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Thread: What theory taught me...

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    Toadily Stratologist Guitar Toad's Avatar
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Let's go back to Pierre's post #43 where he posted some mode patterns. Let's assume for a moment that we have everything figured out. We have rhythm and melody figured out. Let's also assume we've got the nuances of arps and style down. Let's just take a glimpse forward to the future if we may.

    The mode forms are to be used inconjunction with improvising over chords; each mode fits some chords better than others. Modes are not for substituting as key signatures...key signature is a starting point and not a rigid set of notes for playing a song...we may begin and end in a certain key but we could and should not restrict ourselves to the key signature scale...we are encouraged to wander and be adventurous with other note patterns...

    You are suggesting that modes are the accessories, the decorations or potential embellishments available for playing over the chords for improvisation. Nothing more. Yes/no?

    EDIT: Henceforth, we should resist impulses to ask about modes? Osensei, I get the impression that you have been bitten. You really seem to have some real angst regarding this issue of guitar players and their interest in modes. What's the source of that angst, if I may ask? Are the guitarist's guilty of defiling the musical theory via blatant mis-use? Is it like guitarists are constantly using screwdrivers as levers when they really need to be using pry bars or using wrenchs as hammers? Is it something else?
    Last edited by Guitar Toad; 12-05-2006 at 08:27 AM.
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    Stratologist Pierre's Avatar
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    They also are complements. They can be used to add to the chords in harmony with it, or even to counter the chord if you see what I mean. I believe so at least.

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    GT, i think the crux of the issue comes down to having a conversation about tools or a conversation about results ... a conversation about the city you visited on vacation or a conversation about the map you used to help you find that city ... one is safe to assume that a conversation about the city would be more enlightening ... a conversation about tools can sometimes be enlightening, but only as a means to an end .. one must guard against being derailed into thinking that the tool is the thing ... it isnt .. the result is the thing

    in your example, you say "Let's assume for a moment that we have everything figured out. We have rhythm and melody figured out. Let's also assume we've got the nuances of arps and style down."

    if you assume these are already in place, then a conversation about modes is moot ... you already GOT there ... you MIGHT be able to describe the melody AFTER THE FACT in terms of modes, but you CREATED the melody first ... by feeling/hearing/living/breathing it ... we need to avoid over looking for formulae, patterns, rules, etc ... if we over-rely on them, we will sound formulaic, patterned, stiff, robotic

    t4d
    Last edited by tone4days; 12-05-2006 at 08:33 AM.
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by tone4days View Post
    GT, i think the crux of the issue comes down to having a conversation about tools or a conversation about results ... a conversation about the city you visited on vacation or a conversation about the map you used to help you find that city ... one is safe to assume that a conversation about the city would be more enlightening ... a conversation about tools can sometimes be enlightening, but only as a means to an end .. one must guard against being derailed into thinking that the tool is the thing ... it isnt .. the result is the thing.

    In your example, you say "Let's assume for a moment that we have everything figured out. We have rhythm and melody figured out. Let's also assume we've got the nuances of arps and style down."

    if you assume these are already in place, then a conversation about modes is moot ... you already GOT there ... you MIGHT be able to describe the melody AFTER THE FACT in terms of modes, but you CREATED the melody first ... by feeling/hearing/living/breathing it ... we need to avoid over looking for formulae, patterns, rules, etc ... if we over-rely on them, we will sound formulaic, patterned, stiff, robotic

    t4d
    At this point, I feel like I should put my hand over my mouth and sit in silence. I should just shutup and play my guitar.You're exactly right. If you have form, style, and funtion then a modes discussion isn't necessary. Understood.

    I have seen described where some artists and bands have made a career out of the E major scale or minor pentatonic blues. Those scales and keys have been their musical universes.

    I could just be a Am pentatonic blues player a la BB King or Buddy Guy for my life (although I may never be worthy of stringing their guitars). The A blues is great stylistic universe in which to exist. The G major scale has been great for camp songs, country music, kids songs, hymns, and rock and roll. The G scale is is fine universe.

    I'm just trying to learn a few things about music mumbo jumbo just so I might be able to approach my playing from a somewhat informed knowledge base. I guess I thought I was engaging in a discussion to discover an alternative musical universal. I was hoping that I might find an unexplored musical country by discussion modes. After all scales and modes are passe, Mode are progressive. Apparently, theory is overrated.

