Some observations related to the "Boxes" session

Discussion in 'Live Session Discussion' started by Danno, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. Danno

    Danno Blues Newbie

    Joined:
    May 10, 2019
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    48
    Here are a few observations about pentatonics, boxes and patterns that it took
    me way too long to realize. Maybe this will save some of you some time.
    If you're struggling with the boxes and which box to play over what chord some
    of this may help as well. Hopefully it won't confuse anyone further.

    1. All of the boxes have the same notes. Period. The pitch of the note may be
    different but the notes are the same and in pentatonic scales there are only five
    notes.

    The implication of this is that boxes aren't tied to specific chords;
    chord voicings yes, but not chords. Since all the boxes have the same notes, you
    can use any one you feel like.

    2. When you move from one box to the next, you lose the lowest pitch and gain a
    higher pitch. All the other pitches are still there, but they're under a different
    finger.

    For example, going from Am box 1 to Am box 2 you lose the lowest A root at the
    fifth fret of the low E string but you gain the D fourth at the 10th fret of the
    high E string. At the same time notes that were under the first finger are now
    under the third or fourth finger and vice versa.

    3. The sixth string and the first string are always the same. They're 2 octaves
    apart and exactly the same notes, so exactly the same fingering.

    4. When you skip a box, say going from box 1 to box 3, the fingering shifts up
    one string so what you fingered on the A through high E strings is now fingered on the
    low E through B strings. Keep in mind though that you'll still have to account for
    the interval difference in the B-G strings so that your box 1 fingering of the
    B string moves down one fret when it moves to the G string and vice versa.

    This also applies if you move from say box 1 to box 5 except now you'll shift up
    two strings. And the reverse, going from box 3 to box 1 the fingering shifts down
    a string, again with the G-B string fret shift.

    5. You can handle both major and minor pentatonic scales over the entire neck if
    you know three five-note fingering patterns. In the live session on Monday Griff
    emphasized knowing the root notes and this works really well when you think about
    it from that perspective rather than "boxes."

    For the minor pentatonic, the fingering patterns are the lowest five notes of box 1
    and the lowest five notes of box 5. For major pentatonic the patterns are the lowest
    five notes of box 2 and the second-sixth notes of box 1. So it's just one note
    different from the minor pattern.

    Connecting this to Monday's session, the minor box 1 pattern is a right-facing
    pattern and the box 5 pattern is left-facing. Same applies to the major patterns.

    6. The right- and left-facing five note patterns connect to form your boxes. For example,
    when you finish playing the right-facing pattern from the sixth string root, the
    next note is a root starting a left-facing pattern. The patterns will alternate
    this way to form the boxes we know.

    That's about it. Hopefully this makes some sense and helps make the fretboard appear a lot less
    complicated.
     
    paparaptor likes this.
  2. paparaptor

    paparaptor Central Scrutinizer
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2010
    Messages:
    6,228
    Likes Received:
    9,216
    I have a different approach which works for me. Every right facing pattern is box 1. Find your root on any given string and the right facing pattern is the beginning of the box 1 pattern.
    Every left facing pattern is box 5.
     
    Randy S and Danno like this.
  3. Danno

    Danno Blues Newbie

    Joined:
    May 10, 2019
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    48
    Exactly. That's the minor pentatonic. For major right facing is box 2 and left facing is box 1.
     
  4. PCM

    PCM Spring, Texas

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2016
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    50
    I’m not the brightest bulb in the factory so it’s understandable I don’t quite follow either explanation...seems complicated.

    There are five, 2 octave scales (boxes) all in the same relative position to each other, up and down the fretboard. Each has a minor or major sound depending upon the root. However, most songs don’t change keys or tone centers, so if the root remains the same throughout a given song, it becomes imperative to “pivot on the root” which is essentially “shifting” boxes up or down to achieve a major or minor sound.

    I don’t know if it’s “musically” correct...just seems more intuitive...certainly not the only way to look at it.

    PCM
     
    Elwood likes this.
  5. Paleo

    Paleo Where's the root?

