Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #114  by dsotm
 Tue May 18, 2004 10:45 am
Does Jerry use major pentatonic scales or mixolydian scales for the jam...I've always tried to play this and it never quite sounds right.
 #147  by Guest
 Fri May 21, 2004 7:25 pm
which album are you listening to? the cool thing about the dead, is that every time they play a song, it's a little bit different :D
 #151  by microjerry
 Sat May 22, 2004 11:55 am
[b]hi....i think it's more the jerrytonic scale...thats not quite 100% in any scale..i think he had kind of a left-of-center style of playing, thats why it's kind of hard to copy,and thats why he's jerry...hope this could be wrong.[/b]
 #538  by whatever
 Wed Jul 21, 2004 12:28 am
It aint hard to switch between major to mixolydian, theres only one note difference. flatten the 7th tone in the major scale a half step. wahla
 #681  by Billbbill
 Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:07 am
The great thing about jerry is/was he is so hard to pin down. Much of his stuff slips from maj to min/blues and back with all sorts of chromatics.

Not to mention modal play. (which tecnically as an ear player I'm not that familiar with)

Over the verse lead play major over A and Blues pen. over E with a sprinkling of chromatics for good measure. Blues pen over A works well also.

He often slips from maj to blues/min or the other way within the same phrase as complementary portions.

The end jam is predominately blues pen with major accents and more chromatics.

The best approach is to forget boundaries and experiment from different angles. A little messy but yields some insight.
 #18299  by XxRouninxX
 Thu Jun 14, 2007 5:31 pm
jerry is hard to pin down, but with jerry im quite sure that his hands weren't really in his mind while he's jammin, he's just listening, and grooving to the music.

the fingers just kinda do what he wants. or what they want, either way we all love it right? i think its the level of expression we all seek as musicians.

when i wanna understand a piece of jerrymusic i like to get in jerrys mind, he began as a folk guitarist, so what that tips me off to is that jerry was big into chord melodies and harmonization. So alot of his runs arent scale wise, they're chordwise (arpeggios) So say you run an apreggio through two octaves 1-3-5-1-3-5 from there if you look at the chord change you you may find you are moving from G to A#, thats a good time to pull a chromatic run to the 3 of the A# and then play that apreggio backwards bending into a couple of the diatonic notes of whatever mode A# happens to be representing.

the idea here is to think less of those chords and these scales, and to understand how he fit it into the piece of music as a whole. Watch how the chords move, look for chord notes that aren't in your scale and you found some of the "jerry chromatics". Likewise like i said many chromatic runs on chord changes.

The second thing is that, jerry's modal sound really comes from the fact that he knows how to use them. He's really bringing alive each chord, and filling the changes to enhance the overall movement.
For example, while moving from Amaj to E7 you may be playing a A majorscale lick over the A , but abruptly in the middle of it before you resolve the phrase, do a chromatic run, or slide or some kind of move into the E7 and resolve it with a mixolydian lick (landing it on E instead of on A, creating a sensation that the musical experience has shifted, not just the rhythm chords or whatever).

a great example of something like this is the verse lick in scarlet begonias, where at the end of the first line its moving from B to A, and he plays that little lick that starts on B and ends on A, where somehow when you play it by itself it sounds unresolved, in the scheme of the music, and chord changes it helps reinforce the musical statement. (except here i think your moving from mixolydian lydian (5 to 4).

okay now im just rambling, but just some ideas for understanding jerry :)

 #18309  by Billbbill
 Thu Jun 14, 2007 6:39 pm
Well said XxrouinxX.

Reading your post kinda sounds like you picked up from and expanded upon where I left off. Jeez, was that almost 3 years ago! Shadamn!

I think you did a good job explaining what is very difficult to explain. At least from my perspective anyway.

I'll second the arpeggio sentiments and also the prominence of jg's chordal sensibilities. My mantra has always been 'pay hommage to the chords' as so much of his playing seemed at times so tightly related to song structure yet at other times loosely referenced that same structure with a gentle and subtle melody.

 #18314  by IamDocWatson
 Thu Jun 14, 2007 7:18 pm
just work off chord tones and dont get too hung up on adding a chromatic run, dont try to take every note into counting which scale he is using, throwing in chromatic runs is really switching scales its just what it is chromatic run...

i myslef am ALWAYS using the chromatic scale