    This has continued to be an insightful and helpful disscussion. I have enjoyed it. The thing I have learned is the the "rules" are not as I have perceived them to be.
    Last edited by Guitar Toad; 12-05-2006 at 12:08 PM.
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Get a chord book and learn every chord form on the fretbaord. Then, I would definately learn all of my arpeggios for jazz. Just the basic ones at first. Then the altered arpeggios (alterd 5ths, 7ths and 9ths) next. Then I would tackle the arpeggios that extend all the way out to the 13ths using all of the unaltered and altered pitches at once. If nothing else, you'll learn a hell of a lot of chords. And don't forget to learn arps in inversion as well.

    Remember that the extensions can be played at any octave once the chord is broken into arpeggios. You don't have to play everything in order.

    (C),
    1/2 stp dwn to (B),
    pft 5th up to (F#)
    mj 2nd dn to (E)
    mj 2nd dn to (D)

    That's a Cmaj7(+11) all played in the same octave. Now repeat that pattern in every key, every position and every octave.

    You'll find that there are only 7 mode types, if you don't count exotic scales. But there are GOOGOBS of arpeggios of every type imaginable. That should tell you something if your goal is to extend your horizons. There is at least 1 arpeggio to match each chord exactly + many close relatives.

    And yes it is theory! Sorta! But approach it like ear training at for a period of time. Once your ears get trained really well then the application to composition and imporvistation will become obvious. It'll be like it's in your genes or something! You won't even have to think about why you chose this over that! And ppl will begin to ask you questions as to why you did it that way, expecting you to spout out some theoretical reason. And you'll find youself saying to them, "Because it just felt right!". Strangely enough theory will become instinct. I really mean that literally. You'll be able to apply all of your theoretical knowledge to your playing in realtime without even thinking about choices or "why". It'll be like you'll be doing it involuntarily.

    Think about it! For me to say I played a certain way because of theory is like saying, "I love my wife cuz she's got big jugs!". Isn't it really deeper than that?

    That should help you keep your theoretical zeal in check. And please don't neglect the minor chord with a maj7 as in Cm+7. That one is a bastard child! Even Pat Metheny says he can't hear that one!

    After you know a good number of arps then do yourself a favor. Get some accompaniment software so you can practice arps against some accompaniment. And none of that 1 & 2 chord vamp crap either. Pick chord progressions that change to a different chord at least once every measure and that modulate to different keys frequently. So you begin to learn by "playing" instead of trying to learn by "using". These progressions should also be the type that you would expect to encounter in actual tunes. No random excercise progressions and crap!

    You see? If you know the arps then I can say, "A7b9", and then you could just start playing it as soon as you see it. If you know modes and I show you A7b9, then you post to the forum and ask ppl which mode would they play against an A7b9!

    Hell! I would play blues by ear! But I would not attempt that for a blues-jazz hybrid style ala Barney Kessel.
    Last edited by Osensei; 12-05-2006 at 04:27 PM.
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    then...forget it all, do random alternate picking, ramdom fast cromatic bull****, throw in some wah, lotsa distortion, lotsa treble, and your good to go!!

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    Toadily Stratologist Guitar Toad's Avatar
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    That's exciting and challenging. Very challenging. Initially, I mostly chose to focus on the blues cuz then I would have to learn all those dang chords. I'll go get a book and work on the chord forms and arps. But even some of the bluesman knew the value of good arpeggios...T-Bone Walker for one.

    In the jazz world, is everything a chord form or an arpeggio? Now for another pedantic question: Are all jazz "licks" and riffs arpeggios?
    Last edited by Guitar Toad; 12-05-2006 at 04:51 PM.
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    Heel Whacker tone4days's Avatar
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Toad View Post
    In the jazz world, is everything a chord form or an arpeggio? Now for another pedantic question: Are all jazz "licks" and riffs arpeggios?
    no ... and depending on the 'kind' of jazz, hell no .. chromatic work and melodic motif are vital ... and i'm not even talking about the really out stuff

    listen to mike stern to hear some crazy ass melodic motif work that incorporates chromatic tones and scale tones into his 'chops of doom' lines
    Last edited by tone4days; 12-05-2006 at 05:01 PM.
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Well if you stick with arpeggios till you understand all of the extensions beyond the first octave, then you will start using more chromaticism.

    When you tell someone to play or study arpeggios, then they automatically "ASSUME" you mean to break chords into thirds and play third patterns either ascending or descending. Certainly, that's what we do in the beginning. But I know the person has never studied on a piano keyboard if they limit arps to just playing thirds in sequence. I also know that they don't write much of anything on a musical staff either.

