Soloing Without Scales - an observation

Discussion in 'SWS Questions' started by Wstorey45, Jun 25, 2015.

  1. Wstorey45

    Wstorey45 Blues Newbie

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    I started SWS a couple of weeks ago and it struck me that "Soloing Without Scales" is a bit of a misnomer as it does not take too long to figure out that the first pattern is based on the top 2 strings of the box 2 minor pentatonic scale. But the way Griff then moves the pattern to different strings is a cool concept. But, just as Griff's "Little Chords" are an abbreviation of a full chord, the 4 note patterns are really abbreviated examples of "the Pentonic Box Scales"! Hence, the subtitle of the course could easily be "Soloing with Little Scales".

    I think the real value of the course is developing a feel for the rhythmic variations available in even a 4 note pattern. Transferring those rhythmic ideas to solos using the full scales has the potential to really enhance improvisation skills. Another tool for the toolkit!

    Just an observation.
     
  2. MikeS

    MikeS Moderator... Another Man In Black.
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    Of course you are right, but where I saw the value was in getting those bits of scales under my fingers in patterns different from the standard boxes.  It wasn't until I went through SWS that I started to really feel like I could solo.
     
  3. JN99

    JN99 Hang Fire

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    Yes but.  I'll write it again - boxes and patterns aren't scales.  So when you refer to a pattern (or box) that is a subset of another pattern or box  you are dealing with just that patterns and boxes.  Not scales.   [smiley=thumbsup.gif]
     
  4. Wstorey45

    Wstorey45 Blues Newbie

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    As Griff points out in the intro to SWS page 5, after adding 2 bends to the 4 note pattern he is really getting 6 notes. And while playing the pattern that only requires the memorization of a small section of the fingerboard as opposed to 2 octave pentatonic scales, the 4 note pattern consists of (starting at the lowest pitch), b7 - root - b3 - 4th. When you add in the notes created by bending the strings, you are adding #4 and 5. Those are the notes of the minor pentatonic and blues scales.

    Maybe it is a difference of semantics, but to me, if you are playing all of the tones of a minor pentatonic scale, you are using the minor pentatonic scale. If you consider a scale strictly to be playing the tones in ascending or descending sequence then I guess you can argue that the patterns are not pentatonic scales. But the patterns are based on the minor pentatonic scale and blues scale.
     
  5. MikeS

    MikeS Moderator... Another Man In Black.
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    I suspect we ARE getting into semantics.
    I was going to post that I thought that saying:
    four randomly ordered notes from a scale are not a scale  was nit picking, but I just Googled "Musical Scale" and by that definition a scale is either ascending or descending so I guess 4 notes (from within the scale) played in random order is technically not a scale.

    From Google:
     
  6. leftymike01

    leftymike01 Blues Newbie

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    So would you say that this course teaches you some cool Soloing ,And how to use bits of the pent Major,minor  blues scales along the way?
    leftyplayer
     
  7. Griff

    Griff Chief Cook And Bottle Washer
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    It's actually not possible to solo without scales - in fact, it's not possible to do anything without scales because all music is built from scales - so clearly I'm playing with the semantics here to get a point across :)

    The trick to it is this - as soon as you say "scale" to a lot of people their eyes glaze over and they get lost in a hurry simply for not getting out of their own way.

    So what I'm teaching here is a different way to look at the same 5 notes. And for many people who have been through that course it's an extremely effective way to look at the same 5 notes.

    In fact, one of my favorite and most commonly used licks is based around that 4 note "blues block" and moving it between octaves:
    http://bluesguitarunleashed.com/blog/you-shook-me-style-lick/

    When I did that lesson I didn't even think of it that way, but that's exactly what it is... but I used a different "boxish" point of view in that video.

    And leftyplayer - in answer to your question, yes.

    Oh... and my understanding (and apparently Google's as well) is that in order to be a scale the notes come in order, ascending and descending. Soloing obviously never works that way so we tend to refer to "keys" more in which the notes can appear in any order.

    Totally semantics and not always applicable to the way people really talk but I like the subtleties of it.
     
