Harmony Central Forums
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

The "play this scale over these chords" theory misses the point!

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse









X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The "play this scale over these chords" theory misses the point!

    Let's take a ii-V-I in C. It isn't really important what scales I play over Dm7, G7 and Cmaj7. I could play "just" the C major scale and make great music. Probably even just the C major pentatonic.

    Far more important than the scale choice is what notes I play from that scale, in what order and at what time (meaning, what rhythm and phrasing I use). Far more important than the scale or scales used is to have a strong melodic idea that goes through these chords.

    It is also important to understand and hear the tension and release that's taking place in this cadence. Which notes of the C major scale are the ones that lead from one chord to the other, which ones are stable rests.
    <div class="signaturecontainer">Terje Larsson<br />
    <br />
    <font size="0"><font color="red">inbox is full, send e-mail instead</font></font><br />
    <br />
    Hey, wanna look at <font color="red">my comics</font>? Come here then <a href="http://terjelarssonserier.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">http://terjelarssonserier.blogspot.com/</a><br />
    <br />
    Ah, sorry, it's all in swedish, but you can always <i>look</i>!<br />
    <br />
    You can also check out my crazy friend Dan's crazy website where he'll teach you to master the guitar in 8 minutes (or days... or whatever). <br />
    <br />
    <a href="http://spytunes.co.uk/" target="_blank">http://spytunes.co.uk/</a></div>

  • #2
    I agree with you to a large extent. Anyway, the whole chord/scale thing is a bit bunk. It's generally used for bebop-style music, even though no beboppers thought of it that way. It's really a holdover from modal music, and everyone suddenly applies "modes" to tonal music, and it all comes out like a load of crap. Kind of like that joke about the camel being a horse designed in commitee.
    Sometimes though, it can be a good way of discovering new sounds and tensions, that you wouldn't have thought of before. Because a scale is one way of giving unity to a series of notes it can be a good introduction to playing notes that, on their own, sound wrong, but work as fleeting moments of "dissonance". However, most of this comes from playing scales that aren't the ones we normally get taught when learning about chord/scale relationships.
    On the other hand, when you want to learn what notes are going to immeditately imply a particular chord, it can all be very useful.
    So, it doesn't miss the point, it's just that the point is very large, and chord/scales just touch a little bit of that point.

    Comment


    • #3
      I was thinking about posting a question about this too.

      The scale/chord approach feels very unnatural as your mental effort has to go into gripping a new scale every few seconds.

      I've been trying to learn some Pat Metheny songs, which have pretty complex chords, and the key signatures are ambiguous. i.e. the official key is C, and the song is full of accidentals, augmented chords, chords w/ different base notes etc. The modal approach doesn't seem to have much place.

      I've decided to regroup and hunker down with Ted Greene to learn some jazz structures and patterns.

      The approach is chordal, less modal. Once you learn patterns around the root, 3, 5, 7 and inversions, maybe you don't even have to think about scale patterns.

      There are so many ways to visualize soloing.

      It's a long way to fretboard mastery, but seems possible. Would like to hear others thoughts on this.
      <div class="signaturecontainer"><font color="gray"><br />
      <font size="2">Fender Strat Plus 1988<br />
      PRS McCarty 20th Anniv<br />
      Fender 62 RI: Deluxe Players Edition Strat<br />
      Fender 2006 American Deluxe Strat<br />
      Fender 2006 Spruce Top Chambered Tele<br />
      Taylor 310<br />
      </font><br />
      </font></div>

      Comment


      • #4
        It's all the same notes no matter how you approach it.
        **This space for rent. Inquire at office.**

        Comment


        • #5
          Even when you're looking at the same notes, aapproaching w/ different patterns and positions affects your note selection.

          It has helped me to get out of ruts in my soloing.
          <div class="signaturecontainer"><font color="gray"><br />
          <font size="2">Fender Strat Plus 1988<br />
          PRS McCarty 20th Anniv<br />
          Fender 62 RI: Deluxe Players Edition Strat<br />
          Fender 2006 American Deluxe Strat<br />
          Fender 2006 Spruce Top Chambered Tele<br />
          Taylor 310<br />
          </font><br />
          </font></div>

          Comment


          • #6
            I definitely have to agree. If you're saying to yourself, "oh it's the ii chord I better play a dorian mode. or I better play a mixolydian over the V chord" by that time your already two bars behind whats goin on. The only time I do think like that is if I'm going to play some exotic scale. Otherwise it's chord tones and passing notes. Joe Pass says that in a ii-V-I he completely ignores the two chord altogether. Something to think about I guess.

