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  1. #1

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    Hi guys,

    I'm currently trying to learn new scales for jazz soloing, like, Phrygian Dominant, Whole Tone, Diminished WH, Dorian b2 and I have a major philosophical and practical doubt.

    I had some lessons with a teacher that had me learn the Major Scale and modes, starting with the 1st, 2nd, and 4th finger, on every string. I did find this approach very good for you to be able to connect your lines with no need for major jumps to go to the "pattern you know". Now comes my lazy side. This approach requires you to memorize A LOT of patterns, more than the CAGED 5 and the 3nps 7.

    So I guess my LAZY question is: do I really need to learn like 11/12 positions for the Phrygian Dominant? Or should I just stick to some key positions just enough to connect the other shapes I already know. For instance, if I'm soloing over a Bm7b5 - E7b9, I have several positions I'm comfortable for the B Locrian, do I just need a couple of really simple shapes for the Phrygian Dominant, or would you say it's really important to also have all the shapes memorised because it's handy to be able to do the scale starting with the 4th finger on the B string??

    Moreover, if you guys use just the 5 CAGED or the 7 3nps patterns, don't you find yourselves sometimes stuck, needing to do an awkward jump to solo over some progressions?

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  3. #2

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    Um, you need more than scales and arps to solo in a Jazz style. The sooner you learn where the scales and arps are, the better, because the real work will start after that. You are just learning the alphabet, you need to learn to create a language with this alphabet.

    Learning 12 ways to play each mode is not necessary. What works for me, and many many other players is to learn everything in 5 places (CAGED?), all the chord inversions (Drop 2, 3 etc), arps and scales. Then spend the rest of your life learning to combine patterns, devices and language to tell your stories. The hardest part of that is deciding which devices you will devote your 10,000 hours to, after all there is no book, or website/youtube for that.

    Instead you have to use your taste, and decide what you like from the music of others, and certainly not just guitar players. Then you need to forensically analyse what these players are doing and derive a methodology from what you discover. This is not learning licks or lines by rote! That's not much harder than learning scales and arps! Instead, invent your own language where you can improvise endless variations on all your material against all situations, which will take years and years to develop. Blues, RC, Standards, W. Shorter type tunes and then the post modal stuff.

    Or, learn some scales, form a fusion band and play bullshit over some vamps and impress your rock guitarist mates with how you can join all your scales all over the fretboard like, really fast (wow!)

  4. #3
    The way I learned it, from an old pro here, is seven position system with first finger stretches where necessary, but NOT 3 NPS. Each position starts from second finger, and yields uniformity when you apply to chords etc.

    Basically, he doesn't philosophically approach it from "learn to play everything seven ways". It's more from the standpoint of learning seven positions so that you can play each chord position in 3 or 4 inversions and always start on the same finger etc. To me, it's almost like you're doing MORE than five position caged, but almost LESS in another sense , because you're mostly thinking 3 or 4, and they're uniform , regardless of chord type etc.

    Anyway, the major take away from this is that it makes learning the "other" scalesvastly easier, because they can easily be seen as the simple variations which they would be if you're playing them on keyboard or sax etc. It somewhat disrupts the "pattern problems" of guitar and helps with seeing absolute pitch etc.

  5. #4

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    Also, you did say "Jazz soloing", which, to me, implies the usual amount of chromaticism that makes Jazz, well, Jazz...

    Your chromatic connections (approaches, enclosures etc) are always going to take you outside of any "shape" anyway, to the point you may eventually forget your scale shapes anyway because you may never play more than 3 diatonic scale notes in a row! Another reason not to waste too much time on scales. Does a poet recite the alphabet 100 times a day for 10 years?

    On the issue of fretboard coverage and avoiding "jumps" from position to position, well that depends on the way you learn to play your own language. Some very famous 3 finger players learned their lines by playing along the strings (horizontally). That doesn't mean we all have to! It's sometimes less expedient to express your lines that way, and becomes harder to think and play in all 12 keys as these players tend to have pet lines in only a few fave keys and neck positions. That's a big downside that seldom gets discussed.

    Anyway, you can get a lot of notes in your phrase just by hovering around a single position at a time. In fact transcribing players on most instruments I have found the majority of the phrases I like are playable on the guitar without the need to shift position mid phrase. You may want to shift position for your next phrase, and the one after that may go from the 3rd position to the 13th position, even if you don't want to rest between phrases. This is better technique in many ways. Forces you to use your pinky more often, makes your devices "modular" enough to get mileage in all positions and all keys and allows for greater accuracy and control given that the fret hand is not needlessly flying around the finger board mid phrase. Ever watch a sax player's hands? Or a trumpeter's?

    Sure, there's a common complaint that if you don't play horizontally, you don't play "lyrically" Haha, I seriously don't know how that one started, but I assume it has to do with novices that learn shapes or boxes and play the same things within them (like rock pent shape noodlers). If you have a few dozen different ways to address each chord (should you wish to) by use of any number of devices - many of which may involve chromatic embellishment - then you won't have to worry about being "boxed in" by any "shape", you won't see any shape! Do you see shapes when a sax player solos? Instead, economy of positional movement can actually be liberating, making many lines more accessible than they would other wise be.

    Again, nothing wrong with horizontal shifting, it's a sound that can utilise slides if that's your thing. Of course, for comping you probably have little choice than to move around a lot if you wanna keep things interesting, but for soloing, 5 positions covers all you really need, concentrating on one position per phrase most of the time.

    And one last thing, being "lazy" is clearly not going to be an option if you wish to improvise Jazz guitar, even at an intermediate level. But being time efficient is a must, absolutely, because life is too short! And no, you won't figure out any "short cuts", not on your own, and not on this forum or any where else on the internet. Not in any one book either. Like everyone else, you will think you will be clever enough to the the exception, and like everyone else, you will waste years realising it just ain't so. Either find an excellent teacher and practice what your given diligently, or be patient, and I mean like, very patient. Good luck!

