Scales Vs. Arpeggios

PaulJones9
@pauljones
3 years ago
26 posts

What do you think about using scales vs chord tones as your main 'guide' when soloing? I've read a lot of mixed opinions on this one; some jazz players literally say scales are useless, and  argue that 'the greats' used mainly arpeggios and passing notes to create their solos. Others claim scales are just as important should be learnt thoroughly.

 I personally think both scales and chords are useful, but I tend to think more in terms of chord shapes than actual scales. What do you think? I'd really like to hear your opinions


updated by @pauljones: 01 Oct 2016 05:34:23
spoonman
@spoonman
3 years ago
11 posts

I am not so much familiar with using chord shapes for soloing. Maybe you can explain a little bit ?

PaulJones9
@pauljones
3 years ago
26 posts

When I'm soloing I'm usually thinking about the chord shape (as an arpeggio) and at the same time figuring out what scales I could play with that particular chord shape. After all, scales and chords are constructed around the same notes, I just think the remaining notes outside of a chord shape as passing tones or harmonic tensions. For example, when soloing in jazz I always target chord tones (root, third, seventh, fifth, ninth, etc) and approach them using non-chord tones (both diatonic and chromatic). Of course, chord tones must be usually placed on the 'strong' beats of the measure (1 and 3 in 4/4) and the approach notes on the weaker beats (3 and 4). I'm not sure if I explained the concept clearly enough, but I'd be glad to explain further. After all, it requires a ot of practice to quickly recognize available sclales within a chord shape when soloing.

spoonman
@spoonman
3 years ago
11 posts

Now I understand what you mean. It sure needs some theory background. I will spend some time on it. Thank you Paul. Maybe you can even create a lesson out of this :)

PaulJones9
@pauljones
3 years ago
26 posts

You're welcome! Yes, to fully understand it some theory must be learned :)  But don't worry, it's not hard to understand-in fact, after mastering this techique allows you to visualize your fretboard and all the options available for soloing ;) Sure, creating a lesson to explain this is a godd idea! Thank you!

Flekador
@fl3k
3 years ago
42 posts

I never approached soloing that way but it really makes much more sense. +1 to "you should really do that class showing some exercises to explain that technique in detail".

DDaneskovic
@ddaneskovic
2 years ago
8 posts

Hi there,

This is very interesting discussion. There is always struggle between arpeggio and melody line. My opinion is that best solo melodies are something between arpeggio and single melody passage.

The point is that when you are done with solo improvisation, try to put best parts of your solo into sheet music. The best software for that is of course Sibelius but also Guitar pro 6 has few benefits. After you transcribe improvisation it is always good to put right fingerings especially for left hand. And you will see after some time that improvisation is going to lead you in some unique path based on that chord and rhythmic and melodic progression. If You are diligent enough You can make Your own stile as a musician.

It is always good to use some software for editing notes and tab fingering with VST instruments plugged in (like Sibelius, Finale or Guitar pro) that you can hear what you just wrote. That is a benefit of modern technology in music...      

splitdiscChris
@splitdiscchris
2 years ago
3 posts

I've always believed that scales are absolutely necessary however chords make it much more accessible to give the song just what it need without feeling the need to overplay it.

PaulJones9
@pauljones
2 years ago
26 posts

[quote="Flekador"]

I never approached soloing that way but it really makes much more sense. +1 to "you should really do that class showing some exercises to explain that technique in detail".

[/quote]

Ok, I guess I'll do that lesson then :) . I may even take some lick examples for the lesson and check if they're more arpeggio or melody based.


updated by @pauljones: 16 Apr 2017 18:21:39
PaulJones9
@pauljones
2 years ago
26 posts

Hi everyone! As requested, I did a lesson on the concept, check it out! Daneskovic already did ;)

alixdup
@alix
2 years ago
5 posts

Oo great, I am going to watch it, thanks @pauljones !!

Potreba
@potreba
2 years ago
3 posts

I think you there is some confusion involved. "The scales" are notes played in 2nds, right? "The arpeggios" are notes played in 3rds, right? 

Guess what? Saxophonists practice 4ths and 5ths and 6ths etc. Watch Adam Neely 2 hr live stream on major scale practice. It was a real eye- opener. 

Basically solo is about line movement and it doesn't need to be only 2nds and 3rds. Ear is VERY sensitive to interval movement. 

Potreba
@potreba
2 years ago
3 posts

So the more intervallic diversity there is, the better your playing is. "Practicing seconds in the key of..." is unmusical because there is no diversity

mikenova
@mikenova
2 years ago
14 posts

I always think about vocal melody and whole song when compose guitar solo. It's not about thinking scales vs chord, but more thinking about good or bad melody. I often compose basic idea of solo in mind, after that draw it in piano roll and at the end of the process I record solo on guitar). But sometimes I compose vocal melodies first on guitar)) 

MatthiasG
@matthiasg
2 years ago
14 posts

It is difficult to explain a sensory concept in theory without an audio visual accompaniment...Some good audio/&video clips would be most welcome!

MatthiasG
@matthiasg
2 years ago
14 posts

I find that soloing and improvisation is a sensory thing. After listening to so many different syles & cultures etc, what you make of it on your guitar or keyboard is largely what you hear!! A dexterous combination of chromatic scales & arpeggios can yield some incredible solos for sure, provided that you can 'feel' the chord progression...

PaulJones9
@pauljones
2 years ago
26 posts

Lately I've been getting a lot into studying guide tones. They are a great way of knowing how to lead your melodic line through chord changes. It's a matter of targeting those notes and creating your lines around them. This way you're not longer attached to one way of thinking (scale or arpeggio) and you can come up with interesting melodies. I actually play more interesting lines using both scales and arpeggios without thinking too much about that, just focusing on the target notes and letting the phrase develop by itself.

lefunk
@lefunk
last year
5 posts

I spent about 4 years studying Jazz techniques and was concentrating on scales, modes, key centres etc. All good stuff, but my solos sounded pretty boring and static - also my head was exploding trying to keep up with chord changes and figure out changing scales to apply to each. I always thought that 'arpeggios' were a useless concept that would sound naff (For years I thought of Arpeggios as being chords held down as usual but playing the individual notes rather than strumming).

When I eventually started to learn arpeggios and try applying them to chord sequences it was a total revelation - my solos actually went on a journey through the chord progressions rather than sounding like noodling over a key centre. Being in to Jazz where chords change (usually) at a high rate, it also took  some of the mental strain off. There are techniques for joining arpeggios to make them in to smoother melodic lines (e.g. passing notes, enclosures).

You come to realise that many many great melodies are based on targeting the third (or to a lesser extent the root or 5th) of the chord in the progression and joining them up with scalar lines or passing notes.

I would say it is much more relevant to Jazz in terms of its flavour than say rock  where not using any pentatonics would probably sound weird. When I went back and analysed a lot of my favourite jazz players I realised that quite often the majority of what they play is indeed arpeggios with neat joins.

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