Thursday, August 27, 2009

Target Melodies

glennmcintosh 9/15/2004 11:57 AM
Greetings Don, Great book! The best in my ever-growing collection on soloing techniques. I'd like to get some background on the target melodies you've sighted in the books. In particular, why these two? Are there just two? Are there some popular three and five note variations, etc? Are these two target melodies just as endemic to Jazz as the 12-bar form is to blues? Will you be publishing some other sample lines created from the target melodies? Thanks

cjazz 9/21/2004 7:26 PM
Of course there are other melodies. In fact I did write a book called :" An approach to chromatic playing" In this book I demonstrate the hole picture and theory about approaches to certain chord or scale tones. Start from one note approach up to four and five notes to chromatic playing. After that you have so many choices and so many little melodies to create your own.Any one you wants information about my book, can reach me

Don Mock 11/10/2004 8:06 PM
Thanks for the post Glenn and sorry it took me so long to reply. The target melodies are two of hundreds of possibilities but they both (being three notes that setup or target a chord or scale tone) work best for basic jazz phrasing. These two simple melodies demonstrate the fundamentals of chromatic playing. The are longer versions but to me they often end up being combinations or variations of the original two. If you really want to immerse yourself in chromatics in a million possibilities, find a copy of "Thesaurus of Scales and Patterns" by Nickolas Slominski. It is one amazing piece of work. I learned a lot of intervallic and chromatic ideas from this book, but it is deep! Hope this helps, and don't hesitate to send along any questions or comments. -Don Mock

bluesyourdaddy 2/24/2005 7:57 PM
Don,Got the book an think it is great. Any reason behind why Melody #2 targets the Maj3 and Maj7 and melody #1 targets all others? Just a little theory on that would be great.Thanks,Brian

Don Mock 2/24/2005 11:19 PM
Brian, the reason the two melodies target different chord tones is because of their first note. The melodies make more sense if the first note is in the "key" that the chord or scale tone is in. So in melody #2, the first note is 1/2 step above the target or chord tone which is almost always in the key. I think (hope) there is a pretty clear definition about this in the book and on the CD. Thanks, -Don Mock

Where to Start/ Where to Resume?

Soundhound 3/10/2005 2:39 PM
Don, Just discovered this site, great stuff! I've just got back into playing the last year or so, and have hit the same wall I did years ago. I've got decent chops and feel, but found myself limited by the tools I've got - those being the major and minor pentatonics, and the modes. Back when I used to play I basically learned the pentatonics and the major scales up and down the neck, and used the major scales for the modes. I find myself trying to get 'outside the box' harmonically in soloing, but was limited. I've been collecting some great DVDs, Robben Ford's stuff, an older Larry Carton video, and have been picking up some great stuff: using the half diminished, using the melodic minor, chromatics, triads, etc. The problem is I think I need a good system to really drill it into me. Learning any new scale is hard because the stuff I learned long ago is so burned in, I keep reverting back to it. I wind up trying to learn Robben Ford solos note for note, instead of being able to understand what he's doing. I did the same thing as a kid, and it's limiting. Now that I'm all grown up I know I'll never be Robben Ford, but I would love to understand more and be able to apply it. So I guess my question is, what would you recommend for a good outlining of the various scales (melodic minor, half diminished) for playing through changes, both learning the scales and their applications? Which DVDs, videos, cds etc do you think would give me a good foundation? I've so far been most successful with DVDs, I don't read well, and being able to watch the instructors hands is a great help. The online quick lessons on this site work well also, really helps me see where things sit. I'm also trying to find a teacher in the L.A. area who could help me understand the Robben Ford/Larry Carlton/Don Mock world of playing. Do you know anyone on the West side of L.A. that you might recommend? Sorry for the rambling, endless post! Thanks very much, Doug

Soundhound 3/16/2005 4:36 PM
Is this mike on? Testing, testing... Is this the best place to get a hold of Don?

Don Mock 3/16/2005 10:15 PM
OK, Doug, I hear the mic feeding back.I read your post the other day and was very impressed with your description of yourself and your problems learning and applying. You posed a lot of great questions, more than I can deal with right now, but now lets start with theory. Theory always seems to bite most players cause they let it slide by but they always end up paying for it later. And when you are not sure of the theory, then your mind inevitably reads way more into things making everything seem more difficult. And contemporary "players" music theory is pretty simple, and can be learned in a few months or less.The other issue you nailed was about application. Without a place to "try out" and prove new ideas, you are going to always fade backwards. You have to force some kind of playing situation for yourself, whether it be a rehearsal band, play-along tracks or something that make you get it up and play for real on a regular basis. You also mentioned reading. A lot of players think that not being a good reader will hold them back. Fast "sight-reading" is not a necessary ingredient to learning to be a good improviser. However, just knowing HOW to read, even if you are very slow is very important. And reading and interpreting charts, especially chord symbols is essential. Your toughest question is which cd, videos, etc. would I recommend. I've produced so many that I think are great learning tools. All of Robben's and Scott Henderson's are some of the best. On the jazz side, Pat Martino's (Creative Force) and the Joe Pass videos are packed with information. If you want to get to the basics, get anything that Keith Wyatt has done... i.e.. Beyond Basics Blues Guitar etc. Keith is about the best guitar teacher in the world and you WILL learn a lot from him. You also asked about a teacher in the LA area. Well, where do I start? There are so many great players there, lots of them are friends and teachers at MI. Two guys, you can't go wrong with are Dave Hill and Art Renshaw. (I will email you their phone if you send your email).( Both guys are GIT grads that became instructors at the school, but are also very involved with Frank Gambale and the LAMA. school.I do have to ask if you have seen my video "The Blues from Rock to Jazz? It is suppose to come out on DVD at any time and just might be some of the information you are looking for. Thanks again for the post Doug. -Don Mock

Target Tones - Improv on Track 24

Jp 5/19/2005 2:01 AM
Hey Don, using track 24 as an example... how do you position your hand when picking very fast lines? do you use more forearm or wrist motion? floating hand vs hand anchored with finger? does your picking approach change when you perform lines that have both intervallic and linear qualities? thanks, jamie

Don Mock 5/19/2005 12:58 PM
kJamie, thanks for the question. I listened to track 24 and I guess you are talking about all the fast "filler" I added after the example. Good technique usually requires all the muscles working together from the fingers, through the wrist and up your arm. It's not a stressed thing where you tighten up, (which feels kind of necessary at first) but a loose and relaxed motion. We all use too many muscles and add too much force when trying to play fast at first. Over the years your muscles start to figure out that some of them don't have to work so hard and things start relaxing. One thing to try is tremolo (pick fast up and down on one note) and experiment with arm and pick positions. Don't squeeze the pick too hard. In fact you could easily pull the pick out of my fingers when I'm playing. Relaxes the pick pressure until it drops out of your hand. Then find the place where it's still loose but you can still control it. The only thing that you will have to do to get dynamics in you playing (loud and soft) is to squeeze a bit in on the pick on certain notes to make them jump out. Hope this gives you a few ideas about picking. -Thanks, Don Mock

Major Scale Secrets Revealed?

bluesyourdaddy 6/19/2005 12:11 PM
Don, After having gone through your three "Secrets" books I was wondering why you never did one on Major Scales. If you did, and combined them all with your "Target Tone Master Class", it would be a complete guide to improvising. Any thoughts of doing a complete improv course like that? (BTW, Using your "Rock to Jazz" video and the two "Frank Gambale Technique" books I was able to put it all together) Thanks, Brian

Don Mock 6/29/2005 3:23 PM
Brian, I had planned out a Major Scale book to go along with the series, but I guess we did not think it would sell as well as melodic, harmonic and symmetrics scales. No plan at this point but it is a good idea because 90% of everything we play is rooted in the major scale. Many players overlook the major scale and it's modes thinking that it's too "straight or inside" sounding. But some of the best melodies and lines are from major scales. My students are always surprised when I tell them that most of my intervallic and "outside" sounding lines are really just major scales. -Don Mock

Best Book to Start With?

Vettestrat 5/18/2006 12:17 PM
Hey, I just purchased all the guitar axis masterclass and secret scales revealed books. Is there a better one to start with?

Don Mock 5/23/2006 2:18 AM
Wow, V-strat, way to go on getting all the books. Tough call on the best one to start with. The Target Tones book might be a good place to get some of those basic melodies around arpeggios under your fingers. And if you are into jumping into the Turnaround book, the basic master melody can be used right out of the box for lots of things. I think the Harmonic Minor scale is the best (beside the major scale) to start with of the scale books. It's classic use over a dominant 7th (a fifth above) is a sound players of nearly every style can really use. The only thing I would like to add is for you to just sit back and listen to the CD's and make note of the sounds and ideas that interest you. Start anywhere, any page you want. Just make a point of doing the best you can at understanding the music theory involved. Thanks again V-strat and hope you don't get too sick of listening to me talk on all those CD's. -Don Mock

Drum Machines and Midi Guitar?

Jp 4/12/2006 12:33 AM
Hey Don, What gear do you use for recording "drums and harmonic parts" on the practice trax and CD audio examples in your books? Drum machine? Keyboard? or other.... via midi guit??? Also, any news about the trio project with Jay Roberts? any CD's available? thanks, Jamie

Don Mock 4/13/2006 1:50 AM
Thanks for the questions Jamie. Jay and I have got ourselves pretty busy at our new school to get our recording done. We'll come up with something by the end of the year. (We have been playing as a guitar duo for a few years) The trio I'm involved with is also working on a CD but we got sidetracked recording a ton of play-along tracks for a new product out in a few months. More on that later. Yep, I recorded most of the tracks on those book CD's with a midi guitar (basic Roland system) into my computer using Vision software for the sequencing. I play all the drum, bass and keyboard parts from the guitar usually live and then quantize and edit all the errors. Lots of the tracks end up pretty good but the jazz swing stuff is hard to duplicate in the midi world, especially the drums. But stand by for our new play-along tracks which are REAL human players. I don't know if I ever can go back to midi drums and bass again.Thanks, -Don Mock

Don Mock's Stevens LJ Guitar

Don Mock 10/24/2005 12:48 AM
I get a lot of questions about the guitar I've used in most of my videos and performances. Check out:
-Don Mock

Tung 11/21/2005 1:37 PM
Hi Don, For years I've been wondering how you got all the sounds on your instructional recordings. I have all of your instructional materials and it's amazing that you always seem to get a really good distorted sound and a warm hollow body tone as well, were they all done on the LJ? ( I'm referring to the Melodic and Harmonic Minor books)Anyway, not flog the same guitar questions to death, but can you fill us in on the LJ set up? Like picks and strings, effects and amps?Thanks for being a great teacher,Tung

Don Mock 11/21/2005 10:26 PM
Thanks for the post Tung. Hope you check out the article I wrote about the LJ guitar on the Stevens site. I think the LJ was the only guitar I used on the Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor books. There might be some acoustic on the beginning of the Harmonic Minor, but everything else is the Stevens. For most of the teaching stuff, I plugged direct into a Roland VS-880 digital recorder. The distorted sounds I think are the Stevens plugged straight into a Fender Twin that's mic'd. The effects are either from the VS-880 or Cubase in my computer where I mix from the recorder. I did use a Tele a bit on my later "Symmetric Scales" book and on some of the Masterclass books. I now use a POD for direct recording and also Pro Tools but the Stevens still sounds best just direct. The custom Duncan neck pickup Michael Stevens put in the guitar (and probably the wood and body shape) has an amazing hollow-body like tone. I use D'Addario XL strings, 11-14-18-28-38-49. I've been sticking an .011.5 for the high E to get a bit more tone. As far as picks go, I make my own plexi-glass picks. Years ago when I was spending time with Pat Martino, when he joined us at GIT, I got into his "stone' agate picks. Ever since I have to have very stiff picks and there's no commercially made ones that I like. The ones I make are shaped like a standard Fender pick but a bit longer and narrower. Takes me 5 minutes to make one, I just trace out the shape, rough cut it out on a band saw and final shape it on a belt sander. I've been making picks from the same 2 x 2ft sheet of plexi-glass for nearly 20 years. Thanks again for the post Tung, and keep the questions coming. -Don Mock

Tung 11/22/2005 11:00 AM
Thanks so much for the info, Don. I actually learned something else from working on your books regarding my gear. For years I main workhorse has been an ES-175 with flatwounds 13's. It's a great jazz machine, but trying to do some of your intervallic ideas at quick tempo on that is very challenging, so I started working on your stuff with my 81 Les Paul, and boom! much easier but I miss the authentic jazz-Wes feel of the flatwound/hollow body tone. the reason I brought this up is that I noticed you used to use hollow body archtops earlier on, but now you have switched to solidbody LJ and Teles as well? Did you encounter similar experiences? Anyway, just want to say that your books have singlehandedly changed the way I approach jazz improvisation. From your ideas I have developed my own style, fingerings and fretboard mappings. I have a Hons BA in music, done both college and universities with jazz as my major, yet none of this formal training really brought it home in a real practical sense, until I started working on your books. Now I even use it to teach some of my advance students, some of whom are doing their own music degrees at the moment. Thanks again for the great teachings.Tung

Vettestrat 1/25/2006 7:02 PM
Hey Don, I love your lessons, you're quite the inspiration. What is the synth guitar you used at the end of the "Blues from Rock to Jazz" video? Thanks.

Don Mock 1/29/2006 12:29 AM
The double-neck synth guitar is a custom instrument I designed and was built by luthier Lane Moller. It's actually two guitar synths in one. The top neck uses the electronics from one of the first attempts at guitar synths called a Patch 2000 by Ampeg. The frets and the strings are wired and when the string makes contact on the fret the synth is triggered. I worked hard for a few years perfecting the right-hand hammering technique but it had lots of limitations. My right hand usually worked a pitch-bend knob to add vibrato and bends. The strings are deadened with felt and no tuning was necessary. I could use all E strings and only used the tuning gears to set the tension of the strings for the hammering technique. The strings only job was to carry voltage to the frets. The tracking is instant, and I used to play more notes-per-square inch than any guitar player ever dreamed. But no dynamics and no chords. It is a monophonic and monodynamic instrument. But I had lots of fun through the '80's playing that heavy guitar. The bottom neck is a regular guitar but did have a Roland system build in so I could play chords and synth lines with guitar. It was not a midi instrument (except for the Roland part).Now days I've retired the double neck in favor of the basic Roland systems and normal guitar technique. I considered converting the double neck to some kind of midi controller but musically the top neck is just too difficult to play bop and swing feels with only my right hand. But it's a great rock and roll toy! I might get it out of the closet sometime just to freak people out. -Don Mock

Don Mock 1/31/2006 11:57 PM
I meant "left hand hammering technique" not right on the above post. I'll try to post a tune where I played the double neck so you can hear it. -Don Mock

turner 9/14/2006 2:25 AM
id like to hear some of that crazy guitar your talking about of love stuff like that with the synth in all and thanks for the lesson on guitar I play my heart out all the day long and any new things really inspire me I’ve been play for about 5 or 6 years and iv kind of floated around the same kind of style of playing and the stuff on this website really broadened my horizon thanks, any way id live two hear that synth guitar

danepaul 2/6/2008 9:05 PM
Hi Don, I was wondering what do you use for your rhythm/drum tracks for your instructional books and videos? I’m looking to get something to jam/record with. Thanks for your help.Dane

Don Mock 2/8/2008 2:31 PM
Dane, In the past I've been using midi recording software called Vision which is no longer available. All of the drum, bass and keyboard parts are triggered from the Mac G4 to several synth modules including three different Roland guitar synths. Everything was recorded and mixed into a Roland VS-880 digital recorder. But now-days I use a Pro-Tools system and can do midi parts on it along with audio. But there are so many great systems out there that don't cost too much you can't go wrong. Thanks - Don Mock

Music Theory

Don Mock 7/2/2003 5:12 PM
Hey guys, Don Mock here ready to talk theory. No other aspect of music is as important to get a handle on than music theory. And it doesn't have to be that clumsy old classical theory either. If you just learn the basics of modern "players" theory you will be armed with enough info to play just about anything. And it's not that hard. If you can understand some basic math, theory will be a snap. Probably the biggest hurdle in theory is learning the "language" of music. There are sometime several terms for the same thing. But once you get past these issues, you will be on your way. So let's talk some theory...maybe I can help, or maybe I can learn something new from you. Let's find out...-Don Mock

clovis 2127/18/2003 8:29 AM
I agree with you Don. The biggest thing that has really made me the musician I am today is my knowledge of the fretboard and music theory. Once I studied Frank Gambale's "Technique Book 1" and saw how over a Dim7 chord (for example) you can substitute all the arps, triads, pentatonics from the key of C major for that Dorian sound, I was well on my way to being a better guitarist. THAT knowledge right there of substituting just the basic diatonic arpeggios and pentatonics, etc from the given key....for any mode..(not even playing "outside" yet) really opened my eyes. Before then I was just playing "Scaluar" licks, runs, etc using the correct fingerboard positions for the scales and not even thinking of chord tones.....Once I moved on to the Melodic Minor scale and studied your book "Melodic Minor Secrets Revealed"...the entire book made immediate sense to me.John

hutz13 1/31/2004 11:23 PM
So what would be step one for a beginner to get a grasp of basic theory?

Don Mock 2/15/2004 12:18 AM
Hutz, Step one is just knowing that there is such a thing called music theory. Step two is knowing that a lot of theory is simple math, and the learning of the "language" of music. What sometimes takes months to learn in a college music theory class can actually be learned in a few short hours. Find a teacher or experienced player to explain to you the basics of theory like the major scale, diatonic harmony and chord construction. It's so simple, yet intimidating when you don't understand it. (the classic example is "modes." When you don't understand modes, they're frustrating and overwhelming, but once you get it, you can't believe you didn't understand it in the first place.) And you should start out learning basic "players" practical theory, not a full blown classical counterpoint theory. There's lots of books out, we even have a few on the subject, but to be honest, a beginner would be better off just spending an hour or two with the right person to take you through basic theory and answer your questions. Or a class at a local music school or Jr. college. Most of music theory is black and white and once memorized, you are done with it. Using and applying it musically in your guitar playing, well, that can take a life time. - Don Mock

lunetta 7/8/2004 5:47 AM
Don,How can a thorough understanding of "modes" lead to my betterment as a guitar player? I can play all the major scale modes, and I understand how they are constructed, but I can't seem to appreciate what all the fuss is about or how to use that knowledge to my advantage. What am I missing?By the way, your melodic minor book was a real godsend for me. I love the way you cut to the chase to explain the real world methods for getting the most out of the cool tonality that the scale can provide. You certainly have a knack for demystifying an abstruse, intimidating subject, and making it accessible to players without fancy-pants music degrees. I'm looking forward to receiving my order for your symmetrical scales book.

Don Mock 7/9/2004 2:56 AM
Lunetta, great question about modes. You are not missing anything. As you have figured out modes are just versions (different starting points) of major scales. Many players do fine not ever thinking in terms of modes as long as they understand major scales and their harmonies or "Key Centers," an approach I teach and use myself in improvising. In defense of modes, they can help you define chords sounds or families. Dorian, for example, is a minor scale and can also be thought of as a "home" for sounds in minor including arpeggios and chords. When I think, A Dorian, I think of Am7, Am9, Am11 Am6 etc. Of course it's just the 2nd scale in the key of G but some guys like to think of modes as separate families. I've seen charts written where no chords symbols where shown, only mode names like: A dorian - Bb lydian - F mixolydian etc. And it is actually a pretty good way to think. BUT, it's still important to know what major keys you are in too. Cause this is where a lot of the useful substitutes come from. Hope this helps. Thanks, -Don Mock

alfonso 8/25/2004 7:04 PM
Don, I'm a long time guitar player, mostly jazz and latin and I've just started learning about modes. I know my major scales and major modes, well most, ionian, dorian, phyrigian mixolydian and aeolian, hope the spelling is right. I didn't yet learn the locrian or lydian, I haven't yet found a use for either one... My question is this, I'm thinkin there's just the melodic minor modes and the harmonic modes, are they separate? Can I just learn one, like say the melodic minor, and change a note or two on each one, to play the harmonic minor? thanks for your timeAlso, I'm working on your Jazz Rhythm Chops video, excellent video, the best and most informative video I own and I really love that Stevens guitar you play on it...

Don Mock 8/25/2004 11:33 PM
Fretboard, thanks for the post. Sounds like you are making headway on the mode thing. But I think you still might be confused about what they really are. Make sure you clearly understand that the seven modes from the major scale are just major scales starting on different roots. C dorian, for example, IS F mixolydian is A locrian is D phrygian etc. And they all are really just Bb major scales. That is it. When soloing over a chord you have two ways to look at it. First. What major key is the chord in? Just play that scale (or key center as we call it). C major. Gb major. The other way to look at it is to "think" modes. For G mixolydian. For F locrian. It's up to you. Just do not fool your fingers into thinking there are 7 different scales when there is really only one. When you learned your first major scale fingering pattern, you already know all seven modes too. Just start on the different roots in the same pattern. And who solos starting each phrase from the root anyway? I don't even teach new players about modes until they understand key centers. It is a way faster approach to learning improvising.As far as melodic and harmonic minors, I like your thinking. Learn for example, A melodic minor in a few patterns. Then lower all the F# notes to F. Now you have A harmonic minors. And you can play a lot of great ideas for years without ever thinking of these two scales in terms of their modes.Hope this helps - Don Mock

alfonso 8/26/2004 10:00 AM
Don,You're right my thinking is different, maybe even confused. I don't read music very well and that's not how I'm approaching the modes, check out this link and it should explain... I've learned a great deal reading chord charts and working on jazz standards, but I've been limited to the ones I've already heard. It takes a long time to muddle through notes, cause I read notes in a half as manner ... any suggestions? Your screen didn't accept the hyperlink, but in a nutshell, I'm working from patterns. thanks again...

diggity shwag 1/14/2005 6:32 PM
Hi THERE,OKAY, an attempt here (by me :-) ) at trying to learn some of the basics of modern "players" theory?? Are MODAL PLAYING and NON-MODAL PLAYING ever BOTH USED within a single composition????

diggity shwag 1/19/2005 3:37 PM
Another question. :-)What would you say are the prime characteristics of rock?I ask because the language of rock seems a bit vague or random to me. Can you give any insights so that it'll seem less vague?Thank you.

Don Mock 1/25/2005 11:12 PM
Fang, "modal playing" or "non modal playing" are simply two approaches to the same thing. One player in the band might be thinking in terms of modes in a particular tune while another player thinks "key centers." It's all the same stuff, but that's one of the obstacles in learning music, dealing with the fact that there are several ways to arrive at the same point. Your question about rock music is a good one. I hope some other players jump in on this subject/post. I think the confusion with rock is it's heavy influence of blues music. Blues has several hard to define issues in terms of music theory. "Blue notes" for example, are often tones that are not in the key and in classical terms would be considered "wrong." But it's the slang use of these wrong notes in blues that gives it it's soul and identity. Also, rock progressions are often based on unusual or parallel chord moves which are also hard to analyze in traditional music theory. Anyone else have some thoughts? -Don Mock

Melodic Minor and Targeting

zencat 12/20/2003 2:10 PM
Hi Don, This is a two part question: In your Melodic Minor Book, Unit 6: Using Melodic Minor Arpeggios, paragraph 3, you write: “There are many ways to use the arpeggios of the melodic minor scale. The trick to this is you need to be able to phrase the arpeggios in a way that still communicates to your listener the “sound” of D7…” That was a cliffhanger for me! From what I think you might have meant is that, we should use the notes contained in the melodic minor scale (not the primary chord tones, 1-3-5-7) as passing tones. Put in other words: to place the “altered” notes contained in the scale on the weaker metrical points, and emphasize the chord tones on the strong beats. Is this correct? Can you extrapolate further please? That brings me to question #2, regarding the approach of using chromatics and chromatic/melodic “shapes” to target essential chord tones: It seems to me that the chord scale approach is a lot more cumbersome than the targeting approach. If I keep the appropriate arpeggio in mind while soloing over a given chord, it makes it a lot easier for me to use the “target” approach instead of thinking, melodic minor, harmonic minor, diminished, wholetone, augmented scale, (just a few scale choices) and their modal derivatives. Don’t get me wrong, I love all those scales, and after a number of years of usage, I’m becoming more adept in their application and harmonic potential. They have definitely expanded my improv toolbox. But the other approach of targeting is really begging the question: “Why not take the simpler path?” Any comment on this? Sorry for the length of this post, and thank you for the opportunity to post it. All the best

Don Mock
2/16/2004 12:02 AM
Well Zencat, I now feel like an idiot that I did not respond right away to your great post about the melodic minor and targeting. I guess I thought I had read this one, but just spaced and missed it. No wonder you sent the "waste of time" post a few weeks later. Anyway, lets get to your questions. Any time a player uses any kind on superimposition ideas such as arpeggios and scales etc., the player should try to keep the sound of the chord a priority. It's easy when learning to do this to wonder into the tonality of the tool you are using rather than use the tool to sound the chord for you. Your response is right on the money. Keeping the chord tones emphasized. But this does not necessarily have to be related to strong or weak beats. It is a lot to do with the melodic phrasing too. You nailed the part about targeting. A very valid approach to improvising is to start with arpeggios first, before scales. And reach out to the "other" notes not in the arp. Joe Pass would agree with this. He was all about chord tones and melodies. "Screw the scales" said Joe on numerous occasions. In the big picture, all the paths end up at the same place. It's like the old GIT "West Coast" key center approach vs. the Berklee "East Coast" modal approach. Both get you the same end result. At GIT we told student at first to just play the C scale through a I-VI-II-V progression in C. Then add arpeggios for each chord next. At Berklee, you learn four complete scales-modes for the same progression. I think the key center path is physiologically faster cause it gets people playing faster. But in the end they still have to learn to sound each chord. Well enough of me rambling on. You hit on a lot of great points and I hope that a lot of player read what you said...should give them something to think about. So Zencat, come on back and add some more, it was great. - Don Mock

Whole Tone Ideas

gill 2/26/2004 6:02 AM
I would like to know more about how to use a whole tone scale. I use it a little in my playing but I need a broader picture of how to use it and really make it work. also using Lydian flat 7 ideas. Thanks gill

Don Mock 2/27/2004 9:03 PM
Thanks for the post Gill. I hate to promote my books too much but heck both the scales you mentioned I have written pretty involved books on the subject. I just finished the "Symmetric Scales Revealed" book and it's almost an over kill on the diminished and whole tone scales. I wrote it nearly 3 years ago but didn't get around to recording the CD for it until a few months ago. And it was a bit tough cause I forgot a lot of the lines and examples that I had written. But it's done now and came out pretty good. The whole tone section shows lots of sequences, and fingerboard shape ideas as well as lots of licks. It's pretty much a dominant 7th scale but can also be used over a few other situations. The other scale "Lydian b7" is really a melodic minor and I "wrote the book" on that one too "Melodic Minor Revealed". G Lydian b7, by the way, is actually D melodic minor. Some like to use the modal names, (Lydian b7) but you can also do really well using the "key center" approach, which in this case over a dominant 7th, play a melodic minor "up a fifth." Same result, just don't have to learn the 7 modes of melodic minor. -Don

Soloing Thoughts

mmms 3/15/2004 4:42 AM
Hi Don; Listening to your "Speed Of Light" CD I was very impressed by the soloing in both St. Clair & Robben's Bebop Blues. Both quite different in their chord structure. St. Clair more "vamp" oriented and Bebop more "changes" oriented. What are your basic thoughts in soloing to these different types of songs. Thanks. Nice to see all the new books and videos on the web site!

Don Mock 3/15/2004 6:58 PM
mmms, thanks for the post. You threw a pretty good but tough to answer question about soloing over the two types of tunes. St. Clair is a tune I wrote during the early years at GIT. It's kind of a study in lydian dominant. The melody is based in A melodic minor over D7. The chord changes are modal meaning that they are all dominant chords moving down thru different keys (F#11, E11, D11, C#11, B11 and A11). The blues is basically a jazz style blues and I player (or overplayed) lots of traditional jazz lines mixed with my intervallic and outside concepts. It does show how when you use a modern sound and some other soloing ideas you can get a lot out of the melodies from the masters like Charlie Parker, Coltrane etc. thanks - Don

szulc 12/8/2004 11:54 AM
I have studied theory for a long time and have recently become aware of less theoretical approaches to ii V, where you spell out notes of the IV and V triads sort of randomly or move ideas (motives) up in Minor thirds. I have been hearing a lot of this type of thing especially in Wes Montgomery's playing. I am wondering if people here have some similar ideas that are less theoretically challenging but work well such as these ideas? Because the whole range of Melodic minor possibilities is mind boggling, and I want something less mentally taxing to get me through some of this.

Don Mock 12/8/2004 7:56 PM
Szulc, thanks for dropping by and for the good questions. Yes, there seems to be millions of possibilities of things to do with melodic minor or any superimposed ideas over dominant chords. But the theory is pretty simple. I would really like to talk you into exploring the theory so you can clearly understand how chords and scales work. It's pretty basic math, and once you get it, you are done. There is only so much theory. Then you spend the rest of your life trying to apply the ideas. That's the hard part.As far as minor third movements, one popular idea is to play major triads up minor thirds from the root of a dominant 7th. (G7 use: G, Bb, Db and E major triads). It's actually a diminished scale trick as all the notes are in the scale. There are many motifs you can invent and repeat in the four triads. Hate to push my books on you but there is a pretty detailed section in my new book " Symmetric Scales Revealed" on major triads in diminished. And the theory is laid out too. And check out the Melodic Minor book from the same series. I tried to simplify the uses of melodic minor. An important thing to remember in dealing with what seems to be mind-boggling amounts of theory and concepts is: All great players only use a very small amount of these ideas. I may know every use of every scale and all the theory on the planet, but when it comes to playing, I only use very few things that I like and can use. No one can apply it all. Just pick a few cool things that you like and stick to them. You will be much more successful and have a lot more fun. -Don Mock

szulc 12/9/2004 1:21 PM
Don,I have read several of your earlier works (artful Arpeggios comes to mind) also seen many of the videos you have produced for (REH?) .I have a strong math background since I am an engineer the math is the easy part for me (I have authored several very cool articles for Ibreathemusic for instance talks about tritone and m3 substitution from a mathematical perspective. there is even a cool spreadsheet to help figure out which chords can be safely moved in m3.)I know many of the substitution rules and uses for symmetrical scales and 15 different ways to use Melodic minor over Alter chords. The problem I have is putting them into practice and simplification of the ideas down to simple things like spelling out various major and minor triads out of the dim scale to make it sound less boring.I want to read you new books and will as soon as they arrive.I have lots of cool ideas but I am always looking for more cool ideas, preferably simple ones like blowing over changes using notes of triads like the Larry Carlton thing he mentions in his video.

Don Mock 12/9/2004 7:21 PM
Szulc, sounds like you have a pretty good idea of the theory side, just frustrated, like the rest of us, trying to make music out of the mechanical stuff. My thoughts for you is to really spend time transcribing or copying players that you like. Figure things out, write them down and then analyze the theory behind it. The main thing is to use things you learn. Keep things simple. It's much better to have only a few things down than too many ideas that you can't play. Every great player I know has a fairly small repertoire of licks and concepts. But they know how to get lots of miles out of each idea. I hope you like the books and be sure to send me any questions or comments about them. -Don Mock

Don Mock 12/9/2004 7:33 PM
James, I just read your article and visited your web site. Very cool stuff and the tritone ideas were great. As a fan of Coltrane myself, I've also worked alot on these kinds of things. Hope we keep hearing from you. -Don Mock

szulc 12/21/2004 10:22 AM
I bought the "Blues from rock to Jazz" video and "intervallic designs" (Joe Diorio) from this site. I am hoping that these will help me in my quest. I have been wanting the Diorio book for a while but this was the only place I could find it new. Somehow the Blues video peaked my curiosity because I already can play reasonably well through Blues changes and it seems to be used as a vehicle for learning to play through the changes as a jazzer would. I am Wes fan and I was impressed by the Artful Arpeggios book and the playing on the tape. I may revisit that one before I try to move one to some of the more complicated topics.I have been toying around with the Diminished scale picking out major and minor triads to "break up the outline" (This reminds me of the purpose of camouflage) and it seems to help with using this in a more musical way. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of these new lessons.

Don Mock 12/23/2004 12:59 AM
James, you named two of the greatest to ever touch a guitar...Wes and Joe. I'm proud to be a friend of Joe Diorio's and his Intervallic Designs is a great book. It is one of the early REH books done during the first year or two of GIT in about 1978. Joe and I and Ron Eschete would hang out together playing in the office when ever we had free time. It was a wonderful and inspiring time for all of us. Both are such great players but Joe really struck a nerve with me. His was playing all the intervallic things I was working on and was a great be-pop player too. I helped him with the book and although it did not sell very well, it has some of the best interval and outside ideas ever published. I go through it myself from time to time to get new ideas. You are also right about the blues. It is the heart and soul of jazz and the 12 bar progression is a great vehicle to learn about playing through jazz changes. It's the one tune that you can play straight blues and slowly add more advanced concepts as you go and still sound good. I use it all the time in my teaching to introduce jazz improv ideas and concepts. Have a good holiday season everyone. -Don Mock

diggity shwag
12/28/2004 4:45 PM
Hello Don,This discussion struck a chord with me (sorry for the pun).You said quote:"An important thing to remember in dealing with what seems to be mind-boggling amounts of theory and concepts is: All great players only use a very small amount of these ideas. I may know every use of every scale and all the theory on the planet, but when it comes to playing, I only use very few things that I like and can use. No one can apply it all. Just pick a few cool things that you like and stick to them. You will be much more successful and have a lot more fun". -Don MockWell I feel like I've focused too much on learning theory and haven't done enough in terms of 'applying' that information. Therefore I've barely retained any of the info.There are alot of conflicting ideas expressed out there with regards to modal and non modal playing. When and where does one need to be thinking "modally" and when and where does one need to be thinking "non modally" and do these modal and non modal playing concepts ever co-mingle within a single composition? In other words can you transition between the two?Is that just a modulation issue?Anyways how can I get organized and focused on the right things? Any tips for getting really organized in terms of the Major Scale and it's modes? Cause I would like to feel like I've got that down before moving on to all of this altered dominants and melodic minor modes business. I feel like it would be less mentally taxing if I could get somewhat organized.Any advice would be really great.

szulc 1/5/2005 7:55 AM
I received the Blues from rock through jazz video yesterday.I have absorbed most of the stuff.You talk about using C7, Em7b5, Gm7, and BbM7 in there and I get it but isn't that just another way to look at?C7 (C9 3,5,7,9) (C11 5,7,9,11) (C13 7,9,11,13 )CEGBb, EGBbD, GBbDF, BbDFEI really hear it this way and not so much as C7,Em7b5 etc...I guess that is the point here.I am pretty much abbreviating this to just thinking in terms of C and Bb Major which seems to be working if I approach the 3rds( and sometime the 7th) from a half step below.Don, the playing on this is fantastic, but the distorted guitar tone is not very tubey, sounds like a stomp box.I am trying to get the stylistic way you are using chromaticism to lead into chord tones. It also appears to me there are several ideas on your improv based on 4ths or 5ths.I am also trying to read through the Joe Diorio intervallic designs book. I guess I am a little disappointed with it because it seems so much like Jerry Cokers patterns for Jazz, a bit too cookbookish.I am having trouble getting the sound of the three Major Pentatonics in my head for blowing over each Dom7 in the blues prog.Can you suggest a good method for this?My personal approach to blues soloing up till now is mostly Blues scale based over the I chord with emphasis on the M3 usually m3 is a passing tone or is bent towards M3. Over the IV chord I like to usea pent based on 1 b3 4 5 6 (where 4 is the root of the IV) I guess it is equivalent to a IV9 arpeggio. In any event the emphasis is on the M3 of the chord or (M6 from the Key).I like to use the tritone shifting chromatically where 3 becomes 7 and 7 becomes 3.The V chord seems to present many possibilities but I favor V7(sus4)11. Basically a V Minor Pentatonic with M3 replacing m3.I like to try and emulate Wes and sometimes use Dorian with an added #4/b5. This seems to give me the BeBop thing.The line you use over the turnaround (key of G - G7 E7 Am7 D7)Seems to be (C Major) A Harmonic Minor and then G Harmonic Minor.I have an abersald thing that has hundreds of little motives useful for cycle 4 turnarounds depending on how far out you want to take the alterations.It seems that this same line would work if the A chord was major or A7. So I guess it is pretty much a cycle 4 thing also.It is funny because it reminds me of a line from Paganinni's Moto Perpetuo. I guess Niccolo was thinking of a turnaround way back then.

szulc 1/11/2005 7:08 AM
questions (for Don),In the Blues From Rock to Jazz video, you play three example solos at the end. How were these composed?Did you improvise them then transcribe them? OrDid you plan them out then learn them?Orsomething else?I hear big Pat Martino influences on this video (Diorio as well in solo 3).When was this made ?If you were to plan out a solo over basic blues changes would you use targeting on the 3 and 7 of every chord?What kind of synth was that at the end of this video?Was it triggered by hammering on, or is there wires making contact in the frets?

Don Mock 1/14/2005 1:42 AM
Wow, Szulc, a lot of really good observations and points in your two posts. Where do I start?The questions first. Just remember I recorded the Blues to Rock video a long time ago so I can't remember exactly what went on. The jazz/blues solos at the end were composed and written out first. They're made up of smaller lines that I play all the time but connected them into more "exercise" sounding lines. I really learned a lot by doing things like that. Write out the solos you wish you could think up on the spot and learn them. Before long you will start sounding pretty close to it. Yes. Pat Martino is a good friend and huge inspiration as is Joe Diorio. I have a suite of three tunes that I'm recording this spring. It's called "Martorio Suite" for Joe and Pat. Targeting 3rds and 7ths are always good tones to resolve lines to but lots of other work if the melody works in a way to take you there. That's my old Lane Moller double neck synth. It's a one of a kind guitar with wired frets on the top neck. Tracking is instant but it's monophonic and you can't play with dynamics. It was my big thing in the '80's where I could play millions of fast notes but it got old and now I back to the Roland system which has gotten pretty good. I have pickups on a Tele and my Stevens guitars. So James, I wish we could hang out and I could hear you play. I sure would have a better idea of how to help. Maybe if you are in the Seattle area sometime, you can visit RMI, a new school I'm involved with here with Jay Roberts (Howard's son). It's going to be a great little school with lots going on. Feel free to send me a mp3 of your playing if you want. I'll give you some positive feedback. Sorry you were disappointed with Intervalic Designs. Give it some time and get some of Joe's recordings to hear the stuff being used. Joe is the one of best there is.That's it for now. We're all headed to LA for the NAMM show next week. Hope to see lots of friends and players and what's up with the music business. -Don Mock

szulc 1/14/2005 3:18 PM
I am reading the Intervallic designs every night while watching/(listening to) the news. I guess mapping out solos is a good way to start blowing over chord changes. I have always had an aversion to that. I had an instructor in college that was an awesome Tenor Sax player and he gave me aebersald tapes of chord changes but wouldn't give me the charts he said "Use your Ears". I guess I was supposed to be able to figure that stuff out by ear. I wasn't very good at that! Now I am going to start reading/learning other people's solos and trying to make them part of my vocabulary.I wrote out the first and third solos in your video in Powertab (it shows TAB and Staff). Mostly I did this because I didn't want to leave the VCR on pause too long. I could post them if you want.Maybe tonight I'll tab out the middle one.

Don Mock 1/16/2005 2:35 PM
Szulc, yes, trying to use your ears is a pretty tough way to go about soloing over changes. You can't "hear" what you don't "know." Ear training is really about learning sounds so you recognize them later on.We're planning to convert the Blues Rock to Jazz video to DVD and will include a booklet. In the early REH videos we put the music notation on the screen but it's awful to try to read. I could really use any notation you have written out. I can't find the originalmusic examples so it would be very helpful, especially the tab which we did not put on the screen. Thanks, -Don Mock


bluesyourdaddy 2/15/2005 9:32 PM
Don, I have all of your Secrets Revealed books and two of your videos. I have been applying what I have learned and have been very happy with the improvement of my ideas when improvising. My question is about adding chromatics. Do you have tips about any methods to adding chromatic ideas? I know it is obvious that you can basically add notes in between the scales and arps. But when you show examples that skip around I wonder how you come up with those chromatic ideas that come from all directions. Thanks, Brian

Don Mock 2/16/2005 10:14 PM
Great to hear from you Brian. I hate to push my books sometimes, but I think my new "Masterclass Series - Target Tones" is probably what you are looking for. It is a concept for using chromatics through the use of small four-note "target melodies" that lead to chord and scale tones. I think you will get a clearer view of how chromatics work in improvising. Getting chromatics in your playing is not about using the chromatic scale, but more how the "wrong" notes can work to enhance the "right" ones.-Don Mock


diggity shwag 3/2/2005 9:02 PM
How are functional and non-functional harmony used in songwriting? Can both be used within a single composition? Is that something that is commonly done? I have no clue. Help. thangx ;-)

marcbabin 4/16/2005 10:23 AM
Do you mean by functional diatonic and non functional altered or atonal??

diggity shwag 4/17/2005 4:04 PM
"Do you mean by functional diatonic and non functional altered or atonal??"I think so. Sort of. Maybe not atonal per se. I mean, diatonic chords are moving towards their goal and that's how you place the changes knowing that the tonic of the key is their destination. But then with modes you don't have all of that happening and you're just kind of droning on the modal root. So let's say you get tired of droning on that one modal root and you want to go somewhere else because you feel that a change should occur. Where do you go? You want to modulate right? So I guess I'm trying to figure how to put that together (or if I can) with regular diatonic changes. And also I wouldn't mind any insights on root movement of chords that don't follow a diatonic pattern. I mean any chord can follow any other chord if it sounds good right? Could anyone shed some light on any of this stuff?

Don Mock 4/20/2005 2:42 AM
Let me take a shot at this. A lot of great question/ideas, but maybe we should separate a few of these issues to be clear on each. First, how about some terminology. Jazz players and composers tend to think of the word diatonic as meaning "relating to" or "part of" etc. Some even use the word when talking about any key center which might include harmonic or melodic minors. Ebmaj#5, for example, is "diatonic to the key of C harmonic minor etc. But it's probably best to stick to the major scale when using the word. In my world the term "functioning" is almost always attached to a dominant 7th chord. Functioning dominants always take you somewhere else usually, but not always, the tonic chord. (G7 to Cmaj7 or A7 to Dm7 etc. Dominant 7ths that are stationary like the ones in blues, rock or funk are sometime called "static dominants." Static dominants can usually have extensions added (9th, 11th, 13th) but not usually alterations (#5, b9 etc). The one big exception in modern music is adding the #9 to a static dominant. (Check out my little lesson on "The Hendrix Chord" here on the site.) One right thing you said is that any chord can follow any chord if it sound good. There really are no strict rules on how one constructs a tune. Although, the chord moves that sound great usually follow some logic or harmonic movement that works and can probably be traced to some classical rule. Traditional tunes and jazz standards are loaded with common short progressions such II-V-I and I-VI-II-V's. You can connect these progressions from key to key all day long and will always sound correct. Randomly play turnarounds in any key to any key and you will see that you can't sound wrong. We can call this kind of composing "diatonic progressions" even though we might be changing keys every bar. Some other terms that you might hear relating to improvising and composing are modal and parallel chord movements. During the fusion era in the '70's and '80's everyone was writing tunes with parallel moves. Heck, just take an A11 or G/A chord and slide it around to different keys every bar or so. Instant fusion. Entire tunes are written with one chord played in several keys. My tune St. Clair is nothing more than an dominant 11th played in about 6 keys. And these 11th's are considered "static" dominants so you won't hear much in the way of altered sounds.Modal writing is using the mode names to not only tell you which scale you are in but also the harmony or chords. When you think about it, writing out tunes using this approach makes a lot of sense. If I see on a chart a bar of D Dorian, I have all the information I need to not only improvise but comp too. D Dorian is nothing more that a C major scale for soloing and for chords I can play Dm, Dm7, Dm9, Dm11 and any Dm chords with extensions or additions from the key of C. If the next bar has F Phrygian, off to the key of D flat and the same thing. D flat for my key center and notes from Db added to the Fm chord. Well I've skimmed over a lot of ideas here but the bottom line is all this leads us back to the need for a clear knowledge of harmony and theory. And learning theory is easy, it's using it in a creative and musical fashion that can take a life time to master.-Don Mock

Modulation Question

diggity shwag 6/14/2005 5:28 PM
When modulating (in modern music), is a PAC (perfect authentic cadence) required in the new key, or is that just one of those old school rules particular to classical music?

Don Mock 6/16/2005 2:27 AM
Quite a question there Feng. There are no real rules in modern music about key modulations. Compositions can change keys anytime if it sounds good. And you don't need a classical cadence to lead into a key change. Jazz players write tunes all the time that shift keys using either traditional progressions (II-V-I etc.) or modal or parallel harmonies. Look at a tune like "Maiden Voyage" by Herbie Hancock. It's just the same 11th chord shifting to different keys. Or how about Miles Davis's classic "So What." Two chords......Dm7 and Ebm7. Two keys that are not related and you don't need to try to use leading chords (V to I) to make the tune sound good. -Don Mock

Melodic Minor?

alfonso 3/24/2007 1:57 PM
Don, I know you're an amazing guitarist not only that you have interviewed, produced and played music with some of the worlds greatest jazz guitarists. Regarding the melodic minor scale, can you tell me who in your opinion uses it the most in jazz guitar? As far as guitar history goes can you name just one of the first guitarist who started using the melodic minor in their guitar playing? Last thing is I wish you would do a DVD on the melodic minor, I know you have a CD and a book but I prefer seeing you actually playing the stuff. thank you

Don Mock 4/3/2007 6:43 PM
Great questions Alfonso. First off, it would be great to shoot a dvd on melodic minor ideas. I may end up doing some version of that or right here in an on-line lesson. We're working on that now. The melodic minor is pretty much the preferred "altered" scale in all of improvised music. Just about everyone of my heroes I listened to growing up used the scale in some form. What is interesting is that's it's often hard to know if the player was "thinking" melodic minor or some other scale such as harmonic minor or diminished. You could find three different players to transcribe the same solo and ask them to add their analysis of what scales the player was using and it's likely you would end up with three different views. With chromatics and passing notes thrown in it's sometime difficult to know what the player was actually thinking. I used to copy a lot of George Benson recordings and to me, he used the harmonic minor scale a lot. But I've met players over the years who were convinced that those were melodic minor ideas with passing tones he played. With all that said, there are still players who clearly use melodic minor a fair amount in their improvisations. Modern players like, Mike Stern, Scott Henderson and John Scofield, to name a few, use the scale quite often and sometimes in very unusual places. From the earlier generation, Joe Pass was the king of melodic minor lines. Joe, like a lot of players, often relied on the "up a half step" use of the scale to get the "altered scale" sound. (Ab melodic minor over G7)Hope this helps a bit Alfonso. I hope in the future you join in on one of the on-line classes where I'm sure the melodic minor will be a popular topic. Thanks - Don Mock


Don Mock 5/21/2003 2:03 AM
OK, guys, anybody got a new chord for me? Alright then, here's a cool but challenging one. Some of the best chords I know came from basic voicings on the fingerboard. By moving various notes and fingers around all kinds of things can be discovered. A nice variation on the basic "boogie" bass move is to play, for example, an A7 bar chord at the 5th fret. From the lowest string going up: 5-7-5-6-5-5. Now slide the two notes on the A string and the G string up while keeping the bar intact. Move the E up to F# and the C# to D. It should now look like this: 5-9-5-7-5-5. Quite a stretch but a great A13sus sound. Now play a boogie-woogie pattern with the two chords. Finally, figure out this move with the D7 bar chord at the 5th fret. Any questions or comments? -Don Mock

Rolf 5/23/2003 6:27 PM
Hello Don, no new chord maybe a new combination.Here it is, based on what one could call an extended "Memphis Tennessee" lick or "The Pusher" or maybe just Blues comp. It isan inversion of the above basic version, in G that is D3 D4 B3, D5 G5 B5, D5 G7 B6, the second inversion is D12 G12 B12, D14 G12 B13, D15 G12 B15, a lot of people know that one too(at leastwith open strings) but only very few play that one, check it out(or maybe it is an "Old friends move" in your Blues bag?) D9 G10 B8, D10 G9 B8, D12 G10 B8, I think of it as a first inversion of the basic lick.Hopefully of some interest to somebody Best wishes RolfP.S. How about "Exploring Symmetrical Scales"?

Don Mock 5/25/2003 3:42 PM
Hey, Rolf, great moves.. I need more of those open string country chord licks....The symmetric scale book is done I'm still working on the CD. (I wrote too many lines that I can hardly play) Interested in octaves? My new little book came out pretty good. Finally got a chance to talk about the Wes thing that I worked so hard on when I was younger. -Don Mock

clovis 2127/18/2003 7:15 PM
Hey DonI just saw on this site that you have a new book out about Turnaround licks/lines. I was wondering if you could go a little more in depth about that book. What kind of turnarounds are mainly talked about? I VI ii V stuff, etc etc. Do you do any lines based off your favorite jazz players like Wes, etc? I'm eager to learn more about it.John

jimbol51 8/16/2003 7:02 PM
Hi Don,When is your Target Tones book going to be released? I'm having a real gas going through the octaves and turnaround books! Jim P.S. What part of Washington State are you in? I remember when you were at GIT years ago! Great stuff!!!!!!!!

Jp 11/6/2003 10:50 AM
Just wondering when the symmetric scale book is gonna be released?

Randall 11/30/2003 12:08 PM
Hi Don, great website! I live in the Seattle/Everett area, do you give lessons in the area? I've taken lessons from Jay Roberts, he said this website is your method of contact.Randy

guitarnerd 2/12/2004 2:31 PM
Okay, I like playing around with the chord lick from "All Blues"XX3333 hammer on to xx3433xx5555xx7765 and back down in reverse.Top that Don! ( if you couldn't) 8-)

Don Mock 2/16/2004 2:59 AM
Wow guys, I'm sorry I didn't follow the threads on the forum. Several of you asked some good questions. Yes, I live in the Seattle area and do teach privately. May start teaching at a new school in Bellevue with Jay Roberts (son of Howard). he's starting a school for private lessons and several classes which I'll be teaching some of. Contact me at I just finished the Symmetric Scales Revealed book. What a bitch recording the CD with all the challenging whole tone and diminished lines I wrote but forgot about. It's finally done and should be out in a few months or less. We (guitaraxis) will have the first copies. Someone asked about the Turnarounds book. Just might be the best little book/cd I've done. Mainly on major turnarounds with eight-notes. It really came out well and I think people will learn a lot from it. Hell, it's the exact system I figured out to play quickly over turnarounds that were blazing by. Now I got it down and can nail any turnaround because of the approach. OK guys, keep writing! -Don Mock

Don Mock 2/16/2004 3:17 AM
And Guitarnerd, like your All Blues comp. I like to add the bass notes like this:3x343x (hammer the 4 like you did) 5x555x 6x756x (you can also hammer the 7and 6 on the 2nd and 4th strings. I use my thumb on the bass notes too)OR Miles might have used this type:xx3453 xx5565 xx5757 Or:xx5767 xx7988 xx9 10 8 10You can actually play a lot of the melody with the last two versions. - Don Mock

Professional Repertoire

Howard 3/1/2003 9:53 AM
Don: Hello! Please, what is the best way to build a professional repertoire for playing club dates that require a variety of styles of music? Fake books, recordings, transcriptions, sheet music, etc. Thank you, Howard

Don Mock 3/4/2003 12:35 AM
Welcome Howard. Good question about building a repertoire. Knowing lots of tunes is a valuable aspect to being a pro. Here's a quick list as I see it. First off get one or more fake books. Everyone I know all have the famous "Real Book" which was produced years ago by some musicians on the East Coast. It has all the standards and "hip" tunes most people play. But now days there are new versions plus a CD that's floating around packed with charts in pdf's. I'm looking for one of those myself. Check out some clubs or gigs to see what tunes seem to be popular that everyone’s playing. Make a list of about 10 to start with. Then add another few at a time. But don't try to learn too many. Learn the melody in single-note form. Learn the chord changes the best you can cause this is what you will be playing 75% of the time. Comping is giging!!! If you are into improvising over the tunes then start working on that. Get or make yourself a play-along "music-minus-one track of the tune to practice to. As you progress you can develop chord-melody versions of a few of the tunes too. Look for similarities between tunes like II-V-I progressions and turnarounds. Then when you learn new tunes you will start to see familiar patterns which make leaning them and soloing over them easier. With all this though, nothing will be better for you then just playing with people. If you can manage to land a gig, it will teach you very quickly what you need to work on and what tunes. It's difficult to try to prepare ahead of time for the real world of playing gigs. You have to just dive in and the rest takes care of itself. - Don Mock

Mr. Mock - videos or dvd's - your music?

DrFretBoard 4/27/2004 4:17 PM
Hi Mr. Don Mock, I'm from the Netherlands, been playing guitar for about 11 years now, since I was 16. I studied jazzguitar at the conservatory, but strangely enough never encountered any of your material. Just recently I found out about your instructional material and heard a *little bit* your playing, which was terrific and made me try to find more of your music (which seems almost impossible). Are there any albums of yours that are currently obtainable at all? Will you perhaps put out a concert dvd anytime soon? Do you know whether & when your VHS instructional material will be available on DVD, and if other VHS REH material such as the tapes by Joe Diorio, Al DiMeola and Joe Pass will become available on DVD shortly? I'd love to find out where I can get my hands (..ears..) on some of your music; it seems terribly hard to come by. Greetings, Alexander

Don Mock 5/4/2004 6:23 PM
Alexander, thanks for the message. Warner is in the process of converting a lot of our REH videos to DVD's. but it will take a while. As far as me, my albums are not widely distributed but we will have them here on the site in a few months. I'm involved with two playing projects right now that will record CD's later in the year. A duo with Howard Roberts son Jay Roberts and a trio with my long time drummer friend Dave Coleman and bassist Steve Kim. The trio plays very modern improvised music. We're going for sort of a guitar version of Weather Report. Very cool but challenging for me. The duo with Jay is great fun playing standards and a few original tunes. Both groups will be playing a lot in the Seattle area this summer. -Don Mock

Coming Up with New Chords

DrFretBoard 4/27/2004 4:24 PM
I noticed the older thread about 'do you have a new chord for me'... I created an application for Windows, called FretBoardKnowledge (it's free: that can give you every fretboard-position for any chord formula and display it graphically. Also, you can make it calculate scales to match chords. Mr. Mock, I'd love to hear from you about this app; if you can find a use for it!

Don Mock 5/4/2004 6:41 PM
Alexander, good post about your chord program. I tried to go to the address but could not enter. I congratulate you for the work it must have took to write a software program to build chords, but this is one topic I have serious reservations about. In all my years of teaching it's become very clear to me that students need to learn the fingerboard and the theory so they can build any chord they need, right on the guitar. I hate chord books and anything that players think they have to use as a outside tool to learn voicings. I bet that you, after thinking about and writing your software, that you now no longer need it. You can probably figure out any chord you'll ever need. I want students to be able to "write the software" themselves. This means know the instrument well enough to be able to come up with any chord, arpeggio or scales by using the fingerboard right in front of them. Not running to a book or a computer. Certainly computers can offer a lot of help in learning music and recording, notation, almost anything. I live in front of a computer. But when it comes to the learning process, this is one subject where it's time to leave the computer off. I would, however, be happy to see a teaching program/software that helps students learn chord construction theory. And how to use the guitar itself, as a learning tool, not the computer. Hope this does not discourage your work on softwares, there is always a need for good learning tools, whether it be books, videos or computer programs. Thanks again for the post and I will still try to look at your site to check out what you have. It still might be very helpful to many players. -Don Mock

New Book Suggestion (Please!!!!)

theillchef 6/8/2004 12:12 PM
Hey Don, your materials have helped me grow immensely as a player over the past couple of years. All of your books are great but I have one request that I think you could probably do better than anyone else, especially since I haven’t found anything of this type yet. As you’ve mentioned, I know you are a little hesitant with teaching patterns but at the same time realizing that they are indeed helpful for learning the art of improvisation. I agree, and I have stayed away from patterns for the most part in order to secure a more organic sound but I have noticed as of late that they are really helping me out in the sense that new patterns foster new fingerings that I would never had thought of. With that, I would like to suggest a book on advanced digital patterns (or sequencing). I’m sure you have heard that term before, a set of notes played digitally across the neck. Of course digital patterns still have to be made up as far as fingerings go, but each exercise would not stray from the original sequence, unless you delved into key changes via patterns. I hope I am explaining this OK. In fact, your books already have sequencing but they aren’t the large proportion of the material. For example, there is an advanced one called “tricks” I believe in the last section of the Target Tones book. I would pay $100 for a book containing multiple types of these. In short, I have been searching for a book like this for a long time to no avail and figured I’d give it a try. I make my own on occasion but digital patterns are based on phrasing as well as numbers and learning phrases that you wouldn’t have thought of is the main idea here. If each phrase is moved digitally for about 8 bars I believe it would make for great learning material. Different scales (Major, Minor, Melodic Minor, Chromatic, etc.) and different groupings (anywhere from 4 to 12 notes) could be used throughout the book for a versatile lesson base. I could even send samples if I am not clear enough. Also, if you are willing to do this on an individual basses I could funnel those C-notes right to your pocket, and I would be a happy camper at that. Below is my email. Thanks, Art

Don Mock 6/8/2004 7:39 PM
Art, sorry it took me so long to get to your really great post. Sequences are a great way to build technique and help players develop melodic ideas too. I've always stuck some sequences in books but never an entire book on the subject. My old "Hot Licks" book has the most on sequences, probably more than most players would need. Certainly no mystery to making them up. Just mathematical sequences. I used to come up with the math idea first, then record the line at a slow speed on a recorder, (cause I had not practiced it yet) and then play it back speeded up to hear what it would sound like. If I liked it, I would go ahead and learn it and get it down. Lots of them did not sound so great. Just fast predictable licks.I would rather write a book on the process of coming up with sequences than a bunch of them. It sounds like you already know the way sequences are constructed, so you should get to work coming up with the ones you like. And pick only a few that you like and use them. Don't try to tackle too many like I did Just remember. Sequences alone are not the answer to good improvising. They are only one of many tools. If you only play them, your solos will be pretty one-dimensional.And be sure to mix sequences with other types of melodies and don't forget about rhythmic variations and phrasing. But Art, cause you wrote such a good post, here's a sequence that works in any scale. But I mainly use it for a major scale. I'll use numbers to represent the scale tones (1= root etc. all the way into the next octave 1-13)1-5-6-10-9-8-7-6 2-6-7-11-10-9-8-7 3-7-8-12-11-10-9-8 and so on up the scale. It's actually arps in 5th followed by a descending portion of the scale. Check it out.-Don Mock

Book Suggestion

KevinS 1/29/2005 10:17 PM
Don, First off I'm a big fan. I've got a few of your books and I even enjoy just listening to the instruction CD's even when I'm not practicing just for enjoyment. Since you've been approaching books about scalular ideas I wanted to suggest you put out a book on playing "outside" concepts. I'd love to hear your approach with a full book dedicated just to that topic. Kevin

Don Mock 1/31/2005 12:13 AM
Kevin, great idea on the "outside" book. I'd love to put some of the concepts I've come up with down on paper. Just not sure the guys at Warner would think it would sell enough. But I love talking about it and may get something out on the subject, if only here on the site. But here's one rule about it I've found. You can't play outside very well until you learn to play inside first.Thanks, -Don Mock


akis 3/5/2005 5:55 AM
Hello Don! I hope you're doing great. I would like you to give me some suggestions on how to practice polyrhythms in order to incorporate them into my playing fluently. Thank you very much, Akis

Don Mock 3/7/2005 11:32 PM
Akis, that's a very tough question to answer. Poly-rhythms are typically one or more rhythms going on at the same time. John McLaughlin’s Birds of Fire is an good example. He plays an arpeggiated guitar part in 18/8 (felt in 3) while the band plays a rock 9/4 phrase at the same time. The two parts are very contrary but work together very well. Getting these kinds of things in your playing is to clearly understand and “feel” various combinations that are useful. You might be thinking of rhythmic syncopation and subdivisions. This is where to start by learning, for example, to play a lick or melody in 1/4 notes, 1/8ths, 16th, 1/4 and 1/8th note triplets. You should also play rhythm parts in various time signatures such as 5/4 or 7/4 or 11/8. 11/8 is good cause it can be played in a “four” feel counting these three subdivisions; “1-2-3-4 5-6-7-8 9-10-11.” Or play it in a “three” feel; “1-2-3 4-5-6 7-8-9 10-11.” Hope this gets you thinking in the right direction. - Don Mock

Guitar Competition

lightning 3/7/2005 12:05 AM
Don, I’m entering my first guitar competition- just wondering what you think of these things, also just how does someone judge a guitar player? What would you look for if you were a judge? I think the whole idea of some non-guitar players(some judges are just local radio or entertainment names) judging guitarists. Either way I’ve really pushed myself to be a better player because of it. Thanks- I also want to say this site is great- its helped me get some new ideas!!

Don Mock 3/8/2005 3:38 PM
Thanks for joining us here Lightning. I'm not a big fan of music competitions. Music is not a sport where you are trying to beat an opponent. But I will admit that there are some benefits. Guitar competitions, like they have at Guitar Centers, do prepare a player for the stress and sometimes humiliating experience of playing at auditions, either for a band, or some type recording gig. It's also great, when you are not in a band playing, to have a goal and deadline to force you to get things together. My main concern is for those who either have an off day or can not play well at competitions. Some people might get very discouraged and then the guitar ends up in the closet. If I was a judge, I would look for a player who sound intelligent. Fancy chops won't win me over, but great phrasing and melodic playing that addresses the chord changes will.Let us know how you did at the competition. Thanks, -Don Mock

Comping and Chord Melody

bskinder 3/11/2005 2:24 PM
Hey Don! I just worked through your jazz comping video and was very pleased with it. I was wondering if maybe you could recommend something that would pick up after that and cover more advanced comping and chord melody type stuff. Do any of the Joe Pass videos cover comping/chord melody? I have the book Joe Pass Jazz Lines which, I think, is an abbreviated version of the dvd. I also plan on picking up Ron Eschete's chord phrases book, I love his playing and would love to be able to play that tastefully. Thanks in advance Don, for any advice. Brad

Don Mock 3/12/2005 12:51 AM
Great to hear from you Brad. You are on the right track with Ron's Chord Phrases book. Really good chord moves. There are lot's of great books out there, but many only have small sections devoted to chord melody. If you can find them, get Joe Pass' chord solos book or Howard Roberts Chord Melody Manual. Of course, if you really want to dig into the subject check our George Van Eps books on chord soloing or Jimmy Wyble's books. Ted Green's books are also loaded with amazing chord voicings and movements. Joe Diorio's Giant Steps book has several chord melodies for the tune that are very cool. On the other hand, now might be the time for you to do some serious listening and transcribing recordings of these and many other great chordal guitar players. And don't forget about piano players too.Hope this helps. -Don Mock

Playing Lead Question

alfonso 3/21/2005 2:50 PM
The key of G Major lays out well on the neck. So, in the key G Major, the notes are G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G. Each mode then begins on one of these notes, ok here's the question. When I'm playing a song like "Autumn Leaves" which begins with Am7 D7 GM7 CM7, this is the scale I play Gmaj., I do change at the bridge to a Dminor pentatonic. As I am a beginner in playing jazz lead guitar I'd like to hear some different views on what scales are played by others... And Don, give me some pointers when you get the time.

Don Mock 3/24/2005 12:26 PM
OK Fretbaord, here we go.....Autumn Leaves is a great tune to work on to get down the fundamentals of playing jazz. I saw Mike Stern do a clinic last year, and he spent the entire time demonstrating ideas over Autumn Leaves. It's a great progression because it is split into major and minor key centers. You are correct about the first part being in the key of G major. But when the tune shifts to F#min7b5 - B7, you are now in the key of E minor. However, this is still the same key, as G major and E (natural) minor are the same. You can still play the G major over the minor section, but one scale that really works well during the F#min7b5 - B7 is E harmonic minor. This scale does a great job of creating extra tension over the B7 (b9 and #5) and sets up a strong resolution to Em. But remember, only play the E harmonic minor during the F#min7b5 - B7, and NOT over the Em7. Go back to G major (E minor) for the Em7. Hope this helps - Don Mock


alfonso 4/23/2005 2:32 PM
Don, Just got your book on "Symmetrical Scales", wow! This is gonna be some challenge, that's a good thing as Martha would say. I was just wondering if you have any suggestions on developing speed? My other post on speed didn't get any response, thanx. Oh, anyone who has any ideas on speed please post...

Don Mock 4/24/2005 11:35 PM
Thanks for this and the other post on the free lesson Alfonso. Speed is a tough topic to talk about cause there are so many versions that different players develop. But let's start with Howard Roberts' famous phrase that "speed is the bi-product of accuracy." Which means play things slow and without mistakes first and slowly increase the tempo over time. As far as different versions of speed, some players are literally born with it. Some call it "twitch fibers," or even nervous energy that can give some young players instant pick and fingering speed. I've seen people who don't even play the guitar grab a pick and buzz saw on a string faster than a hummingbird wing. But this is not a requirement by a long shot. Some of the best technicians don't have enormous natural speed but have learned how to compensate by modifying their technique. Here's a few names of players who are considered guitars finest technical players but don't really have lightning quick chops. Wes Montgomery figured out somehow how to pick 16th notes with his bare thumb. Allen Holdsworth and Scott Henderson developed a combination of picking and hammers and pull-off to play as many notes as any one would need. The bottom line is to stay on your personal course working on everything from scale sequences, licks to small repetitive phrases. But the key is knowing clearly what you are playing and have a definite idea what it should sound like at the speed you want to achieve. Lots of players fault their chops when their real problem is just not knowing what they are trying to play. Which takes us back to the H.R. "accuracy" phrase. Hope this gets you thinking and feeling better about your speed issue. -Don Mock

Memorization and Transposition

HowardJ 10/14/2005 12:21 PM
Hi Don, Do you recommend memorizing and playing everything in all keys? For example: tunes from fake books, recordings, exercises, studies etc... Thank you, Howard

Don Mock 10/16/2005 12:04 AM
Good question Howard. It's always a good idea to play everything in all keys. And in most cases, this should not be a big deal cause the guitar fingerboard can work basically like a slide rule, where chords and patterns are moveable. We really don't have any easy or hard keys, they're all about the same. The only exception of course is dealing with open string chords or melodies. But you should move every line, melody and chord phrase to all keys. Tunes are also a good idea to transpose to other keys. Doing this really helps see the root movements of the progression. You may never be asked to play a standard like "All The Things You Are" in a key like E, but it's great to have the ability to do it. Probably one of the best things to practice in all keys are basic chord progressions such as major and minor II-V-I's or I-VI-II-V's. And working on switching scale and arpeggio patterns from key to key is also a huge benefit.Thanks, -Don Mock

Melodic Minor - Don Mocks Book... Question! HELP!

Braddog 11/21/2005 12:50 PM
In Don's book concerning De-Mystifiing the Melodic Minor Scale he mentions 5 melodic minor scales that could be used but only 4 are covered in the book. Can you please explain the 5th (which is: for a G7 use the Bb Melodic Minor Scale ). Thanks Bruce

Don Mock 11/22/2005 11:31 PM
Great question Bruce. Let me first answer your question with a bit of math. There are 15 classical scales or modes that can theoretically be played over an altered dominant 7th chord. If you add up all the possible tones (extended and altered) in the chord you have: root, b9, 2nd, #9, 3rd, 4th, b5, 5th, #5, 6th, and b7th. This is literally every note except the major 7th. If we were thinking G7 the one bad note is F#. And if you use the premise that any scale that does not contain an F# could be considered an altered scale for G7, then you end up with 5 major scales, 5 harmonic minor scales and 5 melodic minor scales. But remember that this is just mathematical possibilities. Not all 15 scales sound that great over a dominant chord. Your question about the 5 choices for melodic minor asked about the scale that lives a minor 3rd above a dom7. Bb melodic minor for G7. And the big answer sucks! Although the Bb melodic over G7 looks good on paper with it's #9 and b5 and #5 altered tones, I for one just can't make it sound very good. And I think I speak for a lot of other players who would choose the other four melodics for their altered scales. I think the problem is it has the natural 9th and the 4th which make the scale hard to use melodically. It doesn't seem to have a chordal identity like the other 4 melodics. But don't take my word for it. Try it! You just might "hear" it and like the sound and may be able to use it in your playing. And while you are at it, make yourself a list of the 15 scales. Use G7 as the guide chord and list every scale (you can even toss in pentatonics) that do not have an F#. Then play them all in context over a 2-5-1 progression (Dm7-G7-Cmaj7) but only over the G7 and strive for good resolutions when landing back on Cmaj7. Check off on your list the ones you think sound good. Trial and error....the best teacher in music.Thanks -Don Mock

Pentatonics/Key Centers

Ken Bennett 1/11/2006 1:24 PM
The online article on pentatonic scales says: "... G7 is in the key center of C.... If you can play C major over G7, then you can also play, or superimpose, the three major pentatonics; G, C and D." The three major pentatonics in the key of C are C, F, and G, based on the I, IV, and V. Wouldn't the F# note in the D major pentatonic clash with the F natural in the G7 chord?

Don Mock 1/12/2006 5:52 PM
Ken, thanks for the question. Several people have caught the mistake in the text of the Pentatonic lesson. You are right, the three major pentatonics for a G7, key of C, is C, F and G pentatonics. Glad you were paying close attention. Also while I'm at it, let me clarify one more pentatonic for G7. On just about any chord, you can call upon the blues to add more sound to chords. For G7, the G minor (or Bb major) pentatonic is always available to use (musical style permitting). The scale sits outside traditional theory and on paper it looks like it should sound wrong with that minor third, but it's that very conflict between the major third in the chord and the minor third in the scale that gives that wonderful blues effect. And sure, there are lots of variations to the blues scale. G minor pent only has 5 notes but it's often referred to as a G "blues pentatonic." Add a Db to add more color and you have the common 6-note blues scale. Toss in the E (6th) and you have a 7 note version. And you can keep adding extra tones as long as you can make musical sense out of them. Thanks again for the post Ken, -Don Mock

Want to Play over Major 7th Chords

tam 3/12/2006 3:36 PM
Hello I'm trying to make up a solo over the chords,Cmaj7 and Ebmaj7.The chords alternate every bar. Is there any other scale I could use rather than the majors just to jazz it up a bit. cheers Tam Scotland

Don Mock 3/13/2006 12:19 AM
Tam, thanks for the question. Unfortunately, there is not one good common scale for both Cmaj7 and Ebmaj7. It depends on the tempo and how quickly the chords are switching back and forth, but you probably are going to have to make the scale switch along with them. Here's a few "thinking" tricks I'd try. First, look for common tones between the two chords. C and G are common chord tones but you can include the scale tones too like D and F. You can also include A if you think of the Ebmaj7 as a IV chord in the key of Bb (Lydian). These 5 notes do make up a D minor pentatonic which you could view as a common scale. It's a bit limiting melodically so you'll have to pick your notes wisely. You can also pretend that the two chords are Cmaj7 and Cm7 and use the keys of C and Bb. Or A minor and G minor pentatonics. This is a great example of two opposing keys and it can be pretty challenging to improvise over them when they are changing quickly. Just start slow or double the length of each chord until you get comfortable with them.Thanks, -Don Mock

Using pinky as an anchor

mgatto 5/26/2006 8:20 AM
Hello, I've been studying Flatpicking technique lately. I notice many players use the pinky of the picking hand as an anchor by lightly touching it down on the guitar top. This seems to add stability and accuracy without slowing things down much. I always sort of held the pick with a soft closed hand without the hand touching the guitar. Using the pinky-anchor has added much accuracy to my picking technique. Any thoughts? Mike

Don Mock 5/28/2006 1:16 AM
I do it too, Mike....-Don Mock

Ten Book

wolfgang69 7/21/2006 10:34 PM
Don, many years ago I purchased the book Ten. It was loaded with some good stuff. I really thought your section on slash chords was excellent. Any chance of you doing a master class book on this topic? Thanks

Don Mock 9/16/2006 1:05 AM
Thanks Wolfgang. Back in the '80's I wrote and taught the Jazz/Fusion class at GIT and during those times, slash chords were a everyday thing. It seemed like every fusion tune was loaded with "this over that" chords. So I did a lot of research and practice on both polychords and slash (triad over bass note) chords. The chapter in TEN was an analyze of the 12 possible major triads with various bass notes. And to this day I apply that theory to the chords when I encounter them. I would love to do a book on the subject but not sure that those type of chords are as popular today in pop and jazz as they were 20 years ago. In a somewhat related subject, we are just finishing up a new modal play-along and instructional series for Alfred Publishing (former Warner). It's called "Modal Mojo" and the instructional book/CD has a lot of info on modal comping and soloing which includes lots of slash chords. And the play-along CD's are recorded live by our trio (bass, drums and guitar) and came out great. Hope you check it out. -Don Mock

Odd Times

dkaplowitz 12/29/2006 9:33 AM
Don, I was a student of yours at GIT from '87-'88. I remember you were big on odd times back then and many of your explanations helped me get my mind around them way back then (though I couldn't ever get used to how you would count all the way up to whatever the time signature was instead of counting the smaller groupings -- I guess that's just a personal preference thing). Anyway, since times have changed and people's taste in music have changed and fusion has changed, I'm wondering if you still mess around with those crazy time sigs any more. I personally think it's great stuff and I wish more people would play that kinda' music (out of the Mahavishnu/Zappa school). I've gotten into some of Gavin Harrison's instructional stuff (metric modulation up the wazoo) and am trying to learn more about Indian tala and other types of approaches to rhythm. I guess I'm just an old progg-head at heart. Would love to hear what you've been up to with that kinda' stuff. Cheers! Dave P.S. Count me in as another person who is ready to buy some of your recorded music (Mock One, Speed of Light). I've been wanting to hear some of that for ages, but can't find copies anywhere!

Don Mock 12/29/2006 7:44 PM
Great to hear from you Dave. You're right that the odd time phase has faded a bit but students still have lots of interest in the subject. I've been teaching a rhythm guitar class at our school here in Seattle (Roberts Music Institute) and we spend a fair amount of time discussing odd times and how they relate to today's music. My good friend drummer Dave Coleman, who I literally grew up with playing music, and I are playing a lot together again and are joined by a fine fretless bass player Steve Kim. Dave and I learned odd time playing together back in the '70's when it was wildly popular. The group is not the typical jazz guitar trio but rather more of a fusion flavored space music band. We have a great time and do jump into lots of odd time signatures. Look for our new play-along CD series called "Modal Mojo" which are 30 tracks on 3 CD's of all kinds of modal one-chord grooves. Some of the tracks are in 6/4 and 7/4. I also did a companion CD/book which is a detailed look at modal playing both improvising and rhythm. It should be out in a few months. We're still planning on offering the two albums you mentioned here on the site. Stand by.Thanks again Dave. -Don Mock

Quartal Harmony

PaulRussell 6/30/2008 11:31 AM
Hi Don I have a copy of your Melodic Minor revealed. One of the best books I ever bought! Not only are the licks practical and really playable, you give the ground up 'chunks' of info required for learning. I'm stuck in a real rut with my playing. I'm been playing same ideas for what seems like years! In an effort to get some new sounds into my playing I'm turning for some new harmonic concepts... I like these 4th sounding chords that I hear being thrown around. Despite finishing college in music, I'm real vague about where I can throw in these chords, good guitar fingerings etc. etc. Can you help advise here? Many thanks Paul Russell UK

Don Mock 7/20/2008 9:36 PM
Great question Paul. Some of the best 4th stack type voicings are real easy to play. One good one is: Dm11 - at the 5th fret - D on 5th string 5th fret, G on 4th, 5th fret, C on 3rd, 5th fret, F on 2nd, 6th fret and A on 1st, 5th fret. This simple voicing either a 5-note or 4 note version works in so many situations. I would first recommend finding all the locations this chord can work in a given key like C. Just find all the places where all the tones remain in the key. In C, for example, It can be played at the 5th fret, 7th fret and 12th. If we play it as a 4 note 4th stack on the inside 4 strings then it works in more places............5th, 7th 12th and 14th. If we consider them all to be various Dm chords then we get lots of nice extended and sus sounds. But we can also consider them all to be G7 chords or Cmaj7 or Fmaj7 or Am7 etc. Then experiment with more locations of the voicing even if a note ore two are out of the key. This is just a scratch of the surface of the power of these sounds but maybe this will get you started.-Don Mock


wolfgang69 7/12/2009 5:49 PM
Don, I purchased your Modal mojo book/cd and I am learning some cool improvising tools. I have been playing for a while and have very little problem improvising with Major scales and pentatonic scales. However, I am having difficulty weaving arpeggios in and out and making them sound musical. Any advice when it comes to practicing diatonic arpeggios? Thanks

Don Mock 7/27/2009 11:50 PM
Great question wolfgang.....The best way I think to deal with arpeggios is to learn them (7 diatonic arps) in one position where you can easily access each of them without too much movement. But the real trick is thinking small. Only play 3 or 4 notes of each one.....not long multi octave versions. It's much easier to come up with nice melodic combinations with small arp shapes. You said a great phrase; "weaving arpeggios" which is a great way to think of them when it comes to combining them with the scale. And be sure to clearly understand the harmonic result of substitute they relate to the chord. For example when you play an Em7 arp over an Am7 chord you are creating an Am11 sound. On the practical side, it's also good to just come up with combo licks of various arps that you memorize. Nothing wrong with that at all. One lick I like is to play 4 notes of each arp in a descending fashion. For an Am7 chord play: Em7 (starting with the high D, 1st string, then down to B, G and E. Then play a Bm7 arp using the same order of notes starting on A on the 2nd string. Then move down and play an Am7 arp the same way/strings as the Bm7, then play another Em7 descending this time an octave lower followed by another Bm7. Makes for a nice Dorian-ish line for Am7. But it will also work for several other chords too.....such as D7, Cma7b5 etc. Hope this makes sense.-Don Mock