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    Another reason not to waste too much time on scales. Does a poet recite the alphabet 100 times a day for 10 years?
    I hate these types of analogies honestly.

    The answer: Of course not, but that's beside the point, and additionally they all KNOW the alphabet, wherever they recite it or not. Every sax player and piano player knows every iteration of basic major/ minor scales in junior high school.

    Better philosophical questions might be:

    Will knowing the alphabet actually INHIBIT your ability to think/read/speak/write"? Can most other competent adults who speak/write well etc. recite the alphabet? Does "wasting" time learning the alphabet take a band with which would otherwise be utilized for something more important regarding reading/writing etc?

    These are the kind of conversations it's only guitarists have.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsergio View Post
    Hi guys,

    I'm currently trying to learn new scales for jazz soloing, like, Phrygian Dominant, Whole Tone, Diminished WH, Dorian b2 and I have a major philosophical and practical doubt.

    I had some lessons with a teacher that had me learn the Major Scale and modes, starting with the 1st, 2nd, and 4th finger, on every string. I did find this approach very good for you to be able to connect your lines with no need for major jumps to go to the "pattern you know". Now comes my lazy side. This approach requires you to memorize A LOT of patterns, more than the CAGED 5 and the 3nps 7.

    So I guess my LAZY question is: do I really need to learn like 11/12 positions for the Phrygian Dominant? Or should I just stick to some key positions just enough to connect the other shapes I already know. For instance, if I'm soloing over a Bm7b5 - E7b9, I have several positions I'm comfortable for the B Locrian, do I just need a couple of really simple shapes for the Phrygian Dominant, or would you say it's really important to also have all the shapes memorised because it's handy to be able to do the scale starting with the 4th finger on the B string??

    Moreover, if you guys use just the 5 CAGED or the 7 3nps patterns, don't you find yourselves sometimes stuck, needing to do an awkward jump to solo over some progressions?
    My suggestion is learn the 5 CAGED for major inside and out, then lower the 7th and learn them inside and out as 5 dominant scales (mixolydian). it sounds like you might already be able to play this. screw the other modes for now.

    Get the 1st Barry Harris dvd set and workbook. between that, tunes, and collecting you favorite phrases you will have a solid foundation.

    Then go on your new fangled adventures in jazz theory (if you still want to).

    just one more opinion. disclaimer: I’m not a pro
    White belt
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  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    I hate these types of analogies honestly.

    The answer: Of course not, but that's beside the point, and additionally they all KNOW the alphabet, wherever they recite it or not. Every sax player and piano player knows every iteration of basic major/ minor scales in junior high school.

    Better philosophical questions might be:

    Will knowing the alphabet actually INHIBIT your ability to think/read/speak/write"? Can most other competent adults who speak/write well etc. recite the alphabet? Does "wasting" time learning the alphabet take a band with which would otherwise be utilized for something more important regarding reading/writing etc?

    These are the kind of conversations it's only guitarists have.
    I find that people who like to practice scales a lot get very defensive about it. Certainly no need to get philosophical about it. And yes, these are discussions that only guitarists seem to have because they get hung up on scales way more than other instrumentalists, who know their scales and arps, but also know how to move on to make music with them. So " scales = alphabet" - it's an analogy I wish someone could have shared with me when I was starting out, and it's one I will always pass onto to other novice guitarists, because we need to hear it...

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    I find that people who like to practice scales a lot get very defensive about it. Certainly no need to get philosophical about it. And yes, these are discussions that only guitarists seem to have because they get hung up on scales way more than other instrumentalists, who know their scales and arps, but also know how to move on to make music with them. So " scales = alphabet" - it's an analogy I wish someone could have shared with me when I was starting out, and it's one I will always pass onto to other novice guitarists, because we need to hear it...
    That's fine, but I feel like most of the time we're answering a different QUESTION than what was being asked. "How much time should we spend on scales?", "How important are scales versus vocabulary/tunes?" etc are all good questions. But they're different QUESTIONS.

    I personally like the alphabet image ... for why we SHOULD learn scales in the first place. People will then get into arguments about how you don't need "alphabet", you need VOCABULARY. That completely ignores the fact that alphabet, vocabulary, syntax, idiom are largely separate things. You can't really argue "against" one in place of the other.

    They aren't COMPETING ideas.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    ...
    They aren't COMPETING ideas.
    Once you learn your scales, you move on to the fun stuff. Sure, a bit of scale practice every now and then for technical maintenance, but no more. If you are still spending too much time on them, then I think they absolutely do compete against the time that could be used to learn to make music with the scales. I dunno about you, but I've known a million guitar players in my life, and the ones that get "serious" seem to get stuck on scales. It becomes like a game or some sports-like challenge, know the most scales in the most positions and play them faster than your friends can, or something ... It's out there, and it's common, and it needs to be ridiculed because, well, it's ridiculous.

    People need to be slapped out of it !

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    Once you learn your scales, you move on to the fun stuff. Sure, a bit of scale practice every now and then for technical maintenance, but no more. If you are still spending too much time on them, then I think they absolutely do compete against the time that could be used to learn to make music with the scales. I dunno about you, but I've known a million guitar players in my life, and the ones that get "serious" seem to get stuck on scales. It becomes like a game or some sports-like challenge, know the most scales in the most positions and play them faster than your friends can, or something ... It's out there, and it's common, and it needs to be ridiculed because, well, it's ridiculous.

    People need to be slapped out of it !
    The op was re learning basic phrygian dom etc. If you don't know harmonic minor..., again , sax players learned it in seventh or eighth grade. Over focus on scales for the rest your life or whatever at the expense of everything else is somewhat of a different conversation in my opinion.

