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Playing over changes for beginners

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by garytelecastor, Dec 8, 2016.

  1. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    I thought I might post this. I received a question from a fellow member and I put this
    together. It is basically meant for beginners of playing over changes, and I, in no way, claim that it is perfect or answer's every need.
    Some of this may take a little time to digest, but your will be miles ahead in your lead and chord work by taking this in. If it seems a little complex as the beginning don't hesitate to write me and I will be glad to help you in what ever way I can. All my best.


    I think this might help a little to understand this concept. (GET OUT YOUR GUITAR) Most of 1900's - 2000's popular music has been built on the I-vi-ii-V or the I-IV-V progressions. Translating this to the fret board is something that we all learn when we begin to play guitar and learn first the "cowboy chords" and later-more importantly-barre chords. I tell my students to think of their index finger as a capo. when playing in the E, A, or D shape barres.
    The interesting thing is that if you learn the position that you are playing a given song in and you know the 1 chord the 4 and 5 are right there too.

    So lets play in G on the eighth position. The one chord would be in the D shape playing off the G on the 8th fret, 2nd string in a D shape, or for more accuracy actually a C shape. So if we want to go to the IV chord we simply play a C barre chord based on the E shape from fret 8, 1st string. And then we can play the V or D in the E shaped barre chord on the 10th fret, 1st string or in the A shaped barre chord on the 5th fret, 5th string or 7th fret 3rd string.
    Now we have the 1, 4, 5 laid out before us to use in the song. Any of these positions can be used to play any inversion or altered chord.
    When the time comes to play lead we are thinking in terms of chord tones. The G chord is made up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th of the G major scale or G-B-D. So when we play the lead-without sounding like we are playing scales-we want to think melodically of the tune we are playing. Does it call for a slow, heavy echo distortion, tone and style-such as found in a ballad? Or does it call for more of a distorted in your face shred, or whatever you feel will fit the material best?
    Let's say that the lead starts on the 1 chord; G B D. Following the general idea of the founding fathers of lead, we want to take the arpeggio and expand it. So let's begin the lead on the D note. (I very seldom start a lead on the 3rd. This is such a strong tone that it is better employed later toward the end of the lead as you are trying to finish your statement.) So if we start on the D where do we go??? Well, to give the fateful secret of most players, we'll mainly use the Blues scale with passing tones and chromatic passes. This is where the creativity and practice come in. The G blues scale in the key of G on the 8th fret second string consists of:
    |Fret| |Notes|
    STRING
    1) 10-9-8-7 D-C#-C-B*
    2) 11-10-8-7 Bb-A-G-F#
    3) 10-9-8-7-6 F-E-Eb-D-C#
    4) 11-10-9-8 C-B-Bb-A
    5) 10-9-8-7 G-F#-F-E
    6) 11-10-9-8-7 Eb-D-C#-C-B......

    *I have included some passing tones such as the B because the B is the third of the major chord of G and in the 1 is kind of an important tone. I also included the Eb which is the b3 of C.

    If you look at the notes you now have the following scale to play out of;
    G-A-Bb-B-C-D-E-F-F#-G

    Now, you won't be using the entire scale on every chord. Out of this scale we take the 1-2-b3-4-b5-5-b7-1 or G-A-Bb-C-C#-D-F-G
    The 4 or C chord is out of the same scale but with C at that start:
    C-D-Eb-F-F#-G-Bb-C
    The 5 chord follows the same pattern:
    D-E-F-G-G#-A-C-D

    So looking at each of the separate chord scales we can see that they are all in the position of the 5th fret to the 11th fret. This is includes the chords and the lead tones.
    Now the fun part, and this is where the bullet hits the bone. THIS WORKS ALL OVER THE NECK.
    If we stay in the key of G the 1-4-5 can be played out of the 3rd position or fret with the G in the E shape, and the D and C in the A shape, barres respectively.
    So using the 3 different chord structures of the E, A, D, shape we can go up the neck and play in any key by simply using the different shapes of the barre chords. By employing the notes from each of the scales as we move from chord to chord we can develop a nice melody that is melodically pleasing, and theoretically intricate.
    So first job.
    1. Learn the positions of the 1-4-5 on each of the frets for each key.
    2. Learn the 4 scales and their notes presented here and you will begin to employ this and move your playing out leaps and bounds.
    I sincerely hope this helps. If you have any other questions, get in touch right away, and I will get you your answers.

