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Thread: Seeing big intervals

  1. #1
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    Seeing big intervals

    Heyhey

    I was wondering, how do people have such amazing fretboard awareness that they can see intervals of a 5th or 6th or m6th on a single string, simply by having a glance from one fret to the next? Is this something that needs to be worked on particularly? If I look intently at the fretboard, look at the 3rd fret on the D string and then shift my eyes to the 12th fret and tell myself that that's a 6th, and repeat that several times over, will my brain eventually recognise that interval just from a quick look? I suppose if that's the case, then I'd need to start with each fret and learn each interval one at a time? Or is there a different approach that should be taken to this?

    This kind of thing particularly confounds me when I see people use techniques like tapping in their improvisation and they seem to know where their right hand needs to be without hesitation - or is that just a matter of practicing a particular lick in that particular key? Why do my statements always turn into questions =/

    Anyway, as always, any help much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    I also play bass. On the bass fretboard finding those 6th and 7th is not a big problem. What I'm going to give you works on your 3, 4, 5, & 6 string and can be adapted to the 1st and 2nd.

    Once you place your root note. Where is the 5th?
    The 5th is always up a string and over two frets. It is also down a string same fret.
    The 6th is always up two strings and back one fret.
    The 7th is always up two strings and over one fret.
    The 8th is always up two strings and over two frets.
    The rest of the story.
    The 2nd is always on the same string over two frets.
    The 3rd is always up a string and back one fret.
    The 4th is always up a string from the root - same fret.

    Putting that to memory is not a big deal. Once you "see" that perhaps it will help. Course it helps if you place the root on the 6th and or 5th string.
    http://www.guitarhangout.com/wp-cont...itar-notes.jpg But, if you are looking for the 6th of the note you are now on - it is up two strings and back one fret -- always.

    Have fun.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 03-12-2010 at 01:11 PM.

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    Thanks for the quick reply Malcolm!
    I guess I've gotten somewhat accustomed to seeing intervals when it comes to covering multiple strings, but what I really have trouble is seeing those same intervals on a single string. Would you say that learning single-string scales would be a way to improve on this?

  4. #4
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sikbom View Post
    Thanks for the quick reply Malcolm!
    I guess I've gotten somewhat accustomed to seeing intervals when it comes to covering multiple strings, but what I really have trouble is seeing those same intervals on a single string. Would you say that learning single-string scales would be a way to improve on this?
    Most people have the opposite problem, so count yourself lucky if you can easily see intervals across any string set and in any direction (I assume you are talking in terms of note names / locations rather than just intervals). Short story is yes, to learn larger intervals on one string (actually this is closer to fretboard / note location memorization) practice scales and arpeggios on single strings. It's more important to practice a little everyday than practice a lot once a week. Diligence and dedication is always rewarded in music practice.

    cheers,

  5. #5
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Well, I think using single string scales is a dead end. Multi strings scales is how our instruments are meant to be played. IMO.

    Now I use single string scales (intervals) as a quick and easy way to use fills or runs and I've reached the point I "just know" which fret needs to be skipped but jumping from a 1 to a 6 would not "just happen" for me. I've not put how to do that "to memory". Math perhaps, but, math on the fly is not one of my strong points.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 03-12-2010 at 01:36 PM.

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    ik kn ow what you mean, especially for fingertapping, and i still run into this problem. one solution would be to know all the notes on your fretboard by name perfectly, this will help you do that, or maybe just practice could get you there. for regualr playing i'm pretty good just on ugessing, no matter how high or low up on the fretboard i am for right hand to right hand fretting. but for tapping it still screws me up. although maybe after practicing tapping alot more i'd get alot better, idk, this is something i'd like to improve as well.

    for me, practicing a scale on one string wouldn't help much because scales, to me, are kind of linear things, so it would only really be helpful if i play the scale all the way until where i want to be, which i can already do without any problems. but knowing that E is the note i want to play, and knowing where it is in the area of the neck i want to play, would give me a reference point right away, and from there, knowing which degree the E is in my key, i'd know my scale again the right neighbourhood. although even this i would probably just do by ear. just making sure teh first note i hit is the one i want to hit is the thing i'd need to work on.
    Last edited by fingerpikingood; 03-12-2010 at 03:10 PM.

  7. #7
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sikbom View Post
    Heyhey

    I was wondering, how do people have such amazing fretboard awareness that they can see intervals of a 5th or 6th or m6th on a single string, simply by having a glance from one fret to the next? Is this something that needs to be worked on particularly? If I look intently at the fretboard, look at the 3rd fret on the D string and then shift my eyes to the 12th fret and tell myself that that's a 6th, and repeat that several times over, will my brain eventually recognise that interval just from a quick look? I suppose if that's the case, then I'd need to start with each fret and learn each interval one at a time?
    I don't think there's a lot of need to learn such large intervals up one string - beyond where one's fingers can reach from any one position.
    Intervals across the neck (within reach from one position) are much more important because - as Malcolm says - that's how we play guitar.

