View Poll Results: Shapes or notes? What, in your opinion, is more important?

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  • Shapes

    27 13.57%
  • Notes

    28 14.07%
  • Both

    131 65.83%
  • I kind of just fiddle around and hope to hit the right notes.

    13 6.53%
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  1. #51

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    Hey guys,

    I'm on tour on the west coast right now. If you are in Cali, let me know.

    www.reptet.com
    www.hardcoretetmusic.com

    So,

    I learned shapes while reading a theory book. it worked really well. If you know what notes are in a chord or scale theoretically, it's just a matter of thinking them as you practice.

    reading however, you just have to do it all the time, it's like working out, if you stop, you start to loose it.

    Both

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52

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    'Shapes' are just visual representations of 'notes'. All instruments have their limitations, even the 'well tempered klavier'. We play guitar for a more visceral reason, right?. We deal with its limitations gladly, sometimes less gladly. But its limitations beget its unique tonality and voice.

    Smitty posed a key point - playing other instruments (and I am assuming learning standard music notation here - not that difficult, and critical for basic musical communication) opens LOTS of doors. There is no 'one way' to learn guitar, as there is for piano. That's one of the special things about guitar. Learn the basics of music, they are readily available at your local library. But play the guitar with your heart in your hands. Play along with all your favorite music and with other musicians. Play ALL the scales as often as you can - they are the building blocks. But don't ever forget that you are playing because music is beautiful, and fun, and valuable.

  4. #53

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    I voted for notes mostly because I think that there are far too many young guitarists these days who really don't have a handle (and in some cases, a clue) on what it is that they are actually playing.

    While shapes and patterns are very useful in approaching certain melodic ideas, I feel they are only effective when understood from the perspective of the notes included in them. Sure, it's impressive to hear someone fluidly playing 3 octave arpeggios, but only when those arpeggios are making some sort of melodic statement. Don't get me wrong, I feel that anything which helps us to express our musical ideas, especially when improvising, should be considered. Afterall, the fretboard can be a fairly complicated animal. But relying soley on training your hands to mechanically play patterns will not empower your musical creativity, it will inhibit it.

    Much like relying on Tab, I think that learning and memorizing shapes before learning to read and understanding the theory behind those patterns is a poor approach that will lead to redundant and limited playing.

  5. #54

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    I have not carefully read this entire thread, please forgive
    if I repeat or omit

    Smitty seemed to touch on the missing bit of the equation: sounds.
    As in notes, patterns & sounds.

    I have some experience with clarinet & sax.
    Horsed around with the guitar for decades but never had a
    lesson or followed a plan until I signed on with Jimmy Bruno.

    I saw a youtube of an old Bruno instruction video where
    he notes that horn players really learn to associate a particular
    sound with a specific fingering. His '5 shapes' approach to the
    fretboard is intended to do this by repeating the intervallic
    relationships on the fretboard as consistently as possible.
    I found this easy to identify with from my horn days and
    'cause I often still don't hit the note I meant to.

    I'm using an internet site now to practice interval recognition.
    Maybe someday I'll be able to say "I hear it coming together."
    So far, my ears are as dumb as my fingers.

    My response here is about me figuring out that the ear must
    be served as much as the fingers in the study of guitar.

  6. #55

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    I've said before, but I'll say it again: I throw my fingers against the strings. Some days I'm luckier than others...
    Have a nice day

    Dad3353 (Douglas...)

  7. #56

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    Guys, we talk about this all the time. It's whatever works for you. However, all string instruments have a completely different dynamic than that of piano of horns, in which one is more condusive to think of scales.On stringed instruments, one note can be found in more than one area on the instrument, which is condusive to learning "shapes" according to the tuning of the instrument. This is smiple technique, and should be considered when practicing, shapes are practical and fundemental for competant players. However, scales and modes which Martino calls "piano scales" are to be considered when studying simply because other instruments (non-stringed) think in terms of tones, intlvs and scales, not "shapes."

  8. #57

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    I like shapes. It's good to know notes, but as Herb Ellis puts it in his book Rhythm Shapes, "It is significantly easier to reference melodic ideas using chord shapes instead of endless scale patterns, modes and arpeggios. This convenient and simple approach allows players to sound more natural and musical. Unfortunately, many aspiring guitarists devote too much time and energy practicing scales in all positions, including all the unnecessary, awkward and impractical fingerings. Not only is this an inefficient use of practice time, but it usually results in solos that sound like somebody playing scales."
    Charlie Christian played this way and many players influenced by him--including Herb Ellis--picked it up and expanded it as the style evolved. It's a great way to start improvising because the focus remains on musical lines rather than scales or arpeggios. (It's good to know scales and arpeggios, but it is bad to mistake them for solos!) If you learn a few of Charlie's solos--or Herb's-- and visualize the shapes while playing them, you *see* how to navigate the guitar when handling different kinds of changes (-blues, Rhythm, standards). It also makes it easier to transpose things.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  9. #58

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    Charlie Christian was a good one for the "shape system" of improvising...

    Just hold the chord and see what scale tones are a fret or two away from where you are at the present time...

