Minor scale

Minor scale

Postby Panicdude » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:07 am

The scales that I have predominately found useful so far would be the pentatonics (major and minor) and major scale. I have explored modes a little bit, but are not that great at applying them yet.

My question is: how useful is the minor scale? I did some research and what I found was there is a natural minor scale, a harmonic, and a melodic minor scale if I'm not mistaken. I think they are similar except by a couple of notes (from memory).

How often do you apply the minor scale in your playing? Any examples of how they are important?
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Re: Minor scale

Postby dleonard » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:21 am

For the vast majority of Dead stuff (PITB, Stranger jam, Shakedown end jam, etc.) involving anything minor...use the Dorian mode/scale. It is nothing but the mixolydian with a b3 instead of 3 interval. You can also look at it as the minor pentatonic with 2 extra notes. Googling this will make more sense than a typed explanation.

I also often use it in place of minor pentatonic if the song calls for it.
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Re: Minor scale

Postby mkaufman » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:44 am

Very few GD songs were in a true minor. Almost all were dorian.

Althea has some true minor things happening. With E7#9, one can play the 7th mode of the F melodic minor.

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Re: Minor scale

Postby paulkogut » Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:12 pm

Most minor scales share the first 5 scale tones, and differ only in the 6th and 7th.

All minor scales 1 2 b3 4 5

dorian major 6, b7
harmonic b6 , major 7
melodic maj 6, maj 7
aeolian(natural minor) b6, b7


I concur with dieonard that dorian is the one that comes up the most (For some different perspectives on that sound, check out the Allmans Elizabeth Reed, pretty much all the Santana ever, Miles Davis So What and John Coltrane's Impressions)

Dorian tunes tend to be ones that hang out on one or two chords, and you use the scale to sort of drape a particular flavor of sound over a long, repetitive vamp. (Of course there's more to it than just playing 'correct' notes, rhythms dynamics, sequences, contours, etc etc all contribute to making it music.)

The other minor scales tend to show up when there's a progression that moves through a busier set of chord changes . Most good improvisers tend to throw the natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor into a grab-bag and play from a sense of 'minor', adjusting the 6th and 7th degrees as their ear and experience dictate. For example on Am-E7-Am (Oh, they call me Jack-a-Roe) try natural minor on the Am, and harmonic minor on the E7. Note that the natural 7 of A harmonic minor (g#), is also the major third of the E7 , so it 'spells' that particular chord change.

In addition to Jack-a-Roe, Mississippi Half Step and Let It Grow are interesting to check out for adjusting the 6th and 7th degrees for different minor flavors.
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Re: Minor scale

Postby Panicdude » Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:24 pm

Thanks for the replies. Seems I have alot to learn. I have been playing for 4 years + and sometimes I feel like I don't know that much for how long I've been playing. I just moved to a different city where there are much more music shops than my hometown. I met some guys at a shop close to my house and the guy asked if I wanted to do some lessons. I think I am going to try them out, the guy was really good with his theory and scales.
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Re: Minor scale

Postby WildEye » Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:43 pm

Dude, it's all good. The good players will tell you they are still learning. I also feel like for as long as I've been I've been playing I should know more (most of this board knows more than I do). But I keep learning and had a lot more fun since doing so. I retook lessons after a 15yr break and it was a grate decision. So just wanted to add a +1 on getting good theory lessons and how the modes will really open things up.
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Re: Minor scale

Postby zambiland » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:13 am

The minor scales can be confusing to keep track of. In fact, all scales can be confusing until you sit down and figure them out. However, there are reasons they are the way they are and perhaps it's more important to look at those reasons than try to beat them into your head, especially the harmonic minor. The reason it's called the harmonic minor is that it's adjusted in order to provide the harmonic necessities of what our ears want to hear. Interestingly, it's not the chord of the root of the scale that's at issue here, but the V chord. What happens is the if you were to play in the other common minor scales, Aolian and Dorian, let's say A minor, and you want to create the standard dominant tonic tension and release, you'd run into trouble. If you play the V chord, E, in either of those scales, that E chord is also a minor chord and the resolution from Em to Am is not all that satisfying. In fact, if you go back and forth, it can sound more like I minor to IV minor than V to I. So, what they did was take the V minor chord and raise the third to make it major. In conjunction with the 7th degree, then we get our old friend the tritone between the 3rd and 7th (in this case between G# and D) which provides the tension that we want to hear as it releases to the Am. Try it, it works. Then, the next step to it is to play that V chord as a scale, with the raised third. There's your harmonic minor scale! It's not a scale that gets played much on the I chord (over the Am), but it gets played a lot over the V chord.

