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  • Playing without music!?

    If someone was to tell you, we're playing in the key of C, play along... what would you do?

    I'm someone who is accustomed to music, and generally I follow a chord sheet. I want to be able to play chords along in a band if all I'm told is the key of a song. Basically I don't want to rely on music. How does this work. What kind of lessons should I be looking-up and how should I practice?

    I've got an intermmediate knowledge of theory, my best guess would be to compose chords base on the scale of the song. IE) the song is in C major, build chords off of the scale (1,3,5). But I want to play more than just triads....

    -thanks

    http://acapella.harmony-central.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2098285
    Beware of the Monster

  • #2
    If there's another guitarist, watch him, trade solos alone for a while.
    2 guitarists practicing outside of a band will do WAY better than a single guitarist band, iron sharpens iron.

    If not, then just feel in out, you get an ear for it, and while it takes longer, you're a better and more adaptable musician for it.

    If you hit a chord that's out, the old raggae trick is to tremolo pick down the neck, and start back on the upbeat. It'll keep the crowd from noticing, and your band will get used to the habit.

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    • #3
      thanks for the response.
      Beware of the Monster

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      • #4
        If you have no reference to anything other than "the Key of C" the best thing you can do is...listen.

        The Key is nothing but an organization of notes and MANY song in the Key of C will have parts that are not in the Key of C.

        Most people will start out playing with nothing but the notes, the triads, the chords, etc, etc...directly from the scale and you need to hear your way around it, but just as important is hearing the notes, triads, chords that don't fall in the Key of C cause you are going to find them.

        Think of the Key of C as a Key signature on a chart, or any Key really...this shows you the notes in the Key but also how to see the accidentals in the music/song. Without any reference you need to understand the Key and the accidentals yourself.

        Hope that made sense, but the main piece is to listen.
        PM me about Online One-on-One Guitar Lessons, via Skype and Paypal
        http://lessons.mikedodge.com
        http://www.mikedodge.com
        http://forum.mikedodge.com

        Hint for online instructors...play the example in it's entirety, THEN talk about it for 5 minutes.

        The only good liberal is a...well, we're still trying to figure out the answer to that one.

        Uma is a motorik.

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        • #5
          I guess I don't understand the question. Are you playing a tune or just "jamming"? Either way, Gennation's right- the first thing you need to do is listen.

          If you're talking about "jamming" then you should listen and wait till you hear something to play. Assess what is going on and try and come up with a part or idea that fits. But the idea should come from your head, not your fingers and not music theory.

          If you're talking about playing an actual tune it's more complicated but similar. The first thing you have to do is assess what's going on, but this is more important in this situation as there's already a tune in place- you need to follow the tune. You need to establish the form of the tune- was there an intro? Is there a verse? Chorus? Bridge? etc. You then need to try and figure out how long each of these parts last. Paying attention to the vocalist and lyrics will usually help you in this.

          And you need to do all this as things are happening, because stuff is going to change- it's a constant learning process. After that, trying to discern the actual harmony of what's going on is next. Theory can help here, but the main thing you need is good ears. Again, following the singer can help, as well as following the bass. As guitarists it can be handy to actually watch the bass player- looking where he's fingering can give us hints.

          So basically- you get the frame of the tune (the form). Then you try and fill in the frame with the harmony (chords). There's lots of little tricks and things you can learn that will help- for instance learning to notice when things leave the key, rhythmic changes, etc you can think of as signposts that tell you were you are and help explain things.

          As far as how to learn this stuff- first learn as many tunes as you can. Deconstruct them, learn how they work. Next, put on the radio and play along. Try and get the form, the harmony, etc as quick as you can. Start with an oldies station (assuming you're familiar with oldies) and the better you get then move onto some more unfamiliar material.

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          • #6
            I understand the fact that I have to listen to the music first...

            Im refering more to a practice situation where the band is playing a song that I dont know. Basically I'm asking how will I know what chords to play in whatever key the song is in. Like are there any chords that are constant?

            I figure the 4th and 5th are always chords included in songs...!?
            Beware of the Monster

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            • #7
              Assuming you are strictly playing in a key... In any major key the 1, 4, and 5 chords are major. The 2, 3, and 6 chords are minor. The 7 chord is diminished. This gives you a basic map of what to listen for. This is constant for any major key. For minor keys the 1, 4, and 5 chords are minor, the 2 chord is diminished, and the 3, 6, and 7 chords are major.


              Is this what you are looking for?
              __________________________
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              • #8
                You could always ask them what the chord progression is. And then just listen for the changes...At least that way you've got a road map to work with. Most players don't just jump into a band and play out of nowhere anyhow. That's what the practice is for.

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                • #9
                  I love practicing solo in addition to playing over tracks or with people.
                  "The mics themselves couldn't give a **************** what source they're on..."
                  - Fletcher@mercenary.com

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                  • #10
                    This is where you smash your guitar and jump into the crowd like Jack Black.
                    _____________________________________________
                    Serious about playing but not much else.