    As you learn this try remember a little secret: the b3 to a 3rd tone and a 7 to 1 tone are both very strong melodically. Also, you will want to use the 3rd tone of the 1 chord sparingly. In 4 part harmony it is a "rule" when scoring to use the 3rd only once in each beat. You can double the 5th or 1, but hardly ever the 3rd.Start your lines off on one of the 1 or 5 tones from the chord (i.e., 1-3-5) to begin and build your solos so that they move from a strong beginning and steadily grow in intensity. Also, it all begins with "cowboy chords". :)
    At first it may seem overwhelming, but once you get the feel for the changes, the entire fret board will open up to you. Anyway, all the best and again, anything I can do to help let me know.
     
  2. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    I wanted to mention one more thing.
    If you want a really good example of this go to YouTube and find a song by
    Lady Antebellum called Bartender. Listen to the solo in that song. It was played by Dave Haywood, the genius behind the band. He does a brilliant job of using these concepts and while the solo is by no means intricate, it is perfect for the material.

    String
    5th Fret-G scale:

    |Fret| |Notes|
    |String|

    |1) 15 13 10 9 8 G F D C# C |

    |2) 15 14 13 11 8 D C# C Bb G |

    |3) 12 10 G F |

    |4) 12 11 10 8 D C# C Bb |

    |5) 10 8 G F |

    |6) 10 9 8 D C# C |


    |5th fret C scale|
    |Fret| |Notes|
    |1) 6 8 10 11 13 15| |Bb C D Eb F G |

    |2) 6 8 10 11 13 15| |F G A Bb C D|

    |3) 8 10 11 12| |Eb F F# G |

    |4) 8 10| |Bb C |

    |5) 6 8 9 10| |Eb F F# G |

    |6) 6 8 10 11 | |Bb C D Eb |


    |5th fret D scale|
    |Fret|
    |String|
    |1) 10 11 13 14 15| |D Eb F G# G|

    |2) 10 13 15| |A C D|

    |3) 10 12 13 14| |F G G# A |

    |4) 10 12| | C D|

    |5) 8 10 11 12| | F G Ab A|

    |6) 8 10 12 13 | |C D E F|



    Okay, I have placed the exe's on the string and fret that conicide with the scale. This is a basic blues pentatonic which is always a great way to
    start learning how to improvise over chords as it is a very adaptable scale.
    I can't stress enough the need to work this out with some sort of music so you can relate the two of linking your heart with the music and your brain with the theory.
    The song "Bartender" by Lady Antebellum is in the key of G but he plays off the 3 chord alot. This song is an almost perfect example of using this technique. It is simple yet elegant, perfectly matched to the song, and Dave Haywood plays over the changes using these scales. Anyway, put the song on, plug your guitar in and learn that tune to practice just starting out with these scales. Again, any questions, let me know.
     
  3. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

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    When I finally started to STOP thinking about scales for single note lines, everything pretty much instantly fell into place.

    Thinking about chord shapes and their color tones (3, 5, 7, 9 raised 5, flat 9 etc) really got me connected to the music rather than feeling at best parallel with it--scales made me feel like that because I was thinking too much. Chords make up songs, and we play chords for rhythm, why not just play chords for leads?

    The rubber really meets the road when you get into rootless inversions: like take your exampled G triad on the first 3 strings at the 8th fret:
    xxx987

    Flatting the first string 7th fret makes it a C7 triad with the III,V,bVII (dominant 7th).
    xxx986

    While I'm already very familiar with the concepts laid out in your primer, I want to acknowledge you efforts of writing this up for others to investigate. This type of thinking really opened up my playing. It didn't take me long to learn all these basic chord positions and how to use them, but it took me a long time (years) to strip away the habit of thinking scales and which to use. It has allowed me to think about the music, note choice, cadence and phrasing.

    It is very important (though a work in progress for all) to know in each of the basic CAGED chord positions what and where are all the color tones. Like Gary said, once you get this down, you will realize just how repetitious this all is. The guitar is a shape based instrument. Learn the shapes, then they just repeat.
     
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  4. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    Someone had written me about the Pillar's of Soloing Series by Doug Seven and asked me what it was all about. That and the other night I was looking at a Master's thesis on the Guitar of Freddie Green. That's what kind of got me going on this. I know when I first started playing over changes and not scales-as you put it so well-I was kind of lost and didn't even know where to begin. It took a while to begin to leave the theoretical brain, and get down to the music maker within me, but I believe it was the use of, as you say, color tones.

