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Thread: Hello

  1. #1
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    Hello

    I sort of stumbled across this site and forum, and I think I'll be glad I did. I hope I will be, anyway. I'm coming up on 40 years old, which allows me to claim that I have been playing guitar for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately, I might be the worst guitar player ever to make that claim. Despite a certain kind of dedication--in the beginning, I remember making noise with my guitar for hours on end, every day--I hamstrung myself by having a total lack of focus on learning, and a complete lack of other musicians to play and learn with (I'm quite shy, and have always been reluctant to seek out others to "jam" with). For most of those 20 years, the guitar has been little more than an amusement for me. I would still play for a few minutes here and there most days, but only the same tired old repertoire of three or four songs, or pieces of songs, that I learned early on.

    Recently, though, my interest in music has re-awakened, and I have begun to take a more serious approach to learning the instrument. I started to take lessons (which I have now stopped, for a little while, to absorb some of the information presented), and have picked up a bit of theory. In some ways, it has definitely helped. I have something to focus on rather than being stuck with a finite few songs learned by rote, and I find that I enjoy the technical aspects of playing scales and the like (though my speed is hampered by years of bad habits). I'm enjoying the time I spend with the guitar much more, which is fantastic. The little bit of knowledge I have gained has, however, created a new problem for me: I find I'm kind of overwhelmed by the amount of information that there is to learn, even to do relatively simple things musically!

    I was not blessed with a fantastic memory, and I find it quite difficult to train myself to remember things like scale patterns. I am also not particularly skilled at mathematics, and much of music theory seems sort of mathematical in nature. So even though I am getting more and more familiar with intervals, the modes, and the circle of fifths, I would still have a very difficult time figuring out, for example, which note is the 5th degree of D Phrygian, let alone finding the nearest one on the fretboard or determining which chords it would be appropriate to play over. I have the tools in my head to work out the answer, but it might take me a minute or so--hardly quick enough to help me if I were trying to improv over a backing track!

    I know that by sticking with it I'll get there eventually, but I guess the benefit of my former approach to guitar was that it left me blissfully ignorant of how blissfully ignorant I was. Now that I know how much there is to learn (and how difficult it can be to learn it), I'm glad I'll have a place to go to ask questions and seek encouragement when I'm having a tough time climbing the mountain.

    All that said, I'm wondering if anyone here either has been, or is currently in a similar situation? Might be nice to find some kindred spirits!

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by allonym View Post
    ................... Recently, though, my interest in music has re-awakened, and I have begun to take a more serious approach to learning the instrument. I started to take lessons (which I have now stopped, for a little while, to absorb some of the information presented), and have picked up a bit of theory. In some ways, it has definitely helped. I have something to focus on rather than being stuck with a finite few songs learned by rote, and I find that I enjoy the technical aspects of playing scales and the like (though my speed is hampered by years of bad habits). I'm enjoying the time I spend with the guitar much more, which is fantastic. The little bit of knowledge I have gained has, however, created a new problem for me: I find I'm kind of overwhelmed by the amount of information that there is to learn, even to do relatively simple things musically!
    I too take lessons in short spans of three to 6 months and then take a break to absorb all the "stuff" I've been given. Going back when I want to advance to a new level or take on a new technique. I think you will have some fun now that you've decided to give it another go.
    I was not blessed with a fantastic memory, and I find it quite difficult to train myself to remember things like scale patterns. I am also not particularly skilled at mathematics, and much of music theory seems sort of mathematical in nature. So even though I am getting more and more familiar with intervals, the modes, and the circle of fifths, I would still have a very difficult time figuring out, for example, which note is the 5th degree of D Phrygian, let alone finding the nearest one on the fretboard or determining which chords it would be appropriate to play over. I have the tools in my head to work out the answer, but it might take me a minute or so--hardly quick enough to help me if I were trying to improv over a backing track!
    Most of what we do we don't need to know what the 5th degree of D phrygian is. I cheat and play parallel modes, using one box pattern. R-b2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 works with D phrygian, so the 5th is always in the same spot - in my box- waiting on me. Again you do not need all that stuff for 90% of what you will do. Well, you need to know some of it......... but, just a few rules as guidelines, the major scale box pattern and being able to count to eight will do most of what you will need.
    I know that by sticking with it I'll get there eventually, but I guess the benefit of my former approach to guitar was that it left me blissfully ignorant of how blissfully ignorant I was. Now that I know how much there is to learn (and how difficult it can be to learn it), I'm glad I'll have a place to go to ask questions and seek encouragement when I'm having a tough time climbing the mountain.