            My $0.02
            <div class="signaturecontainer">~Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.<br />
            - Benjamin Franklin <br />
            <br />
            ~Where we're going we don't need F major 7's.<br />
            - alwaysharp<br />
            <br />
            <a href="http://www.myspace.com/ronaldbraygan" target="_blank">http://www.myspace.com/ronaldbraygan</a><br />
            <br />
            <a href="http://www.myspace.com/ryanbrayguitar" target="_blank">http://www.myspace.com/ryanbrayguitar</a></div>

            Comment


            • #7
              that mode/chord relationship has it's value from an analytical point of view.

              But for a player it's much more important to think in melodies.

              Let's face it: Most pop/rock stuff is written around one tonic center anyways. So talking about modes isn't really the way to appoach it. You either have major or minor, and sometimes you have to really distinguish the different flavours of minor. Sometimes there is even a modulation, but usually it's obvious what's going on harmonically.


              For the old jazz-standards it doesn't really help either. If you don't know the melody and just try to improvise using the chords/modes it will sound like ... well ... notes, not melody. In a nutshell - without the melody you're lost in a cluster of notes. If you're a really good guy you might be able to find/improvise a catchy melody, but who here is that gifted to improvise a good melody on demand?

              More modern jazz styles might have their own rules (bebop, fusion ect.). But that's a area where I have no experice.

              Nils
              <div class="signaturecontainer">myspace: <a href="http://myspace.com/planetarchh" target="_blank">http://myspace.com/planetarchh</a><br />
              diy and electronics: <a href="http://torus.untergrund.net/" target="_blank">http://torus.untergrund.net/</a></div>

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by edeltorus
                that mode/chord relationship has it's value from an analytical point of view.

                But for a player it's much more important to think in melodies.


                Or phrases or even fragments of melodies and phrases. Which is how I think it has developed in jazz. Players came up with new phrases while improvising, remembered the good ones, tried them again and often in new harmonic situations, sometimes it worked sometimes it didn't.

                I think this is how "the altered scale" has come about. Players have tried their favorite phrases over "the wrong" chords and liked the sound of it. Later someone figured out that most of this can be analyzed as being from one scale. The question is if the altered scale really is a scale. One could also think of it as the combination of chord tones and tension giving extensions.

                Anyway, I think all of this for me boils down to in what ways we compare music to a language. I think the comparison works for many reasons. Learning music by learning theory is like learning a language by learning the grammar. I've studied sanskrit this way and it can be fun but in the end you end up not really knowing that much of the actual language.

                Studying music through learning phrases and melodies is like studying a language by reading it and learning vocabulary from books. It's better than just studying the grammar but on its own it's not gonna do you much good, without practice you won't be able to speak spanish anyway, right?

                Studying music by immitating other players is much better and is like studying a language by trying to speak it with the natives, even by going to that country to learn it on the spot, which is the way it's done by any serious student of a foreign language these days.

                I think that with music, just like with languages, it is better to take things in the other order. Learn to play first, then learn more vocabulary (songs and phrases) and finally some theory if you need it. The only foreign language that I really know (english) I learnt this way. I listened to music, songs, watched movies, never really got the grammar... the final step was to speak it and once that was done I had it.
                <div class="signaturecontainer">Terje Larsson<br />
                <br />
                <font size="0"><font color="red">inbox is full, send e-mail instead</font></font><br />
                <br />
                Hey, wanna look at <font color="red">my comics</font>? Come here then <a href="http://terjelarssonserier.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">http://terjelarssonserier.blogspot.com/</a><br />
                <br />
                Ah, sorry, it's all in swedish, but you can always <i>look</i>!<br />
                <br />
                You can also check out my crazy friend Dan's crazy website where he'll teach you to master the guitar in 8 minutes (or days... or whatever). <br />
                <br />
                <a href="http://spytunes.co.uk/" target="_blank">http://spytunes.co.uk/</a></div>

                Comment


                • #9
                  D-13 = D F A C E G B
                  D Dorian = D E F G A B C

                  What's the difference? Who cares?

                  Seriously, though...

                  Scales are great for learning/organizing the notes of the fretboard/keyboard/valves etc..

                  And for learning the sound of all the notes in a key over each chord. This is where the modal approach starts to make sense.
                  e.g.
                  |D-7 |G7 |Cmaj7|
                  Play appropriate mode in 8th notes over each chord.
                  The chord tones fall on the down beats. That's the sound of making the changes. That's sound of tension and release in the cadences.

                  Another good approach is chord tones. But you have to connect them somehow. Any passing notes are fine. Whatever you do you will end up with a scale/mode.

                  Yes, the ultimate goal is melody/inspiration/innovation, but if anyone thinks that ANY theory is a goal, they are sorely mistaken.