    If a saxophone player plays too many scales, the SCALE itself isn't really the problem. Again, I feel like conversation about knowing the basics scale always devolves into conversations about not spending the rest your life ONLY playing scales.

    The unintended consequence is that, by default, we are actually implying that guitarists don't need to have the basic competencyof being able to play a harmonic minor scale like the rest of the musical world.

    The harmonic minor scale does not have to include in itself all of the answers to the Jazz universe . That's not its purpose. To argue that or that every good boy does fine "isn't a method" is a waste of time and beside the point. Of course it's not. But it's a nonsensical "argument". Scale is a scale. Every guitarist has the "right" to be illiterate I guess.

  12. #11

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    Matt, he was asking if he really needed to know 12 positions of Phrygian Dominant. If he feels he does, and every other mode in the texts books, in 12 positions in every key, then there's every chance he will be over focusing on scales for the rest of his life...

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    Matt, he was asking if he really needed to know 12 positions of Phrygian Dominant. If he feels he does, and every other mode in the texts books, in 12 positions in every key, then there's every chance he will be over focusing on scales for the rest of his life...
    Okay, but I actually answered that aspect of it as well and tried to provide some context to that part , ...pairing things down. I'm advocating for knowing them really well over 3 chord inversions 1st. I certainly don't think you need to know 12 positions of phrygian dominant "before" a whole lot of OTHER things. Not saying that.

    You need to cover some "basic" of several different things before you focus on 12 positions of anything in my opinion. That's what Reg has always advocated. Regardless of the way his approach is misunderstood, he is always been about simplicity and learning basic. The way some people talk you could spend three or four years just on basic major , in every conceivable iteration possible. Meanwhile, don't you need an understanding of BASIC harmonic minor or melodic minor just to understand simple harmony etc?

  14. #13

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    Dont meant to be condescending but have you learnt your major scales first?

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    ... Meanwhile, don't you need an understanding of BASIC harmonic minor or melodic minor just to understand simple harmony etc?
    Absolutely, learn the alphabet, learn some spelling and grammar, get some vocabulary and get started on the great American novel...

    Anyway, I've offered my cautionary advice. The OP can decide for himself, as can any future novice that may stumble on this thread.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by don_oz View Post
    Dont meant to be condescending but have you learnt your major scales first?

    Yes I have. And that's a good point to reinforce.
    I know the major scale, can start a line from every finger on every string. Can solo over standard progressions at a basic level. And I'm on the camp that says that the important thing is to make musical stuff, not to get to tied up in theory and scales, etc. BUT, as I play over basic progressions, trying to play "what sounds good to me", many times I can't and I feel there is not enough structure under.

    For instance, on a ii-V-I, I'd use Dorian, Mixolydian, Major. But when you get to something like a Bm7b5 -> E7b9 you really start to feel the need for something else of course, you need that Locrian over the Bm7b5, you need something emphasising that b9 on the E. Or, for instance, you get a CM7-C#dim-Dm7-G7, at first I just played a simple diminished arpeggio over the dim chord, but that get's old quite quickly and you feel the need for actually knowing the proper diminished scale in several positions so you can do that run in several place on your fretboard and not just an anchor position.

    And then begins my doubt, how do I go about learning the Diminished Whole Half scale? Like I was told "be able to start the scale on any string, on fingers 1,2, and 4, both ascending and descending"? Is this what most people learn? Would you say this is a bit overkill? That some key positions are really essential and cover 80% of the needs and then you just fill the blanks as you progress? How have you learnt it? What do you suggest?

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    The way I learned it, from an old pro here, is seven position system with first finger stretches where necessary, but NOT 3 NPS. Each position starts from second finger, and yields uniformity when you apply to chords etc.
    Ah, the Reg system! I still have those sheets and may yet get those fingerings down. For now, I'm a 5-position guy. It's one way to make the fingerboard a 12-fret grid.

    One thing I like about Reg's way is that he has the 2nd finger on the low E for the root in every case. That's nifty.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsergio View Post
    For instance, on a ii-V-I, I'd use Dorian, Mixolydian, Major.
    On a slightly tangent but related note, so if you're playing over ii-V-I in C, do you always start on D over ii, G over V and C over I? If not, what makes you believe that you're playing Dorian, Mixolydian and Ionian over ii-V-I? May be you're playing Dorian over all three or Aeolian perhaps

  19. #18

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    I find playing is so much more transparent, natural, and effortless if focus is moved away from the mechanical input of the process (fingers, positions, patterns, and shapes), and rather focused on the musical output of the process (the actual sound of what I want to hear coming out).


    I imagine in my mind's ear the sound of what I want to hear and let my fingers themselves learn to produce those sounds. I find that they don't mind stretching or moving up and down the finger board, they routinely finger the same thing differently based on context, don't need to be directed by memorized positions, patterns, shapes, registration of a starting finger, or any other input controlling strategies. I drive my hands with the sound in my head and let my hands sing that sound out through my instrument.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    I find playing is so much more transparent, natural, and effortless if focus is moved away from the mechanical input of the process (fingers, positions, patterns, and shapes), and rather focused on the musical output of the process (the actual sound of what I want to hear coming out).


    I imagine in my mind's ear the sound of what I want to hear and let my fingers themselves learn to produce those sounds. I find that they don't mind stretching or moving up and down the finger board, they routinely finger the same thing differently based on context, don't need to be directed by memorized positions, patterns, shapes, registration of a starting finger, or any other input controlling strategies. I drive my hands with the sound in my head and let my hands sing that sound out through my instrument.

    That's a lovely ideal, but for most of us mortals having the muscle memory of having practiced fingerings is an immense aid to being able to play quickly. That said, I do try to play melodies on a single string from time to time to force myself to recognize the pitches rather than playing out of a pattern.