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    2,963
    Likes Received:
    2,122
    For anyone who thinks having 2 "relative roots/tonal centers" in each of the 5 Major/minor pentatonic boxes is fun/confusing, you'll love (or not?) next Wednesday's session when Griff adds in the 2 "neglected" notes, giving us 7 notes to play with.:sneaky:
     
    #5 Paleo, Oct 11, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
  6. PCM

    PCM Spring, Texas

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2016
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    50
    Sounds like modes to me...:)
     
  7. Paleo

    Paleo Where's the root?

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    2,963
    Likes Received:
    2,122
    I see 2 different discussions going on.

    1) Fretboard "Geography": Patterns on the fretboard. Relative Major and minor scales "share" the same patterns/boxes, i.e once you've learned the 5 minor patterns you don't have to learn 5 "new" Major patterns (or vice versa).

    2) Usage: Over Major chords you can play the Major and over relative minor chords you can play the relative minor using the same box.

    Usage in a "Blues In A": You can play any A minor Pentatonic box over all 3 Dom 7 chords. The Relative Major (C) is "irrelevant". You can also play the A Major Pentatonic over the I7 chord. It's relative minor (F# minor) is "irrelevant".

    The only reason the concept of relative scales comes up is because as soon as we start learning our very first Major pentatonic box we discover it's the exact same pattern as a minor box we already know, but 3 frets down from it. Which means that the original minor boxes we learned are also boxes of their relative Major scales.o_O (We just didn't know it yet.)

    No matter how you try to explain it, it's gonna be confusing at first.

    How can A minor Box 2 become A Major Box 2?o_O

    Because A minor Box 2 played from it's lowest note, C, is also C Major.

    Move C Major down 3 frets, it becomes A Major.


    For me the most important thing to consider is the function of each note in each scale.

    Playing Box 2 from C to C is C D E G A C (1 2 3 5 6 1) in C Major. Those same notes (C D E G A C) are the b3 4 5 b7 1 b3 in A minor.

    Moving the box down 3 frets you have A B C# E F# A, the 1 2 3 5 6 1 in A Major, i. e. A minor Box 2 moved down 3 frets has 3 different notes, but both have the 1 & 5, A & E , in common. What?????


    What we want to do is "mix" A Major (Box 2) and A minor (Box 1) to stay in the same position. We don't give a rat's behind that their relative scales are F# minor and C Major, respectively.

    Add that to the fact that the A7 chord is from the Key of D Major and we have the option of playing 2 scales from 2 different keys over a chord from a 3rd different key.:confused:

    (And those 2 different scales have 2 different relative scales, so we're actually talking about 5 different keys in the same discussion:eek:.)

    If you actually read through this and understood it, you're a better man than I.

    I came to Griff from a different way of naming scales. It literally took me a couple of years to get this "new" Box system straightened out.:whistle:
     
    #7 Paleo, Oct 11, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
    PCM and Danno like this.
  8. PCM

    PCM Spring, Texas

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2016
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    50
    This...this.....this....this....this!

    I understand exactly what you're saying! This is how blues guitarists play. It seems much more intuitive. The rest is important and good theory stuff for the "knowledge files."

    I'm looking forward to that Wednesday session. :):)

    PCM
     
  9. sdbrit68

    sdbrit68 Student Of The Blues

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2015
    Messages:
    3,003
    Likes Received:
    2,205
    heres what I do

    I chord - play box 1 9so Am at fitth fret)
    IV chord - same position, just use box 4 (also at fifth fret
    V chord - same position box 3 (fifth fret)

    from there I can branch out as it is an easy way to find my starting area if I want to chord chase
     
  10. Jack

    Jack Blues Junior

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    474
    One thing I find helpful is to think of the bottom half (first octave) of box 1 of pentatonic minor (here in the key of A):

    [​IMG]
    And then notice that it occurs (with a difference on the B and E strings due to tuning) all over the fretboard:

    [​IMG]

    So you know those "blocks" are all identical to the thing you know best, the bottom half of box 1, so that just leaves you with the stuff in between to figure out :)
     
  11. Paleo

    Paleo Where's the root?

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    2,963
    Likes Received:
    2,122
    blues shapes.jpg
     
    Jack likes this.
  12. PCM

    PCM Spring, Texas

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2016
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    50
    Gentlemen...how ‘bout we just memorize the 5 patterns (they don’t change and they’re in the same order left to right) and play major or minor from the same root?