What does this all mean? Well, I always tell my students to concentrate on playing chords, especially triads, rather than scales. Scales are static and when you are running up and down scales you aren't really going anywhere. Chords, on the other hand, always state a harmonic context and give you a sense of where you've been and where you are going. It takes a bit of a readjustment to start thinking this way, but once you get it down, you'll discover that your solos will have a much greater sense of direction and become a lot more interesting to listen to. Jerry knew this in spades, as he got it from listening to the jazz players. When Trane and Miles were playing over modal tunes, which can have 1 chord for a long time, they were still playing bebop changes, which gave their solos a very strong sense of tension and release. Jerry and boys ate this stuff up and really got it. Most rock players will just run scales and their solos get boring pretty quickly because they don't really go anywhere. So, banish scales from your mind and think chords, win friends, influence people and get all the chicks!
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Re: Minor scale

Postby tigerstrat » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:05 pm

zambiland wrote: I always tell my students to concentrate on playing chords, especially triads, rather than scales. Scales are static and when you are running up and down scales you aren't really going anywhere. Chords, on the other hand, always state a harmonic context and give you a sense of where you've been and where you are going.(...) So, banish scales from your mind and think chords, win friends, influence people and get all the chicks!


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Re: Minor scale

Postby mgbills » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:32 pm

Can any of you offer the simplest pathway for the transition from scales/modes to "Chord of the Moment." I've been study with 2 great jazz players for a couple of years on & off, and I'm really having a hard time keeping solo's melodic while following the triads. I also haven't come up with a great strategy for keeping the chord of the moment in my cluttered mind. One jazz guy says "think of each chord as a scale." I found that helpful, but again...it can lead down the trail to scale runs. Boring. I agree.

I also have an ever-increasing knowledge base of ...playing by the numbers. But this moving into a harmonically pleasing or tension building chord of the moment strategy is kicking my ass.

Any great books? I'd settle for more tidbits! I'll work with the triads for sure. How does the varying 7th fit?

Love this topic. It's right where I'm struggling.
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Re: Minor scale

Postby zambiland » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:17 pm

mgbills wrote:Can any of you offer the simplest pathway for the transition from scales/modes to "Chord of the Moment." I've been study with 2 great jazz players for a couple of years on & off, and I'm really having a hard time keeping solo's melodic while following the triads. I also haven't come up with a great strategy for keeping the chord of the moment in my cluttered mind. One jazz guy says "think of each chord as a scale." I found that helpful, but again...it can lead down the trail to scale runs. Boring. I agree.

I also have an ever-increasing knowledge base of ...playing by the numbers. But this moving into a harmonically pleasing or tension building chord of the moment strategy is kicking my ass.

Any great books? I'd settle for more tidbits! I'll work with the triads for sure. How does the varying 7th fit?

Love this topic. It's right where I'm struggling.
Peace
M


It's hard to be sure from just a post on a board, but I think you are actually on the right path. It's one of those things where you have to practice like a fiend for a while and get this stuff under your fingers. It will feel mechanical. But then, the next step is to play with a lot of people and just forget everything you've practiced and go with what your ear tells you to do. It's one of those things where you have a technical mind going on automatically but you leave it to its own devices and deal with your emotional/spiritual/conversational mind.

