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"I'm just playing out of the chord shape" What the hell does this really mean?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by rich2k4, Dec 5, 2015.

  1. GuitOp81

    GuitOp81 Tele-Holic

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    This video explains exactly that, but Jimi Hendrix used to play that way, Charlie Christian of course, any R&B guitar player does that (muscle Shoals, Motown etc) and many others. With the guitar it is a natural approach, a horn player or a piano player could not really say that

     
  2. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I'm not very theory schooled. But I think it's pretty straightforward.

    Literally play the tones in the chord you're on.

    One example: Think of the E shapes barre chord. I the song's in G, play the top four notes in that chord at the third fret. Move up to the C tones at 8, over C, etc.

    Play with order and groups of 2 or 3 notes at once.

    Sounds very musical.

    Easy to overthink this one.
     
  3. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yes, this is intersting. I will bow out with this because from my perspective...not formally trained...I don't see how one avoids utilizing some scale..unless one is going 'atonal'....and then it is hard to avoid those 12 chromatic notes...except with bending to microtones, as Mr. Govan does when he 'goes Asian' there for a bit, right? I have lived in Asia and the MIddle East....I hear those microtones, too.
    Whether one is saying arpeggios, or pentatonics or blues scale or chord tones or color notes...we are talking about scales, aren't we?
    So, from my perspective, chord shapes include any and all of that. I simply see different chord shapes as allowing one to more easily approach the music from a physical point of view. I pointed to country...but this is true of all type of music. IN country, it is more readily observed with respect to bending. Ex: from the C barre shape...take the E chord that is built x76454. There is a bend lick that raises the 3rd a half step...G# to an A...while the 5th is raised a full step from B to the C#. This creates an A chord. The third of the A is then flatted to a minor third...C# to C..to form an Am. Then, both of those bends are released back to the original notes which resolves the passage back to the I chord, E. There is no other 'chord shape' that comes to mind that allows this trick to be done. This is what I was thinking the OP meant by chord shapes, and I may be incorrect for thinking that way. From my point of view, the shapes don't change the notes in the scales....they just change what can be done within the shape and when moving from and back to the shape from other chords..with ease.
    I fully understand such things as a 4th demanding resolution..whether in a minor or major chord/scale. I also understand color tones. color tones are one reason why I have trouble grasping the 'study' of pentatonics as opposed to studying the 'full' scale. Those pentatonics are in the full scale. I surely use pentatonics.....used them long before I knew the name for them. But....I also used full scales long before I was exposed to the theory behind them, too. I know young players who couldn't even hear a color tone because they have been exposed to nothing more than pentatonics. They have in effect been exposed to just a tiny bit of theory long before they were playing any music.
    I choose different 'shapes' of scales and chords for tonal and phsycial reasons....what they sound like and what can be done with and to them...compared to what the same scale and chord in a different 'shape' yield. Maybe I am misunderstanding the word 'shape'. I will also observe that not one of us here can avoid scales...whether we are talking about or playing arpeggios, pentatonics, color tones, in any shape or form.....or maybe I don't understand those things either.
    Sometimes the hairsplitting over what some call one thing and others call that same thing gets to be simple reinforcement of the wisdom spoken by Zappa, right? IF I were younger, I would do things differently so that I could split more hairs.

    But....thanks for the thread. I have just started a new song that begins with....a suspended 4th hanging against the open string 1 note...for a full slow 4/4 measure. Hold that tone center note and resolve the 4th down to a minor 3rd with a fifth added....the flatted 7th below the 1 then resolves up to the 1. Hit a diad with the 4th and the 6th...shake it.....well, it gets a bit more complex after that and I don't want to give it away. IF I were back stage at the BFG concert tonight, I would try to sell it to the Rev. But...hey...if I had the $300+ for that I might not need to sell the song. LOL....And....it works no matter what shape I'm in...eeehaw....


    Just dropped in....right?
     
  4. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    Was going to say pretty much the same. And of course seeing the inversions on string sets 3-4-5 and 4-5-6 is useful as well. I'm also a big fan of locating the 6th intervals that fall within the CAGED shapes on the different string sets.

