony/chords, not all the other factors that are in involved that need to be studied
Nightmare  
17 Nov 2009 05:21 | Quote
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RA says:
you know the voicing of each chord?

Yes.
RA says:
why it sounds good play the way it does?(by it self?, with the next chord? the last?), reason why the chords there, Chords that could be used instead, different voices that could be used, movements that are going on?(with the chord it's self, the next, the last).

No, no, no, no, no, maybe.

ok I got it now. I found a video that teach you some basic stuff so I'm gonna watch it and get some books.
RA  
20 Nov 2009 23:21 | Quote
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well i don't know if it came out wrong, but I'm not trying to be a smug **(i feel as i come across as that a lot in writing), you get when you put into. Music should be more about yourself then what anyone else thinks or can do(At lest in my opinion). So do what you want to do, I guess what I'm trying to say is i wasn't telling you what to do but as Nietzsche said a teacher is a necessary evil that the only point for it is to teach how to read&write, how to "see", and how to weed out bull****. While I'm in no way shape or form trying to be teacher(not that I think there bad just I'm not one nor am i arrogant enough to be claimed as one due so some silly little posts), I was merely trying to help you "see" not in what has to be done or shouldn't be done just to "see" the beginning of what is truly there. and you get to decided how it fits you.
Empirism  
21 Nov 2009 07:41 | Quote
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Key of improvising?... but if there are too many locks, one key is not enough.
Mici  
21 Nov 2009 15:43 | Quote
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Empirism says:
Key of improvising?... but if there are too many locks, one key is not enough.

Whoa! Knocked me out. I didn't see that coming. You heard the man. He said it all. No, seriously man, I liked this one.
Cheers! :D
apollos  
24 Nov 2009 09:59 | Quote
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i dnt have time to read all these post right now but i would say that u just gotta start playing over stuff ot learn how to improv andj ust feel ur guitar...play wut sounds good...it doesnt have to be in the right key.
BodomBeachTerror  
24 Nov 2009 11:10 | Quote
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well that may be true, but i found out the hard way, dont play Cmajor over a Cminor progression.
Nightmare  
24 Nov 2009 13:06 | Quote
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RA says:
well i don't know if it came out wrong, but I'm not trying to be a smug **


No u weren't, and you were right, u made ur point clear .

Empirism says:
Key of improvising?... but if there are too many locks, one key is not enough.


ya that's what have I noticed lately.
Guitarslinger124  
24 Nov 2009 13:33 | Quote
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I'm fairly certain all, or almost all of the above answers are sufficient enough to answer the question. However, I would like to add a few points of my own.

1. If you are really clueless to theory and/or guitar playing in general, follow the dots. Sounds stupid, but because of the way the guitar is set up, in most cases, most of the notes in a scales will either be played on odd fret numbers, also to include the 12th fret or they wont. What I mean is, a scale with a whole tone root will have most of its notes on odd frets (including the 12th fret). However, a scale with a sharped or flatted root note will not. This approach is not always sufficient, however, t'was my life saver way back when I started playing/writing music.

2. If you have made it to a decent level of guitar playing, then chances are you some what musically inclined. Here is a tip, it is a proven fact that a lot of what we do and think as humans is a subconscious reaction to any action we encounter. That being said, here is the tip, when you are jamming with your drummer buddy, as a musically inclined person, just play one single note. And get into it! Rock your heart out playing the one note. I will almost guarantee that if you can get really into it, that one note will turn into two notes, then three, then four and so on. You wont even notice it at first. Chances are, you wont even have a clue what you are playing or why you are playing it. Try it out.

Nightmare says:
Empirism says:
Key of improvising?... but if there are too many locks, one key is not enough.


ya that's what have I noticed lately.



What if that one key can open more than one door? How about them apples?

My simple opinion is, improvisation is a soul thang. There are people who can sing and then there are people who can sang. Same with guitar, there are people who can play guitar, and then there are people who can improvise. If you think about, most all guitar playing is improvising. When you write a song, you make it up on the spot. There just might be more than one 'spot'.

Anyway, rock on dude. Best of luck!
Nightmare  
26 Nov 2009 05:29 | Quote
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Guitarslinger124 says:
1. If you are really clueless to theory and/or guitar playing in...


No following the dots is not stupid, but ya the odd frets isn't always the case 'cause its not always a scale or full step and the 12 fret is the same as the 0 note of the string but different octave something like that like the high e string is still and e on the 12 fret i guess. that's almost what I know about scales.

Guitarslinger124 says:
This approach is not always sufficient, however, t'was my life saver way back when I started playing/writing music.

ya it's sorta my life saver sometimes.