    Time on the instrument...pierre

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by pierre richard View Post
    Charlie Christian was a good one for the "shape system" of improvising...Just hold the chord and see what scale tones are a fret or two away from where you are at the present time...
    Yeah, Pierre, that was CC's way. It made sense in his day too because for many rhythm tunes, the whole A section was treated (-for purposes of improv) as a I chord (-often a I6 chord). Charlie rarely played arpeggios, and when it did it was usually a triad used as pickup notes. The emphasis was on making the line swing, not outlining the passing harmony. Of course, Charlie could do that, but it wasn't his usual emphasis.

    Also, using a few simple shapes (-F, A, and D for major chords) allowed him to move up and down the neck during passages when 8 or 16 bars were treated as the I chord. (Hey, the dude was modal before his time!) The different shapes facilitated different lines, keeping one's playing from getting too same-y.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  11. #60

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    I'm loving these last responses! I actually play this way...for lack of any real modal mastery. I would love to hear more or see some examples of moving shapes around.

    Thanks, Sailor

  12. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
    I actually play this way...for lack of any real modal mastery. I would love to hear more or see some examples of moving shapes around.
    Sailor, Herb Ellis is the guy for you. Late in his career he put out three book/CD sets: Swing Blues, Rhythm Shapes, and All The Shapes You Are.

    The blues volume--which should be tackled first--introduces the chord shapes. You already know them, so don't expect a revelation. The wonder comes in visualizing the shapes while playing Herb's lines and internalizing the shapes so you can do your own thing with them. He plays 3 blues here (-C, F, and a slow Bb) with five or six choruses of each (except the slow blues, which is only 3). That's a lot of choruses to use in your own playing when you can't think of something!

    "Rhythm Shapes" is all about playing the rhythm changes. He plays a lot of "A" section and "B" section lines (-8 bar phrases), some sticking to one shape and others combining two or more. Lot of material there, and it ends with Herb playing to 32-bar choruses that you're supposed to master as a springboard to your own work.

    The last volume is "All The Shapes You Are," which is about the standard "All The Things You Are." You learn the changes and a slew of lines from Herb's "vamps" (-8 bars are so to each chord, in some cases a ii-V change) and finally another solo at the end for the novice to master.

    Not a lot of theory, but a whole lot of music. Herb was such a melodic player and hearing this, you learn how he conceived his lines.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  13. #62

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    Thanks so much markerhodes! I will look into these books ASAP as I seem to have hit a wall in my playing.

    When I play 12 Bar Jazz/Blues, Swing, I totally see the chord shapes, and play off these...I hope this is playing the changes? (I don't just noodle around with blues and mixo scales...I outline the chords).

    The only trouble is, so far, it seems to all sound too much alike. I also seem to use Major Pentatonic a lot...when I analyze it!!

    Thanks, Sailor

  14. #63

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    Well -I never cared about scales much- I care if I'm on the root third fifth, second etc. - THAT's the color/flavor for me.

    A ninth is a ninth regardless if you're playing a Dorian scale or a Plutonian Minor-

    But I am lazy - I use shapes and melodic cadences- melodic cadences are the common denominator of all improv- from Blues, to Bluegrass, from people who just play totally "by ear" to the most knowledgeable Coltrane/Stravinsky monster - got to have melodic cadences to "tie" the improv to the musical foundation- and most of the time it's not really the* SCALE it's the chord tone or extension that you rest on - hence - melodic cadence- the "stop" tones chord tones and possible extensions...........................

    I SHOULD know the notes instantly - but I really just "feel" them by where they are in the chord and just hear them in my mind as I go......................................lazy .

    *the SCALE isn't WHY it works - the scale only works 'cause it has the chord tones and extensions
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 01-04-2011 at 05:16 AM.

  15. #64

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    Let's face it, everything on the guitar is a pattern. Playing melodic ideas along one string will still force you to imagine, see, find and play the pattern that creates the line you wish to play. In fact, every instrument forces you to think in patterns, you think Coltrane didn't think in patterns? McCoy?

    People like to say that the aim is to play what you hear, BUT YOU HEAR WHAT YOU KNOW! And you know what you know because you have committed it to muscle or aural memory, and what helped facilitate that was "patternizing" , that's what we do when we practice, right?

    Can you make Jazz without using known patterns? "Accidental" free jazz, maybe.... OK, so what about singers? Take Ella's scat singing. You could say she was not using any mechanical pattern, but was she hearing something that was "patterned" by somebody else (she was obviously influenced by instruments playing Jazz. )

    So maybe the aim is for your instrument to mimic the voice, pure and unmechanical (arguably), but consider this, could a language such as Jazz have been invented with no instruments? I mean, if we only had voices that made music, could we have evolved from Gregorian Chants to Bebop? Or did the mechanical nature of our instruments, and the patterned way of interfacing with them influence music from Bach to Keith Jarret?

    Just musings, FWIW, I think patterns are ok, on any instrument, just as long as you are playing them, and not the other way around....

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    Can you make Jazz without using known patterns? "Accidental" free jazz, maybe.... OK, so what about singers? Take Ella's scat singing. You could say she was not using any mechanical pattern, but was she hearing something that was "patterned" by somebody else (she was obviously influenced by instruments playing Jazz. )
    Great post. As for Ella, horn players were the biggest influence on her scat singing. (Satchmo's too, for that matter, though that's to be expected, as he was a horn player.)

