Thursday, August 27, 2009

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

1 comment:

  1. Hi Don, I go back a few years and will always remember the exceptional fusion players like you who have paved the way. I notice your more straight ahead now and wish you would put out a book that is more heavy jazz rock in context. I know your jazz lines can be applied but it still would be awesome!! With the cool fusion voicings that I just can not find in any books. My main question is...why do private guitar teachers always say they do not teach licks. I just read what you said about transcribing others licks. Copying some licks would seem to be the way to really start to sound more like the players you like. Its frustrating because I went to a well known teacher to learn his style but if he does not show me his licks, how can I really change my style to sound like him. Anyways, thanks for being a nice guy and always sharing your ideas and your music. I need to buy Mock One!! God Bless You