    All that said, I'm wondering if anyone here either has been, or is currently in a similar situation? Might be nice to find some kindred spirits!
    Took up music when I retired in 2000. Banjo first, then rhythm guitar, electric guitar, some keyboard in the middle, more to help with the theory than the normal classical route taken by most piano players. Enjoy playing chord accompaniment on keys. Four string bass and now classical guitar - finger-picking keep me busy. I ate this elephant one bite at a time. Figured I had the rest of my life so just took it one step at a time and am enjoying the journey. I retired at 65, you do the math.

    This site helped with the theory there are some great articles - upper left hand side of the screen. And here is a very good paper on theory. http://www.billygreen.pwp.blueyonder...20Advanced.pdf First 20 pages covers the basics then the next 60 pages take you into intermediate and advanced. Print off the first 20 pages and read some each night. You'll know when to get into the other 60 pages.

    For me the journey started 12 years ago and I've enjoyed the run. Been with two bands, one for over 10 years, and love jamming circles. Get involved with other musicians as soon as you can, jamming circles are the safest place you can be. No one cares if you make a mistake as long as you are trying. Here is what happens once a month in my home town. http://mineolabuzz.com/BUZZ/TX/MINEO...n-main-street/ I'm the old guy, in the blue shirt and khakis, at the hole in the wall. See anyone getting on a newbie? Nope, everyone is having too much fun.

    BTW welcome.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 06-05-2012 at 01:52 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the link to the theory paper, I've got the first 20 pages printed off and I'll be giving it a good several reads.

    I cheat and play parallel modes, R-b2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 works with D phrygian, so the 5th is always in the same spot - in my box- waiting on me.
    I don't really follow that, and I'm not sure if it's because I just haven't got that far yet. I've never heard the term "parallel modes", and it's unclear to me at this point how to think in terms of that diagram. Is there a resource you can point me to that explains it a bit?

  4. #4
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    Hi, welcome to the forum .

    Re. modes in general, take a look at this thread and see in particular the replies from JonR -

    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19153&highlight=parallel+modes

    And also this -

    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19115&highlight=parallel+modes&pa ge=3
     
    In fact, try the "Search function" here to read all the replies from JonR on all sorts of theory issues (I leant a lot over the years just by reading his various detailed replies!)

    As far as the terms “parallel” and “relative” are concerned - “parallel” usually means scale patterns starting on the same root note, eg C-Ionian is parallel to C-Mixolydian etc. Whereas, “relative” means the same set of scale notes but starting from a different root note, eg A-Natural Minor scale (A- Aeolian mode) is the same set of notes as C-Major (ie C-Ionian mode).

    See for example this explanation from Troy Stetina -

    http://www.stetina.com/lessons/modes.html
     
     

  5. #5
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    I guess my instructor actually taught me the modes that way, he just never introduced the term parallel in describing them. I learned how they were constructed, so that I could figure out on my own how to locate and play them all over the fretboard, but it's still a somewhat taxing exercise for me to do so: a minute of figuring out where the scale notes are, followed by repetitively playing the scale, (usually) followed by forgetting it by the next day's practice, so that I have to repeat the process (only a little quicker each time, though. Progress!).

    Anyway, thanks! I'll take whatever other questions I have to the appropriate sub-forums. Cheers!

    [edit]
    wow, I just read through that first thread with JonR, and that actually helped turn a screw! I kinda get some of the things that my teacher was trying to impart a little better now. Happy day!
    Last edited by allonym; 06-05-2012 at 10:50 AM.

  6. #6
    Welcome to the forum.

    I too spent a lot of time just making noise, when I first started playing guitar, but after a few years of playing I felt like I should be better than I was. It was after all this that I realized I had to get it together and really put an organized effort into learning guitar.