    Some patterns derive from music itself (-triads, certain licks that 'everybody knows' such as the Honeysuckle Rose lick, the Cry Me A River lick and so on) and others rely upon the particulars of various instruments. (You can't play Wes-style octaves on a tenor sax.)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by andihopkins View Post
    Thanks for your input, Hot Ford Coupe.
    You make a good point.

    My thought is just that one single scale pattern can be quite restricting.
    Perhaps a better way to approach patterns would be to know shapes like intervals.
    This would give you freedom to create any fragment, in any way, of any scale, arpeggio or interval from any given note - without having to visualize the entire pattern across all 6 strings.

    I guess the idea is to enable freedom of creativity and imagination.
    Narrowing the gap between the melodies in your mind and the muscles in your fingers.

    After practicing scale's like a mad man, I'm after something a little more liberating, something that can be expressed in more ways than one.

    Perhaps the knowledge of intervals, scale degrees, keys and the notes on the fretboard is the way to go for me.

    (By the way, just been listening to a few MP3 lessons by Wayne Krantz... really worth listening to if your keen on a different approach to chords, scales and rhythm. He's got some extremely helpful ideas, and some great practice tips. Check it out: ++ waynekrantz.com ++)

    ^ This! Intervals rule man!

    edit . . . . Intervals and fingerings that will best represent those intervals. Then, associate a name for those fingerings . . . a 1st-6th fingering (1st finger 6th string) at the third fret for a G7 arp and spell out the interval . . . Root, M3rd, P5, m7, repeat an octave higher . . . rule 1 . . 2nd finger never moves out of position. . . with this fingering, you're also covering the representative G7 chord, as played on the 5th fret. The available tensions . . 2, P4 6, 9, 11, 13 are all available within the same fingering. If you adhere to these rules, 2nd finger never moves . . . and you spell out the intervals . . you could move the fingering to a 1st 5th at the 10th fret.
    Last edited by Patrick2; 10-30-2012 at 04:39 PM.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  18. #67

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    "I stole everything I ever heard, but mostly I stole from the horns."-- Ella Fitzgerald
    "Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to endure, and we are are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us." -- Ranier Maria Rilke

  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by randalljazz View Post
    "I stole everything I ever heard, but mostly I stole from the horns."-- Ella Fitzgerald
    Ella was the best. Period! (IMO) I used to think it was Sassy who had the edge. Different singers, different styles, I know that. But, for my taste . . and based upon pure natural talent and creativity . . . Ella was in a league by herself.

    Also, I ain't buying the statement by her that she stole her lines from the horn players she worked with. I'm sure those lines were the foundation . . . . . . but, when Ella was into an improvisational scat . . . she was creating and she was cooking!!! She was tonally and intervalically correct, almost 100% of the time.. . .and she had no keyboard or fret board to reference.

    Similar to Mel Torme.
    Last edited by Patrick2; 10-30-2012 at 09:16 PM.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  20. #69

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    OK, so a fully formed Jazz musician in the purest sense, like Ella, hears perfect lines in their head. People will have you believe that 90% of what you need in Jazz is right there, in your head. So Ella sings a capella for 5 mins, lets say, line after perfect line of pure bop genius to the imaginary chords of Lady Be Good. Now show her the piano. There ya go Ella, here's middle C, and the 12 notes before C repeats, etc. Simple, all ya gotta do now is simply play the notes you hear in your head on the piano. Shouldn't be too hard, I mean, you hear the intervals perfectly in your head, shouldn't take long to figure out what the intervals look like on the piano, right?

    Oh, and once you've figured that out, here's a guitar, shouldn't take you too much longer, it's pretty simple really, all the strings are tuned a 4th apart, except the G and B string which is a third apart.

    I'll come back in half an hour and see how you're coming along.......
    Last edited by princeplanet; 10-31-2012 at 09:26 AM.

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    OK, so a fully formed Jazz musician in the purest sense, like Ella, hears perfect lines in their head. People will have you believe that 90% of what you need in Jazz is right there, in your head. So Ella sings a capella for 5 mins, lets say, line after perfect line of pure bop genius to the imaginary chords of Lady Be Good. Now show her the piano. There ya go Ella, here's middle C, and the 12 notes before C repeats, etc. Simple, all ya gotta do now is simply play the notes you hear in your head on the piano. Shouldn't be too hard, I mean, you hear the intervals perfectly in your head, shouldn't take long to figure out what the intervals look like on the piano, right?

    Oh, and once you've figured that out, here's a guitar, shouldn't take you too much longer, it's pretty simple really, all the strings are tuned a 5th apart, except the G and B string which is a third apart.

    I'll come back in half an hour and see how you're coming along.......
    OK . . . quite a nice rant. But, what the heck are you trying to say?? Ella's instrument was her voice. She didn't need to have an understanding of the chordal structure of a piano keyboard or a guitar fret board. That was Mel Torme man. He was always on pitch for that very reason.. Ella just felt the scat within key. She wasn't always pitch perfect. But, she was there 99% of the time. I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make here.?.? Help me with that.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2 View Post
    OK . . . quite a nice rant. But, what the heck are you trying to say?? Ella's instrument was her voice. She didn't need to have an understanding of the chordal structure of a piano keyboard or a guitar fret board. That was Mel Torme man. He was always on pitch for that very reason.. Ella just felt the scat within key. She wasn't always pitch perfect. But, she was there 99% of the time. I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make here.?.? Help me with that.
    Fair enough, maybe I was off on a tangent.... It's just that whenever there's mention of whether or not music emanates from the mind or fingered patterns, it's seems to be becoming more and more fashionable to refer to what Hal Galper calls "The illusion of the instrument"ie, the instrument is not important, music is all in the mind. I get his point, once you have chops, you should turn off the part of the brain that was used n training, and do as Parker urged, "just blow".

