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  #1  
Old 03-03-2001, 05:56 PM
mapletrees mapletrees is offline
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Learning to Solo - Limiting Rhythm and Targeting Chord Tones.

Not only chord tones, but particular beats, too, I should say.

Most people start learning to solo by learning the minor pentatonic and/or blues scale and then trying to solo over a basic 12-bar blues without much in the way of thought as to what notes they are playing....that's fine...sort of...mmmmmm.... well, ok, that's fine. Most will start to find some cool things...some....they'll start to see what "works" and what maybe doesn't....

My experience, however, is that most folks - most - will end up really stuck... playing the same licks over and over(which probably aren't so hot) and not really getting to where they want to go.

I know I've said this before...a lot of people will start thinking that some have just "got it" and some "ain't got it". That might be true to a small degree...a small degree I think....after all, anyone older than 5 knows life is not fair....

If you feeling like you're in the "just ain't got it" class of folks, perhaps practicing more intelligently will allow you to "get it".

Worked for me and others I've seen...

I'll be back.....life calls........and it's not a guitar calling ..........grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr........make that a GRRRRRRRRRR.........

[ 03-03-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

[ 03-04-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]
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  #2  
Old 03-03-2001, 06:18 PM
rambo rambo is offline
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Mapletrees, the memorization of patterns and the minor pent. scale over a blues progression is how I was instructed and I find myself playing a robotic,repetitive pattern.I am intrigued by your concept.
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  #3  
Old 03-03-2001, 09:18 PM
mapletrees mapletrees is offline
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Hey...definitely not just my concept at all...the notion of targeting notes is often referred to as "spelling out the changes", or "playing the changes", or "playing through the changes", or playing "over the changes"or "outlining the chords", or "outling the changes" - search such expressions on the internet - you could also look for "targeting notes", "targeting chord tones", "tense", "tension" , "creates tension", "release", "resolves", "resolution".

Just about everyone - whether schooled or not (I'm essentially self-schooled) - who solos well understands that they are targeting particular notes...

On the other hand, the concept of limiting rhythm is something that probably 90 %(??) of schooled players practice regularly. Although it's something you really only find more "educated" players doing in general (mostly jazzy type players), it is a very "common sense" approach. When people get in ruts it's because they are playing the same old notes with the same old rhythms. Targeting notes and limiting rhythm means you're practicing particular notes with particular rhythms.....it's not really a nerdy, brainy, and overthought idea that this type of practice would get you out of your rut...it's plain common sense. I just happened to also develop it (discover it?) independently....yeeha! (patting myself on the back there....)

Keep in mind....

A more schooled player understands the relationship of the notes they are using to the chords being played and can explain the relationship using the appropriate language of music theory.

A more unschooled and self-taught player such as Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen would also target notes when they were playing - but more as a result of having put in endless hours of practice and having a very keen ear and memory for what "works" and what doesn't. That's perfectly legit.

The other thing - and this is HUGE - that makes unschooled players like Hendrix, EVH, SRV so darn good is an extremely developed sense of rhythm. Look at tablature for the above mentioned players. Look at tab for Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, anyone good, Jimmy Page, anyone, whoever (whomever?) you like, actually anyone shcooled or not...you don't see plodding rhythm...it doesn't look predictable....you see notes held for many beats, then you'll see 2 per beat for a bit, then 7 crammed in where 3 "should" have fit, then another one held for a long time, then 6 crammed in where 2 "should" have been,....and they're always coming in a half-beat "early", a third of a beat "late", 3/16 of a beat "late", etc......not plodding. It's no coincidence that the very best of the soloists are also very funky and cool on rhythm guitar...you try playing Hendrix' Little Wing note for note (or SRV's version).....tuff tuff tuff...look at what EVH does with rhythm parts (I'm not really into EVH - I don't know why he sticks to that form of radio rock- but anyways, you can't deny his prowess concerning playing ability - am I going nuts or did I once have an album of EVH with Queen's Brian May?)

Where was I?

