Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #1383  by bigfootcounty
 Sat Jan 15, 2005 8:21 am
Hi there Heads,

any suggestions for a good scale to play on Aiko? I know jerry didn't necessarily play scales and played the notes of the guitar like the letters of the alphabet yadda yadda yadda. I'm not as good as jerry. thanks!

the county :-?

 #1387  by jhc
 Mon Jan 17, 2005 11:15 am
I don't see how you could go wrong with alternating D major and A major scales.

You could simply stick on a A mixolydian (which has the same notes as a D major scale) but I think it would be more interesting to use 2 scales and emphasize the different notes from each scale.
 #1389  by bigfootcounty
 Tue Jan 18, 2005 6:09 am

That works great, for some reason I was thinking pentatonic.

 #1392  by jhc
 Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:52 am
bigfootcounty wrote:Thanks,

That works great, for some reason I was thinking pentatonic.

Pentatonics are easier, but you have more note choices with major scales. In the end it's probably best to experiment and see what sounds best, or what sounds the most like Jerry if you're going for that.

 #51657  by Bearodactyl
 Sun Oct 19, 2008 3:02 pm
I'd actually suggest an alternation between D and A Dorian, and don't be afraid to hit the Ab and Db as pass-along notes. You could even just play the whole song in D Dorian, but alternating between just gives you better options

Just a simple little riff to show why alternating Dorian goes pretty good over Iko Iko



Stick alot of emphasis on the D and A when you alternate, if you go too long without it, the song loses it's kick.

 #51684  by wisedyes
 Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:27 am
Dorian scales over Aiko? Dorian is a strongly minor mode, Aiko is an emphatically Major tonality song. I could see using the minor pentatonic "boxes" in the relative minors of the A / D chords ( that would be F# minor and B minor, respectively ), but A and D dorian would not sound so good.
 #88531  by tcsned
 Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:40 pm
I use straight up D major for the most part - Jerry likes to work off the 6th and 7th scale degrees of D. I'll bend off the minor 3rd up to the major 3rd on both the D and A and throw in some chromatic runs here and there. We also sometimes do the tune in E depending on what song we're coming out of.
 #88703  by paulkogut
 Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:08 am
This is a great tune to work out some new ideas on. It really highlights the limitations of the "what scale do I play" approach to improvising, but it gives you plenty of time to focus in on new strategies.

I was fortunate to hang out with the great jazz tenor saxist JR Monterose (of Charles Mingus fame) when I was starting out. He took me aside once and told me "You always play the right scale, but sometimes you get on the wrong side of the chord" It took a while for me to understand what he meant, but her's what I think he was going for:

There's basically 2 things that happen in an Iko jam. You go from D to A7, then you go from A7 to D. The D chord takes D major (aeolian), and the A7 takes A mixolydian, which are the same set of notes. Yet if you just play on a scale through the tune, you kind of come up short. This is because the melodies we're used to hearing on this tune depend on chord tones. On the D chord, locate the notes D F# A B in various positions, and do the same with A C# E G for the A7. When you're jamming, focus on getting to the chord tones on the downbeats ( the 1234) and use the other notes of the scale on the upbeats ( the ands) Then look at what happens when the chords change. The note A stays constant over both chords, and the other notes move by half or whole step. D changes to C# for example. Highlighting these changes will really bring out the melodies that we're used to hearing on this tune.

When you can confidently locate the chord tones, experiment with approaching them from above and below by one or two frets (trust your ear) and see what happens. Happy hunting................

Here's a quick clip of me practicing what I preach, with a Marchione neck-thru , SMS pre/Walter Woods and OD2R. (we're in a the more jazz friendly key of Bb)
 #88735  by paulkogut
 Sun Oct 31, 2010 12:59 pm
Thanks. Another thing worth mentioning is picking out the vocal melody. It can be tricky at first, but can really become second nature. A lot of Jerry's solos (Loser, Scarlet, etc) lean heavily on the vocal melody. On this tune, the melody lives right around the chord tones, so that gives you a good starting point. (The melody to "Polly Wolly Doodle" also fits the tune, give it a try)
 #88737  by Pete B.
 Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:36 pm
joethepainter wrote:Hey Now! Here you go...I use this to get in the proper headspace... :cool:
Sparkomatic has some nice vids. I would also recommend his "Don't Ease" video for soloing ideas, as it is also a two chord jam like Aiko, Women Smarter, etc...