1 Mandolin and Fiddle Improvisation Using the Chord Tone Scale Copyright 2008 by Pete Martin Please Read This Page First This book is distributed using the shareware system. Try it out, if you like it please send me $ For payment information, go to: or mail to: Pete Martin PO Box Seattle, WA If you use Paypal, me and I can you a Paypal bill. Feel free to copy and distribute this.pdf file to others. See my web site for other instruction materials for fiddle and mandolin.
2 Mandolin and Fiddle Improvisation Using the Chord Tone Scale Introduction The purpose of this book is to give players that don t currently improvise a step by step method to begin improvising. This can also be used by players who want to improve their improvising, players who want a method to study improvising or players wishing to add more musical ideas to their improvising. I have heard this or similar statements from mandolin and fiddle students many times over the years. I was playing in a jam and they turned to me and said take it! I didn t know what to play, panicked and stopped playing. After a few tunes like this, I put my instrument in the case. If you have a comfortable technique on your instrument and can play a number of tunes, there is no reason you can t learn to improvise. There is an old Jazz teachers saying: good improvising is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. What this means is a player has to learn, through hard work and practice, how to be spontaneously creative. While that last sentence seems contradictory, it is very true. I believe anyone can learn to improvise logical lines if they spend enough time studying how good players do it and practicing these elements to be able to execute them at a moments notice. There are many possible ways study and learn improvisation. A common way (I believe the best) is transcribe and learn solos from your favorite players. If you do this enough, eventually you learn how good players think when they play. Then when you play, you can use these players as role models, playing similar ideas to how they play. Another way is to sing to yourself what you want to sound like and learn how to play that sound. This doesn t work for most players as they don t know how they want to sound until they become a more experienced player. A third way is to study with a teacher and let them transmit their knowledge of music to you. This text is one of many methods I use to help students break the ice and get stated improvising. In this text, examples are going to be used to teach concepts. The student should then apply these to all keys they commonly play. Eventually the best players learn to play fluidly in all keys. Go beyond the written examples in the text, take the principles you learn and apply them to many different situations. Take a different chord progression in the same key. Take the same chord progression into different keys. The more of this you do, the better you
3 will be able to improvise using all these ideas. Most important, LISTEN to what you play. If it sounds musical to you, it will sound good to others. Thanks and good luck with your music! Pete Martin For more.pdf books on fiddle, mandolin and improvisation, or any comments, go to: or
4 Mandolin and Fiddle Improvisation Using the Chord Tone Scale Table of Contents Introduction... 2 Chapter 1 Explanation of the Chord Tone Scale (CTS)...5 Chapter 2 Practicing the CTS Chapter 3 Practicing CTS in Multiple Keys Chapter 4 What Scales to Use When Improvising with CTS Chapter 5 Playing through Chord Progressions Using CTS Chapter 6 Playing CTS on Minor Chords in Major Keys Chapter 7 Playing CTS on Dominant Seventh Chords Chapter 8 Other CTS Patterns Chapter 9 Minor Keys and CTS...67 Chapter 10 Wrapping Up a Solo Using CTS...72 Chapter 11 How CTS is Used in Common Tunes and Solos by Top Players...78
5 Chapter 1 Explanation of the Chord Tone Scale (CTS) When good players solo and improvise, they synchronize their notes with the rhythm section. The rhythm section of a common string band consists of bass (upright or electric), guitar and mandolin. Each instrument fills a role in the section which compliments the others. In a medium or up tempo piece, the bass plays notes on beats one and two. The guitar plays a bass note on the beat and a strums the off beat. The mandolin chops the off beat. Notice the rhythm section is playing 2 notes per beat or 4 notes per measure. A typical lead instrument is playing 4 notes per beat, 8 notes per measure, twice as many notes as the rhythm section. Keep this in mind; the soloist usually plays twice as many notes as the rhythm. Look at Example 1. Example 1 Beat: 1 & 2 & 1 & 2 & Notice the lead player, in this case the fiddle, is playing eight notes per measure. The bass and mandolin are each playing 2 notes, the guitar 4 notes. As stated earlier, the soloist plays twice as many notes as the rhythm section plays. An analysis of good instrumental tunes and good solos by top players reveals that they play the notes of the chord at the same time the rhythm section is playing them. Get a book of fiddle tunes or transcribe a solo by your favorite player. Look how often the chord notes fall at the same time the rhythm section plays. If we think about this for a moment, it makes sense that the lead player plays a chord
6 tone when the rhythm section does. The rhythm section is just playing bass notes which are usually chord tones and the guitar and mandolin are playing chords. If the lead player puts chord tones at the same time, the sound synchronizes and sounds good. In example 2 below, we are improvising against a C major chord, which music theory tells us contains the notes C, E and G. Notice how these chord tones (C, E, G) line up with the rhythm section. Play example 2 with a rhythm player. Example 2 In example 3 below, the chord tones (C, E, G) do not line up with the rhythm section. Play example 3 with a rhythm player. Example 3 Most people would say that example 2 sounds much better than example 3. Analysis shows us why, example 2 synchronizes the chord tones with the rhythm section, example 3 does not. When good players solo and improvise, they synchronize their notes with the rhythm section. Let s look at how to do this. Major and Chord Tone Scales One definition of a scale is a fixed series of notes that provides a structure for melody and chords. Do you remember the melody that goes with the words DO RE MI FA SOL LA TI DO (pronounced doe, ray, me, fah sole, lah, tee, doe )? These notes represent a major scale. The name of the first note is the name of the major scale. If we start the major scale on a
7 C note, we have a C major scale. As there are 12 different notes in most music types in western civilization, we can have 12 different major scales. If we start on the open G string and play a major scale, as seen in example 4, we get the following notes in 1 st position: Example 4 Music theory states the notes in the G major chord are G, B and D. We can also call these notes CHORD TONES, i.e. they are the notes (tones) that make a chord. Let s follow the observation made above: when good players solo and improvise, they synchronize the chord tones in their solo with the rhythm section. Look at the above G major scale, example 4. The notes of the major scale that fall at the same time the rhythm section plays are marked by x. If we follow from left to right, these notes are: G B D F# A C E G B The first 3 notes are the chord tones (G, B, D), the next 4 notes are NOT chord tones (F#, A, C, E), and the last two notes are chord tones (G, B). This tells us if we use the major scale as a basis for soloing, we are in sync with the chords sometimes and not in sync with the chords at others. Now look at example 5, what I call the Chord Tone Scale or CTS :
8 Example 5 In this scale, we drop the note E (the 6th note in the scale). As above, the notes of the CTS that fall at the same time the rhythm section plays are marked by x. These notes are: G B D G B D G B Notice these are just the notes of the G major chord. Now we are in sync with the rhythm section. Look at example 6, the descending CTS, which shows us the same thing: Example 6 Notice when we descend in the chord tone scale, we leave out the F# note, the 7 th step in the G major scale. Once again this lets the notes G, B and D fall in the right place. To play the ascending CTS: Take the major scale and remove the sixth note. To play the descending CTS: Take the major scale and remove the seventh note.