  8. leftymike01

    leftymike01 Blues Newbie

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    Griff
    Do you do a slow ,and reg speed examples of the solos?
    I have your Slow Blues Supplemt Course And I'm having a hard time
    Towards the end of the Course I'll keep at it ,But wanted to
    Know your opinon If you think the Major Minor Blues Shape
    Course would also be a good way to help me better understand the concepts of the scales,or what do you think would be best? Leftyplayer
     
  9. Blues_Dude

    Blues_Dude Love Dem N'Awlins Blues

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    Griff, I am in the middle of the Blues Unleashed course.  I am an older dude (55) and just getting into the guitar.  I am getting the rhythm portion of the course down fairly well at what seems to be a good pace.  However, I have been having a bit of a problem getting my fingers to move as fast as the solos call for.  I was looking at your last e-mail regarding the four note solo course and am wondering if this course would be a good jump start for getting me progress for playing solos.  Its not that I can't get the licks down and memorized...just can't them up to speed.  I managed to work through you road map to jamming videos, and have the whole thing down and memorized but am getting very frustrated at my speed in the solo.  At this point I have only managed to get up to 80 bpm, that just ain't going to cut it.  So the question is, should I invest into yet another course if it helps with this part of my playing?
     
  10. bills10733

    bills10733 Blues Newbie

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    Craig,

    For what it's worth, I have the same issue. I'm also in my fifties and just started playing a couple of years ago.  I have had the same issue with speed.  I found that once I memorized it and played it regularly, I eventually get up to speed, or close. I still can't do BGU solo 3 at speed, and I've been working on it for a year.  I may never be able to. But I can play it at about 90%, and that's enough to learn the principle of the lesson and move on.  I've also done SWS, and some of the solos are similarly fast and challenging.  Not a whole lot different, just a different way of teaching it.  I hate to say it, but its just practice, and for us old guys, it seems to come a little slower.  Not trying to be discouraging at all, as I still have a lot of fun playing, even if I can't match Griff's speed.

    Bill
     
  11. MikeS

    MikeS Moderator... Another Man In Black.
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    The best thing to do is:

    1) memorize it at as slow a speed as you need to in order to play it correctly

    2) speed it up by small increments (to where you start making a few mistakes)

    3) practice till you get it right

    3.5) One thing that Griff suggests that you add is step
    3.5 where you occasionally move it on up to 100% speed to "let your fingers know where they will need to go". His thinking is if you play it slow too much you will get great at playing it slow.

    4) repeat 2 & 3 till you have it up to speed (maybe even 5-10% above the normal speed, so that it feels easy when you take it back down to 100%).
     
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  12. jmin

    jmin San Francisco, CA

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    Griff's answer might be better  ;) ,  but you might consider "5 Easy Blues Solos." I found the course to be a great prep for BGU and the more difficult solos.
     
  13. Scotty R

    Scotty R Blues Newbie

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    That's a great observation! I agree full stop....
    The only thing I'd add is the ability to associate the patterns to root notes.
     
  14. Marv

    Marv I play 'err' guitar.

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    Now if I could just count to 4...
     
  15. JffKnt

    JffKnt Blues Newbie

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    I recently started the course. I would say that SWS teaches soloing, especially starting out, in smaller, easier to handle, bite sized bits, i.e., 4 notes at a time (5 notes with the bend). And then you quickly begin to ad "verticallity" to your bag of tricks. That is you are using a much greater range of notes. Yeah, it's all the same 5 notes, but you are using much more of the fret board so you ad octaves creating the illusion that maybe you are using more than 5 notes. But you're not.

    Several notes. Whereas the 5 boxes utilize the fret board horizontally, ex: In box 1 you use 4 frets to play all the notes in the box. But with the approach in SWS you very quickly use 8 frets if you start playing on the 5th or 6th string and ascend. That is the 4 + 1 pattern repeats itself as you ascend, and it's really easy to learn to do it. Essentially what you are doing is going through the "boxes" but only using a portion of each box before moving up the fret board to the next box. It's a very cool way to look at the minor pentatonic scale.

    And when you learn the different techniques of soloing in bit size chunks, it just seems easier to learn. For example, slurs (articulating a note by sliding to it from 1 or 2 frets away), or the "bend and choke" technique, or the Tweedledee. When you learn these techniques in isolation it seems easier to do and to me that learning would carry over into soloing in general because those techniques are the building blocks of soloing. But when you are only dealing with 4 notes it's easier to concentrate on technique. And the solos sound cool too.