    I don't know how you feel about it, but as far as talking about color tones and dissonant harmony, Freddie Greene has to be the king. The thesis I read the other night was very good. He talked about the way in which Freddie and the bass player tried to make their separate instruments one instrument and play lines that would complement each other. Between the two of them and then the rest of the rhythm section they completely re-imagined the entire section into one instrument. I couldn't believe it, he played for the CBO for over 50 years.
    You are so on the money. I really like the way you said it. It's not about 256th notes, it's about playing to and with the song. I know that a lot of people look on Lady Antebellum as cheese music, and I have to admit, I am not their biggest fan, but that one song is a perfect example of how to keep it really simple but come out with something that sounds really complex. Most importantly Haywood stays within the role of guitar player and plays music, not notes. My favorite rhythm part is the b7 3 interval. It is so filling and yet slight.
     
  5. Leon Grizzard

    Leon Grizzard Friend of Leo's

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    Gary - is that thesis on Freddie Green online? If so: link?
     
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  6. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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  7. pdcorlis

    pdcorlis Tele-Meister

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    It's times like this that it really sucks to be a visual learner...
     
  8. Leon Grizzard

    Leon Grizzard Friend of Leo's

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    If not the very thing, must be similar. Very interesting
     
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  9. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

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    The whole Freddie Green . org website is very cool. I've sporadically referenced it over the years. The Teddy Wilson piano adaption part is really cool too if you haven't gone over that.
     
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  10. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    If you're really interested in actually 'hearing' Mr. Green, this album is essential - "Mr. Rhythm" from 1955.
    Here's a youtube link to the full record ...
     
  11. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    (great link klasaine)

    in my life, I've noticed two overall learning paths to soloing:

    - copping vocabulary (auditory)
    - mapping the fretboard (visual)

    as a mostly self-taught guy, I've ping-ponged back and forth between them, mostly in response to the music I'm playing at the time

    - if focused on repertoire (rock, blues, country) > copping vocabulary
    - if improvising (jazz, whatever) > mapping the fretboard

    as a result I've often felt like those different approaches were stored in different parts of my brain -- I'd learn licks that somehow stayed in my brain independent of the theoretical or navigational stuff I learned

    is this you, beginner soloist?

    ok, well, the only thing that ever made things click for me was focusing on string sets -- especially learning strings 1-3, (and this is key:) by playing, in time, combinations of triads as chord changes.

    simplest example, C major, I-IV-V-I, C-F-G-C

    zone 1:
    xxx 553
    xxx 565
    xxx 322
    xxx 553

    zone 2:
    xxx 988
    xxx 10 10 8
    xxx 787
    xxx 988

    zone 3:
    xxx 12 13 12
    xxx 14 13 13
    xxx 12 12 10
    xxx 12 13 12

    these are the only 3 places you can play I-IV-V-I in C on the first three strings (while using common tones and smooth voice-leading)

    so?

    so, when you learn licks, bends, whatever, determine where they "live" in these zones and try playing the same licks and bends in each of the 3 zones

    note also that licks may live "between" the zones, which is even cooler, because once you figure out how to play between the 3 zones, you'll feel incredibly confident about navigating changes and finding ways to improvise with them and make chord melodies out of them

    Christmas is a great time to pay attention to string 1, for example, and play Christmas melodies with basic triads

    once you get the basic major triads so down that you're sick of them, find the V7, the vi, and then the ii7

    then the III7, and all the diminished... it goes on and on

    these are the little shapes that your melody notes emerge from...
     
  12. stringslinger

    stringslinger Tele-Holic

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    For beginners, using a tune with minimum chord changes is definitely key. That's why blues is so common (I, IV, and V). But even tunes like Tennessee Whiskey (I and ii) or some RnB or funk tunes with just I and IV are good places to start. You have the student specifically aim for that one important note change. Say you have a song with just Dm7 and G7 chords (common funk or Latin groove). The most important note change is b7 (C) to the 6 (B). Have a student focus on highlighting that one change within their pentatonic template.
     
  13. screamin eagle

    screamin eagle Poster Extraordinaire

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    Highlighting that change from the b7th of Dm to the III of G is important on a lot of levels. But you can take it one step further also. The v7(minor 5 dominant 7) can sub. for a Dominant tonic chord, and vi7 subs as a Major tonic.
     
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  14. RLee77

    RLee77 Friend of Leo's

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    I'm learning a lot from this thread... definitely need to get a better understanding of the theory behind it all. My problem is that I've started/stopped so many different methods partway through; I need to pick a path of learning and stick with it.
     