9 We can make some useful sounding musical patterns out of the chord tone scale. A few patterns follow: Example 7 1) Start on ANY chord tone, 2) go up one note in the CTS, 3) back down one note to the original chord tone, 4) down one more note in the CTS, 5) down one more note. You are now on the next chord tone where the pattern starts again. The opposite of this is below, example 8: Example 8 1) Start on ANY chord tone, 2) go down one note in the CTS, 3) back up one note to the original chord tone, 4) up one more note in the CTS, 5) up one more note. You are now on the next chord tone where the pattern starts again. Here are two more useful patterns. See if you can see how they are constructed.
10 Example 9 Example 10 In the G major scale, the first note is G, the second note is A, the third note is B and so on. While we can make musical observations in this key, it would be more practical if we had a way of observing things that can happen in any key. Music theory often replaces note names in the scale with numbers. This lets us make general observations about music, rather than that idea be specific to one key. Look at the major scale in number terms as follows. G major scale G A B C D E F# G Any major scale (8) Now look at the chord tone scale compared to the major scale. G major scale G A B C D E F# G Major scale numbers (8) CTS ascending: (8) CTS descending:
11 You will, of course, find places where musicians will play these omitted notes in their solos. More often, you will hear these chord tone scales. I suggest any serious student of the music transcribe numerous solos by your favorite players. This exercise will let you discover how these players think when they solo. Great players in all styles learn from past masters. To quote a Jazz teacher, the answers to all questions are on the recordings. How true!
12 Chapter 2 Practicing the Chord Tone Scale (CTS) In order to be able to comfortably use the chord tone scale in improvisation, a player needs to have the scale in their mind and in their hands. Daily practice of the below 5 steps will get the notes into the mind and the hands. Example 11 1) Learn and be able to play the CTS, one octave ascending. Example 12 2) Learn and be able to play the CTS, one octave descending. Example 13 3) Learn and be able to play the ascending CTS from the lowest note to the highest note in that key in first position.
13 Example 14 4) Learn and be able to play the descending CTS from the highest note to the lowest note in that key in first position. 5) Learn and be able to play CTS Licks 1 through 4. Lick 1 Example 15
14 Lick 2 Example 16 Lick 3 Example 17
15 Lick 4 Example 18 The preceding examples are written in 4/4 time. When we think about improvising in 4/4 time, the basic rule is a chord tone on each beat, which is every other eighth note. As stated earlier, when analyzing good tunes and improvised solos from good players, there are chord tones every other note. In 4/4 time, this is the note on the beat. Experienced improvisers rarely just use ascending and descending CTS for long runs. To do so would be boring and predictable. They tend to use short runs interspersed with other ideas, often as a way of getting from one idea to the next. Therefore, they must be very flexible with how and when they use CTS, and in getting in and out of CTS. We can practice CTS to help acquire this flexibility. Because the CTS places a note of the chord every other note (on each beat in 4/4 time), it doesn t matter if we ascend or descend. Actually, we need to be able to play either at a moment s notice. Any time we play CTS and play a chord tone (on the beat in 4/4 time), we can reverse the scale in the opposite direction. The example on the next page give us a method to practice this (called Reversing CTS, exercise 1 ). We start on an ascending G major CTS. As soon as we reach the first chord tone (the note B on the G string), we reverse direction. We descend to the low G note, where we reverse again. This time we go up a chord tone higher, the note D, before we reverse direction. We descend to the low G again, then ascend to a G one octave higher. We keep doing this until we have reached highest chord tone we can play in first position, the note B on the E string. Practice this exercise until it becomes second nature.
16 Reversing CTS, exercise 1 Example 19 The opposite reversal should be practiced when exercise 1 is mastered. It is on the following page.