  21. #20

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    I recommend trying it... think of what happens as "muscle melody" rather than "muscle memory"...
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  22. #21

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    both are good. i use paul’s technique when improvisng based on the tune’s melody. however, i doubt ill ever be forming bebop lines atp 200 bpm like that
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  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    On a slightly tangent but related note, so if you're playing over ii-V-I in C, do you always start on D over ii, G over V and C over I? If not, what makes you believe that you're playing Dorian, Mixolydian and Ionian over ii-V-I? May be you're playing Dorian over all three or Aeolian perhaps
    I'd say I'm playing each of the different modes because I can start on the root of each, in several strings/fingers, ascend, descend, focus on key tones like the 3rd, 7th, 6th, for each. Not simply doing mindless runs over the same Dorian D pattern.

    And that's why I feel I really need to master the other important scales/modes, so I can play a proper Locrian and Phrygian Dominant over m7b5 and 7/susb9 chords, not just play a C Major run over a Bm7b5, or Mixolydian over 7b9. That way, you really miss the sonic shape and character of the underlying chord (and some notes will be plain "wrong").

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsergio View Post
    I'd say I'm playing each of the different modes because I can start on the root of each, in several strings/fingers, ascend, descend, focus on key tones like the 3rd, 7th, 6th, for each. Not simply doing mindless runs over the same Dorian D pattern.
    I am not sure if I understood you correctly. You consider you are playing each of the different modes because you CAN play them starting from different roots? I understand that you know how to play them starting from different root, but I am wondering if you necessarily do when you play over ii V I? If you don't then what makes what you play over say D minor the Dorian scale?
    I am asking because before learning 11 or 12 positions of Phrygian dominant scale to play over minor ii V, it might be useful to make sure you know exactly why just learning the Harmonic Minor scale really well wouldn't be enough.
    BTW, if you do transcriptions of solos of bebop legends, you'll quickly see that they almost never start their lines on the roots.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 08-14-2018 at 10:23 PM.

  25. #24

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    I'm finding everything PP says exactly in line with my experience. Nothing comes close to playing melodies in open position in every key by ear to make things stick, fingers start to think for themselves. And it makes every 'system' easier.

    I simple and effective exercise is to play a four note chord in adjacent strings then play the scale you think you need to know from the base note to the top note. Then go up to the next inversion and do the same. It's easy to use chord shapes as containers for scales and sadly easy to lose sight of chords from running scales.







    D.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsergio View Post
    For instance, on a ii-V-I, I'd use Dorian, Mixolydian, Major.
    The point I'm making is that the above rule is a training wheel for people who don't have their major scales together. It'll sound pretty dull and repetitive to always start on the root. If you're not starting on the root, then you are not really playing Dorian, Mixolydian and Ionian.
    The goal is to be able to play the major scale starting from ANY chord tone over any chord. For example over G7 one should be able to start from B (3rd) or D (5th) or F (b7th) as well as other tones. This is too hard to do in the beginning so people are taught a simplified view. Play Mixolydian over V7, Dorian over ii etc. That doesn't exist in the real world. People don't play C major starting on G over G7 when improvising. But until you get to a high level of mastery of the major scale, you can practice playing modes over their respective chords. That would align chord tones on the down beats and train your ears for the sound of the chord progression while playing scales. But just being able to do that doesn't mean one has learnt the major scale for the reasons I gave above.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 08-15-2018 at 10:53 AM.

  27. #26

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    A possible different path:

    Every interval has 2 viable fingering options.
    Learn every fingering for playing half of a scale all over the neck.
    Learn these oriented around every scale degree.

    4 nps
    3 + 1
    2 + 2
    1 + 3

    Then simply learn to chain them together as needed.

  28. #27

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    That's closer to how I approach scales. This also helps you be always aware of the scale degree you're playing and the quality of the degree (b6th, natural 7th etc.)

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsergio View Post
    Hi guys,

    I'm currently trying to learn new scales for jazz soloing, like, Phrygian Dominant, Whole Tone, Diminished WH, Dorian b2 and I have a major philosophical and practical doubt.

    I had some lessons with a teacher that had me learn the Major Scale and modes, starting with the 1st, 2nd, and 4th finger, on every string. I did find this approach very good for you to be able to connect your lines with no need for major jumps to go to the "pattern you know". Now comes my lazy side. This approach requires you to memorize A LOT of patterns, more than the CAGED 5 and the 3nps 7.

    So I guess my LAZY question is: do I really need to learn like 11/12 positions for the Phrygian Dominant? Or should I just stick to some key positions just enough to connect the other shapes I already know. For instance, if I'm soloing over a Bm7b5 - E7b9, I have several positions I'm comfortable for the B Locrian, do I just need a couple of really simple shapes for the Phrygian Dominant, or would you say it's really important to also have all the shapes memorised because it's handy to be able to do the scale starting with the 4th finger on the B string??

    Moreover, if you guys use just the 5 CAGED or the 7 3nps patterns, don't you find yourselves sometimes stuck, needing to do an awkward jump to solo over some progressions?
    forget about all that shit and learn 50 nice licks from your favourites. then you'll start to see which fingerings actually work for jazz.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    That's closer to how I approach scales. This also helps you be always aware of the scale degree you're playing and the quality of the degree (b6th, natural 7th etc.)
    great point, and at the risk of getting off topic here i would just like to add that i spent a couple years learning solfege and it has been invaluable for that purpose
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  31. #30

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    I also recently started singing solfege names of the notes I'm playing when I practice. I don't do it all the time of course only parts of the session. It is easier to pronounce the notes as one syllables and I think it makes aural learning of the intervals quicker.