As far as the triads go, your question indicates that you do need to do a bit more work before it clicks, but you are on the right path and this is a good question. A key hint is to leave behind the triads that start on the root of the chord and start thinking about the triads that go 3,5,7 and 5,7,9, etc. It's not so much that the triads are nailed down to a particular chord but exist in the key that all the chords in that part of the tune are defining (aka key of the moment, this can change but sometimes it doesn't and sometimes it does for you but not everyone else, as defined by the triads you are playing).

two more things to try:
1) transcribe players you like. See what they do in similar situations and see if you can glean what their approach is.
2) sing the part you hear in your head over the changes and then figure out what you sang. The voice is the most direct way to where you want to be. The guitar is an instrument that has multiple layers of abstraction and it's easy to be caught up in patterns and shapes which ultimately don't have any wrong notes but doesn't say anything. Trust your voice. Eventually you should be able to sing it in your head and just play it. Again, it takes practice.
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Re: Minor scale

Postby mrMix » Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:04 am

Lately I've settled in on playing in Dorian mode and mixing both Major/Minor pentatonics and get some nice sounds. Lots of great stuff over on http://gratefulguitarlessons.com/ to be had as well - especially about how to build tension and get to that peak...and subsequent meltdown!
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Re: Minor scale

Postby paulkogut » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:02 am

Sounds cool, mgbills. There's a lot of good territory to cover in studying with a jazz guitarist. Are you looking to actually play some jazz (go to jam sessions, get gigs, etc) or are you looking for jazz theory knowledge to augment your Dead jamming, songwriting, etc? As a jazz teacher myself, I find the clearer a student is about their goals, the better we can dial in what to work on.

Do you have a particular jazz tune you're trying to navigate? I could offer some concrete suggestions. In the abstract, picking a particular interval and playing it through a set of chord changes is worth doing. 3rds are good, try playing the 3rd of each chord, just in whole notes, as the changes roll by. (some great jazz melodies, like All The Things You Are, follow this melodic contour for big chunks of the tune) As you get comfortable (are the 3rds maj or min, can you ascend or descend by choice w/out getting lost on the fretboard, etc) you can look at approaching the 3rds from above and below (Generally, a half step below always works, approach from above wants to be the next note in the scale, which could be half or whole step) As you mix and match these approaches and vary the rhythms, your ear might take you to some familiar jazz and/or Jerry licks. Play alongs and backing tracks can be valuable in the early stages of getting into jazz tunes, but if you get deeper into it, you'll probably see the benefit of being able to hold the harmony and form in your head. Good luck exploring some new sounds!
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Re: Minor scale

Postby Pete B. » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:41 am

mgbills wrote:Can any of you offer the simplest pathway for the transition from scales/modes to "Chord of the Moment."

Hey Marty bring your axe down for the 3-day Furthur and we'll cover it in detail.
Uhh... maybe a "Steal Your Face-Face to Face" as it were.
:wink: :-) :smile:

But seriously...
Eyes of the World is a good training tool for what you are asking.
The first basic learning step is a transition from one chord/scale to another chord/scale.
During the solo that goes: Emaj7-Emaj7 Bm-Bm
Play E-Ionian over the Emaj7
Play Bm-Dorian over the Bm

Later add in the A... Emaj7-Emaj7 Bm A
Later add in a G#m segment.
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Re: Minor scale

Postby Lephty » Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:29 am

A quick thought about following the "chord of the moment" in Eyes Of The World--it's worth noting that when you change from E Ionian (over the Emaj7 chord--E F# G# A B C# D#) to B Dorian (over the Bm chord--B C# D E F# G# A), the only note that's really changing is the D# (in E Ionian) turns to D natural (in B Dorian). The rest of the scale is exactly the same. So instead of worrying about what mode over what scale, just look for that one note within the scale. When the chord changes, you can try to land on that particular note--because that's the note that's making the two modes sound different.

I hope that makes sense...it's a very simple way to think about it, in my opinion.

Now, if I ever meet a bass player who can do the third Eyes solo WITHOUT hitting the D natural instead of the D#, I'll be able to die a happy man. :?
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Re: Minor scale

Postby paulkogut » Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:53 am

GREAT point about Eyes, Lephty! Jazz tunes may go through more key centers at faster tempos, but you've explained the perfect essence of improvising a melodic line through a set of chord changes.
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