17 Reversing CTS, exercise 2 Example 20 Now comes the big payoff. Here is how experienced players use CTS. For ultimate flexibility, we want to be able to play any CTS or CTS lick at any time. While improvising, any time we play a chord tone on the beat in 4/4 time, we can 1) ascend CTS, 2) descend CTS or 3) play any CTS lick. Example 21 is an example of a CTS solo. Practice it. Improvise many more of this type
18 of exercise. Practice improvising VERY SLOWLY with a metronome. Example 21 The last measure is a G arpeggio. An ARPEGGIO is the notes that make a chord played in sequence rather than all at once. This kind of phrase always works in improvising. As each note is a chord tone, that means all the notes on the beat in 4/4 time are chord tones. Great players in all music styles use arpeggios in improvising. Learn the following G major chord arpeggio. G Major Arpeggio in first position Example 22
19 IN REVIEW 1) Learn and be able to play the CTS in one octave ascending and descending. 2) Learn and be able to play the ascending CTS from the lowest note to the highest note in that key in first position. Learn and be able to play the descending CTS from the highest note to the lowest note in that key in first position. 3) Be able to reverse the CTS on any chord tone. 4) Learn and be able to play CTS Licks 1 through 4. 5) Learn and be able to play a major chord arpeggio. 6) Be able to combine any of the above phrases with any other. Practice improvising very slowly with a metronome using all of the above at random times, always keeping the chord tone on the beat in 4/4 time. Use play along software, such as Band in a Box ( Make a rhythm tape and improvise along with it. Have a friend play along with you.
20 Chapter 3 Practicing CTS in Multiple Keys Our goal is to be able to improvise using CTS anywhere needed. To accomplish this we need to be able to play CTS against any chord we encounter. This means learning CTS in multiple keys. Eventually you should know and be able to play CTS in every key. This text assumes the player has a basic knowledge of music theory (if you need a refresher on this, you may want to study Easy Music Theory for Fiddle and Mandolin from You should know and be able to play the following in a number of keys: Major scales Major and minor chord arpeggios Know scale numbers of major (1, 3, 5) and minor (1, b3, 5) chords Know the common (most likely to occur) chords in a key Let s construct CTS and arpeggios for several keys, starting with C major. First a review. A CTS ascending is of the major scale, CTS descending is A major chord arpeggio is Notes in the C major scale: C D E F G A B C C major CTS ascending C D E F G B C C major CTS descending C D E F G A C C major chord arpeggio C E G C major scale one octave Example 23
21 C major CTS one octave Example 24 C major scale in first position Example 25 C major CTS in first position Example 26 C major arpeggio Example 27
22 Example 28 C major arpeggio in first position Once you learn and can play these for the key of C, go back and review the chapter Practicing the Chord Tone Scale. Be able to do everything for the key of C you did for the key of G. You should eventually be able to do this for all keys. Let s learn the key of D. D major scale one octave Example 29 D major CTS one octave Example 30
23 D major scale in first position Example 31 D major CTS in first position Example 32 D major arpeggio Example 33 D major arpeggio in first position Example 34
24 Just as with previous keys, when you can play these for the key of D, go back and review the chapter Practicing the Chord Tone Scale. Be able to do everything for the key of D you did for the other keys. Eventually you need to work through all keys in this fashion.
25 Chapter 4 What Scales to Use When Improvising with CTS So far, we have focused on learning and playing CTS on one chord at a time. However, real soloing involves changing chords. We therefore have to hit a moving target with CTS. Before we look at specifics for how we can use CTS to play through a chord progression, we need to review some basic music theory. As stated in previous chapters, this book is much better understood by one who knows at least basic theory of major scale construction, major and minor chord construction and what notes make those scales and chords (there are MANY good theory books available, but Easy Music Theory for Fiddle and Mandolin from www. petimarpress.com is a good starting point). Up to this point, you may think that we just play the major CTS scale for the chord we are using. When a G chord is played, use the G major CTS, when a D chord is played, use the D major CTS. Unfortunately, it isn t that simple. As you will see, doing this leads to using notes outside the original key. While that can work well at times, it often does not sound good. A Chord Progression is a series of chords, usually following a given melody. For example we may hear Red River Valley. The chords that fit the melody would be the chord progression to Red River Valley. Let s look at the key of G. Basic theory tells us the notes in the G major scale, the chords most likely to occur in this key (I, IV, V), and the notes of each of these chords. Chord numbers: I II III IV V VI VII I Scale numbers: G major scale: G A B C D E F# G Most likely to occur chords: I G IV C V D Chord: G C D Notes in chord G B D C E G D F# A Careful analysis shows us the notes in all 3 chords occur naturally in the G major scale. Notes in chords G, B, D C, E, G D, F#, A G major scale: G A B C D E F# G
26 Because the notes of ALL these chords are contained in the G major scale, this means when we improvise against any of these chords in this key, we play the major scale of G. This leads to the following generalization: When improvising against a chord progression using any or all of the chords I, IV, V; play using the notes of the major scale of I. Very straight forward statement. Because all the notes of the I, IV and V chord are contained in the major scale of I, it is the only scale we need to improvise against a I, IV, V progression. Start with the key of G major (notes in the scale = G A B C D E F# G). We use the CTS on the G major chord as shown in example 35, we ve seen this many times so far. Example 35 So, what if a C major chord comes into our progression? Let s try using what we ve done before, the C major CTS as in example 36. Example 36 Notice we now have the note F (3 rd fret on the D string). Remember, the key of G has an F# note? G major scale: G A B C D E F# G
27 If we play example 36 in the key of G, there is going to be a bit of a clashing sound with the F note and the G major scale, because we expect to hear an F# note in this key. What do we do? Simple, make all the F notes into F#. This matches the notes in the key of G. This is shown in example 37. Example 37 Here is the same, shown in example 38, against a D chord. Example 38 Notice we now have the note C# (4th fret on the D string). Remember, the key of G has a C natural note? G major scale: G A B C D E F# G Once again, we will have a clash between the expected sound of a C natural and the played note of C#. We get around this just the same as before, this time turning the C# note into C natural as in example 39.