    Keyboard is important - I would be tempted to say even essential, if you are studying theory. If you haven't already, then you better get to know the ivories. Writing your ideas on a musical staff is also required study.

    If you study keyboard or write on paper and have some basic knowledge of theory then you know that a chord can be played in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd inversion.

    Step 1.) Cmaj7 = C E G B

    Step 2.) 1st inversion = E G BC <- Look a min 2nd appeared btwn B & C, Did you think arps was all about thirds?

    Step 3.) 2nd inversion = G BC E

    Step 4.) 3rd inversion = BC E G

    So if I want to create a melodic line to play w/ CMaj7 then what can I do?
    Well, first I know my arpeggio out to the 13th: C E G B D F# A

    Now lets use this arpeggio to pick out some notes for our melody. Let's do a descending passage like G F# E D C. Right about now is when you say, "Hey! That's a passage from a scale! Not an apreggio!". Then I say to you, "That my friend, is a question of semantics!".

    Let's look at each of the notes that make up our melody against our C maj 7 chord:

    note 1.) G is the 5th of the chord

    note 2.) F# is the +11

    note 3.) E is the 3rd

    note 4.) D is the 9th

    note 5.) C is the tonic

    Wow! This means that every note in the melody we just created is a chord tone! So by definition this passage is part of a broken chord! But at the same time, I didn't play a single third interval! Every interval was stepwise! Do you see now how you're not LOCKED IN? From an arpeggio a line was created that was scalar. Because working w/ arps is a harmonic study, we know that this line we created will fit our chord and we never once thought about a mode!

    Keep in mind that we have not dealt with any of the other elements of this little composition yet. We've said nothing about our melodies rythm yet! Nor have we chosen a style of music. All of these are just as important as the notes we have chosen. So what we've done here is out of context. Nevertheless, it's useful for demonstration.

    Take these notes and play them swing eigth note style against Cmaj7: A, F#, G, C, B, A.
    Remember the home arpeggio here is : C E G B D F# A

    Once again every note is a "chord tone" in this melody. A=13th, F#=+11, G=5, C=tonic, B=Maj7th. A person w/ a formal theoretical way of thinking, calls F# and A passing tones in this situation. They miss out on the fact that F# and A are chord tones just like C E G are chord tones in this example. This is because they don't understand or recognize extended harmony.

    Calling a note a "passing tone" is an admission that you don't know what it is and that you lack to facility to explain it. So you just give it a name! That way if someone asks you why F# against Cmaj then you can always cop out with, "It's just a passing tone!".
    Last edited by Osensei; 12-06-2006 at 08:01 AM.
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    Toadily Stratologist Guitar Toad's Avatar
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Osensei-
    Do you have a book? I want to buy your book on chording and arps.

    Edit: I know that I can only get tools from a book. I can't get results or style or rhythm from a book. I like tools. Some tools I actually know how to use.
    Last edited by Guitar Toad; 12-06-2006 at 02:30 PM.
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Toad View Post
    The mode forms are to be used inconjunction with improvising over chords; each mode fits some chords better than others. Modes are not for substituting as key signatures...key signature is a starting point and not a rigid set of notes for playing a song...we may begin and end in a certain key but we could and should not restrict ourselves to the key signature scale...we are encouraged to wander and be adventurous with other note patterns...
    Amen brother ....!

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Toad View Post
    You are suggesting that modes are the accessories, the decorations or potential embellishments available for playing over the chords for improvisation. Nothing more. Yes/no?
    The question is, "How can modes help us to create a melody?", improvised or otherwise. We must ask ourselves the same question about arpeggios or any other method that we are using.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Toad View Post
    EDIT: Henceforth, we should resist impulses to ask about modes? Osensei, I get the impression that you have been bitten. You really seem to have some real angst regarding this issue of guitar players and their interest in modes. What's the source of that angst, if I may ask? Are the guitarist's guilty of defiling the musical theory via blatant mis-use? Is it like guitarists are constantly using screwdrivers as levers when they really need to be using pry bars or using wrenchs as hammers? Is it something else?
    Once you see a beautiful thing you naturally want others to see it with you. There is something about the human need to share experiences. It's like there is a beautiful angel in the room and I'm the only one that can see her! It's like I keep pointing to the angel and saying, "Look over there!" and the ppl say, "At what? The bookcase?".

    Modes are like the bookcase! If I get frustrated, then its not because the bookcase is making me angry! It's because ppl can't see the beautiful vision that's standing in front of the bookcase.