    But...
    Quote Originally Posted by sikbom View Post
    This kind of thing particularly confounds me when I see people use techniques like tapping in their improvisation and they seem to know where their right hand needs to be without hesitation - or is that just a matter of practicing a particular lick in that particular key?
    No. It's a question of knowing the notes.
    When tapping - or moving swiftly up the neck to a higher position - it's not done by memorising intervals or licks; it's done by knowing what note(s) you're aiming for.
    Eg, I don't tap, but the tune I'm thinking that requires a quick move up the neck is the Beatles "Blackbird". The interval happens to be a 6th - up 5th and 2nd strings - but that's not how I think of it: I know I'm heading for G and B notes, on 10th and 12th fret respectively.
    Of course, I learn the position and remember the fret numbers (in that sense I'm "memorising a lick"), but I know the notes too - that's how I know it's right.
    If I was tapping, I would (likewise) be going for notes I know are right (because I know the whole fretboard), not calculating intervals from lower down.

    IOW, there are two learning strategies:
    1. begin to memorise which note is on which fret, all the way up.
    2. learn intervals across the neck from various root notes. I usually refer to chords when doing this - eg, if I have a shape for a major chord, I know how and where to add a 6th, b7, maj7, 9th, etc. (and of course I know the roots 3rds and 5ths in every triad shape.)

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    Ahh thanks for that JonR! That makes sense. I guess it's going to be a lot more work, and I anticipate that it will take quite a lot of practice before my mind's going to be able to think fast enough to determine which note I'm aiming for, but practice makes things work at the end of the day hey?

    Thanks again!

  9. #9
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    This is a very good and serious question. I used to ask it all the time and eventually I forgot about it and realised that (for me at least) it didn't turn out to be relevant.

    Here is my reasoning:
    It depends on whether you are improvising or playing a set composition.

    For a set composition the answer is simple: Learn how to play it, then play it!

    For improvisation: use your ears! It's a mistake to think that you should know which fret you want to land on. All you should know is what sound you want to hear in your ear. This leaves you with two options: slide up/down the string untill you get the sound you want or take a general "guess". The latter means there is a fair chance of making a mistake, but more often than not you can turn that mistake into a great feature if your ears and scale knowledge is good.

    When improvising, your goal shouldn't be to play "without errors" it should be to "play creatively". This attitude is actually what is necessary to play "without errors" by converting them into features. Unlike in set compositions, there is no "erroneous way" to improvise. From a theory point of view almost every single note can be useful against every single chord in some way or another. Remember there is no such thing as "cheating" when it comes to improvisation so take advantage of mistakes and have no guilt!

    So thats all well and good. But pressumably you have to be some sort of uber-mensch to play like this. Perfect ears and abilities to turn mistakes into wonderful works of art. Magic, right? Nope....
    Ear training is covered in detail elsewhere on this site, so I'm not going to go into that.
    But here are some ideas you might like to try when "guessing" at the right note:
    1.) If you are guessing a note which you intend to hit with your 3rd/4th finger, try to err on the side of playing too high... you can always use 1st/2nd fingers to recover by pulling off lower.
    2.) If you are guessing a note which you intend to hit with 1st/2nd finger, try to err on the side of playing too low... obviously
    3.) If you are just blindly guessing try to use your 2nd or 3rd finger. This gives you maximum ability to go lower/higher.
    4.) If you land on a note and simply don't know whether you want to go lower or higher or even where on earth you may be in the scale: BEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bend like crazy. Bend untill the note sounds right (you might have to bend a full major 3rd in some cases so be comfortable with big bends).
    5.) Guess at something logical. If you hit a bum note, try to imagine that note as being part of an arpeggio you already know. Hit some others from that arp. Chances are pretty good that you will inadvertently end up playing a nice altered scale pattern. Remember, if what you play has order and familiarity in some way, it will sound deliberate (even if its deliberately tense and odd).
    6.) Go chromatic. Like in point 5, when you hit a bum or unkown note repeat a chromatic pattern (e.g. 123, 234, 345, 456...). Eventually you will get to a point where your ear catches up with you (i.e. you have found your bearings in the scale) and you have built up lots of tension.

    Nothing magic here, just strategy and practice.

    Remember, even the most well-rehearsed guitarist makes occasional mistakes. It's the flexible & brave guitarist with the big ears that can make every mistake seem like a work of genius.
    Last edited by bluesking; 03-15-2010 at 03:12 PM.
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  10. #10
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    The same but different

    This is all quite relevant to my current goal which is to be able to better visualize note placement on the D,G and B strings. I'm quite quick to notice placement on the E and A string from experience with root notes of barre chords; Though I have a slight delay everytime in realizing that my E and e are going to be the same which I've always thought was funny. To work on this what should I be practicing? Has anyone had any epiphimatic tricks to help them with this problem?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesking View Post
    This is a very good and serious question. I used to ask it all the time and eventually I forgot about it and realised that (for me at least) it didn't turn out to be relevant.

    Here is my reasoning:
    It depends on whether you are improvising or playing a set composition.

    For a set composition the answer is simple: Learn how to play it, then play it!