28 Example 39 This idea can be hard to hear in these isolated examples. Let s expand this and make it easier to hear. First the wrong way, shown in example 40, with notes out of the key (F natural on a C chord, C# on a D chord). Example 40 Now with just the notes of the G major scale: G A B C D E F# G, shown in example 41.
29 Example 41 Do you hear how those notes seem to better fit the overall piece? I m not saying you never use other notes than those in the key, but this is a good starting place for less experienced improvisers. If we narrow the note choices to just the notes of the key, it becomes easier to find phrases that work. Later when you are more comfortable, you can expand into notes outside the key. Remember the generalization we made earlier? Let s revisit it in summation for this chapter. When improvising against a chord progression using any or all of the chords I, IV, V; play using the notes of the major scale of I.
30 Chapter 5 Playing through Chord Progressions Using CTS Now that we have looked at the CTS to use with various I, IV and V chords, let s look at how to play CTS through chord progressions. Example 42 is a chord progression to no melody in particular. The symbols G and C show where each chord begins. The progression is 4 beats of G chord followed by 4 beats of C chord. The example is in 4/4 time, so each chord is one measure. Example 42 If we are faced with this chord progression, what can we do with it? Let s try an ascending CTS for each chord, example 43. Example 43 While this works, it isn t very exciting or very musical. Let s try a descending CTS for each chord, example 44.
31 Example 44 This is a bit boring as well. How about pattern #1 on each chord? Example 45 Example 45 definitely sounds better than examples 44 and 43. Do you know why? One reason is there is not a big change in notes when the new chord (C) comes in. In examples 43 and 44 we jumped from the note G up or down to the note C when the C chord began. This big jump isn t very musical. A smaller jump makes the phrase sound like one continuous line, rather than two very separate lines. We can make a general observation from examples 43, 44 and 45. When starting a new chord, start CTS on the closest chord tone of the new chord. We did this in example 45. The last note we played against a G chord was the note C (third fret on the A string). Then the progression switches to a C chord, so we need to switch to a CTS for C. The note C is the closest chord tone for a C chord, so we begin the new CTS on the C note. This sounds much better to our ears than a big jump in notes each time a new chord is played. We can think of this new chord tone as a Target Tone. The music line is always moving toward this target.
32 Example 46 Play example 46 and compare it with example 45. To most players, example 46 sounds more complete than example 45. Why? It s because of how the notes approach the target tone (the C note). Look at the last note in the measure 1, example 46. It has been changed to a B note, the second fret on the A string. Notice this note seems to lead better to the C note that follows. This change makes the previous two notes surround the target before we hit it. Improvisers and composers have used this technique for centuries to make flowing musical lines. We can make two general observations from examples 45 and 46. When approaching a Target Tone, alter the last 1, 2, 3 or 4 notes to better hit the target. A) Alter the last 2 notes to make them surround the target. B) Alter the last 1, 2, 3 or 4 notes to make the scale ascend or descend into the target. Let s zoom in on this surround in example 46. Example 46 enlarged Note Names: D B C (Target) If we look at the notes in the G major scale, the key we are playing in, they are:
33 Lower sound < G A B C D E F# G > Higher sound The notes B and D are the closest notes to C, one note higher and one note lower. Surround Target Surround note note note D C B I can t emphasize enough how important this concept of target and surround is to an improviser. If one studies transcriptions of good improvisers in ANY style of music, one will find numerous examples of this. When approaching a new chord, there are many ways of altering notes to make the line sound fluid into the new chord. Look at the two examples below. We are still in the key of G, playing from a C chord back to G. Let s assume our target note for the G chord to be the note D (the fifth of the G major scale). Example 47 Example 47 is not the best way of going from a C chord to a G chord. The F# to D jump is a bit awkward. In example 48, we show one way to make the sound more interesting. Example 48 Here we altered the F# note to E, which leads better into the D target note. It is common for players to use an ascending or descending scale, even just one note, to move into
34 the target note. Play both examples 47 and 48 a few more times to get the sound in your mind. Example 49 shows another way. Example 49 Now we have altered the last 3 notes before the target to include a surround. Like I stated before, I hear good players use this type of line a lot. Notice how examples 48 and 49 seem to turn two distinctly different musical phrases into one seamless line, especially example 49. Let s take some typical chord progressions to common songs and see examples of what can be played. First up, in example 50, a I, IV, V chord progression where each chord is two measures long.