    But Bird practiced PATTERNS, to the point they were 2nd nature. If you wanted to play like Bird, there was never a way around it, you had to shed the figures, motifs, licks, lines, devices, cells, whatever you wanna call them (notice I didn't say "scales" or "arps"). Maybe Hal has forgotten how he got his chops. It is not good advice to suggest that you simply need to train your ear, then simply find the notes you're hearing on your instrument, not if you wanna blow over Cherokee at 300 bpm at least anyway....

    Conversely, nor is it wise to learn the mechanics of your instrument to the point where you let your fingers do all the playing. As guitarists we can be a little more obsessed with pattern based playing owing to the nature of the instrument, as well as the fact that there has never been any real pedagogy (oh, plus the fact that many of us started in rock, folk, country or blues. ) And further, we seem to like to look at our hands more than we really need to. All these reasons I believe conspire to make us lazy improvisors, happy to just noodle around some patterns and hope for the best.

    That's why most of us agree that you need both, muscle memory as well as the aural/mind conception, which takes me back to the original question. It's not 90% ear and 10% fingers (patterns shapes etc), unless you wanna be a great singer! No, it's gotta be closer to 50/50. Patterns, like all mnemonics, are aids in acquiring vast material for our expression at call.

    I think of it like this: You can spend half a lifetime memorizing the script for all the great Shakespeare Kings using all the memory tricks you can, but if you wanna perform them, then you gotta spend (hopefully concurrently) the other half of your time learning to express these great scripts. Just knowing the words wont cut it.
    Last edited by princeplanet; 10-31-2012 at 08:09 AM.

  23. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    Fair enough, maybe I was off on a tangent.... It's just that whenever there's mention of whether or not music emanates from the mind or fingered patterns, it's seems to be becoming more and more fashionable to refer to what Hal Galper calls "The illusion of the instrument"ie, the instrument is not important, music is all in the mind. I get his point, once you have chops, you should turn off the part of the brain that was used n training, and do as Parker urged, "just blow".

    But Bird practiced PATTERNS, to the point they were 2nd nature. If you wanted to play like Bird, there was never a way around it, you had to shed the figures, motifs, licks, lines, devices, cells, whatever you wanna call them (notice I didn't say "scales" or "arps"). Maybe Hal has forgotten how he got his chops. It is not good advice to suggest that you simply need to train your ear, then simply find the notes you're hearing on your instrument, not if you wanna blow over Cherokee at 300 bpm at least anyway....

    Conversely, nor is it wise to learn the mechanics of your instrument to the point where you let your fingers do all the playing. As guitarists we can be a little more obsessed with pattern based playing owing to the nature of the instrument, as well as the fact that there has never been any real pedagogy (oh, plus the fact that many of us started in rock, folk, country or blues. ) And further, we seem to like to look at our hands more than we really need to. All these reasons I believe conspire to make us lazy improvisors, happy to just noodle around some patterns and hope for the best.

    That's why most of us agree that you need both, muscle memory as well as the aural/mind conception, which takes me back to the original question. It's not 90% ear and 10% fingers (patterns shapes etc), unless you wanna be a great singer! No, it's gotta be closer to 50/50. Patterns, like all mnemonics, are aids in acquiring vast material for our expression at call.

    I think of it like this: You can spend half a lifetime memorizing the script for all the great Shakespeare Kings using all the memory tricks you can, but if you wanna perform them, then you gotta spend (hopefully concurrently) the other half of your time learning to express these great scripts. Just knowing the words wont cut it.
    I've got no problem with anything you just stated in this post. In fact, I totally agree with it all. With our instrument, more so that others, "patterns" as you seem to want to call them, are essential to playing without rambling. I also agree that everyone seems to think that Bird "just blew" hoping he was playing correct notes. A quick study of some of his lines will dispell that concept rather quickly.

    However, there seems to be a resentment of certain terms to define patterns. Although I know why that resentment exists, I disagree with it. Scales, modes, arp . . . etc., are all patterns. I prefer to refer to them as fingerings. But, what ever you want to call them . . . they are indeed patterns. It's up to the player how he/she chooses to employ those patterns or fingerings. It could be in boring diatonic scale fashion or boring modal fashion . . . or in a more melodic, intervalic and musical way. But, it's got to be a point of reference, even for those players who know their fingerboard well enough to go outside a specific fingering or pattern. People can even choose chromatisism within a pattern. Currently, I'm a big believer in blowing within a certain fingering. The fingering starts out as an arp fingering, but I can then superimpose the available tensions within that same fingering. If I choose to leave that specific fingering whether for a chord change or not . . . I look to move with leading notes to the next fingering . . . always know where I am and never lost . . (at least that's the intent). For me, it's all about knowing the intervals. If I know the intervals, and I choose to play a 9 or a flatted 5 . . I know where to go . . even without knowing the specific note.