  32. #31

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    great for reading music too. okay sorry for digression
    White belt
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  33. #32

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    Yea... getting technical skills together.... learning how to play your instrument.... is one thing.

    Getting your musical and performance skills together is another.

    Anything will work... if the system gets where you want to get. Personally... you need to get to the point where there are no fingerings... you can just play anything anywhere on the fretboard you want without having to figure out how to finger it. You choose fingerings to help with phrasing and articulations..... the style, feel and resulting sound.

    The point of fingerings is for the fretboard to become one big 12 fret fingering that repeats.

    After you choose and finish the process... you are free to play whatever you choose. Jazz isn't really work stuff out memorize fingerings and perform.... Jazz is more about having the skill to work stuff out live.... being able to play what you haven't worked out, interact with the music and musicians. But being able to play in a jazz style really isn't for most.... but who cares. If you have the time and love playing.... playing jazz music or tunes is fun. You don't need to be a jazz player to play jazz tunes...

    I can tell you that if your starring at your fretboard when playing.... your system doesn't work that well for you.

    If your jumping around the fretboard... that's cool, great effect... but if the jumping around creates your phrazing and your again staring at your fretboard... again maybe your system doesn't work that well for you.

    If you need to be playing all the time.... to have good technique... again maybe your system doesn't work that well for you.

    If when your sight reading... how well does your fingering system work?

    Again... you need to decide what approach you want to use.... but you should also choose where you want to get. What are the tests or checks that would help you decide if the system works?

  34. #33

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    I would:
    1) pick a tune
    2) select an area of the guitar ( for me there is just three areas under the 12th fret, i dont play open strings)
    3) play the first chord of the tune in the chosen area, try to find a shape that encompass as much strings as possible, all the (basic)4 notes chords are just really 6 string chords.
    4) figure the scale and arpeggio that go with the chord in that area
    5) improvise on that chord in the chosen area
    6) go to the second chord, stay in the chosen area
    7)etc

    Next time that chord will show up in your mind you will have everything you need to do single lines, chord melody etc. 12 notes, about 5 basic qualities, 3 areas, 180 chords and youre done! This way you just have to remember the chord shape that goes with the chord name.

    After awhile the areas will slowly group into a large all encompassing area on the fretboard.
    2014 Sadowsky Jim Hall
    1996 Gibson GRT18

  35. #34

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    I thing takemitsu is having fun...

    Maybe an approach might be... becoming aware of what your trying to learn.

    Say Phrygian Dominant... Which would be the 5th degree of Harmonic Minor. And is the basic default altered Dominant chord or collection of notes... scale arpeggio etc... that most major /minor functional music.... is derived from.

    The Dominant chord from the Relative Minor. ( A-7 is the relative Minor of Cmaj7) Generally most traditional tunes use the Relative Minor or the VI-7 chord as the default Minor harmonic and melodic reference when composing, arranging and soloing. And to create a Dominant V7 chord they use the borrowed V7 chord from VI-... which pulls from Harmonic Minor.

    This help keep Function the same as Major........ Tonic... Sub dominant and Dominant Harmonic, (chordal), movement.

    Tonic...............T
    Sub Dominant...SD
    Dominant..........D

    Tonic.....SD.....D.......T
    Cma7 Fma7 G7 Cmaj7
    I .........IV........V....I

    T........SD......D......T
    A-7.... D-7.....E7... A-7
    I-.......IV-......V7.....I-

    So when you play... use that Phrygian Dom. Chord or implied scale....

    Using chord pattern above...

    You can play A-7 aeolian... or 1 b3 5 b7 and do whatever you choose, and for the V7 chord, you could use E7b9b13... which is the 5th degree of Amin Harmonic minor. (phrygian dom.)

    This would be basic starting point.... There are traditional voice leading guidelines for how notes should move. But generally when playing in a jazz style... that again would be basic Vanilla. I personally use those voice leading guide lines for what not to play. They're already implied. But this would be where you make your choices.

    I also... when using Phrygian Dominant or V7b9b13 in a dominant functional application.... (E7b9b13 going to A-7)..... also use relative subs to help expand the basic E7 chord... I might spell Cmaj7#5,( the relative Maj chord of E7b9b13), and G#dim7b9b11b13, (the expanded relative chord of E7b9b13).... All using the same collection of notes.... as the E7b9b13 which is derived from Harmonic Minor, The phrygian dominant version.

    You could just call the chords extensions.... and just play Phrygian Dominant scale or arpeggio..... but it's different. Your probable not close to being able to keep getting deeper....so getting back to fingerings.....

    How would you finger ....using those subs as an application for playing E7b9b13... E phrygian dominant. (subs Cmaj7#5 and G#Dim b9b11b13)

    There are many other Harmonic organizations or approaches for using scales to develop improv.... Different approaches to create relationships using that E7 phry. dom. as reference.

    Then when getting into Dorian b2.... Melodic Minor.... there are very different approaches for how to use the scales, arpeggios etc.

    I generally relate Melodic Minor To Dorian.... and would call what you think of as Dorian b9... as Phrygian nat.6.... much easier to use functionally when soloing .