There's another post concerning Limiting Rhythm here (supercharge) - that really works - do it with licks, riffs, whatever...it will funkify you....practice that procedure with simple little licks.....as you displace the lick and play it with the various rhythms you'll probably find your hands balk....they're just not going to want to do what they're told to do....they'll want to play through the notes in a way that they are more familiar with......slow down and force your hands to do as they are told....it'll work.......you will probably have to SLOW DOWN - WAY DOWN to do it correctly. When practicing anything with any technique there is ZERO value in practicing incorrectly.....a lot of effort sure to go right down the toilet.


I'll get back to this.....

[ 03-04-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

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  #4  
Old 03-04-2001, 08:18 AM
mapletrees mapletrees is offline
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rambo....

I just wanted to say before I continue that......

you may have noticed that I sometimes "rip" other instuctors in my posts.....I think many things are more easlily learned on one's own using the many good instructional materials that are out there....

However, learning to solo is something I would definitely suggest doing with an instructor....I'd seek out an "educated" player and try to learn abou the blues in the most sophisticated ways you can (probably a jazzy type player even if it's rock, metal, or the typical rock/blues/country type stuff that most are into). You won't lose any "hard edge" by educating yourself as long as you continue to imitate the "grittier" players....once you've got the basics down, then it might make a lot of sense to seek out someone who excels in a particular style that you're really into.....by the way, the best soloist/instructor in your area might very well be a horn or keyboard player....we all play the same 12 notes! Many jazzy guitarists list horn players as being their greatest source of learning......it's the music, not fingerings and patterns, that matter......

...for Pete's sake.....make sure you have a BASIC but ROCK-SOLID knowledge of chord construction (through sevenths) BEFORE trying to learn to solo (don't try to learn both at the same time).....it will make your life infinitely easier.....I know, I know, I know most people don't take that approach....they try to do both at one time......

It's no great surprise that you see so many guitars at garage sales! Most people do very goofy things while trying to learn this instrument...they drive themselves nuts in the process...the vast majority fail and quit....It's probably about half the homes in America that have a guitar sitting about.....it is not the case that you find a good guitar player in something like half the homes of America - not close.....

I will in fact get back to this......I know I haven't said anything about what the post is supposed to be about!
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  #5  
Old 03-04-2001, 02:10 PM
mapletrees mapletrees is offline
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My students begin their study of soloing by doing it over one chord. I know most start with a 12 bar blues and the associated minor pentatonic scale...I'll do that here to illustrate what is meant by targeting notes...

Take a basic 12 bar blues in G (we can certainly jazz this up, but keep it simple for now)

G7 G7 G7 G7
C7 C7 G7 G7
D7 C7 G7 D7

If you know your basic music theory, G minor pentatonic is R b3 4 5 b7 of the G major scale...

So G minor pentatonic = G Bb C D F

If you know your basic chord construction theory....

G7 = G B D F

C7 = C E G Bb

D7 = D F# A C

note that the G minor pentatonic scale contains many of the notes that make up these chords.....

ugh, gotta run.....I'll be back.....

I'm trying to get this done in pieces....might take a while.....

Note that other scales would also contain many of the notes in those chords....

G Mixolydian = G A B C D E F G

G major pentatonic = G A B D E G

G minor pent with 6 instead of b7 (the "Robben Ford scale") =
G Bb C D E G, etc....

I'll be back.......haven't got to the point yet....

[ 03-04-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

[ 03-05-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]
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  #6  
Old 03-06-2001, 06:43 PM
mapletrees mapletrees is offline
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Hopefully we'll get to the point finally....."Targeting Chord Tones" is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.....take the above basic 12 bar blues in G for example......

as you solo over that progression, the chords will be changing (oh boy, that was pretty profound - good grief)....

'Targeting chord tones' just means that you'll make sure the FIRST note you play against a new chord in the progression is in fact one of the notes of the chord - not just some random note from the scale your using...

On that first G7 you want to start your opening lick from one of the notes in the G7 chord

In the 5th measure you want the first note you play against that C7 chord to be one of the notes that makes up a C7 chord (C E G Bb) .

When you switch back to the G7 in the 7th measure, you want to try to use one of the notes that makes up the G7 chord as the first note against that chord...


etc......throughout the progression...

Get it? Not random notes....you want to learn to 'address' new chords as they pop up in the progression....you do that by making sure you hit a note of the chord...


Now, a couple of things......

I like spaghetti. I love spaghetti. Don't want it for every meal though.

