Just like there are theories for every part of music.
There are theories for players. In this case Jerry Garcia
which I will refer to as Mr.G out of respect. Here's a couple
1. Mr. G didn't think or play scales he thought more of
While there is some merit to this theory just like every
theory it can be deceptive especially to younger players.
Clearly Mr. G had a knowledge of scales and while alot
of his playing is melodic he is not a 100% melodic
guitarist. What does this mean to you as a player. Well
no one wants to copy him exactly but to get in the right
direction- First a knowledge of scales has to be attained
and then of course ear training has to be practiced and
mastered with the intent of achieving perfect pitch.
Will perfect pitch be attained it's possible but in any
event if that is the goal the results should be pleasing.
You may hear someone say Mr. G thought of words in terms
of music. You may as well ignore that because every pitch
whether it comes from a guitar or oboe or voice is a mixture
of one of more pitches. Instead of thinking of words you must
focus on notes. Melody is a speech influenced term but you
never want to get in the trap of this word is C or that word
is A. It is a fruitless endeavor.
2. Mr. G didn't really use the modes Just Minor, Major and
Mixolydian and a very occasional Dorian.
I have heard this one a long time by players who were very
well skilled but the assertion or the theory is partly false.
While you may not hear straight out Lydian or etc.
For instance you will hear Ionian with added notes.
This happens in many G D songs. One could call this a
hybrid scale one could call it Ionian with added notes.
The point is there is a strong mixture of modal theory in
alot of G D songs. While Mr. G definetly added the notes
from his pentatonic scale history because Modes were not
very prevalent back then. It still can be looked at as
Modal theory. What does this mean to you? I highly suggest
learning the modes. If you wanna really play G D songs you
will definetly need to know Ionian, Aeolian and Mixolydian
and at least the theory behind Lydian or the pentatonic
blue notes either way learn the modes they are essential
to many different kinds of music. It really isn't as
complicated as it may seem.