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Finding intervals

Postby BJG145 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:47 pm

I've posted something similar before, but I'm still curious about the most common way in which people navigate the fretboard.

I saw Joe Bonamassa at the Albert Hall last night, and at one point I started paying some attention to what interval he used to begin his blues licks. The fourth seemed a favourite. So, say you were playing over an E chord and you wanted to start a line from the fourth note...how would you do that...?

1) You'd know you wanted an A note, and the fretboard positions for A.
2) You'd know the CAGED positions for an E chord, and where the fourths are in each shape.
3) Other.
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby LdashD » Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:12 pm

BJG145 wrote:... 3) Other.

Ears.
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby Ramirez » Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:47 pm

LdashD wrote:
BJG145 wrote:... 3) Other.

Ears.

Huh? Your ears don't tell you where a note is, else you could pickup any instrument and play anything on it without any knowledge of the instrument.
You know that an octave is 12 frets up because you can either see or feel the frets (or fret marker/neck position). Or on a fretless instrument because of your hand positon relative to other notes. Its nothing to do with your ears, otherwise you couldn't play guitars of different scale lengths. Your ears may tell you what want to hear, but you find the note through other means, and your ears then confirm that the note is correct.
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby LdashD » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:45 pm

Ramirez wrote:
LdashD wrote:
BJG145 wrote:
Ears.

Huh? Your ears don't tell you where a note is, else you could pickup any instrument and play anything on it without any knowledge of the instrument.
t.

This is exactly how I learnt guitar as a kid, not ‘anything’ though, a good few years later exact same thing with a synth, there’s only 7 diff notes in a Major or Minor scale, how hard’s that.

It’s easier for me to see where I am on a keyboard, with a guitar neck I’m still a bit in the dark, I like it that way, I like not knowing, I just use my ears, that way you get something different from everybody else, cos they’re all fretting over which fret, I ain’t.

Better still Pentatonic scale has only 5 notes, I’d written a fair few without knowing there was such a thing.
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:18 pm

Ramirez wrote:
LdashD wrote:
BJG145 wrote:... 3) Other.

Ears.

Huh? Your ears don't tell you where a note is, else you could pickup any instrument and play anything on it without any knowledge of the instrument.
You know that an octave is 12 frets up because you can either see or feel the frets (or fret marker/neck position). Or on a fretless instrument because of your hand positon relative to other notes. Its nothing to do with your ears, otherwise you couldn't play guitars of different scale lengths. Your ears may tell you what want to hear, but you find the note through other means, and your ears then confirm that the note is correct.

I play guitars with 4 different scale lengths (6/7 if you include basses) plus mandolin and uke. Wouldn't recognise a CAGED system if I fell over it. The scale is fairly irrelevant or we would only be able to play around the first 5 frets. I rarely play the same piece the same way twice and, while I know scales etc I simple use them as a part of what I play without referring to which note is which. It's everything to do with ears IMHO, the followed by muscle memory.
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby Wonks » Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:27 pm

My music theory is minimal and I just play what I want to play. It's probably held me back a bit, but I'm happy with what I do. Different things for different people.
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby blinddrew » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:05 pm

3) other

I'd know that I roughly wanted to be in that particular area of the fretboard and I'd take a punt on a starting note with an expectation of sliding one way or another as part of the initial playing.
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby CS70 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:29 pm

BJG145 wrote:I've posted something similar before, but I'm still curious about the most common way in which people navigate the fretboard.

I saw Joe Bonamassa at the Albert Hall last night, and at one point I started paying some attention to what interval he used to begin his blues licks. The fourth seemed a favourite. So, say you were playing over an E chord and you wanted to start a line from the fourth note...how would you do that...?

1) You'd know you wanted an A note, and the fretboard positions for A.
2) You'd know the CAGED positions for an E chord, and where the fourths are in each shape.
3) Other.

There's a couple tricks, one a longstanding jazz thing, the other one which I found myself (but I know several people do the same, so it's like discovering warm water, I guess - we all do if we persist enough).

The jazz thing is easy: play the chord - meaning the notes in the chord figure. Obviously that implies that you remember a) which chord is playing in that moment in the song and b) at least a voicing for it, but as each chord has voicings all over the fretboard, that gives you an easy starting point and notes that fit well, plus all the various embellishments. You need to learn the voicings, but they are not many and once you know them in a key, you know them in all keys. Many great jazz players used this approach. Of course with time you start recognizing which adjacent notes play well too and which sound or dissonance they bring, and after a while (a somewhat long while, possibly) your fingers will simply find the sound you look for.

The other is to use geometric shapes to know where the right notes are - like a constellation, you make up figures from imaginary dots on the fretboard. There's the house, there's the boat, there's the wall etc.. :) I guess the CAGED thing is something along these lines, I just read superficially about it.