    I think we're on the same page here.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  24. #73

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    Cool. yeah, we're both probably preaching to the choir here, I just sometimes go out to bat for these ideas sometimes in case inexperienced or impressionable people hear peeps espousing stuff like " it's all about what you hear". It's not, it's the dynamic symbiosis of the cognitive and the autonomic parts of the brain that makes for the complete musician. The mind influences the hands, and in turn the hands influence the mind which in turn influences the hands etc etc ad nauseum......

  25. #74

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    it's the dynamic symbiosis of the cognitive and the autonomic parts of the brain that makes for the complete musician. The mind influences the hands, and in turn the hands influence the mind which in turn influences the hands etc etc ad nauseum......



    wut chu talkin bout Willis??
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  26. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick2 View Post


    wut chu talkin bout Willis??
    Cognitive brain - frontal lobe -creativity and all that.

    Autonomic brain - the cerebellum - the back part attached to the top of the spinal cord. Takes care of nervous system, related to reflexes and trained learning (riding a bike, playing an instrument - muscle memory)...

    Don't know a lot about the brain, but am interested in how it helps us create.

  27. #76

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    I think people are talking about two different things in this thread... melodic/scale patterns, which is one thing, and fretboard positions (CAGED shapes, scale fingerings, etc.) which is something else.

    To learn guitar I don't think you can really get around learning the positions/patterns... this is basically how you learn how the tuning works, so in relation to any keynote/root note you can find and see all of the intervals...
    but eventually you have to transcend positions and just see the fretboard as one big position.

  28. #77

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    Many roads lead to the same goal.

    Some of the best jazz musicians of all time didn't know theory.
    Bireli Lagrene, who is at the top of my list allegedly doesn't know theory. In my opinion he is the most smokin' in-the-changes players of all time. He learned the old school way. He didn't know what it was called, but figured out how to play Djangos music by listening to the records and finding the phrases on the guitar.

    Then you have Pat Martino who knows theory, but from a different angle than most folks.

    Then you have Kurt Rosenwinkel who is from a heavily theoretical CST school of playing.


    In my opinion, the best way to go about it is to learn it from all these directions. Once you see the same thing from a different point of view, you learn it deeper and it sticks better.

    Learning the notes on the guitar is good, because when you know theory you can instantly locate whatever concept you're working on and play it. It'll also allow you to transpose in real time.

  29. #78

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmundLauritzen View Post
    Many roads lead to the same goal..
    True, and on top of that, there's more than one goal. Some want to become a name player while others would be happy to play some Django or Wes or Pass solos note for note; some want to make a living (-teaching, gigging when they can, releasing CDs and hoping one catches fire); some are accomplished in other avenues of guitar playing and have taken up jazz as a challenge. Some want to be 'the best they can be' with no illusion that they are going to go down in jazz history as innovative players.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  30. #79
    [quote=andihopkins;17444]Hey guys,

    I'm a Jazz guitarist from Perth, Australia.
    I started on piano at age 3, but moved to guitar at around 11. I've loved it ever since.

    Just recently I've had a few piano/theory lessons with an amazing local pianist. It's been great seeing things from a different perspective, and I must say that after a few weeks, I am frustrated to realize that I (think) I have been going about the guitar the wrong way ... possibly working backwards in a sense.

    I started (and have been) learning the way most guitarist's learn - shapes and patterns.
    All these educational and instructional books/dvds seem to be filled to the rim with a million different patterns & shapes. And like a good, eager student, I have tried my best to lap them all up.

    But since seeing music from a piano's perspective (which I think we all agree is probably the best perspective to view things from) I've realized that I actually don't know much about the music, scales, chords, etc that I am playing. They are merely just shapes that I have learnt, but don't understand!

    Sure, the shapes are important, but I feel it's working backwards.
    The note's are the ingredients that make up the music, not the shapes.
    And if one knows the notes, he can create a chord, arpeggio or scale anywhere on the fretboard... just as a pianist can.

    Anywho, I could talk about this forever. But it seems that the guitar world is more interested in shapes, diagrams and patterns (being that it is easier) than actually learning and understanding the fretboard.

    It appears the logical way to learn any instrument... Am I crazy? What do you guys think?

    Feel free to also throw in any personal techniques in learning the fretboard

    Cheers,
    Andy[/quote


    It's all about ears.

    Shapes are something we happen to notice, but not live by. Once we begin to glorify shapes, we lose the ear, even if we think we don't. The ear should design the shape and not vice versa, as a rule (when music is at stake, all rules can be broken).

    Shapes lose their mightiness when a player decides to play the shaped idea (in arppegiated tertian, quartal, or combination; phrase or chord form structured, etc) using all possible fingerings. Shapes go out the window then, unless one proceeds to become a shape collector. We still have to "hear" what's going on. It's best to work more on developing the ear (relative pitch and recording lifting and transcribing, which where anyone will see and hear all "shapes and sizes" surface anyhow.

    Develop the ear and you will never be 'out of shape'.

    TD

  31. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    ...Conversely, nor is it wise to learn the mechanics of your instrument to the point where you let your fingers do all the playing. As guitarists we can be a little more obsessed with pattern based playing owing to the nature of the instrument, as well as the fact that there has never been any real pedagogy (oh, plus the fact that many of us started in rock, folk, country or blues. ) And further, we seem to like to look at our hands more than we really need to. All these reasons I believe conspire to make us lazy improvisors, happy to just noodle around some patterns and hope for the best...
    Thank you for that. I thought I was the only one...