35 Example 50 Based upon what we have learned up to this point, we have a number of things we can do against any chord. We saw these mostly in the first chapter, Explanation of the Chord Tone Scale. They are:
36 1. CTS ascending or descending 2. Lick #1 3. Lick #2 4. Lick #3 5. Lick #4 6. Arpeggio up or down 7. Alter the last 2 notes to make them surround the target. 8. Alter the last 1, 2, 3 or 4 notes to make the scale ascend or descend into the target. Listen and play through example 50 a number of times. Memorize it. Try to analyze what is happening in each section of the solo. I break it down in the following examples. Example 50, measure 1-3 CTS Lick #2 CTS Arpeg. Scale descend to target Example 50, measure 3-4 Lick #2 Arpeg Surround to Target (D)
37 Example 50, measure 5-6 CTS Lick #1 Scale descend to target Example 50, measure 7-8 CTS CTS arpeggio Example 50, measure 9-10 Lick #3 CTS Surround
38 Example 50, measure Lick #3 CTS Lick #1 CTS Example 50, measure CTS Lick #2 Arpeg CTS Surround
39 Example 50, measure CTS M. O. U. S. E.* Ending double stop It is very beneficial for the student to analyze why solos sound good. If you can find out why, then you can practice those good sounds until you can use them yourself. You ll know where to use them based on where they were used when you learned them. If you favorite player uses a cool phrase to go from a G chord to a C chord, use it yourself. Your friends will be amazed, your soon-to-be-significant-other will be impressed, your boss will give you a raise (especially if they are the bandleader) * For an explanation of M. O. U. S. E., see chapter 10, Wrapping Up a Solo With CTS. It is a common ending sound played by everyone.
40 Assignment The following pages contain several more solos (examples 51, 52 and 53) using the items we ve covered so far in this book. 1) Analyze each yourself as shown in example 50. Write on the page each lick, CTS, surround, arpeggio, etc., just as I did. Print some blank music paper ( ) and do the following: 1) Take the chord progression to your favorite tune or song and write it on the music paper in the correct place. Write a solo based upon this progression. 2) Invent a chord progression and write a solo for it. When it becomes a huge hit, send all royalties received for this original tune to Pete Martin, PO Box
41 Example 51, Key of A
42 Example 52, Key of D
43 Example 53, Key of C Example X12 has a number of licks I ve transcribed by top mandolin and fiddle players. There are a lot of usable phrases to copy and add to your solos. Transcribe them to many keys so you can use them in any key.
44 Chapter 6 Playing CTS on Minor Chords in Major Keys Up to this point, we have only looked at chord progressions that contain the major chords I, IV, V. While much of the Bluegrass repertoire contains only these chords, there is also a substantial amount of material that has minor chords as well as I, IV, V. We need to find ways of playing against these chords as well as I, IV and V. In Chapter 4 ( What Scales to Use Improvising with CTS ) we discovered that the notes contained in chords I, IV and V occurred naturally in the I major scale. It happens that some other chords occur in the major scale of I. Let s find out what these other chords are for the key of G. Music theory tells us the notes of the G major scale are as follows: Notes in the G major scale: G A B C D E F# G We also know the notes of the G major chord are as follows: Notes in the G major chord: G B D Did you notice the notes in the chord are just every other note in the scale (our chord only has 3 total notes)? We can construct other chords from every other note in the scale as well. Chord Notes in Chord Roman Numeral G G B D I Am A C E IIm Bm B D F# IIIm C C E G IV D D F# A V Em E G B VIm D7 F# A C V7 G G B D I The chords that occur naturally in a key are I, IIm, IIIm, IV, V (or V7), and VIm. For the key of G, that is G, Am, Bm, C, D(7) and Em. We can hear this if we play example 54.
45 Example 54 If we just play the chords in example 54 we have example 55. Example 55 I IIm IIIm IV V VIm V7 I Do you hear the scale as you play example 55? In each new chord, all notes just go up one in the scale. The chords G, Am, Bm, C, D(7) and Em all occur in the Key of G. This means any time we play a piece in G, we keep using the G major scale against any of these chords. We construct CTS for these minor chords exactly the same as for major chords. Remember, the idea behind using CTS is to place chord tones on the beat in 4/4 time. Just as with major chords, the straight up and down major scales don t always place chord tones on the beat. Where they don t, we remove a note to make it fit the chord. To see this for an Am chord in the key of G, play example 56. Notice how this places the notes of the Am chord (A, C and E) on the beat.
46 Example 56 To see this for a Bm chord in the key of G, play example 57. Notice how this places the notes of the Bm chord (B, D and F#) on the beat. Example 57 To see this for an Em chord in the key of G, play example 58. Notice how this places the notes of the Em chord (E, G and B) on the beat. Example 58 Just like other CTS, let s learn this from as low as we can go in first position to as high as we can go. First, Am in the key of G, example 59.
47 Example 59 Now Bm in the key of G, example 60. Example 60 And Em in the key of G, example 61. Example 61 Of course, the same lick patterns apply, regardless of the chord. Review Licks #1-4 in chapter 1 (CTS Explained). Here is Lick #1 for the Am chord in the key of G, example 62.
48 Example 62 Here is Lick #3 for the Bm chord in the key of G, example 63. Example 63 Here is Lick #2 for an Em chord in the key of G, example 64. Example 64 The licks can be incorporated into the solos the same way. Example 65 is a progression using all the common chords for the key of G (G, C, D, Am, Bm, Em). Analyze it like we did previous solos. See if you can determine what CTS licks are where, why they work against that chord.
49 Example 65
50 Assignment Print some blank music paper ( ) and do the following: 1) Take the chord progression to example 65 and write it on the music paper in the correct place. Write a solo based upon this progression. 2) Take the chord progression to your favorite tune or song and write it on the music paper in the correct place. Write a solo based upon this progression. 3) Invent a chord progression and write a solo for it.