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  7. #7
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by allonym View Post
    I guess my instructor actually taught me the modes that way, he just never introduced the term parallel in describing them. I learned how they were constructed, so that I could figure out on my own how to locate and play them all over the fretboard, but it's still a somewhat taxing exercise for me to do so:
    I do not put a lot of effort in playing all over the fretboard, in fact, spend most of my time in and around The spot dictated by the tonic root. But, that is another story.

    Patterns based upon the Major Scale box and a few words on parallel modes.

    Code:
    Major Scale Box Pattern
    
    E|---7---|--R(8)-|-------|---2---| 1st string
    B|-------|---5---|-------|---6---|
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 
    D|---6---|-------|---7---|--R(8)-|
    A|---3---|---4---|-------|---5---|
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---| 6th string 
    One pattern - move the R root to where needed, then play the pattern.
    Notice you have two octaves, if you need some of the 3rd octave just
    go up the 1st string.
    Scales --- The major scale box is home base.
    • Major Scale = R-2-3-4-5-6-7 Home base
    • Major Pentatonic = R-2-3-5-6 Leave out the 4 & 7
    • Natural Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 Major scale with the 3, 6 & 7 flatted.
    • Minor Pentatonic = R-b3-4-5-b7 Leave out the 2 & 6.
    • Blues = R-b3-4-b5-5-b7 Minor pentatonic with the blue note b5 added.
    • Harmonic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-b6-7 Natural minor with a natural 7.
    • Melodic Minor Scale = R-2-b3-4-5-6-7 Major scale with a b3.
    Let the major scale be your home base then change a few notes and you have something different. No need to memorize a zillion patterns. Let the major scale pattern be your go to pattern - then adapt/adjust from there.

    Modes
    • Ionian same as the Major Scale. R-2-3-4-5-6-7
    • Lydian use the major scale and sharp the 4 - yes, it’s that simple. R-2-3-#4-5-6-7
    • Mixolydian use the major scale and flat the 7. R-2-3-4-5-6-b7.
    Aeolian is the same as the Natural minor scale and is home base for all the minor modes.
    • Dorian use the Natural Minor scale and sharp the b6 back to a natural 6. Change one note.
    • Phrygian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2. Again change one note.
    • Locrian use the Natural Minor scale and flat the 2 and the 5. OK here you have to change two notes.

    Modal Harmony - the rest of the story.
    • If you play your modes over a chord progression you will probably only hear the tonal center of your progression.
    • However, if you play your modes over a modal vamp the vamp will sustain the modal mood long enough for the modal mood to be heard. The modal vamp droning effect will sustain the modal mood. Where with a chord progression the chords change so quickly that the modal mood does not have time to develop. Modal vamps of one to two chords let the modal mood be heard. http://www.riddleworks.com/modalharm3.html

    We all know how to make modes, its using them where we get confused. IMO most of the time we can get along fine with out them. The vocalist sets the mood and most of the time with a I IV V or ii V7 I progression. But when the vocalist stops singing and the lead is passed to another instrument that instrument is going to have a problem sustaining the mood set by the vocalist if the V-I cadence carries forward. A mode does not substance it's mood well with the closure of a V-I cadence. This is where a modal vamp is called for. But, did the rest of the band revert to modal harmony for your mode?

    My point - if you have a vocalist you probably do not need to use a mode for your solo lead break. Just play the tune of a verse or chorus for your solo. Now if you are composing where you have control of the melody and harmony, then modes can be used effectually. Of course that is my opinion. It and $1.67 will purchase a cup of coffee in most East Texas restaurants.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 06-06-2012 at 09:45 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gallipoli View Post
    ...after a few years of playing I felt like I should be better than I was. It was after all this that I realized I had to get it together and really put an organized effort into learning guitar.
    I'm just curious: how long ago did you make that decision, and what is your skill level now? Thanks for the welcome, BTW!

    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    I do not put a lot of effort in playing all over the fretboard, in fact, spend most of my time in and around The spot dictated by the tonic root. But, that is another story.
    That's what I end up doing most of the time when I improvise solos at my current level of skill. But I do feel that it gets a little bit stagnant, and I'd ultimately like to be able to move up and down the neck with as much confidence as I have when staying "inside the box." That's why I'm keen to learn all the patterns, but my fragile memory just makes it more difficult.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    <snip>...some stuff about the box major scale and the modes...</snip>
    Again, this is pretty well in line with what I was actually taught. Yours is just a different presentation of the information than what I've experienced, so this was helpful in mapping that onto what I already had in my brain. Handy, because I see that kind of notation all over these forums!