    A Melodic Minor
    A-ma7 .... Dorian maj7
    B-7b9........Phry. maj13... easy to get into that V7susb9 sound

    There are many ways to approach using MM and chords and scales from MM.... (Dorianb9)

    Diminished and whole tone scales are symmetric scales.... generally for effect or to camouflage standard chord patterns or scale patterns.
    There are harmonic functional movement patterns... but very vanilla mechanical, not much soul. There is the BH guitar players approach.
    Many seem to like it.... I'm not one of them.
    Last edited by Reg; 08-15-2018 at 06:27 PM.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg View Post
    I also... when using Phrygian Dominant or V7b9b13 in a dominant functional application.... E7b9b13 going to A-7..... also use as relative subs to help expand the basic E7 chord... I might spell Cmaj7#5,( the relative Maj chord of E7b9b13), and G#dim7b9b11b13, (the expanded relative chord of E7b9b13).... All using the same collection of notes.... as the E7b9b13 which is derived from Harmonic Minor.
    That is exactly my point when I question the virtue of learning Phrygian Dominant scale as a separate scale in it's own right.
    The fact that phrygian dominant is the chord scale of E7b9b13 doesn't mean one should spell this chord as Phrygian dominant scale. Playing harmonic minor from the the root of it's dominant is not a particularly more meaningful way of playing over this chord than starting from other chord tones. As you said starting from the 6th (Cmaj7#5) or 3rd (G#dim7...) or other tones all options.
    So going back to the OP's question of whether to learn the Phrygian Dominant scale in 12 positions. Why not aim at mastering Harmonic Minor scale so one can play it from any chord tone, be able spell out any inversions of its embedded triads, 4 note chords with all possible rhythms.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    Matt, he was asking if he really needed to know 12 positions of Phrygian Dominant. If he feels he does, and every other mode in the texts books, in 12 positions in every key, then there's every chance he will be over focusing on scales for the rest of his life...

    Well, my classmates and I learned Leavitt's 12 fingerings for all diatonic scales in less than 9 months (Major, Mel. Minor, Harm. Minor, and Harm. Major). Lots of chords and arpeggios too. It was a cram but the point is that it doesn't take that long.

    That said, I don't play all 12 fingerings anymore.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by djg View Post
    forget about all that shit and learn 50 nice licks from your favourites. then you'll start to see which fingerings actually work for jazz.
    Holger's on the money. We learn words and phrases before we learn the alphabet. Once you have something to work with, break it down and check out the various components. Most mechanics have driven lots of journeys on all kinds of roads before they start pulling engines apart.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    Well, my classmates and I learned Leavitt's 12 fingerings for all diatonic scales in less than 9 months (Major, Mel. Minor, Harm. Minor, and Harm. Major). Lots of chords and arpeggios too. It was a cram but the point is that it doesn't take that long.

    That said, I don't play all 12 fingerings anymore.
    That is exactly where I was going with my question. Which fingering do you actually use today? Of course there are some more important/handy that others.

  40. #39

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    rsergio - I suppose no-one has yet asked you the most important question - one that a good teacher would ask you at the very start - What kind of Jazz are you interested in? If it's straight ahead, Swing, Bop, Hard Bop etc then that requires a different approach (along with different tools) when compared to more modern CST based styles where scales and modes might be more useful.

    What a few of us have been saying may be based on the assumption that you want to get some Bop tools in the shed (the best grounding perhaps for all Jazz styles). But you may be more into Fusion or something in which case learning the various ways to embellish chord tones may be of less interest. Who are your favourite players?

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsergio View Post
    That is exactly where I was going with my question. Which fingering do you actually use today? Of course there are some more important/handy that others.
    I use mostly CAGED but a few stretchy ones too, if higher up on the fretboard, or if the situation calls for it. They are all familiar fingerings which you can find online or elsewhere. I would describe them as follows, in terms of the Ionian mode/major scale:

    Starting string: 6
    Starting finger: 1 - stretched (i.e. there are two frets between the notes played by 1rst and 2nd fingers)

    Starting string: 6
    Starting finger: 4. On the 4th string the 4th finger stretches up for the leading tone.


    Starting string: 5
    Starting finger: 1 - stretched (i.e. there are two frets between the notes played by 1rst and 2nd fingers)

    Starting string: 5
    Starting finger: 2 On the 6th and 1rst strings the 1rst finger stretches back for the subdominant tone

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by djg View Post
    forget about all that shit and learn 50 nice licks from your favourites. then you'll start to see which fingerings actually work for jazz.

    Lot of practical wisdom here.
    One of the things I do each morning now is play at least a dozen heads. Just the heads. No backing track, no metronome, just play the heads. Billie's Bounce, Oleo, Cottontail, Honeysuckle Rose, All of Me, Out of Nowhere, whatever, just play at least a dozen of them. Any dozen. Just do it. And it's done a lot for my playing.

    One of the things some teachers stress is that great melodies are great lines. Playing those lines, making them sing, requires attention to phrasing, dynamics, contrast, etc.

    I play some Herb Ellis lines (usu 8-bar phrases) every day too. Does me a lot of good.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  43. #42

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    To the OP - Lots of good advice here - BUT - one of the things you'll notice that we do on the forum is weigh in with a lot of "either/or" advice. Meaning, "don't do X, do Y instead!". Technique vs. tunes and improv study vs. "just copy lines" seem to be the most frequently pontificated themes.

    Well, serious musicians do both. They can't afford to do either/or. Effective time management in practice routines is key.

    Regarding your opening question, learning to shift while playing scales, chords, arpeggios (or anything) is a critical skill for guitarists. All music requires it.

    A couple of other things to keep in mind, regarding shifting. A good solo makes use of space in it's phrasing. Horn players set the tone in jazz and they have to breath, hence, use space. It's more song/singer like in its sound anyway. It's more human. Audiences relate to it. So that's one mitigating factor relative to the shifting challenge.

    Another is that when improvising you have an increased level of control over what is to be played vs. playing something that is written. If you will watch some great improvising guitarists you will often see how they "burn" in one area/position of the fretboard, then move to another area and burn again, with either silence or something less busy happening between position/area playing.

    In other words, your fastest most articulate playing needn't happen while your shifting. That's an impractical/implausible expectation.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    I use mostly CAGED but a few stretchy ones too, if higher up on the fretboard, or if the situation calls for it. They are all familiar fingerings which you can find online or elsewhere. I would describe them as follows, in terms of the Ionian mode/major scale:

    Starting string: 6
    Starting finger: 1 - stretched (i.e. there are two frets between the notes played by 1rst and 2nd fingers)

    Starting string: 6
    Starting finger: 4. On the 4th string the 4th finger stretches up for the leading tone.