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  15. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    it's all related to spelling chords

    simply assign roman numerals to notes in the C major scale:

    C = I, D = ii, E = iii, F = IV, G = V, A = vi, B = vii(dim)

    now put roman numerals to C major scale chords:

    CEG = I
    CEGA = I(6)

    DFA = ii
    DFAC = ii7

    EGBD = III7

    FAC = IV
    FAbC = iv

    GBD = V
    GBDF = V7

    ACE = vi
    ACEG = vi7

    BDF = vii
    BDFAb = vii7

    if you look at the spellings of those chords, you see that some chords share notes with totally different chords -- like, I(6) has the same notes as vi7, just in a different order! and there are bits of chords in other chords

    these are called "common tones" and are important for

    a) voice leading, i.e. to make smooth connections between chords

    b) substitution, i.e. substituting one chord for another, often with additional adjustments (sharp, flat) in some of the chord tones to create more tension, i.e. a tendency to move strongly toward the next chord
     
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  16. mrspag

    mrspag Tele-Meister

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    I've been using the CAGED technique to play over changes for many years. Basically another way of describing what's already been discussed in this thread about knowing the triads and chord shapes around the neck and then knowing the pentatonic or scale of choice that matches the shape. You also need to know the notes on the neck for this to be effective.

    To this day, one of things that I struggle with when playing over changes is knowing the next chord change ahead of time. I play lead guitar in a country cover band and it always amazes me how the information needed for me to solo over changes is locked away and sometimes I can't get to it.

    I have no problems switching between the chords when playing rhythm guitar, singing, or doing little lead fills during the verse. Yet, when its time for a solo I regularly struggle with hitting the chord changes. I find that I can't lose myself into the feeling if I have to worry about the chord changes.

    So, I usually do licks along with the chord shapes the first time through the progression, kind of like paying homage to the progression and maybe lead melody line. Then, if theres another progression I'll just open up and stick to the key of the song where I find it much easier to really get expressive and melodic with the lead.
     
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  17. ndcaster

    ndcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    great post, honest and true

    when it's go time, the tendency is to say ok time to *feel* and jam out

    a better strategy for a song you haven't played 1,000 times is to say the next chord silently in your head a few beats before the band gets there -- at least, it lets my brain work on that while the rest of my brain is free to create

    this works until you play bebop hahaha -- the only tune I can hang with there is "Dig" i.e. Sweet Georgia Brown in disguise (a tune I've played 1,000 times)

    mrspag, try practicing chord melody and saying the names of the chords, and nudge the chord gradually changes up the neck -- it's a good exercise that kicks my butt and gets me out of those rote positions

    .02
     
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  18. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    You've hit on something that's key to improvising in ALL styles. The fact that so many tunes share a common form and/or chord progression. Also, you need to be able to recognize when the 'fancy' chords are just simple chords in disguise (that F#m7 might really just be an A chord).
     
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  19. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes Leon, the link is the one Pthought found
    I too, am a visual learner. But this is very easy to master. It's kind of funny but that simple little Do-Re-Mi scale we all learned in elementary school, contains all of the necessary information to lead to a Greene, Parker, or Cage.

    I, too appreciate all of the responses here. Yes that is the thesis on Freddies guitar.
    The one thing I really had in mind for this was the fact that, and I know you'll all agree with this, when one is first learning the roots of 4 part harmonies, you really can't function on the level of altered chords or substitutions yet as a person doesn't know what the basics are and why to use a 7b5 instead of a Maj 7th for instance.
    I was really trying to help those people that come on here and haven't had a chance to learn. We have players from all walks of life on here and I know that all of the information contained in that one little post took me 4 years to put together on my own. One of the neatest things that happened to me was the way I was able to breeze through 1st year theory in college because of knowing the mechanics of all this though not knowing the musical vernacular.
    I still think that one of the neatest things Freddie did was to play the harmonic lines to support the bass lines and most of the time, rarely going beyond 3 note harmonies. A lot of times he was playing simple, elegant single note runs. All from a guy in his home town who took an interest in a kid who needed to feel he was valuable. Look at what that support of his self-esteem did for him and his career. It's amazing to think that we as players have the power to pass that on to younger players. Find a kid who needs or wants to learn and give them free lessons. It won't cost you anything and it will give them millions.

    One of my favorite little things is to use a b7 and a 3 together for a rhythm part. Otherwise, as someone said, you can get real cluttered. To quote a recording and performing drummer I know, "Play it simple, and keep out of the way." Works for me.
     
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  20. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    Pt 2 of this is going to deal with how to combine the three different chord scales into one scale that is useable all over the neck. It also will show how to know which notes (for right now) will fit with which change.
    Later on we'll get into modes, and the 2-5 change and the 6-2-5-1 change.
     
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