51 Chapter 7 Playing CTS on Dominant Seventh Chords The dominant seventh chord is a common chord in every type of music. It has a natural tension which is released when we go to a major chord one fourth higher or one fifth lower. As improvisers, we can use this to our advantage to give our solo more interest. Let s see how we can do this. In Chapter 6 ( Playing CTS on Minor Chords in Major Keys ), on pages 43 and 44, we found all the chords that occurred naturally in the key of G. Those chords were G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, D7 and G. The D7 is a dominant seventh chord. There are two types of seventh chords: major seventh and dominant seventh. They are constructed as follows: Major Seventh: Dominant Seventh: b7 Let s find the notes for D dominant seventh and D major seventh. Scale numbers: D major scale: D E F# G A B C# D D Major Seventh: D F# A C# D Dominant Seventh: b7 D F# A C Play and learn the sound of each of these in example 66. Example 66 D Major Seventh DMaj7 D Dominant Seventh D7 These two chords sound quite different. You may recognize the sound of the major
52 seventh. It is used in Jazz, but not a lot in other types of music. The dominant seventh is used in every type of music. As the dominant seventh is the more common chord, when it is written, we just put the number 7 following the chord root name, thus a D dominant seventh chord is written D7. Because the major seventh chord is used less often, we write it with some symbol to show the major seventh. This can be the word Major, Maj, a triangle or a capital M. Dominant Seventh: D7 G7 Bb7 F#7 Major Seventh: DMaj7 FM7 Bb 7 As stated previously, the dominant seventh has a natural tension which is released when we go to a major chord one fourth higher or one fifth lower. This means a D7 chord would resolve to G. To check this out, look at a D7 chord. It has the notes D F# A and C. When this chord is played, we hear a clash between the notes F# and C as in example 67. Example 67 This clash resolves when we move the C note down a half step (one fret) to B and the F# up one half step to G, as in example 68. As stated previously, composers and improvisers have forever used this idea to help create more interest in their music. Example 68 How does this relate to CTS? Remember in CTS, we are putting the chord tone on the beat in 4/4 time. Because the dominant seventh chord contains the notes 1, 3, 5, same as the major chord, we can treat the dominant seventh chord exactly the same as a major chord. We don t have to do anything different than what has already been presented in this book.
53 However, if we want to highlight that the dominant seventh sounds different, we need to analyze the chord. First, the dominant seventh has four notes, whereas major and minor chord only have three notes. Major: Minor: 1 b3 5 Dominant Seventh: b7 Because of this fourth note, we have to re-evaluate how CTS works with dominant seventh chords. We can start on the root and ascend to the b7, as in example 69. Example 69 However, if the CTS ascends higher than the b7 (C in this case), the chord tones don t remain on the beat. In the first measure of example 70, the chord tones D, F#, A and C are on the beat. In the second measure, those same notes are the off beat. Example 70 If we ascend and reverse direction when we get to 1 (D), we get a usable phrase as in example 71.
54 Example 71 If we ascend to b7 (C), reverse to 6 (B), ascend to b7 and reverse again, we get a very often used phrase as in example 72. Example 72 In example 73, we ascend from 1(D) to b7(c), skip 1(D), landing on 2(E), reverse to 1(D) and ascend the next octave. Example 73 If we take example 73 into more than one octave, we have example 74.
55 Example 74 The descending CTS works in a similar manner. If we descend through the major scale of the key, as soon as we hit the b7 of the V chord, the scale no longer puts the chord tones on the beat, as in example 75. Example 75 If we start on the b7, we can descend to 1, then reverse up to b7, as in example 76. Example 76 We can start on b7 and descend one octave, then reverse, as in example 77.
56 Example 77 We can start on b7, descend to 1, skip to 6(B), go up to b7, then resume descending, as in example 78. Example 78 Example 79 is just example 78 from as high as we can go to as low as we can go against a D7 chord in first position. Example 79 Even these basic examples give us very musical sounding phrases. Learn all these phrases in all keys. You will find a number of places you can use these. Combined with all the other phrases you have learned up to this point, you are starting to accumulate a number of usable licks. Play through example 80 for some ideas of how to use this in a chord progression.
57 Example 80 So far, we have just talked about using CTS against the V dominant seventh chord. We have seen how this chord, V7 leads to the I (example 68). Any V chord can be played as a dominant seventh, even if no one is playing that chord, or if the written chord progression doesn t indicate this. You can play any of these phrases against any V chord. Is there anywhere else you can play a dominant seventh? As stated previously, the dominant seventh has a natural tension which is released when we go to a major chord one fourth higher or one fifth lower. The chord progression I to IV is such a movement. Play example 81.
58 Example 81 Here we have ascended CTS using a b7 note for a G chord (the note F). We then did a surround leading to the E note, the third of the C chord. The b7 of one chord leads to the 3 rd of the chord one fifth lower. This is another of those common musical devices everyone uses. Learn to make it a part of your playing. Example 82 is a very typical generic Bluegrass mandolin solo. Double stops interwoven with single note runs. There are a number of places dominant seventh CTS are used, I going to IV and V going to I. See if you can identify them. We can use the dominant seventh CTS whenever we want to add a bluesy quality to a line. You can do this on any typical major chord; I, IV, V. In example 82, the last two measures feature this quality against a I chord that is not going to IV. Notice the bluesy sound the F note makes. This is a very common ending. Analyze and memorize this solo like we did in earlier chapters. Transpose it to different keys. Make the phrases part of your bag of tricks.
