Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Musical Theory Abound!!!
 #18042  by IamDocWatson
 Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:29 pm
a friend of mine who is even more of a beginer than i am asked me "how do you play a lead"
pretty broad question right??

but some how i stumbled and didnt know where to begin, i just showed him a simple progression and a nice melodic lead but i wanted help explainging it in words theoretically...

what would you say to some one (lets assume they have MINIMAL knowledge of playing music) who wanted to know how to play a lead...

i started to get into the idea of using chord tones to center your lead around and 1,3,5 and just kinda got jumbled :D and said i would get back to him.
thought id get some input from you jerry heads before i did that.
thanks yall

 #18060  by shakedown_04092
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:47 am
hum the melody, and play what you are humming

 #18061  by strumminsix
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:58 am
shakedown_04092 wrote:hum the melody, and play what you are humming
LOL! That's exactly what I do!

Then for blues tunes I shut off my mind and play a simple blues scale in 1 position. Not too exciting to look at but it allows me to be strictly emotional not logical.

Now rock tunes, I struggle.... :oops:

 #18073  by notehacker
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:33 am
Good sdvice. I read a Jerry inteview once where he said that once a song is written, the first thing he would do is learn to play the exact melody of the lyrics. On many of his leads and solos he will either start out with the basic melody or weave in variations of the melody. Of course he had a large variety of lead techniques, but working off the melody and the chord structure is a good place to start.


 #18078  by b weird
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:38 am
Hum (pun not intended), Humming the melody line I never thought of that! I always wondered how you figured out the melody lind and I guess now I've found it! Thanks. :cool:

 #18095  by Shaggy
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 10:42 am
strum said it well and it more or less goes for me too.

But I am more of an acoustic player most of the time.

But playing lead for me is all about ear training, learning to find those lead lines in the song and where they will be. Attached to the melody at it's base but able to float around it. Where I want to get to in a solo and how to get there all depend on the song or overall feel of the music. I've never been too hung up on scales, I know a little of this and that. But I know my notes more than anything and what they sound like so for me it's all ear. The rest is then feel and mood.

 #18108  by China Cat
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 11:40 am
Find what key the song is in and whatever sounds good to you using the scale for that key

to be a good lead player you need to have good finger speed, a good ear, and good knowledge of scales

 #18110  by jackr
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 11:52 am
to just mess around and play something pretty you can play the melody.

To play real lead you will have to have knowledge of many scales and modes in all keys and arpeggios. It can be very overwhelming if you think you have to know it all to play lead. Just start slow and learn one thing at a time well.

A great place to start is your basic minor pentatonic scale. Once you know that in one position you should be able to pluck out some fun leads.

Then move on to learning other positions and do the same for the major scales.

You can find those scales easily enough online or if you need help finding them just ask.

Also simple repetative fingering excersizes to build some speed is needed.

That is a handful believe me.
Last edited by jackr on Tue Jun 12, 2007 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

 #18112  by AugustWest
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 11:56 am
The humming is magic. Don't only hum the melody. Everyone can play fantastic leads in their head. Just take those thoughts and hum then out loud and match the notes using the scale. Try different rhythm's and steal good lick's that others have played and use them when appropriate. Practice hard and work on muscle memory and finger speed, so that the scales feel really natural.

 #18122  by st. stephen
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 1:04 pm
man you kind of opened my eyes...
i always wanted to play melodic licks that fit with the song but i always needed tabs for it and it didn't really worked that well, and hearing a lick and than think of what notes it was was impossible....
but the humming :shock:

thanx folks

 #18124  by Shaggy
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 1:07 pm
Beware of those super kick ass guitarists that you meet who claim to not know anything about scales or the names of any chords! Take what they say with a pinch of a salt, but at the same time there is something to be learned there too. Music isn't maths and guitar isn't played on a piece of paper.

 #18127  by IamDocWatson
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 1:14 pm
i have never met one of them


 #18154  by willmusic
 Tue Jun 12, 2007 11:49 pm
Besides a good understanding of scales (scales scales scales!), knowing about the notes make up all the given chords that you're playing is important, too.
 #18857  by toastandjam
 Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:38 pm
willmusic wrote:Besides a good understanding of scales (scales scales scales!), knowing about the notes make up all the given chords that you're playing is important, too.
I'll second that. Help > Slip > Franklins and fairly in-key solo parts? I can about fake my way through that.

I have pretty fast hands, know a couple of scales and have a fantastic ear such that i can get myself improvibly through stuff but I don't know any theory of anything and its become tremendously limiting. Right now my main task is learning all the notes of the fretboard such that I can start to truly understand how everything comes together and avoid what you will inevitably come to otherwise: rut and repetition. Do all this other stuff, but for goodness sakes, learn the notes you're actually playing while you're still early on in playing! :lol:
 #18878  by caspersvapors
 Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:58 pm
willmusic wrote:Besides a good understanding of scales (scales scales scales!), knowing about the notes make up all the given chords that you're playing is important, too.
essential for arpeggios