    Starting string: 5
    Starting finger: 1 - stretched (i.e. there are two frets between the notes played by 1rst and 2nd fingers)

    Starting string: 5
    Starting finger: 2 On the 6th and 1rst strings the 1rst finger stretches back for the subdominant tone
    The way I name fingerings is after Mel Bay! You start out in open position, in the key of C. Then you learn F major, then G, if I recall correctly. And you keep going! It's only later (book x?) that you start moving up the neck.

    Now take any key you played in open position and "be the nut" to make it movable. Open C becomes the C in CAGED:

    Code:
    3--4--|--5--
    7--1--|--2--
    5--|--6--|--
    2--|--3--4--
    6--|--7--1--
    3--4--|--5--
    What you describe as:

    Starting string: 6
    Starting finger: 1 - stretched (i.e. there are two frets between the notes played by 1rst and 2nd fingers)

    Is the open position for the key of E:

    Code:
    1--|--2--|--3--
    5--|--6--|--7--
    ---3--4--|--|--
    ---7--1--|--2--
    4--|--5--|--6--
    1--|--2--|--3--
    (The E in CAGED is really for the key of F.) I like those "open" fingerings with a skipped fret between index and ring finger, but then I have long fingers.
    Build bridges, not walls.

  45. #44

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    I'd like to point out a few more things. Scales can have less than seven and more than seven notes. Scales can repeat over one octave or two or three. Scales may have either the same or different notes descending. Scales may be constructed to place chord tones every second note, or two out of three notes, or one out of four, or any two out of three notes, or one out of three. You can change between any scales at any point you choose, that's what real melodies do.

    A few examples.

    1.CDEG,CGDC a four one octave scale same in both directions.

    2.CDEbE GAbAC EFF#G ,CAAbG EEbDC GGbFE ( a two octave asymmetrical scale with chord tones placed on every first and fourth note ten notes ascending and ten descending. Good for blues, bluegrass and polyrhythmic games with the listener.)

    3.CDE GAC EFG, CFG EFG CAG.
    A three note version which can be used from which 2 (above) can be derived.

    4.CDEFGA,CAGFEDC. A six note scale which is the basis form like Shady Grove and a lot of folk tunes which are mislabelled as Dorian. It's two triads added together.

    5.CDEGA,CAGED. A pentatonic scale which can be used to derive 4.

    6. CDEbGA,CAGEbDA, A different kind of pentatonic scale

    7. CDEbGAB,CBAGEbDA, a six note version of 6(above)

    8, CDEbG ABCEb GG#A , a nice scale based on the geometry of the guitar.


    I didn't get these from a book, and I don't find the musics which use them to be passe.

    Building out from the chord is the way which works for me. If I am improvising then I will just make up the scales as I go along. If I want to sound 'out' then I pretend I am playing over a different chord, it's fun and I couldn't give a monkeys wether it is hip or not. I will have a reason for which chord that I pretend to myself that I am playing over but I wont go into that.

    Here is another way to say it, I have no interest in reinventing a new melodic language I want my own language to grow organically from the languages which I, and most humans, have grown up hearing and which, to my ear, represent a continuity of musical evolution. I feel that denying this continuity and failing to love and study the entirety of the known history of music is what has made jazz irrelevant to most people.

    I like tonality and I don't particularly want to try and comment on it ironically with each and every phrase or comping choice. That soon gets boring, because that is ONE idea and we need more than one idea or we cannot surprise and delight the listener.

    You'll find scales like the above in the licks that you can extract from tunes like Sweet Georgia brown and the like, you know the bits that make fools of the books that presume to give you the 'right' scales and the 'right' way of constructing melodies and the 'right' way to sound modern. Irish Jigs have some of the others. Almost no tune sticks exclusively to one scale.

    Have fun and follow your ear, and see what actually sticks for you. Be wary of rebuilding someone else's Great Wall of China, especially if you don't want to live in China.

    D.
    Last edited by Freel; 08-16-2018 at 07:42 PM.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    rsergio - I suppose no-one has yet asked you the most important question - one that a good teacher would ask you at the very start - What kind of Jazz are you interested in? If it's straight ahead, Swing, Bop, Hard Bop etc then that requires a different approach (along with different tools) when compared to more modern CST based styles where scales and modes might be more useful.

    What a few of us have been saying may be based on the assumption that you want to get some Bop tools in the shed (the best grounding perhaps for all Jazz styles). But you may be more into Fusion or something in which case learning the various ways to embellish chord tones may be of less interest. Who are your favourite players?
    The stuff I like is mostly old school. I like playing/singing standards, be able to improvise over those standards, do some really primitive chord-melody.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsergio View Post
    The stuff I like is mostly old school. I like playing/singing standards, be able to improvise over those standards, do some really primitive chord-melody.
    Ah, well in that case you'd be better off ignoring the post 70's (Leavitt etc) CST based methods for teaching Jazz. "Old School" is about chord tone embellishment. It's much harder to learn and master than scales, so the sooner you start the better. Problem is, which ones to learn? There are too many ways to do it, you can't learn them all! You have to use your taste and find the few that you like to start with and try to base your own style on that. If you listen closely to the old schoolers, that's exactly what they did, and explains why you don't hear "scales" in their playing, or why they all have their own "language". So yeah, better to spend a few hundred hours forensically analysing and reverse engineering phrases and patterns you hear in your fave soloists.