                  Chord/Scale is a tool. Rhythm is a tool. Phrasing is a tool. Tone is a tool. M-BASE is a tool. Harmelodics is a tool. etc
                  None of them are THE answer. None of them miss the point.
                  <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="http://www.overheadproject.com/" target="_blank">http://www.overheadproject.com/</a></div>

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Agree. I much prefer the well versed Aebersold types to hacks who lack the overview to fly properly. It's all about competence.
                    Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...
                    <div class="signaturecontainer">
                    <div class="bbcode_container">
                    <div class="bbcode_quote">
                    <div class="quote_container">
                    <div class="bbcode_quote_container"></div>

                    Write Something...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by coggins
                      Seriously, though...

                      Scales are great for learning/organizing the notes of the fretboard/keyboard/valves etc..

                      And for learning the sound of all the notes in a key over each chord. This is where the modal approach starts to make sense.
                      e.g.
                      |D-7 |G7 |Cmaj7|
                      Play appropriate mode in 8th notes over each chord.
                      The chord tones fall on the down beats. That's the sound of making the changes. That's sound of tension and release in the cadences.


                      Hm... first of all, I have nothing against scales. That's not my point. I'm just saying that the whole thought "this scale goes well with that chord" sorta misses the point because that's not what you're heaing when you listen to great players.

                      Which is what we all ought to do if we want to learn jazz, e should listen to and copy great players.

                      Playing the scales up and down like you described does work but it's not the music we want to hear so perhaps we shouldn't do too much of it. More important than fiding the scales that work is to find the notes that work, the notes that create the tension and release in for instance the ii-V-I cadence.

                      It's the 3rds and the 7ths of the two first chords that lead to the root and the 3rd of the tonic. In C that means that the note C in the Dm7 chord leads to the note B in the G7 chord, which also has the note F that leads to E in the Cmaj7. The B in G7 leads to C in the Cmaj7. With that information you are very free, without it the right scales won't matter much.

                      Chord/Scale is a tool. Rhythm is a tool. Phrasing is a tool. Tone is a tool. M-BASE is a tool. Harmelodics is a tool. etc
                      None of them are THE answer. None of them miss the point.


                      Well, you do have a point here. Theory has its value of course, I'm just questioning this particular theory and whether or not it's very helpful. I happen to think it's not very helpful at all.
                      <div class="signaturecontainer">Terje Larsson<br />
                      <br />
                      <font size="0"><font color="red">inbox is full, send e-mail instead</font></font><br />
                      <br />
                      Hey, wanna look at <font color="red">my comics</font>? Come here then <a href="http://terjelarssonserier.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">http://terjelarssonserier.blogspot.com/</a><br />
                      <br />
                      Ah, sorry, it's all in swedish, but you can always <i>look</i>!<br />
                      <br />
                      You can also check out my crazy friend Dan's crazy website where he'll teach you to master the guitar in 8 minutes (or days... or whatever). <br />
                      <br />
                      <a href="http://spytunes.co.uk/" target="_blank">http://spytunes.co.uk/</a></div>

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Nobody said you are supposed to play a scale/mode up and down like a robot.

                        Why do folks think that is what it means if you utilize modes?

                        You use modes, scales, arpeggios, melody, etc.

                        You don't just play a mode up and down.

                        The mode is a reference point to locate scalar notes on the fretboard.

                        **This space for rent. Inquire at office.**

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Terje
                          Let's take a ii-V-I in C. It isn't really important what scales I play over Dm7, G7 and Cmaj7. I could play "just" the C major scale and make great music. Probably even just the C major pentatonic.

                          Far more important than the scale choice is what notes I play from that scale, in what order and at what time (meaning, what rhythm and phrasing I use). Far more important than the scale or scales used is to have a strong melodic idea that goes through these chords.

                          It is also important to understand and hear the tension and release that's taking place in this cadence. Which notes of the C major scale are the ones that lead from one chord to the other, which ones are stable rests.


                          Yeah, but a lot of guitar players don't solo over the ii chord. It's Pat Martino theory, as in-

                          Theres only "2 chords"- The I and V chord, and that's what they solo over. The I, ii, IV and VI chord are all I chords, and iii, V, and VII are all V chords. It's weird how it works out.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            But I totally agree with you on your whole scale and chord idea.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Virgman
                              The mode is a reference point to locate scalar notes on the fretboard.



                              And as such it's not very useful. That's not really the info you need.
                              <div class="signaturecontainer">Terje Larsson<br />
                              <br />
                              <font size="0"><font color="red">inbox is full, send e-mail instead</font></font><br />
                              <br />
                              Hey, wanna look at <font color="red">my comics</font>? Come here then <a href="http://terjelarssonserier.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">http://terjelarssonserier.blogspot.com/</a><br />
                              <br />
                              Ah, sorry, it's all in swedish, but you can always <i>look</i>!<br />
                              <br />
                              You can also check out my crazy friend Dan's crazy website where he'll teach you to master the guitar in 8 minutes (or days... or whatever). <br />
                              <br />
                              <a href="http://spytunes.co.uk/" target="_blank">http://spytunes.co.uk/</a></div>

                              Comment



                              Working...
                              X