    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    Modal Harmony - the rest of the story.
    • If you play your modes over a chord progression you will probably only hear the tonal center of your progression.
    • However, if you play your modes over a modal vamp the vamp will sustain the modal mood long enough for the modal mood to be heard. The modal vamp droning effect will sustain the modal mood. Where with a chord progression the chords change so quickly that the modal mood does not have time to develop. Modal vamps of one to two chords let the modal mood be heard. http://www.riddleworks.com/modalharm3.html
    Yeah, that's an important thing that I really only learned when I followed Crossroads' first link - that post has a youtube link to a vid with some modal vamps (I guess, borrowing your terminology) in G. I did some soloing over it, trying my best to follow it, and I could really get the vibe of the modes in a way that I never did when improvising over chord progressions. That was an eye-opener for sure. As an aside: is it just me, or does Locrian not sound particularly musical when used in that way? I kept feeling like it needed to resolve in a way that was more urgent than the other modes.

    I really appreciate the follow-up, Malcolm, everybody here's been pretty helpful so far. Well worth the price of admission

  9. #9
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by allonym View Post
    As an aside: is it just me, or does Locrian not sound particularly musical when used in that way? I kept feeling like it needed to resolve in a way that was more urgent than the other modes.
    Locrian is a beast of another color - I have come to the conclusion that the Locrian mode works best with a m7b5 droning vamp, i.e. only one chord - the vii as a m7b5. And that dominant pull may be what you are hearing. Much like the pedal point big E string droning we do when playing modes by ourselves. Drone the big E and play E Ionian, E Dorian, etc.

    Good luck with Locrian it's different and this makes it interesting. See what you think will help with what you are hearing - experiment.

    Check out: http://scottsbasslessons.com/welcome-to-the-shed you may have to click the blank screen several times for the video to load. Point - notice how he drones the big E string. The glove - skin condition......
    Last edited by Malcolm; 06-07-2012 at 02:51 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    I too take lessons in short spans of three to 6 months and then take a break to absorb all the "stuff" I've been given. Going back when I want to advance to a new level or take on a new technique. I think you will have some fun now that you've decided to give it another go. Most of what we do we don't need to know what the 5th degree of D phrygian is. I cheat and play parallel modes, using one box pattern. R-b2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 works with D phrygian, so the 5th is always in the same spot - in my box- waiting on me. Again you do not need all that stuff for 90% of what you will do. Well, you need to know some of it......... but, just a few rules as guidelines, the major scale box pattern and being able to count to eight will do most of what you will need.
    Took up music when I retired in 2000. Banjo first, then rhythm guitar, electric guitar, some keyboard in the middle, more to help with the theory than the normal classical route taken by most piano players. Enjoy playing chord accompaniment on keys. Four string bass and now classical guitar - finger-picking keep me busy. I ate this elephant one bite at a time. Figured I had the rest of my life so just took it one step at a time and am enjoying the journey. I retired at 65, you do the math.

    This site helped with the theory there are some great articles - upper left hand side of the screen. And here is a very good paper on theory. http://www.billygreen.pwp.blueyonder...20Advanced.pdf First 20 pages covers the basics then the next 60 pages take you into intermediate and advanced. Print off the first 20 pages and read some each night. You'll know when to get into the other 60 pages.

    For me the journey started 12 years ago and I've enjoyed the run. Been with two bands, one for over 10 years, and love jamming circles. Get involved with other musicians as soon as you can, jamming circles are the safest place you can be. No one cares if you make a mistake as long as you are trying. Here is what happens once a month in my home town. http://mineolabuzz.com/BUZZ/TX/MINEO...n-main-street/ I'm the old guy, in the blue shirt and khakis, at the hole in the wall. See anyone getting on a newbie? Nope, everyone is having too much fun.

    BTW welcome.
    Thanks for the theory link; and it does look like everyone is having fun.

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