    People choose modes and arpeggios in order to play them. I choose them in order not to play them. If you can identify what I'm playing as modal or arpeggios then I have failed as a composer and as a musician.

    Modes and arpeggios are like beef or chicken! PPL eat beef and chicken. But human tissue cannot be made/repaired using animal or vegetable protein. The protein from other life forms must be disassembled by digestive enzymes into their component parts (amino acids). Then they must be recombined into proteins that are compatible w/ human tissue before they can be used to repair human tissue.

    If I pick out a mode, then I immediately disect it into its (amino acids). I'm never interested in the sound the mode makes or in using the mode in any identifiable fashion. Creating "a sound" is my job! I'll be damned if I'll let some mode do my job! The amino acids within the mode are the notes. So D Dorian represents a set of notes (amino acids) D F G A B C D E. One by one, I pick a different amino acid from my broken down Dorian protein in order to create a new molecule.

    So maybe from my Dorian protien I pick these amino acids: A B C D E. Now I must recombine my amino acid into a new molecule to form the melodic idea (new protein):
    C A B E D.

    So why pick a mode at all if you're not gonna use it as it is? The answer is two fold:

    1) Because I know it is compatible with the current chord
    2) I can visualize the pattern on the instrument. I'm not interested in playing the notes of the mode in any particular order or making a "modal" sound. Reguardless to how I recombine the notes, I know if I stay within the "visual" pattern on the fretboard then I'll be compatible with the current chord. Why is it so easy to make up something in the key of C on the piano? Because the pattern is easy to recognize. All you need to do is try different combinations of the white keys. This is the same concept I'm applying here.

    Take what I just said and apply the same principle to arpeggios.

    Key signatures are based on the ionian mode. Think about what I just said and then ponder this:
    If we used the ionan mode the same way that the airheads tell us to use the other modes then every song's melody ever written in the key of C would start out CDEFG .....! Every song in the key of D would start out DEF#G ....! And if they didn't follow that melodic pattern then they would say that they're in some other key! ROFLMAO! Mix your melodic lines up damn it! Using a mode doesn't literally mean that the melodic line has to be scalar! ROFLMAO!

    Well if we don't use the ionian mode that way the why the hell use the other modes that way! I could have explained this to anyone in one sentence had I described my approach as set theory! ROFLMAO!
    Last edited by Osensei; 12-06-2006 at 05:34 PM.
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker SpiderVenom's Avatar
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Here's a little tidbit. The thing not many people realize about modes is that they're quite often occuring unintentionally. If you take a lick in Em and play it over a chord progression, different modes are being formed depending on chord being played under the melody.

    If the chord progression is E5, G5, C5, D5, then the same lead lick has just moved through the modes of E Aeolian, G Ionian, C Lydian, and D Mixolydian.
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by SpiderVenom View Post
    Here's a little tidbit. The thing not many people realize about modes is that they're quite often occuring unintentionally. If you take a lick in Em and play it over a chord progression, different modes are being formed depending on chord being played under the melody.

    If the chord progression is E5, G5, C5, D5, then the same lead lick has just moved through the modes of E Aeolian, G Ionian, C Lydian, and D Mixolydian.
    Sorta like what we computer programmers call polymorphism?
    These horse pills really take the edge off! Take 4 of em and that yellow gateway over there opens for da wolfman! -- Carl, ATHF

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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by Osensei View Post
    Sorta like what we computer programmers call polymorphism?
    'xactly. The scale is overloaded depending on what root it's called with
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    Toadily Stratologist Guitar Toad's Avatar
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    Default Re: What theory taught me...

    Quote Originally Posted by Osensei View Post
    If I pick out a mode, then I immediately disect it into its (amino acids). I'm never interested in the sound the mode makes or in using the mode in any identifiable fashion. Creating "a sound" is my job! I'll be damned if I'll let some mode do my job! The amino acids within the mode are the notes. So D Dorian represents a set of notes (amino acids) D F G A B C D E. One by one, I pick a different amino acid from my broken down Dorian protein in order to create a new molecule.
    I guess I thought that was the J-O-B of a scale and or mode, i.e to help create a sound or mood. Major scales for light and happy...minor for dark and mysterious.

    But, I understand what your saying...a bluesman can make any scale sound bluesy. A jazzman can make any mode sound jassy.
    Last edited by Guitar Toad; 12-08-2006 at 09:04 AM.
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