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                    • #11
                      Here's a recent experience...

                      About a month ago I auditioned for a band during their dress rehearsal for a show they had that weekend. Many of the songs were original. So I had no reference or any clue as to what was coming up, they were just blowing through the songs (the band consists of a dance crew with musical cues, etc...a REAL dress rehearsal) and I was just kind of tagging along as an after thought for me and them to check out each other.

                      Since the band uses charts, but there wasn't any for guitar, I kept asking the pianist what the Key the next song was in. She just gave number of sharps or flats. So I could at least figure out a reference BUT...I still didn't know whether is was a Major Key or a Minor Key!

                      So the first verse I kind of laid back listening, getting my bearings, trying to get the Root movements and then triads/chords on the Root. Then I did the same for the first chorus, I also tried to anticipate where I thought it might go in my head too...

                      By the 2nd verse and chorus I was playing along just fine.

                      Then I used the same techniques to find the bridge, except in most cases I only got one shot at that.

                      And as with any music, you rarely have the whole song stay in one Diatonic Key structure.

                      Then once the song was done I scribbled down chords and notes for memory sake and then we moved onto the next tune.

                      Over the ears I have developed a pretty good ear and sense of musical direction. Out of the 2 one hour sets they ran through there were only about 3 songs that I had issue with, mainly on the bridges. Other than that...by the end of the night I was offered the job

                      So, regardless of your knowledge of Keys you still might not know whether it's Major or the Relative Minor, you may have no idea where a song is headed next, BUT...

                      if you give yourself the chance to actually listen and move according to what you are hearing there's a good change you'll be humming along pretty good by the 2nd verse.
                      PM me about Online One-on-One Guitar Lessons, via Skype and Paypal
                      http://lessons.mikedodge.com
                      http://www.mikedodge.com
                      http://forum.mikedodge.com

                      Hint for online instructors...play the example in it's entirety, THEN talk about it for 5 minutes.

                      The only good liberal is a...well, we're still trying to figure out the answer to that one.

                      Uma is a motorik.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think you are looking for a way to train your ear to recognise what degree of the scale is the chord that the others are playing and what type of chord is it - e.g. major or minor...

                        IMHO I think you're right that a lot of tunes will incorporate the root, 4th and 5th like the classic 'woke up this morning..' type blues; and that's a good place to start. If you can play either chords or maybe lines or pentatonic stuff that starts on 1, 4 and 5 in several keys then you are well on the way. 2, 5, 1 is another common one. Chords in a progression could start on any other scale degree. It could even be rooted in a note outside of the key (eg C#, in C major) and that could just be just in passing (eg Cmaj, C#Maj, Dm, G, C) or it might lead to the song changing key..

                        learning to recognise and play intervals can, I think, really help to find the roots in chord progressions and work out what type of chord to play as well as helping with single note playing. Sliding around movable shapes of 2 or 3 notes - and varying them to fit the harmony - also helps.

                        Beisenla's right too that in most harmony the scale degrees will fit those maj/minor patterns. And I couldn't agree more with Heavy D.. especially in working out a song's structure and listening to the bass player because he or she will normally be giving you the root notes.

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                        • #13
                          Assuming you are strictly playing in a key... In any major key the 1, 4, and 5 chords are major. The 2, 3, and 6 chords are minor. The 7 chord is diminished. This gives you a basic map of what to listen for. This is constant for any major key. For minor keys the 1, 4, and 5 chords are minor, the 2 chord is diminished, and the 3, 6, and 7 chords are major.


                          Is this what you are looking for?


                          good to know. This helps.

                          I guess really why I'm asking is because our keyboardist can do this. Play literally any song. If someone starts to sing a song he'll listen for a few seconds and then pick it up. I think he also transposes the keyboard so everything he is playing is in C.
                          Beware of the Monster

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                          • #14
                            It seems that you are really talking about 2 different things. The first would seem to imply that he has a trained ear and can pick up on the melody, harmony, intervals, etc. and play along. The second, transposition is more of a "mechanical" process to change from one key to another while maintaining the invervalic relationships.

                            For example look at a I IV V progression

                            Key of C Major = CFG
                            Key of G Major = GCD

                            In both cases still a I IV V progression but in different keys.
                            Learning the specific key signatures may help so you know where the #s and bs are when moving from one key to another.
                            __________________________
                            Great Transactions:
                            Trade: whiteyanderson (2 8Ohm V30s for 2 16Ohm V30s); ModernGuitarist

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                            • #15
                              I understand the fact that I have to listen to the music first...

                              Im refering more to a practice situation where the band is playing a song that I dont know. Basically I'm asking how will I know what chords to play in whatever key the song is in. Like are there any chords that are constant?

                              I figure the 4th and 5th are always chords included in songs...!?


                              The cycle of fifths is a good guide for picking out chords within a certain key.

                              “One who loves & understands nature will never be alone & will never be afraid.”
                              -Rachel Carson-

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