    I spent thousands of hours practicing all the scales in too many positions, and not only do I feel it was a waste of time, but it actually created habits that were difficult to "undo". I should have just spent a little time on arps, Bebop scales, Blues scales and the various symmetrical scales until I got the sound of them in 5 positions, and then just concentrate on developing language. If you don't wanna take it from me, go find the book "Thinking In Jazz", where the Author goes deep into unlocking the secrets the greats knew that you don't (yet). Through dozens of interviews with the greats, scales are only mentioned as something they learned as youngsters. But many had progressed to have killer chops / lines while they were still teenagers by appropriating phrases from their favourite players....

  48. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    To the OP - Lots of good advice here - BUT - one of the things you'll notice that we do on the forum is weigh in with a lot of "either/or" advice. Meaning, "don't do X, do Y instead!". Technique vs. tunes and improv study vs. "just copy lines" seem to be the most frequently pontificated themes.

    Well, serious musicians do both. They can't afford to do either/or.
    This!

    Harmonic minor is BASIC. How you APPROACH applying things like harmonic minor is a separate question. It's not either/or.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 08-16-2018 at 05:00 PM.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    Ah, well in that case you'd be better off ignoring the post 70's (Leavitt etc) CST based methods for teaching Jazz. "Old School" is about chord tone embellishment. It's much harder to learn and master than scales, so the sooner you start the better. Problem is, which ones to learn? There are too many ways to do it, you can't learn them all! You have to use your taste and find the few that you like to start with and try to base your own style on that. If you listen closely to the old schoolers, that's exactly what they did, and explains why you don't hear "scales" in their playing, or why they all have their own "language". So yeah, better to spend a few hundred hours forensically analysing and reverse engineering phrases and patterns you hear in your fave soloists.

    I spent thousands of hours practicing all the scales in too many positions, and not only do I feel it was a waste of time, but it actually created habits that were difficult to "undo". I should have just spent a little time on arps, Bebop scales, Blues scales and the various symmetrical scales until I got the sound of them in 5 positions, and then just concentrate on developing language. If you don't wanna take it from me, go find the book "Thinking In Jazz", where the Author goes deep into unlocking the secrets the greats knew that you don't (yet). Through dozens of interviews with the greats, scales are only mentioned as something they learned as youngsters. But many had progressed to have killer chops / lines while they were still teenagers by appropriating phrases from their favourite players....

    Hey PP, hope you're doing well. Only a couple of issues here. Leavitt was very much old school. His sound is very mid-century. His method books were written in '64, '68, and '71. Kind of Blue, In a Silent Way, and Bitches Brew didn't seem to make too much of an impression on him.

    His method books were more about teaching technique that supports jazz as opposed to jazz itself. No blues scales, no bends, and last but not least - no modal stuff. The sound is more of a plectrum guitar aesthetic. His method includes VERY extensive arpeggio studies, including 5-note arpeggios out the wazoo.

    If your position is that his method was "all about CST", please explain the lessons in Volume 3 on pages 54, 55, 60, and 98.
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 08-17-2018 at 11:15 AM.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    Hey PP, hope you're doing well. Only a couple of issues here. Leavitt was very much old school. His sound is very mid-century. His method books were written in '64, '68, and '71. Kind of Blue, In a Silent Way, and Bitches Brew didn't seem to make too much of an impression on him.

    His method books were more about teaching technique that supports jazz as opposed to jazz itself. No bebop scales, no blues scales, no bends, and last but not least - no modal stuff. The sound is more of a plectrum guitar aesthetic. His method includes VERY extensive arpeggio studies, including 5-note arpeggios out the wazoo.

    If your position is that his method was "all about CST", please explain the lessons in Volume 3 on pages 54, 55, 60, and 98.
    OK, fair point. Let's just say post Leavitt , or better still, post Berklee? The OP is interested in old school forms of Jazz. The old school greats did not spend a disproportionate amount of their practice time on scales, otherwise they would not have been able to have developed fully formed jazz vocabulary by the time many of them reached 20 years of age. Not everyone will agree with this, but I think we owe it to novice players to let them be aware that over reliance on scales will be at the expense of time they could be spending working on their devices. And here, unfortunately the usual texts are not so useful either (Baker, Coker etc). Too many options!

    The old greats learned directly from their band mates, on the street, or from copping lines off the records. Stealing just one line and converting it into an etude for various uses is way more useful time spent practicing than just running scales. Many of us have heard the Clifford Brown practice tapes, very few diatonic scales, it's all about his devices and patterns, he had a ton of them. They all did. They all knew they're scales too, but the point is they quickly moved on to the important stuff, whereas many of us guitarists learning after the 70's were under the mistaken impression that scales were the key to kingdom. If the greats knew how many years fools like me did little else but practice scales for years, I'm sure they'd laugh their asses off!

  51. #50

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    My understanding is Leavitt's 12 position scales are to facilitate reading. You can read using any system, but Leavitt's system is based on stretches rather than shifts which is supposed to allow you to read without having to look at the fretboard.
    1- Jazz is an aural tradition, you are not supposed to read on the band stand. However it's extremely useful to be able to read even at a very elementary level for one's own development with any system. That said having very good reading skills will help you be competitive for broader range of gigs, studio gigs, gigs outside of Jazz, big bands, concert bands etc. But if that's not your goal, Leavitt's system is not for you.
    2- Many working pro's with strong reading skills do not use Leavitt's system. It's by no means an industry standard.
    3- You really don't want to use the system for improvisation. Shifts unleash many of the expressive elements of guitar.
    4- Cello and Violin players tend to have superior reading skills to guitar players. They shift all over the place when they read. Doesn't seem to prevent them from becoming some of the best readers.
    5- Segovia was all about shifts. I bet he was a good reader.
    6- Nonetheless shifting does complicate reading. World is a complex place.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 08-17-2018 at 08:21 AM.