That's always been intuitive to me since you only need to know the key you're in (and if there's a modulation, which key you're going to). You have the same advantages (once you learn the figures, you just transpose them in any key you want, and you find nice ideas by adding accidents and getting used to how they sound); and after a while (the same while as above :)) you get to build any melody and bring it to conclusion without really thinking about it. Also, you can open yourself for nice ideas simply by starting with a different star in the constellation, and/or moving to constellation to the others. The main con is that you you need to consciously practice to "break out" of a single constellation and find notes in different ones, otherwise it gets repetitive and boring very quickly (that's the main problem with the guys learning the pentatonic scale - i.e. certain constellations - and sticking to it forever). The other disadvantage is that if someone asks me which note I'm playing, I have to stop and count or say "duh". :D It's an hilarious thing especially with classical players - I'm like "play this" and they go "what is this"?

Alternating the two approaches (perhaps in the same playing session) is a wonderful way to get original stuff.

Then of course there's scales - breaking them down in small eatable blocks allows you to have components you can use anywhere and of course play arpeggios and shred a little.

Another trick for finding new ideas is simply to try and do some technical difficulty that your fingers don't want to do (yet). A lot of my songs are actually born that way.
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby BJG145 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:14 am

Thanks for the responses; all helpful to me in developing my slowly self-taught technique with guitar. (I can relate to the "get close then adapt" method, though I'd like to learn to attack an improvised melody more accurately. My usual approach to instruments has been a theoryless "play by ear" thing, not knowing what notes or chords I'm playing, but I just never got anywhere with the guitar that way for whatever reason, so a more theoretical approach and the CAGED method has been valuable to me in making some progress. I'm still establishing the balance between finding notes by name or by touch, but as a sceptical latecomer to music theory I'm finally discovering its usefulness, and I'm loving learning alien scales like the "string of pearls".)
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:26 am

Good luck with it, the theory side is fascinating (even though, as I said above, I can't quote scales and modes etc.) chord theory is very useful and fairly easy to understand, especially if you see it on a keyboard.
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby slewin49 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:00 am

For years I've been getting away with just having a few standard shapes I put my fingers in and then moving those shapes round the fretboard to suit the key we're in. That together with being to shift rapidly if one of the notes doesn't seem be working and being willing to just try notes that "don't fit", except sometimes they do, has kept me going.

I love music theory and study it intently but I never seem to have time to apply much of it when I'm actually playing something. Probably why after all these years I'm still just an enthusiastic amateur.

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Re: Finding intervals

Postby awjoe » Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:27 pm

CS70 wrote:The other is to use geometric shapes to know where the right notes are - like a constellation, you make up figures from imaginary dots on the fretboard.

I'm hopeless at this stuff. Is the geometric shape, the constellation, the same as one particular voicing of a chord?
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby Wonks » Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:59 pm

It's comparable, though it's all the notes in the scale playable from a certain fret position on the neck.
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Re: Finding intervals

Postby CS70 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:20 pm

awjoe wrote:
CS70 wrote:The other is to use geometric shapes to know where the right notes are - like a constellation, you make up figures from imaginary dots on the fretboard.

I'm hopeless at this stuff. Is the geometric shape, the constellation, the same as one particular voicing of a chord?


No, even if it helps you along the same lines: it's easier to memorize and use (to me) than individual note names and positions. It's just a bunch of imaginary figures made connecting dots (the same dots as a chord figure). I simply find it easier to associate visual patterns to sound than to note names or interval numbers. Much likely a result of the way I learnt to play, as classical players seem to have no problem doing the latter.

Some of the constellations are scale-related - but mostly they are simply sound related - they give me a certain effect (can be anything - a dissonance, a specific sequence that gives a certain mood etc) and I can continuously discover more by changing little things and hear how they sound. They're like building blocks - if I have to make up a metaphor, it's a bit like it's easier to learn and use words using the alphabet rather than just making up stuff directly from letters. You also learn pieces of sentences, and that becomes a bit part of your style, just like in writing. But if you keep discovering, learning and using new ones, you soon get enough words that you can write many different stories.

Another advantage of the constellations is that it's easy to experiment and remember within one (for example, if I find that I always tend to play the dots in a certain way, I put on a drum machine and on purpose try to play in a different sequence, or playing more of the same dot, or starting from a different dot, etc). Many of these experiments dont sound that great but when they do it's very easy to remember what I just did since I'm actually thinking in spatial/visual terms. It's also easy to experiment across ones.

So the geometry simply is an aid to remember and associate sounds to physical movements - that's why I call them constellations: like watching the sky, if you look at individual stars it's very hard to distinguish what's what, but it's much easier to find Orion, or Ursa Minor etc and point at it. Then if you go to the theory you can certainly find which one is Betelgeuse and which one is Rigel, but it's much more fun to imagine Orion on a chariot :D

Keep in mind that this is something that I made up by myself to make sense of things while working towards my ultimate goal, which was (still is) to invent and play a melody over a chord progression on the spot. The post above (and the paragraphs in this post) are actually the first time I tried to describe it ever. :)
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