  32. #81

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    I play off of the chord tones, substitutions and triads built off of those tones. I tend to play horizontally on 2 or 3 strings rather than across the board "in position". I don't think in terms of CST or CAGED; to me there are chord tones and notes in between chord tones. Sometimes they're diatonic, sometimes altered, sometimes sweet color - doesn't matter to me what the scale/mode "collection of notes" would be called. I know how chords are spelled and am well versed in playing all 4 inversions on multiple string sets up and down the board. I wish I could sometimes apply the CAGED principal of relying on all of these "shapes" that I know, especially on faster tunes. My problem is that while comping, I can grab these chords effortlessly (and I know what notes they contain) but when improvising I don't usually play melodies that cross 4 strings and so I disassociate from all the grips I know. I hope I'm describing this in a way that makes sense to you - I "know all the notes" but I can't seem to make them "light up" vertically. I welcome any suggestions.

  33. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gertrude Moser View Post
    I play off of the chord tones, substitutions and triads built off of those tones. I tend to play horizontally on 2 or 3 strings rather than across the board "in position". I don't think in terms of CST or CAGED; to me there are chord tones and notes in between chord tones. Sometimes they're diatonic, sometimes altered, sometimes sweet color - doesn't matter to me what the scale/mode "collection of notes" would be called. I know how chords are spelled and am well versed in playing all 4 inversions on multiple string sets up and down the board. I wish I could sometimes apply the CAGED principal of relying on all of these "shapes" that I know, especially on faster tunes. My problem is that while comping, I can grab these chords effortlessly (and I know what notes they contain) but when improvising I don't usually play melodies that cross 4 strings and so I disassociate from all the grips I know. I hope I'm describing this in a way that makes sense to you - I "know all the notes" but I can't seem to make them "light up" vertically. I welcome any suggestions.
    So practice the 5 CAGED shapes for scales / modes. To make it more useful, practice maj and mixo bebop versions as well as pentatonic wirh passing note scales. But not just scales, play patterns and devices (check Jerry Coker). Associate every CAGED position to the chord shape in that position. After a few months the notes will "light up". At least you seem to be comfortable with the horizontal thing, I think it takes CAGED players longer to break out of their shapes and into horizontal lines.....

  34. #83

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    I think it takes CAGED players longer to break out of their shapes and into horizontal lines.....
    Yep, I've fallen into a vertical traps of sorts very naturally unfortunately. Working on it but it takes much more effort to work out what to play horizontally, I'd rather be in the inverse position, you're in a good place.

  35. #84

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    When learning scales, I've used the CAGED method to order the shapes. But, once I've learned those shapes vertically, I then learn to play them in two string groups horizontally all the way up the neck and back. While doing that, it helps to recognize the CAGED reference points, but it is actually easier to hear to anticipate the next note in the scale.

    I am in the process of learning intervals and learning to hear intervals. I wish that I had paid more attention to intervals earlier in my learning process.
    Last edited by zigzag; 01-25-2013 at 06:11 PM.

  36. #85

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    For me they are one in the same, the notes and the shapes. The nature of the guitar AND the piano are shapes. Piano is fairly easily laid out. 12 diatonic keys within the reach of one octave that repeats up and down the keyboard. Same thing either hand. It's just a technical difference in playing in either hand. But what you DO is visualize the shape of the scale, the chord, the arpeggio, the lick.

    For me on the guitar the notes are the shapes. But for me to THINK each chord in terms of calling out the note NAMES is just too slow. Maybe I'm too slow witted for that. But in jazz you have to improvise, which means you have to short circuit the thinking process. You have to see it and know it and spelling the notes as D-F#-A-C-E-G#-B is too long. It's quicker, for me, to simply KNOW the shape of D7+11, and KNOW that those are the notes, but it's not important when improvising over chords, only when reading, really. But for me they are one in the same thing.

    By KNOWING I mean to intuitively know. And to do this you have to spend many, many hours, maybe years, to ingest the fretboard to the point that seeing EbMa7+11 to A13b9 to Abm9 written on the page instantly translates to a visual fretboard from the top to the bottom. I tell all my students that there's no reason to EVER play a wrong note. You should be able to see ALL the notes on the fretboard. What you do with that is where the real playing/lessons begins.

    This is why I love and value jazz so much - it's an intuitive art. It's all about cultivating intuition. But you have to KNOW the data first to play some of this stuff. I don't put stock in THINKING while playing. You have to know the possibilities however. And bottom rung of that knowing is seeing and understanding the fretboard.

    I don't know CST at all and don't use CADGE either. I never even knew what it was until I was teaching my system of chords - the 5 Zones - when a student said it seemed awfully similar to CADGE. LOL. But it's not the same thing. And my scale patterns have nothing to do with it. 7 notes in the scale, 7 scale patterns. It's just more direct and logical to me. No missing holes on the fretboard.

    But everything becomes a visual pattern. I don't play shapes like "here's the G Maj7 chord, so I'll play lines out of that shape." The whole fretboard becomes various deconstructions of shapes. That's how I believe one THNKS on the guitar - breaking the fretboard down into visual chunks, but COMPREHENSIVELY. I see each and every arpeggio mapped out all over the fretboard; not in terms of chords, but as part of the scale patterns. Therefore the scale patterns becomes useful and broken down or constructed to chords. Chords and scales become one thing, like on the piano.