    I like to see and work the stuff both linearly and across the board.
     
  5. Jack S

    Jack S Friend of Leo's

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    This would be my suggestion if you were my student:

    Find a tune with a strong melody line and find the root chord shape that frames the melody. Once you have it figured out play through the melody until you can play it comfortably and repeatedly.

    Now, going from the straight melody, follow it up adding some syncopation. Still play the same melody, but change the rhythms to fall on the up beats. Syncopating is a great way to modify a melody and the more you can swing it, the more feeling you will put across in your playing.

    Once you are syncopating the melody, you can begin injecting simple riffs. Slides, hammer-on/pull-offs, bent notes and double stops can begin to modify the melody. When I want to add a subtle guitar to a song I might play all or most of a phrase with double-stops.

    Once you begin to add interesting mods to the melody, you can begin to veer from the melody, for example, try playing four measures of your syncopated melody, up a half or a whole step, then drop back into the root, or add triplets in place of a few quarter notes. I am suggesting simple mods here, but the more you do them the easier it becomes to inject your personality.

    These are simple ways to take a boring straight melody and begin adding some creativity. If you know the melody, you can begin to modify it into a more interesting solo, but using the melody line as a starting point allows you to build on a foundation.

    The next step is to go through these previous steps while harmonizing the melody instead of playing it.

    The more you do this the more new ideas will begin to flow and you can be more creative, but it is comfort with the above steps that gives you your foundation.

    The other options are resorting to riffs, or creating unique counter-melodies. Riffing is probably the easiest thing to do, while counter-melodies become easier once you are comfortable with harmonizing the melody.
     
  6. Tim Bowen

    Tim Bowen Poster Extraordinaire

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    These discussions tend to focus on major and minor triads, but everything applies.


    For instance, one way to deal with an altered dominant chord is to play a melodic minor scale (or since it's a thing in this thread, notes from within this scale) up a half step from the root of the altered dominant scale. And reverse engineering applies as well, in terms of visualizing. So, for example, F melodic minor over E7alt. If I play an F melodic minor scale starting with my pinky on the 8th fret on the A string, within that scale I am seeing chord shapes such as E7#9 Hendrix chord, E7b9, E+, etc.
     
  7. rich2k4

    rich2k4 TDPRI Member

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    This is what I am talking about. I am looking for more of this type of instruction. This is exactly the type of stuff I want.

    Is Doug Seven's pillars of soloing like this?
     
  8. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Okay...Mr. Trapp starts in a barre A. He then..immediately shows how to use this form..
    x x 9 9 12 12...which is the high section of a barre G shape for the E in that position....
    12 11 9 9 9/12 9. Remember, I said that country players often use the barre G and barre C.
    He is not acknowledging that when he changes his hand position....the 'shape' of the chord''is is going to a different chord formation....just as when he moves down the neck to teh barre C E chord and then to the 1st position E chord. When he goes to from the 1 to the 3 in that E scale at 1:32, he is in that barre G form/shape....whether he wants to say so or not, imho. He is in fact moving out of the barre A into the barre G. He does acknowledge the barre C at 1:55. Note that when he goes into the bends, he is in that barre G shape again....you can't reach the 12th fret from the barre A form at x7 9 9 9 7, now can you? (;^) He is missing just a little bit of the reality of what he is doing....and he can do what he is doing very well, I admit...but he needs to acknowledge when he is in that G form. when he does finally show the full scale/form, he calls it an A again....but it is the G form....12 11 9 9 9 12. And there are some of those bends that I mentioned are best done in that form.
    I don't have time to watch that whole video....but his playing is right on track with what I mentioned in my first post. I disagree with his naming of that one form though.....it is not an A form but the G form.
     
  9. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Whew! Not a bad explanation from one with no formal training!
     