    For improvisation: use your ears! It's a mistake to think that you should know which fret you want to land on. All you should know is what sound you want to hear in your ear. This leaves you with two options: slide up/down the string untill you get the sound you want or take a general "guess". The latter means there is a fair chance of making a mistake, but more often than not you can turn that mistake into a great feature if your ears and scale knowledge is good.

    When improvising, your goal shouldn't be to play "without errors" it should be to "play creatively". This attitude is actually what is necessary to play "without errors" by converting them into features. Unlike in set compositions, there is no "erroneous way" to improvise. From a theory point of view almost every single note can be useful against every single chord in some way or another. Remember there is no such thing as "cheating" when it comes to improvisation so take advantage of mistakes and have no guilt!

    So thats all well and good. But pressumably you have to be some sort of uber-mensch to play like this. Perfect ears and abilities to turn mistakes into wonderful works of art. Magic, right? Nope....
    Ear training is covered in detail elsewhere on this site, so I'm not going to go into that.
    But here are some ideas you might like to try when "guessing" at the right note:
    1.) If you are guessing a note which you intend to hit with your 3rd/4th finger, try to err on the side of playing too high... you can always use 1st/2nd fingers to recover by pulling off lower.
    2.) If you are guessing a note which you intend to hit with 1st/2nd finger, try to err on the side of playing too low... obviously
    3.) If you are just blindly guessing try to use your 2nd or 3rd finger. This gives you maximum ability to go lower/higher.
    4.) If you land on a note and simply don't know whether you want to go lower or higher or even where on earth you may be in the scale: BEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bend like crazy. Bend untill the note sounds right (you might have to bend a full major 3rd in some cases so be comfortable with big bends).
    5.) Guess at something logical. If you hit a bum note, try to imagine that note as being part of an arpeggio you already know. Hit some others from that arp. Chances are pretty good that you will inadvertently end up playing a nice altered scale pattern. Remember, if what you play has order and familiarity in some way, it will sound deliberate (even if its deliberately tense and odd).
    6.) Go chromatic. Like in point 5, when you hit a bum or unkown note repeat a chromatic pattern (e.g. 123, 234, 345, 456...). Eventually you will get to a point where your ear catches up with you (i.e. you have found your bearings in the scale) and you have built up lots of tension.

    Nothing magic here, just strategy and practice.

    Remember, even the most well-rehearsed guitarist makes occasional mistakes. It's the flexible & brave guitarist with the big ears that can make every mistake seem like a work of genius.
    ya, and the more you guess and make mistakes the better you get at guessing, until you almost never make mistakes, but as you said, even the best of the best make mistakes, but they are very good at turning them into something good as well, so they are difficult to notice, and most never do.

    the downside is, that this becomes a kind of muscle memory thing, but then when you want to switch over to tapping with your right hand, it doesn't translate quite as well because it's not the same muscle memory thing, it's a fretboard thing, but i'm guessing and hoping that with some practice this will also follow and more quickly than it did with just the left hand as well.

  12. #12
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neilsucks View Post
    This is all quite relevant to my current goal which is to be able to better visualize note placement on the D,G and B strings. I'm quite quick to notice placement on the E and A string from experience with root notes of barre chords; Though I have a slight delay everytime in realizing that my E and e are going to be the same which I've always thought was funny. To work on this what should I be practicing? Has anyone had any epiphimatic tricks to help them with this problem?
    Take an old guitar - take off the low E, A & high E strings. . . . or leave them on but wrap some tin foil around them so they sound awful. Force yourself to play just the inside strings. I forced myself to do exactly that a few years ago - I only allowed myself to play on the D G & B strings. Everything I practiced was only on those strings, I sung out every note as I played it, saying both the name and singing in pitch. Triad arp voicings are helpful for this kind of thing.

    cheers,

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    Thanks Jed, great idea! I had considered that at one point but didn't want to take the strings off completly just in case I found myself in a pinch needing all my strings. Tinfoil! Beauty.

    Triad arp voicings? What hell? Go on..

  14. #14
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neilsucks View Post
    Thanks Jed, great idea! I had considered that at one point but didn't want to take the strings off completly just in case I found myself in a pinch needing all my strings. Tinfoil! Beauty.

    Triad arp voicings? What hell? Go on..
    Traid arps and voicings. . . sorry

    Here is a study of 2-octave major triad arps that I wrote up some time ago. I also did studies for the minor and diminished triads but you should be able to work those up yourself once you've had a close look at the major arps.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Jed; 03-17-2010 at 12:50 AM.

  15. #15
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    Jed,
    I re-borrowed a guitar that floats between a friend and myself and removed the E A and e strings. What a fantastic suggestion. You'd have like the smile that crept onto my face as I discovered "whoa, there's a G major up here?!?"

    Also, I just realized that by arp you were abrieviating arpeggio. Correct me if I'm wrong.. I'll take a look at that excercise tonight. If I understand, the excercise will be ascending/decending 1,3,5's? If so the other two excercises would be 1,b3,5 and 1,b3,b5?Although I know a few arpeggio patterns I don't have a clue what technically defines an arpeggio. Could someone tell me "the rules"?

    Singing along with my notes sure helped too. Is that what you meant by voicings? Thanks again Jed.

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