    I see 5 patterns, 10 notes (plus a blue note in each octave) each and they overlap...my brain’s frying looking at pictures...:):)
     
    sdbrit68 likes this.
  13. Paleo

    Paleo Where's the root?

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    2,963
    Likes Received:
    2,122
    The more ways we can present the same info, the more likely a given individual will find the one way that works for them.:)
     
    Danno and Jack like this.
  14. sdbrit68

    sdbrit68 Student Of The Blues

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2015
    Messages:
    3,003
    Likes Received:
    2,205
    I think its just easier to get muscle memory on the 5 boxes.....................then buy the Penatonic mastery course, give it a good study and be done
     
  15. Paleo

    Paleo Where's the root?

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    2,963
    Likes Received:
    2,122
    Problem is, Boxes are just Boxes.

    They have no "identity" other than being assigned a number (which may or may not be done arbitrarily).

    They are "generic". They don't have a tonality (root) or a modality (Major or minor).

    Until.........

    I either choose one of the notes to be the "most important" or the chord or progression I'm playing over "dictates" that for me.

    In our Pentatonic boxes, 2 of the notes out of 5 can serve as "viable" tonal centers/roots.

    Once we discover that Boxes are not just minor pentatonic patterns (as we first learned them), all hell seems to break loose.:eek:

    And if that causes confusion, fasten your seat belts, because the ride is going to get "relatively" more bumpy on Wednesday.

    (And be prepared for more "pictures".):sneaky:
     
    #15 Paleo, Oct 14, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  16. Danno

    Danno Blues Newbie

    Joined:
    May 10, 2019
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    48
    I remember when I started learning the pentatonic boxes, it was pretty intimidating. The patterns all seemed random and didn't make any sense at the time. So my original intent was to try to help out those that are in the same boat and struggling to memorize these full patterns by pointing out that they're not complicated and there are some other ways to look at the patterns that might make them easier to learn.
     
  17. Paleo

    Paleo Where's the root?

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    2,963
    Likes Received:
    2,122
    In "Slow Blues Supplement" and "Major Minor Blues Shapes" Griff discusses some of the following concepts.

    In SBS at least check out:

    0:00-3:15 Introduction
    0:00-3:10 Lesson 1 (Relative keys)
    0:00-1:00 Lesson 2 (Root notes as anchors)
    4:43-7:10 Lesson 2 (Right facing-Left facing)

    In MMBS, the Intro: Mental gymnastics of "shifting" boxes 3 frets and Roots as "pivot points"
     
    PCM likes this.
  18. PCM

    PCM Spring, Texas

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2016
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    50
    This too!!
     
  19. Randy S

    Randy S Blues Newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2015
    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    219
    It is interesting how people develop their own mental models of the fretboard. Supports the theory that the best way to play the guitar is the way that works for you.

    For me, I had an epiphany when I went through Griff's CAGED course and correlated it with the "Little Wing" lesson and I realized that each chord shape (Major or minor) has an associated pentatonic box. And the chord shapes that I tend to favor are, at least for me, the most comfortable boxes for phrasing of lead lines:

    Major:
    E Shape (6th and 1st string right and 4th string left)- Box 2
    A Shape (5th string right and 3rd string left)- Box 5 sliding into Box 1
    C Shape (5th string left and 2nd string right)- Box 4

    Minor:
    E Shape (6th and 1st string right and 4th string left)- Box 1
    A Shape (5th string right and 3rd string left)- Box 4
    D Shape (4th string right and 2nd string left)- Box 2

    Opened up a whole new way of seeing the fretboard for me and phrasing around the chords in the song. If I know what chord I am on then I know what shape to play.

    Still have to think too much to find the chord/pentatonic box which messes up timing but I think that is a matter of practice so it becomes automatic.

    Now I am looking for an epiphany on technique and feel. That seems to be taking a bit longer!
     
    #19 Randy S, Oct 14, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  20. Paleo

    Paleo Where's the root?

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    2,963
    Likes Received:
    2,122
    So octave shapes, chord shapes, arpeggio shapes and scale shapes (including modes?) are all related and can be found in the same 5 "Boxes"?

    Boing!!!!!