Guitarslinger124 says:
2. If you have made it to a decent level of guitar playing...


That's what I usually do when jamming with my drummer, I start with one or two notes and go on but I cant seem to get anywhere other than the "odd frets". and when I try to improvise a solo most of it goes right but at some point things start to go wrong. It's almost like I improvise thing that are close to the songs I practice, different combination but same notes.
Guitarslinger124  
26 Nov 2009 05:58 | Quote
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Nightmare says:
That's what I usually do when jamming with my drummer, I start with one or two notes and go on but I cant seem to get anywhere other than the "odd frets". and when I try to improvise a solo most of it goes right but at some point things start to go wrong. It's almost like I improvise thing that are close to the songs I practice, different combination but same notes.


Check out my lesson on chromatics Click Here for Lesson

A quick fix to that problem is playing chromatics. A less common definition for a chromatic note, is a note that is played with a distant scale or a scale to which it does not belong. In other words, if you play a "wrong" note or note that does not seem to fit in your scale, simply slide up a half step or raise the pitch of that note a half step, or semitone and you will find yourself back inside the scale you started with.
Empirism  
26 Nov 2009 10:50 | Quote
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Guitarslinger124 says:
What if that one key can open more than one door? How about them apples?

My simple opinion is, improvisation is a soul thang. There are people who can sing and then there are people who can sang. Same with guitar, there are people who can play guitar, and then there are people who can improvise. If you think about, most all guitar playing is improvising. When you write a song, you make it up on the spot. There just might be more than one 'spot'.
!


Yes, unlocking one lock could open anothers, but not in all cases. I meant my sentence that one key is not enough, means that opening one lock not reveal whole state of improvising. There are many levels of that before you can improvise in wide scale. Ofcourse based on players skill level determines the level of improvising.

so your sentence about that improvising is soul thang, I agree. It states that it is one key of improvising as an consept without level of skill and improvising level.

Empirism
case211  
26 Nov 2009 15:18 | Quote
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I just watched this Victor Wooten quick insight about music and he said "You are never more than a half-step away from a 'right' note..."(in a typical natural scale like Major, Minor, and the other modes, not something like harmonic)

Take what you will out of that but, I've honestly never put it together that way.
Guitarslinger124  
26 Nov 2009 20:20 | Quote
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Empirism says:

Yes, unlocking one lock could open anothers, but not in all cases. I meant my sentence that one key is not enough, means that opening one lock not reveal whole state of improvising. There are many levels of that before you can improvise in wide scale. Ofcourse based on players skill level determines the level of improvising.


You are right. There is no one key that will open all the doors for you. However, hopefully there will be one key that will entice you enough to further you knowledge.

case211 says:
I just watched this Victor Wooten quick insight about music and he said "You are never more than a half-step away from a 'right' note..."(in a typical natural scale like Major, Minor, and the other modes, not something like harmonic)


That is pretty much what I was saying before about chromatics.
case211  
26 Nov 2009 23:21 | Quote
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ah... sorry about that, didn't realize you hit on those already.
Nightmare  
29 Nov 2009 17:25 | Quote
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Guitarslinger124 says:
In other words, if you play a "wrong" note or note that does not seem to fit in your scale, simply slide up a half step or raise the pitch of that note a half step, or semitone and you will find yourself back inside the scale you started with.


I think i understood that part. im gonna get back to ur lesson later on after I get to know some of the scales, cause I cant figure how to use chromatic scales exactly.

" The Chromatic scale can be a tough concept for some guitarists out there, even some who can already shred have no clue how apply the scale."
carlsnow  
30 Nov 2009 18:21 | Quote
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BodomBeachTerror says:
dont play Cmajor over a Cminor progression.


huh? ..why not?

I ask because i dont want anyone to shy away from major over minor and/or minor over major... it works beautifully if played well.
and
many of my favorite songs, 'classical' pieces, and Jazz standards use this combination.
A Fav 'Pop' (as in Craft-Pop) song of mine is 'Life Begins at the Hop' by XTC .. in this tune Guitar-1 plays a A-Major scale 'theme' over Guitar-2's A-Minor Barre etc..
Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) and Paul McCartney (Beatles) also used this major/minor-play to great effect.
Andrew Hill, Miles, Donald Byrd, Charles Mingus and a host of other Jazz musicians have also made great use of this form.
and Stravinsky and Mahler and...

its the HOW not the WHAT that determines an 'odd' musical pairings merit.

Not Snarkin' Ya BBT. I just wanted to open a few ears to a tonal possibility that they may otherwise be reluctant to try.

RAWK!
Cs


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