59 Example 82
60 Chapter 8 Other CTS Patterns In addition to the CTS patterns we have seen thus far, there are many more possible. Some will sound more melodic to your ear than others. It is natural to focus more attention on those, but all are valuable to learn. Practice the following patterns: 1) for all major chords 2) for all minor chords 3) for all dominant seventh chords 4) against chord progressions to common tunes 5) in combinations with other patterns 6) create some of your own patterns Patterns can be of any length, 1 beat, 2 beats, 1 measure, 2 measures, etc. We will first look at one measure patterns: Example 83 Example 84
61 Example 85 Example 86 Example 87 Example 88
62 Example 89 Not every eighth note needs to be a different pitch. Here is a pattern with duplicate notes. Example 90 This pattern has duplicate notes and a surround into the target chord tone (the first note of each measure). Example 91
63 Another pattern with a surround to the target. Example 92 Not all phrases are full of eighth notes. The following phrases have rests as well. Example 93 Example 94
64 Here are two patterns with quarter notes. Example 95 Example 96 Here are two patterns that are 2 beats long or one half measure. Example 97
65 Example 98 Example 99 These two patterns are 3 beats in length. Example 100 Example 101
66 The following combine chord arpeggios with some very short CTS. The first one is a common Bluegrass mandolin phrase. Example 102 Example 103 Example 104 Example 105
67 Chapter 9 Minor Keys and CTS In chapter 6 (Minor Chords in Major Keys) we looked at how to use CTS against minor chords in major keys. We observed that the IIm, IIIm, and VIm chords occurred naturally in the major scale of I. Quite often when the key is minor, it is using the chords of a major key. Let s look at an example. The song Shady Grove (ala Doc Watson, not Bill Monroe) uses this chord progression in the key of Dm: We can look at this in two different ways: Dm C Dm F C Dm Major key: Chords in I IIm IIIm IV V VIm C C Dm Em F G Am F F Gm Am Bb C Dm The chords for Shady Grove occur in both of the major keys C and F. Because of this, we can use either major key for the basis of a solo. Notice Dm, the key of Shady Grove, is the IIm of the key of C major and the VIm of the key of F major. These are the two most common major keys for minor tunes. Any time you have a minor tune; compare it to a major key using the IIm and VIm chords of the major key. The two following examples show how we can use either major key as the basis for soloing on Shady Grove in the key of Dm. First, example 106 illustrates how we can use CTS to create a solo for Shady Grove in the key of C. Notes in the Key of C: C D E F G A B C
68 Example 106, Shady Grove Solo, Key of Dm (C Major) of F. Example 107 illustrates how we can use CTS to create a solo for Shady Grove in the key Notes in the Key of F: F G A Bb C D E F Example 107
69 Only one note changes between examples 106 and examples 107. The B notes in the key of C (example 106) become Bb notes in the key of F (example 107). These two notes are interchangeable, depending on which your ear wants to hear at any time in the solo. This brings up a generalization: When a minor key piece uses only chords occurring in a major key, use CTS as if soloing in that major key. This works for many minor key tunes. However, it doesn t work for EVERY minor key tune. Some minor tunes have chords which don t relate to a major key. One of these is the common tune Wayfaring Stranger. Here is the chord progression in Em: Example 108 Wayfaring Stranger, Key of Em Verse: Em Am B(7) Em Am B(7) Em Chorus: C G C B(7) Em Am B(7) Em B(7) means you can play either a B or B7 chord, they both fit. Let s analyze down the chord tones in Wayfaring Stranger: Chord #s of notes in chord Notes in chord Em 1 b3 5 E G B Am 1 b3 5 A C E B(7) b7 B D# F# (A) C C E G G G B D The notes contained in the chords: A B C D D# E F# G The first thing to observe is there is no major key that uses both D and D# notes. This means there is not a single major scale we can use for playing CTS against the entire chord progression. The next thing to observe; if we remove the D# note, we have the key of G. G major scale notes: G A B C D E F# G Another thing to observe is we have to change the D note to D# for the B(7) chord. This suggests we can play CTS in the key of G major when playing against the Em, Am, C and G chords. When the B(7) chord is played, change the D notes into D#. This is illustrated in
70 example 109, the verse of Wayfaring Stranger. Wayfaring Stranger verse solo (using G Major CTS) Key of Em Example 109 We are doing two things in this solo. When playing against the Em and Am chords, we are using the CTS of G major. When playing against the B(7) chord, we use the CTS of G major, except alter the D notes to D#. This way the scale matches up to the B(7) chord. In this book, we are only scratching the surface of minor scales. Unlike a major scale (of which there is only one, do ra mi fah sol lah ti do), there are many minor scales. Dorian,
71 Phrygian, Aeolian modes, natural minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor, are all types of minor scales. It is beyond the scope of this book to cover all these. For more study, search minor scales online, or look at complete theory books, such as Mark Levine s Jazz Theory.
72 Chapter 10 Wrapping Up a Solo Using CTS There are many common musical devices that can be used to end a solo effectively. We have previously looked at using CTS during the main part of a solo. Now we will look at some ways of wrapping up a solo. In the 1950 s, a popular kids show was the Mickey Mouse Club. The theme ended with 5 notes that are a very solid musical statement. On those 5 notes, the letters M. O. U. S. E. were sung to match each note. It happens that this phrase is used a lot by improvisers. Example 110 M. O. U. S. E. The notes in M. O. U. S. E. correspond to the following notes in the major scale. M 3 O 1 (root) U 2 S 7 E 1 (root) In the key of G, 3 is the note B, 2 is A, 1 is G, 7 is F# (if you don t remember this, you need to review your music theory). You should learn M. O. U. S. E. in every key you play. Here are a few examples. Example 111 Here is a CTS solo in the key of G with a M. O. U. S. E. ending.