You want to be ABLE TO target chord tones. In every solo, some of the chords will get targeted....they will get 'addressed'.

****NOT EVERY NEW CHORD EVERY TIME IN EVERY PROGRESSION, though. That in itself would start to sound plodding....

****We're used to hearing scales....they have a life of their own in a way.....you could play through a G blues starting every lick regardless of the chord being played from Db - (or C#, however you want to think of it) - the 'flatted 5th of G' - perhaps just run straight down through the blues scale - and you could make it sound just fine even though the note Db isn't even in any of the chords of the progression at all. As a related note, starting a lick from a non-chord tone is perfectly fine....but since it doesn't 'blend' very well with the chord, it creates what is known as tension. Tension is fine....some tension is great.....think of the ride going up to the top of a roller coaster hill...think of suspense in a movie...think of ...well....we'll keep it G-rated here....eventually you have to hit the top of the roller coaster's hill and start coming down...there has to be a release of the tension. If your lick started on a non-chord tone....you eventually need to resolve the tension that was created...

****In addition, you have to consider what is meant by a chord tone....for example...in a G blues you'll play the C7 chord eventually.....the note D is in the G blues scale...to hear the note D against a C7 chord actually creates the sound of a C9 chord

CDEFGABCD = R234567R9

How's the D sound to you? Does it need to resolve?

I'll get back to this........again you WANT TO BE ABLE to target notes when you choose to do so(which should be often)....if you can't, you start sounding like someone "just playing a scale" - out in left field somewhere - no direction - instead of playing music.

...and, of course, you want to be able to do it with interesting and driving rhythm.....

This isn't nearly done, yet.....


[ 03-06-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

[ 03-06-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

[ 03-07-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

[ 03-07-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]
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  #7  
Old 03-06-2001, 08:39 PM
rambo rambo is offline
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makes sense. memorizing riffs over a chord was my most effective way of soloing but there in turn comes the repetion. The idea of targeting the chord tone should release some creative juices.
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  #8  
Old 03-07-2001, 06:30 AM
mapletrees mapletrees is offline
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rambo (and anyone else out there)

...as a first step...note what chord tones the G minor pentatonic scale contains with respect to the G7, C7, and D7 chords...among other chord tones it definitely contains the root note of all those chords...

Record yourself playing the progession and then solo by playing only whole notes (that means let the note ring 4 beats - and 4 beats only!) Do it the following way.....

play a G on beat 1 of measure 1

play a G on beat 1 of measure 3

play a C on beat 1 of measure 5

play a G on beat 1 of measure 7

play a D on beat 1 of measure 9

play a C on beat 1 of measure 10

play a G on beat 1 of measure 11

play a D on beat 1 of measure 12

repeat when the progression starts up again....


Now....do it very plainly at first...no slides, no bends....just get used to targeting those notes (not just any old note of the scale)....then get a good, strong, and appropriate tone and start doing it like a guitar player...do it with slides and bends (slide TO the targeted note, bend TO the targeted note.....make sure you are playing when you mean to....make sure you are letting the notes ring as long as you mean to.....GET CONTROL of your playing while things are still at a simple level.......PLAY WHAT YOU MEAN TO PLAY - DO NOT allow your fingers to just do what they are already used to doing...make the music happen...don't let it happen to you.......

...and above all, put on your best SRV face and tell yourself given these notes to work with, playing them the way we're limiting ourself to, there is not a single person on the planet who should be able to do it "better" than you........

much more to be said here...the above is just to get you going...root notes make for the 'safest' notes - it's pretty tough for anyone to make those sound bad since they blend perfectly with the chords...of course they blend so well that they don't make for the most exciting music on their own.....and of course just whole notes is just a start also...you've got to teach yourself other things - to get to other chord tones, resolve non-chord tones, use a variety of scales, use quesion and answer (call and response), use anticipation (playing a half-beat early), practice on the beat, practice off the beat, targeting notes at the start of a lick, targeting notes by concluding a lick from a previous measure, be able to create interesting melodies by limiting yourself to 8th notes or less....etc....... lots of simple things that make a HUGE difference in your playing if practiced properly.....

[ 03-07-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]

[ 03-07-2001: Message edited by: mapletrees ]
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