  10. janopack

    janopack TDPRI Member

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    :) No problem at all, I like these discussions because I can learn from other people's thought process. People use whatever method that works for them. There are no rules in music.
    What you said is absolutely true. We are talking about the same thing really. I was merely trying to make the point (rather unsuccessfully and long-winded) that tones within a scale don't have equal value over a chord. That's essentially what Guthrie Govan was demonstrating. Some notes sound more resolved than others. And like you said, "playing out of chord shapes" means using chord tones as a skeleton and add meat with other notes from various scales.
    But then all these scales, arpeggios in any shape or form are all notes from the chromatic scale, so they are tools, or summarized patterns to facilitate musical navigation. Which is really what I was trying to say, it's about knowing what notes sound good. Theory is not necessary. I doubt legends like BB King knew many scales, if any. But he was incredibly musical.
    Anyway, good luck with your new song. Peace!
     
  11. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Be careful ...


    Most of these guys actually do know exactly what they're doing.
     
  12. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    +1

    First we don't know nuthin'.

    Next, we learn 'everything', and it shows.

    Eventually our playing progresses to the point where others say we make it look easy.

    Finally, our playing progresses to the point where it appears we've forgotten all that stuff, and we "just play". :lol:
     
  13. janopack

    janopack TDPRI Member

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    Why be careful? No way was this a criticism, but rather a great compliment. Great musicians play by ear. He certainly had great ear and vast playing experience. What I meant was he could "hear theory" rather than knowing theory in the way that people study from tutorial sources today. This is certainly reflected by his terminology when he explained his ideas. This ties in with what I was trying to say earlier, that scales don't really matter, it's about knowing and playing what sounds good.
     
  14. czgibson

    czgibson Tele-Afflicted

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    Learn a few solos and steal a few licks; e.g. the first solo in 'Sultans of Swing' is a nice clear example of "playing out of the chord shapes".

    "Playing out of the chord shapes" gets easier after a while, and you realise that the journey doesn't end there. Developing good phrasing and learning how to build tension are also crucial.
     
  15. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    Playing out of the chord shapes. I feel that I do this, and alot of other players talk about this as a general principle - not an exact science by any means.

    Nobody learns to play 'on principle' alone. The chord tones are important to know - but knowing means hearing - really hearing. When you approach the 5th, 3rd, 7th or 9th of the chord you need to already be hearing it. The problem is you wont hear it unless you own it - and that means getting all of the other elements together around the notes. Sound, time and phrasing for a start.


    I teach a lot of jazz theory - chord scale stuff has been a big part of that for decades. Yes you can apply scales, chord shapes and any other musical objects to improvising.

    But given that rock,blues, jazz et are primarily rhythmic musics , without the elements of time and phrasing those theoretical objects can (and usually do) sound lame. Your ear isnt going to progress to learn to hear those notes as good if they dont have good tone, rhythm or phrasing behind them...notes that are correct in the harmonic realm are meaningless without the necessary elements of tone, time and phrasing. Thats why its good to go to the masters - and maybe put aside what they say for awhile - and do what they do.

    Thats why you cant learn purely on principle. You need to learn examples,you need to emulate and train your ears around the good stuff to be more precise.Then you can be like the players you admire and look back on your own progress and make generalisations like " Yeah I play out of the chord shapes"
     
  16. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    I 'play out of chord shapes' a lot....to me what it means is I'm using the shapes to visually/tactilely have a map of the triad chord tones.....from there I can consider (in my minds ear) how I want to approach those tones...and also how all the surrounding tones relate to those chord tones. Knowing where the arpeggio notes are also allows me to know where every other note is in relation to them.

    My usual default 'map' is a combination of those triad tones combined with a chromatic awareness surrounding those tones..(that sounds a bit awkward but I hope it gets across what I mean). Although I don't always play in a way that sounds chromatic I like to have all the colours accessible on my palette....

    I will admit that is as much an ideal, an ongoing goal I'm trying to reach, as much as it is how I currently conceive of playing....in other words I have a million miles to go with it to get to the proficiency I'd like to have...
     