    Piano players think in shapes and patterns. So do sax players. I'm not so sure about trumpet players and trombone players. They got something else going on. But those pattern and shapes are known notes. One serves the other and neither should supplant the other.
    Last edited by henryrobinett; 02-01-2013 at 07:15 PM.

  37. #86

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    Hey newbie here,but I understand where you are coming from.I too started on the piano and switched.I find i have come to realize.Ive stopped trying to learn all these Jazz chord shapes.Now i try to focus on the 3 and 7,and it has simplified things in a way.But im stumbling in the dark here.Smiling though.

  38. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    For me on the guitar the notes are the shapes. But for me to THINK each chord in terms of calling out the note NAMES is just too slow. Maybe I'm too slow witted for that. .
    I agree completely, Henry. In fact, it's hard enough (for me, anyway) to just say the ROOT of patterns I'm running through the cycle. (And it drives me nuts that all the roots aren't single syllables: "C" is one syllable but "Gb" or "Eb" is two, and if you add chord types such as "minor seven sharp five," or even "seven sharp nine" it takes too long and throws off the rhythm!) I don't think this has anything to do with you being slow-witted-----which I don't for a second believe you are!--but with the finding of neuroscience that conscious thought is slower than unconscious thought. SAYING something in addition to playing it is extra work and the saying takes more effort than the playing. (I still think it's good for beginners to say some things as they play them in order to learn them, like the way the cycle goes, or the names of the notes in a chord, but once you know them, saying them would truly be a drag on one's playing. But we're not talking about that now.)

    When Herb Ellis talked about shapes, he was thinking like you: not just what the names of the chord tones are but all the related notes in that position. Visual references work faster than verbal ones. He didn't have to recite the names anymore but he valued the shapes because they put a lot of information into convenient shorthand. It's funny sometimes when I come up with a song, play it a time or two, then think I should write it down and it takes so long to write it out, and I have to stop and really think 'what is the name of this note?' or 'what is the chord here?' I have songs that I've never written down and I've played them and never thought what the changes are because they're just the song to me. I'm glad I can write them down in case I need to show the music to someone else, but it's a reminder that 'knowing by the chart' isn't the only way to know a song inside and out!
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  39. #88

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    #5- pray.

  40. #89

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    WOW!! This shit can be really confusing!! Remember the simplicity of . . . C - Am - F - G . . . then a simple modulation. Little Anthony and The Imperials . . . . "You don't remember me . . . but I remember you . . 'twas not so long ago . . . . " OK . . so, now I'm just messing with you all.

    But, for me. as I said earlier in this thread. . It's about playing in position .. . and about the intervals . . . and about being musical within that context. If your in position, understand the intervalic expression . . . utilize it . . . all that's left is your own capibility of creating musicality with in it. If you leave position . . . then, know whre you're going.

    Someone with more practile knowledge than myself . . . (which is probably most in this forum) . . .please let me know where I'm going wrong here. Thanks!!! Honestly . . . . thanks.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  41. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gertrude Moser View Post
    I play off of the chord tones, substitutions and triads built off of those tones. I tend to play horizontally on 2 or 3 strings rather than across the board "in position". I don't think in terms of CST or CAGED; to me there are chord tones and notes in between chord tones. Sometimes they're diatonic, sometimes altered, sometimes sweet color - doesn't matter to me what the scale/mode "collection of notes" would be called. I know how chords are spelled and am well versed in playing all 4 inversions on multiple string sets up and down the board. I wish I could sometimes apply the CAGED principal of relying on all of these "shapes" that I know, especially on faster tunes. My problem is that while comping, I can grab these chords effortlessly (and I know what notes they contain) but when improvising I don't usually play melodies that cross 4 strings and so I disassociate from all the grips I know. I hope I'm describing this in a way that makes sense to you - I "know all the notes" but I can't seem to make them "light up" vertically. I welcome any suggestions.
    Not sure what you're getting at. You know your chords, but you disassociate from the 'grips' you know when improvising? Not sure what 'grips' are.

  42. #91

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevebol View Post
    Not sure what you're getting at. You know your chords, but you disassociate from the 'grips' you know when improvising? Not sure what 'grips' are.
    I've always hate the word "grip" and have only started using it in the last year or so because so many people use the term.
    A grip is just a chord "shape"- one finger on each string; if you know 4 inversions of Cmaj7 across 3 string sets, then you know 12 grips for Cmaj7.

  43. #92

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gertrude Moser View Post
    I've always hate the word "grip" and have only started using it in the last year or so because so many people use the term.
    A grip is just a chord "shape"- one finger on each string; if you know 4 inversions of Cmaj7 across 3 string sets, then you know 12 grips for Cmaj7.
    Heh, me too.

    I see a chord as a pool of notes. And I never see a chord name as written in stone. Cmaj7 means C6, Cmaj7#11, Cmaj9, C6/9, Cmaj13, and a bunch of other possibilities to me
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  44. #93

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gertrude Moser View Post
    I've always hate the word "grip" and have only started using it in the last year or so because so many people use the term.
    A grip is just a chord "shape"- one finger on each string; if you know 4 inversions of Cmaj7 across 3 string sets, then you know 12 grips for Cmaj7.
    Yep, very well and concisely stated. Grip is one of those words like *chord-melody*, Guitar-specific. I was talking to a friend of mine who his getting her PhD in Music from Boston U in baroque piano/harpsichord, and I made the mistake of using the term *chord-melody*, thinking it must be a common musical term. She pretty much laughed at me (in a friendly way, of course) when I tried to explain what *chord melody* meant, basically saying, "wait, I think that's called playing the piano*.