73 Example 112 Here is a CTS solo in the key of A with a M. O. U. S. E. ending. Example 113 Experiment on your own, playing solos in many different keys and ending them with M. O. U. S. E.. Another way to end solos is using common fiddle tune endings. One of the most common is shown in example 114. Example 114 This phrase is shown in several keys in example 115.
74 Example 115 This phrase is shown in a solo in the key of C in example 116. Example 116 This phrase is shown in a solo in the key of D in example 117. Example 117 Another common way to end solos is what Bluegrass guitar players call the G run. You will often hear this from Bluegrass guitar players at the end of verses and choruses. It is common to adapt this to other instruments. The G run is shown in example 118.
75 Example 118 This phrase is shown in many keys in example 119. Example 119 Variations of this phrase is shown in many keys in example 120. Example 120
76 A partial solo with the G run ending is shown in example 121. Example 121 A partial solo with the G run ending is shown in example 122. Note in this solo the fiddle tune enadin (as in example 115) in the measure with the D chord, and how nicely it leads to the first note of the G run ending. Example 122 Another common ending is CTS ascending from root to root an octave higher. This is shown in example 123. Example 123 A descending CTS can also be used. This is shown in example 124.
77 Example 124 Example 125 is a partial solo with this descending run from example 124. Notice the modified fiddle tune ending in the measure with the D chord.. Example 125 Of course, there are many more ending possibilities. Transcribe your favorite players, discover what endings they use, practice them in all keys and use them in your solos.
78 Chapter 11 How CTS is Used in Common Tunes and Solos by Top Players It is easy to learn lick and phrases, but the challenge is to effectively put them into solos. By studying these phrases in good tunes and by looking at how top players use these phrases, you can learn how to use these phrases in your improvising. Many tunes contain CTS ascending or descending straight up or down. The first three measures of the standard fiddle tune St. Anne s Reel is a good example. This is shown in example 126. Example 126 Notice this is a straight up and down CTS in the key of D with arpeggio notes in the last measure. Here are two measures from the B part of St. Anne s Reel, example 127. Example 127 Once again, straight CTS on the Em and A chords with an A chord arpeggio at the end. The first three measures of the standard fiddle tune Blackberry Blossom, example 128, show how CTS can work through multiple chords.
79 Example 128 Example 128 is only CTS and arpeggios through the different chords. Do you recognize CTS lick #3 from chapter 1, example 9 (page 9)? The first three measures of the B part of Fisher Hornpipe show another way CTS can work through multiple chords. Here CTS is used with arpeggios of the A7 and D chords, shown in example 129. Example 129 One can find numerous examples in tunes of all types. I suggest you play through tunes you know and study how CTS is used. You should find many examples. Take these examples and place them in different chord progressions when you improvise. Example 130 shows a line from a Bill Monroe mandolin solo. Example 130 In example 130, Monroe starts with one of his cliché phrases, doubling the arpeggio notes of the G chord starting with the off beat. This phrase ascends into a short CTS lick, following another cliché phrase which descends on the G chord arpeggio. The C chord starts off with
80 another Monroe cliché, a partial arpeggio, partial CTS. This is followed in the last measure by a descending CTS on the C chord. Example 131 shows a line from a Monroeish sounding Sam Bush mandolin solo. Example 131 Sam starts the line with a descending CTS where the 6 th of the scale (the note E) has been changed to the flat seventh note (F). The result is a bluesier sounding phrase. The last two notes of the first measure make a chromatic surround of the B note in measure two, leading into it very effectively. Notice that example 131 is just CTS and arpeggio lines with two notes altered from the scale. These alterations give the solo more color. Fiddlers as well as mandolinists use CTS. Example 132 shows a section from a Richard Greene fiddle solo.
81 Example 132 The first phrase is basically CTS with the flatted seventh (Ab) and flatted third (Db), once again making for a very bluesy sound. Greene repeats the phrase a number of times. The F chord measures are basically CTS with a surround leading back to the target note [Bb] on the Bb chord. The Bb lick is CTS with a rest. You can see by these examples that CTS is a very common element of many tunes and solos. Transcribe your favorite player and break down what they are doing. By doing this you will learn many new licks and will begin to learn how to structure your solos in musical sounding ways.
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How they invented chord patterns for the guitar J. Chaurette Dec., 2012 The guitar has a very long history; it has evolved over the ages to what it is now. It has achieved its final distinct form in 1770,
Lesson 9 Chord Progressions and The Standard Harmony Rule (DVD 2) In This Lesson: In this lesson you'll learn the standard harmony rule and how to put chord progressions together in minutes. A Chord Progression
Level 1 What is a half step up from: C E A D G B F Show me at your lesson. Challenge #1 Level 1 Write the answers to these puzzles on a separate sheet of paper: 1. Start on E. Go up a skip, Down a step,
Chapter 9 - Other Chords of the Major Key 9 Other Chords of the Major Key Scope: This chapter introduces the Super-Tonic, Mediant, Sub-Mediant and Leading Tone Chords of the Major Key. So far in our study,
2010 Marty uttwinick (818) 242-7551 All Rights Reserved Not for Sale Marty uttwinick Melody 1 - Melody 1 contains the fundamental definitions about the mechanics of melody. When you understand these concepts,
Jazz Lesson 10 Technique 1. Playing7 th chords with different combinations. a. Playing seventh chords in different inversions is very important for developing your soloing ability and for creating unique
Crash Course in Music Theory for Guitarists by Andy rudy An in-depth knowledge of music theory is essential for any musician. Learning the ropes so-to-speak, will rapidly expand your insight into you own