  17. eclipse

    eclipse Tele-Meister

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  18. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Truth....whether or not their knowledge is in the formal world of theory. IMHO, this theory thing is a language that helps people discuss and analyze what musicians do. The knowledge of theory is not necessary to play music...any music. The knowledge of theory is necessary to discuss music. Those musical geniuses play music. Theorists analyze what has been done in order to discuss the music and to teach those of us who can't come to an understanding of the music in any other way than through a formal language that is in some way separate from that music. I know one fellow who knows a lot about the theory of music, but he can't play very well at all. I know another older gentleman who played guitar very well before he got his degree in music after leaving the U.S. Navy after WWII. He got his degree on keyboards....but he was a guitarist, and he refused to apply that formal training to the guitar, which he had played long before he went to music school because...in his words...he didn't want that education to mess with his guitar playing. He could play all of that music in a 'fake book' of jazz standards with a guitar. When asked what chords he was using in a particular passage, he would reply "I don't know, and I don't care."
    He has lost,the ability to play by now; but until just a few years ago, he could do whatever was needed on a guitar.
    As for the statement a couple of times in this thread that all music is built on and within the 12 note chromatic scale, I would say that that is a limiting take on things....as the video by Mr. Govan exhibits when he moves into those microtones. Jeff Beck is big on utilizing pitches that do not exist in that 12 note chromatic scale that Western European music uses, right? Some people don't care for that in his music because it is strange to their ears.....due to the limitations they have had placed on their ears by their experiences.
    From a great rock guitarist who...as I understand from the observations by Miles Davis....could not explain in a formal way what he did on guitar but could play whatever he heard and could create sounds that had never been heard before....
    "have you ever been experienced?"
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015
  19. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Language is a good analogy....especially since the same parts of the brain are involved. Kids learn conversational English long before they learn any grammar. The best way for an adult to become conversant in a foreign language is to focus on conversation first, grammar second. Music teachers often have it backwards, in my opinion-- teaching scales, chords, and arpeggios first. Focus should be on learning and playing songs with others-- having a conversation. Then go back and look at the underlying grammar-- break it down like Larry F suggests. Pick the players you like the best, copy the sh** directly, until you can really play it. Chances are you will notice the underlying theory as you go along just based on the theory you've already learned.
     
  20. prebend

    prebend Tele-Holic

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    Rich2k4...since you are trying to sound country I will illustrate using an example that you can't help but sound country on.

    Use the G major CAGED shape at the seventh fret. This is what Wally referred to as a C type shape, because playing a G major chord at the 7th fret is similar to playing an open C chord. Play this lick:

    -----------10--------8---------------
    ---10b12-------12--------12r10---8--
    -------------------------------------
    --------------------------------------
    --------------------------------------

    This is called an oblique bend. It may be a little tricky at first. When you bend the A at the 10th fret up to B you must hold the bend. Then play D on the high E string with your pinkie while still holding the bend, followed by plucking the still bent B string. Then remove your pinkie from the 10th fret and play the C at the eighth fret with your index finger (all while still holding the bend on the B string). Then release the bend and resolve to the G note on the 8th fret.

    If you played it correctly, then congratulations, you just "played" out of two G major chord shapes.

    This one:

    ---10---
    ---12---
    ---12---

    at the 10th fret with the root on the bottom, and this one:

    ---7---
    ---8---
    ---7---

    with the 5th on the bottom. In addition you used the 2nd of the scale A, and the 4th of the scale C. In fact you outlined a Gsus4 chord which resolved to the root (G), a very common move in country. The fact that you played the 2nd and 4th (non chord tones for a G major chord) in the lick in no way negates that you "played" out of chord shapes.

    You could follow that lick up with something like this:

    --10-9-8-6s7--------------
    --------------8--------8--
    -----------------9--7-----
    --------------------------
    --------------------------
    ---------------------------

    This lick is "played" mostly out of the second chord shape referenced above with the 5th (D) on the bottom. Only the first note of the lick is played out of the other chord shape. Here we are really outlining a G6 chord because we played the E at the 9th fret of the G string. But notice how much embellishment was done. Chromaticism heading towards the 3rd (B) of the chord, then reversing it and sliding from the b3 (Bb) into the 3rd. Sliding or hammering the b3 to the 3 is another very common country idiom. Again, despite the embellishments we are still playing out of that G chord shape at the 7th fret.

    Hope this was helpful.
     
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