Looking for comments from the illuminati with regard to my approach towards developing fretboard visualization:
I'm learning to play the guitar but coming from a relatively strong musical background on another instrument (voice). So rather than learning theory from a guitarist's point of view, I'm learning the guitar from a musician's point of view. I tend to think in harmonic terms but find myself unable to play the sounds I hear in my head because I cannot find them fast enough on the fretboard.
In order to bridge the gap between my musical theory and the guitar, I'm working on improving my fretboard visualization via arpeggios. I usually practice these descending through the cycle of 5ths and have settled on various arpeggio fingerings than seem reasonable places to start, meaning no positional shifts and minimal finger stretches. Currently I''m working on dom7 arpeggios and so will use those as the example.
I'm convinced that "pattern playing" would limit my ability to "see" the notes, so I don't practice forms or patterns per se but rather work to see the notes first and the notice the pattern after the fact as a result of playing the arpeggio. To this end I'm practicing the dom7 arpeggios in several different ways.
First a couple of definitions (scope limited to this post) :
"all keys" = 12 common keys (exclusive of Cb, C# & F#)
"descending through the cycle of 5ths" = C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb/F#, B, E, A, D, G ending back at C
"see the note" = sing the note name in pitch (but not the same octave)
Dom7 arpeggio forms: (total range = two octaves)
R6/2 = Root on 6th string, 2nd finger
R6/4 = Root on 6th string, 4th finger (includes the b7th at 6/2)
R5/2 = Root on 5th string, 2nd finger (includes the 5th at 6/2)
R5/4 = Root on 5th string, 4th finger (includes the 3rd at 6/1)
1) One form, all keys descending through the cycle of 5th's:
I start with R6/2, then repeat with the R6/4, R5/2 & R5/4 forms. In this exercise, I always start from the root of whichever form, ascend to the first chord tone on the high E string, descend to the lowest note available in the form and ascend back to the starting root.
2) Per root, each form, all keys descending through the cycle of 5th's:
For this sequence I start with R6/2 from the root and then move through the other forms starting from the lowest accessible chord tone, effectively playing inversions of the arpeggios as I move through the forms (R5/4 for the 3rd, R5/2 for the 5th & R6/4 for the b7th).
3) Voice-leading through complimentary forms, descending through the cycle of 5ths:
3a) G7 (R6/2) from the root > C7 (R5/2) from the 5th > F7 (R6/2) from the root > Bb7 (R5/2) from the 5th, etc.
3b) G (R6/4) from the 7th > C (R5/4) from the 3rd > F (R6/4) from the 7th > Bb (R5/4) from the 3rd, etc.
When I run out of fretboard I use a group of three arpeggios that voice lead in an ascending fashion and bring me back to a minor 2nd below the staring point where I repeat the descending pattern until I hit the nut. All told it's about 2.5 times around the cycle of 5ths to play each form in each key.
Again, my goal is to learn to see the notes / her the pitches before I play them rather than calculating the location of notes from forms or relative to other notes. Since I already think harmonically it seams natural to me to learn to "see" the notes as one would on a keyboard.
I look forward to your comments and advice. Thanks in advance.