    I think *grip* is part of the DIY tradition or guitar lore, when musicians learned by the apprentice system. I heard Jimmy Raney talk, in a very unpretentious way, about how most of them learned music, in a very piecemeal sort of way, "learning a new grip here and there after, after a gig".

    I'm convinced most of the bebop players played off chord tones, connecting one with another, meticulously, with proper voice leading, but in a very musical way. When I try it, it sounds like an academic exercise. The saxophonist Greg Fishman once published his transcription of his hero Stan Getz's solo from *Pennies From Heaven*. From that transcription, he plotted out the beats where the chords change, and not only were their proper chord notes at those precise moments, if you extrapolated just the chord tones played on the chord changes, you would also get very smooth voice-leading--no jarring intervals/jumps or leaps. And yet, it was all done in a very musical way.

  45. #94

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Heh, me too.

    I see a chord as a pool of notes. And I never see a chord name as written in stone. Cmaj7 means C6, Cmaj7#11, Cmaj9, C6/9, Cmaj13, and a bunch of other possibilities to me

    that's the way I was taught, always look at the vanilla chord--why make it more complicated than it is--there are only 3 chord qualities that matter: M/m/dom. Everything falls into these three fundamental qualities.

  46. #95

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    PS, I think I'm gong to formally start to write out a specific chord tone blowing exercise on tunes, as a way of working on blowing on chord tones. Write out the chord symbols, and place specific target notes at each chord change, ensuring that these are (1) chord tones associated with the applicable change; and (2) smoothly transition from one note to another, only a small distance apart--semi-tone or whole step, if possible. So, each measure may only have 1 or 2 notes specifically written out before hand, the voice-lead chord tones. Everything else shall be improvised.

  47. #96

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevebol View Post
    Why can't people just learn the old way? It so much easier. Learn your first postion chords first. Then learn bar chords, then jazz chords which are commonly 3-4 voiced. I tried to watch some videos about CAGED and it was painful. I call the same chord that's voiced differently, inversions.

    Does anyone actually learn to play with CAGED? I would have quit long ago if I started with that.

    Should I grip my shapes or shape my grips? I need to get hip to this stuff I guess.
    The very first thing I learned about chords is that I learned various chords with roots on the 5th and 6th strings first. That takes care of your basic progressions, starting with -ii-V-I. Much later on, I discovered that these were all drop 2 and drop 3 shapes.

    Then I learned the various ways to construct 6h chords on 1st 4 strings (stringset 1; inner strings is stringset 2; last 4 strings is string set 3). Eg. 4 different ways to make a C6 on stringset 1. Transfer the same voicings to string set 2, and then two string set 3. (e.g., 1573 transference or dispersal of voices across all 3 string sets). Then I learned how to change these same C6 *grips* into Cm6, CM7, Cm7, C7, Cm7b5, C dim. Following some very basic rules for each string sets and across string sets.

    When internalizing a chord quality in one string set, play it systematically: from the nut to the 12th fret (e.g, play 4 different C6 grips). Then transfer the same voicing to other string sets--same C6 inversion (e.g., 1573) played on string set 1, set 2, and set 3.

    Systematically. Start with C. Go up circle of 4ths til you cover all 12 keys. Start with chord closest to nut, work up the neck.

  48. #97

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    Last post of the night. This is getting agrivating.

    I read the OP carefully. I don't know what a 'shape' is. I thought a grip was some rock thing but it's an old jazz guitar thing meaning chord.
    Last edited by Stevebol; 02-02-2013 at 02:25 AM.

  49. #98

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    One more. The OP only has 13 posts and he's taking a poll about 'shapes'? There's no such thing as a damn 'shape'. It sounds like some BS rockers came up with do describe jazz guitar.

  50. #99

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevebol View Post
    One more. The OP only has 13 posts and he's taking a poll about 'shapes'? There's no such thing as a damn 'shape'. It sounds like some BS rockers came up with do describe jazz guitar.
    Steve,
    Why the anger? You were not familiar with some very common terms (shapes, grips) but question the OP's status based on his post count. George Benson could join this forum today and he'd have 1 post after saying hello to us. And what is BS rock? Please don't divide lovers of music.
    A "shape" is a "grip" and some folks play fantastic music knowing little more than mastery of those shapes (Herb Ellis and many more). The OP's thread starter was an interesting and intelligent question and observation about the different paths used by all sorts of players to get to the point where they can communicate the music they want to play, using differing devices and levels of knowlege. There's room for everybody. It doesn't matter how you arrive at the ability to play good music; whether you can talk about it like Pat Martino or if you play (very well) completely by ear. What it sounds like is what is important, not what you used to get it there.

  51. #100

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    Well, here's my beef...i see a ton of beginners learning all their drop 2 and drop 3 inversions systematically, and they can't even play a song...but they know 16 cute ways to play a Cmaj7...I say better to know three or four ways really well and how to get more colorful notes on top of them, and use them in a tune. Learning shapes is useless if you can't voice a melodic line on top of em...
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington