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View Poll Results: What do you prefer?

Voters
38. You may not vote on this poll
  • Patterns

    12 31.58%
  • Notes

    11 28.95%
  • Other (please explain)

    15 39.47%
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Thread: 'Patterns' vs 'Notes' or?

  1. #1
    Jazz Apprentice Factor's Avatar
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    'Patterns' vs 'Notes' or?

    What do you guys prefer?

    Patterns:
    Using root notes as navigation, moving patterns around as to fit the new chord/key. Just my simple definition. May not cover enough

    Notes:
    Playing with notenames on the fretboard, consciously/unconsciously thinking on how each note relates to the underlying harmony. Likewise, my simple definition.

    There are obviously some pros and cons to both these approaches. My opinions follow below, and I'm sure you'll see where I'm coming from (i.e. a slight bias)

    Patterns - Pros:
    Ease of playing. This is definately the easier approach, especially if progressions are diatonic and fairly easy to follow. Easy to apply some tricks like moving motifs up a minor thirds or halfstep down and things like that.

    Patterns - Cons:
    Playing without _really_ knowing what you play. Difficult to change patterns all the time, especially if the progressions _aren't_ that diatonic and hard to follow.

    Notes - Pros:
    Can play relatively safe and "in" once you have the notes of a key down cold. Couple this with an understanding of chordtones and nonchordtones, and you are quite well off. Arpeggioes can be executed without having to memorize them, as long as you know which notes make up each one.

    Notes - Cons:
    Having to memorize the notes on the fretboard, as well as knowing by rote how each note functions against different chords. Having to memorize every scale (i.e. collection of notes) you are to use, as well as arpeggioes.


    This list is purely with regards to soloing. Chords is another beef which we may touch upon if this proves to be a fruitful discussion
    Last edited by Factor; 04-26-2005 at 02:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    So, I voted "Other": A mixture of the two.

    I'm a pattern player, but I wish I was a note player...or probably, more accurately, a mixture of both.

    The reality is I know my notes on the E and A and D strings as well as top E of course, but the B and G remain strickly part of the pattern and I don't know what note I'm playing. As you rightly say, it's locate the root and off you go.

    The reason I say i wish I was a note player is that I think it's easier to resolve or create tension at will if you know the chord tones your playing over and can then hit them (or not) at will in your improv.

    The major disadvantage I've found with the pattern approach is that, although it works well as you say over diatonic chord progressions and "rock" style easy chords, you trust to luck that you will end a run on a resolving note.

    Yes sure, over time you practice your runs enough so you know that it will resolve but you lose the ability to include outside stuff in more complex chord progressions and when it comes to complex chords and non diatonic progression you simply sound again like a total beginner.

    This is the main difficulty I have with playing any kind of jazz. The relaisation that your knowledge of the fretboard and the notes that make up the chords over which your playing is essential.

    As a pattern player I don't have that luxury.

    On the pro side, the speedier licks can be trained into the brain and you can run up and down them at will without too much thought, but there are still times when it would be ncie to say right at the end of this run I'm gonna hit this note to add spice...again I find I'm really shooting in the dark when I do that and it might work...or it might not.

    In a live setting I would never take that risk for fear of it sounding bad.

  3. #3
    Registered User satch_master's Avatar
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    Im a definite patern player, i avoid theory as much as possible, not good but! atleast i learn what the hell im playing and how to aplply it.

  4. #4
    In the woodshed rmuscat's Avatar
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    i voted "other" ....

    mainly because i always try to use any tool available to make my life easier in this case ear, theory and patterns.

    E.g.
    i usually start off learning scales just by learning patterns. But rather than copying the patterns from a book, i find these patters myself by finding note names on the fretboard (no big deal) etc.. I then attempt to internalize the sounds by playing the scale as much as i can basically. Once i'm comfortable i go further by applying arpeggios etc from that scale.

    As for soloing i always follow my ear and currently it is very much diatonic, but i don't mind coz if i work on my practice to learn scales etc i know sometime my ear will internalize the sounds of the wicked scales. Very rarely it happened to me that i thought theory on the fly while playing and actually applying it there and it was pretty simple stuff.

    One thing is sure though, THE better you know your fretboard the easier your life is. Combine that with a good ear and basic theory knowledge and no one will stop you lol. I really did notice some improvements in my approach to practice since i got better at theory and fretboard knowledge.

    I got enlightened by these facts when i looked at a bunch of articles by joe satriani. The guy has used theory as a tremendous tool for practice, and that effected basically everything, composition, improvisation etc. But then again its not that he just knew it ... he PRACTICED IT ON GUITAR. different story...

    No wonder he kicks butt


    anyway my 2c, i could be waaaayyyyyy wrong
    Edwin Land: Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.

  5. #5
    Jazz Apprentice Factor's Avatar
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    As you may have guessed, I strive to be a "notes" player. I kinda feel like I'm in the minority among guitarists though. Why is that? People who play wind instruments have to play by notes, there simply aren't any patterns for them to play, and that doesn't seem to stop them from improvising. So why should I "settle for less"?

    Sorry if this may seem as an attack on those not bothering about notes, that was not my intention.

    My guitarteacher plays by patterns mostly as well. This makes me want to change teacher because we think so differently. I can't use the Db lydian scale before I memorize the notes of it, know them up, down, left and right, know every arpeggio associated with it and so on. I'm getting there with Cmajor and the closely related keys. Likewise with the altered scales / symmetrical scales. He doesn't seem to take this into consideration.

    I'm getting better of course. Getting this stuff takes time for me. Especially when changing to unrelated keys, as on So What, where the harmony changes from D dorian to Eb dorian -- *shudders*

  6. #6
    Registered User ashc's Avatar
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    I went "other" too. Basically everything Russ said again...plus.

    I would like to know every note cold (and I will work eventually toward that) but at the end of the day the physical interface with the guitar is so awkward that you ultimately will rely partly on patterns to guide your fingering (I think anyone who denies that is kidding themselves).

    By comparison, If play a line on a keyboard (and I have very limited technical facility in this case also) I always know the note in context of the scale and the current chord and so I can resolve fairly OK when I want. I never made a special effort to learn that and fingering is not an issue either - it's an interface thing. Guitar just isn't like that and I think, therefore, that the ideal is to know BOTH the patterns and the notes..

    EDIT: But what the hell do I know!

    I think a good place to start breaking out of the diatonic limitations, as well as learning your notes, is to be able to arpeggiate over any chord sequence and then start filling in the gaps? Is it so?

    As Lou Reed said: "take two chords and you got Rock n Roll, three chords is Jazz"

  7. #7
    In the woodshed rmuscat's Avatar
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    i don't think there is nothing wrong/mediocre etc with pattern playing ... its just a question of preferred approach etc...

    everyone knows HIS/HER best learning approach more than anyone else i guess.
    Edwin Land: Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.

  8. #8
    Jazz Apprentice Factor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmuscat
    i don't think there is nothing wrong/mediocre etc with pattern playing ... its just a question of preferred approach etc...
    So good I had to quote it.

    I know deep down that this is the method I want to learn and use. So I'll stick with it. It just occured to me that others may not have known that this method existed.
    Last edited by Factor; 04-26-2005 at 01:39 PM. Reason: Quoting mishap

  9. #9
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    I guess I'm pretty much a pattern player, so I voted for that.

    EDIT:
    However, thinking about it, I'm quite concious about the first note I hit after / at a chord change. So maybe a mixture
    Last edited by gersdal; 04-26-2005 at 02:24 PM.

  10. #10
    Registered User GtrvVampyre's Avatar
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    Im kinda both. I learn patterns and havenít made a real conscious effort to learn all the notes (going to though) but unconsciously I play notes according to the changes and how they sound (not sure if im making alot of sense). Basically I play patterns but I play by note, with my ears.
    {~-=I am the Lizard King, I can do anything-=~} (R.I.P Jim)

  11. #11
    Registered User xcdrn's Avatar
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    i learned the notes using the patterns so i guess i would go by the notes now. Personally i made it my goal to learn every note on the fretboard so playing by notes is apart of that.
    wodup? nothin shodup

  12. #12
    Groovy Bastard Maarten's Avatar
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    Other: I use patterns, but patterns to me are a group of intervals, not just frets and string numbers. I also think in numbers, it's all relative to me: I might be thinking: The root of the next chord is a 5th away from the current chord, and I'm playing the raised 11 of this chord;next play 5-6-7 of the altered scale etc etc. So pattern playing is very much suited to play harmonically complex stuff.
    Coupled with that are fretboard patterns of which I know how they sound (= intervals), the more experience I have the more this is the way I play: Skipping the theory and just nowing how to play certain melodies.
    I know how each note of an Fm triad sounds over a G7 chord, and I know where to find these notes on the fretboard. So in the end I think of sounds and just play them. No need to think of notes names here, and even the scale numbers are less necessary the more familiar a chord and it's scale become to me.
    To me this actually is pattern playing: Melodies and scales are patterns too, patterns of sound. So it's more logical for me to visualise patterns coupled with sounds than note names coupled with sounds.
    In the end the sound is all that matters, and not how you name it.
    Stop talking about modes and start working on your groove.

  13. #13
    Registered User SeattleRuss's Avatar
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    I chose other. I use a mixture. I think there's a difference between a "pattern" player who doesn't really know where they are on the fretboard and someone who is aware of patterns (as a guitarist, you can't help but notice them) and who navigates using those patterns, but knows what each "dot" in the pattern represents as an interval at any given time, in relation to the harmony of the moment. In other words, when I'm playing over a C altered harmony, I might hear the #5 and a maj. 3rd as notes I want to play and I reference that often to pre-existing patterns that I know and yes, I know that those notes are G# and E but knowing how they sound against the harmony is what's important, hence my thinking in terms of intervals.

    Oh did I mention that I try not to think at all? LOL!!

  14. #14
    Registered User SeattleRuss's Avatar
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    Looks like Maarten and I were writing at the same time and what do you know? We wrote almost the same thing.....scary....lol

  15. #15
    Experimentalist Koala's Avatar
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    Voted, other, not gonna bore you saying what the others have said. I do know the fretboard, I know my patterns, but I usually focus on chord tones and tensions. Cept when goin pentatonic, there, pattern mania kicks right in!

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