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  1. #1
    I've played rock and blues guitar for some years now and began working on playing jazz about a year ago. I’m working my way through William Leavitt’s Modern Method for Guitar Series (among other things of course). I completed volume 1 around the New Year and am now about to begin Section Two of Volume 2. It occurs to me that I don’t particularly think much about the patterns I use when playing scales.

    Because I’ve been reading notation while playing scales and arpeggios so much and because Leavitt’s system is strongly based around not switching position to switch keys, I’ve not really visually internalized many scale patterns. I’ve simply played them so many times while reading the notes on the page that I can for the most part, intuitively play a major or minor scale in any string starting on 1st, 2nd, and 4th finger without having to visualize a pattern on the fretboard. I just play it by ear and finger memory I suppose.

    For the last couple of days I was thinking this was a bad thing as most players don’t learn that way. And it seemed essential that I should have some sort of visual formulaic pattern for playing scales. But then I started thinking maybe this would be a bad thing to spend time on. If the way I’ve been studying allows me to correctly play in-scale by ear and intuitive feel for the correct interval beneath my finger without really having to think about it, maybe that will make be a better improvisor in the long run….better at avoiding pattern based playing and focus more on what I hear and feel. I was looking at a blog by someone called Steve Rosenberg just now who was discussing many of the guitar methods out there and he wrote “In my analysis, the Leavitt fingerings tend to emphasize note awareness and fingerboard mastery over pattern-playing.” And I was like “exactly!” Don’t get me wrong I do know quite a few patterns. I visualize a pattern for each 2 octave mode (Ionian though Locrian) going up the fretboard starting of the 1st finger on both the 5th and 6th string. Start me on Phrygian with my 2nd finger on the 5th string however, I will get a bit lost because I don’t have an internalized pattern for this. Still, I can do it slowly if I think of the intervals (“ok flatten the 3rd. Now the 7th, etc”). I feel that by the time I get through Leavitt's method, I will be able to to this as well in the same way I can now play major and minor scales. What do you all think? Is pattern recognition overrated and unnecessary? Should I just work my way through Leavitt’s scales and arpeggios without thinking much about patterns and continue focusing on note recognition and intervals as I have been. Its certainly made me a very good reader in all positions at this point. And volume 2 has quickly made me VERY aware of what note is on what fret all over the fretboard without even really making an effort to learn this. I simply play the notation in front of me and visualize what note fret is under my finger. Now I can look at the fretboard point to any random string and fret and I know the note. So this approach has had quite a lot of benefits , I think. [/SIZE]

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Applying it to tunes/music will give you the answers you seek. Playing scales is not music except for Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by VanEpsInDeChirico View Post
    I've played rock and blues guitar for some years now and began working on playing jazz about a year ago. I’m working my way through William Leavitt’s Modern Method for Guitar Series (among other things of course). I completed volume 1 around the New Year and am now about to begin Section Two of Volume 2. It occurs to me that I don’t particularly think much about the patterns I use when playing scales.
    [/SIZE]
    This is pretty much how I do it. I know the notes in the chords and scales I use and I know where they are on the guitar. 12 keys. I don't think about patterns routinely, although I do know a few. So, for example, if the chord is, say, Amaj7, I know where all the notes of the A major scale are (and the #11, if I want that sound). It doesn't matter to me if I'm playing them on one string or multiple strings, any finger any applicable fret.

    The system works, but it has a potential weakness -- which is that it may be possible to play faster if you have patterns memorized. Also, it takes a lot of work to get all this information to be automatic. But, it seems to me that doing it by patterns is even harder, but, apparently, other people have different experiences and viewpoints.

  5. #4

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    I learned the CAGED patterns
    they're like the scaffolding to me
    (i don't know or think of the note names that much)
    (mind you my reading is sloooow)
    everyone learns/thinks/hears different (thank God)

    But deffo learn the tunes all different tunes ...
    play a lot ...
    bang on Gumbo

  6. #5

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    Does it have to be either/or?

  7. #6

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    We are playing shapes whether we are aware of them or not.
    We are playing intervals whether we are aware of them or not.
    We are playing actual pitches whether we are aware of them or not.
    These actual pitches can be described in various relationships to each other.
    If one can produce all the sounds that you imagine without awareness of some or all of these,
    then the most important aspect of playing music is still covered.
    Hard to imagine that a more multi-layered awareness won't make this game easier for many.

    It sounds like you have learned much from your engagement with the Leavitt Series.
    The various musical scenarios we encounter reveal our strengths and weaknesses.
    Let this combined with your personal musical goals be the driving factor of what you need to learn next.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by bako View Post
    We are playing shapes whether we are aware of them or not.
    We are playing intervals whether we are aware of them or not.
    We are playing actual pitches whether we are aware of them or not.
    These actual pitches can be described in various relationships to each other.
    If one can produce all the sounds that you imagine without awareness of some or all of these,
    then the most important aspect of playing music is still covered.
    Hard to imagine that a more multi-layered awareness won't make this game easier for many.

    It sounds like you have learned much from your engagement with the Leavitt Series.
    The various musical scenarios we encounter reveal our strengths and weaknesses.
    Let this combined with your personal musical goals be the driving factor of what you need to learn next.
    This

  9. #8

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    I think there are broadly three groups of jazz players:
    1- Ear players. They approach improvisation by first imitating their idols. Learning transcriptions and licks and playing them by ear and gradually develop their own style. They typically wouldn't know the fretboard to the extend it's covered by even by the first Leavitt book. But they can still be fantastic players.
    2- Formally trained players. Doesn't mean they went to jazz school. They study the fretboard and harmony. Approach improvisation by building lines based on their knowledge of the harmony, fretboard and idiosyncrasies of the style. Analyze licks to gain more language. I consider myself in this category. I don't know how someone in this category can work on improvisation ideas over tunes and build lines without utilizing not only some fretboard organization BUT ALSO intervals and notes. (Doesn't mean they are not using their ears in this process.)
    3- Mindless noodlers. They rely on some knowledge of the scale shapes, but never think about or aware of intervals and actual notes.