Practicing Improvisational Fluency

If, like me, a lot of your real-life playing involves improvisation then it can be tricky to know how or what to practice. Of course we can learn licks and patterns, but if we're not careful all our solos will start to sound like a collage of the same stuff played in a different order, and that's not really improvising. This lesson describes a simple practicing strategy to help you build fluency when playing off-the-cuff.

The Harmonic Minor as a Pair of Augmented and Diminished Arpeggios

In the Encyclopoedia I advocate experimenting with the arpeggios that common scales contain as a way of both understanding the scale better and making your playing more interesting. Here we look at the two symmetrical arpeggios that are embedded in the common Harmonic Minor scale.

Some Interval Map Visualizations

For the past few days I've been experimenting with circular representations of chord, scale and similar kinds of structure. Laying them out in a circle is the right thing to do because then rotation of the circle is equivalent to finding all the modes of the scale or arpeggio.

Some 3-String Ladder Patterns for Diminished Scales

Recently we looked at 2-string ladder patterns for the Whole-Half and Half-Whole Diminished scales (since they're modes of each other, the patterns work equally well for both scales). Here we'll look at some similar patterns covering three strings.

Feed Your Ears: Pat Metheny

Most guitarists have heard of Pat Metheny. This post is just an invitation to watch and hear him playing in a few different contexts. See if it inspires you to play something different.

What is a Mode?

In a recent post I mentioned some myths about modes, and promised I'd try to give my own account of this often-confusing idea. If you've read the first chapter of Scale and Arpeggio Resources then you'll know exactly what a mode is, but I thought I'd try a brief and slightly different explanation here in case either you found that chapter difficult or you don't have the book. Although it's a bit more abstract than most, I hope those of you who are confused about modes will find it enlightening.

Some 2-String Ladder Patterns for Diminished Scales

"Ladder" patters are patterns that climb up or down the neck rapidly using only a small number of strings. Since I'm posting a lot about symmetrical scales at the moment, here are some ladder patterns for the Whole-Half and Half-Whole Diminshed scales. Remember that these scales are modes of each other, so which scale you're playing will be determined by where you play these patterns on the fretboard in relation to the background tonality.

Coscale Symmetries

Continuing from the previous post about reflexive symmetries within and between scales, here we look at another kind of symmetry which I call the "coscale relationship". As with the previous post, at this stage this material is purely theoretical.

Scale Reflections

I was thinking about symmetrical scales last night and this morning I woke up with not one but two ideas for other kinds of symmetry a scale can have besides the usual one. Here I'll describe the first one, which I call "reflection".

Some Sweep Picking Patterns for the Whole Tone Scale

Playing around with the Whole-Tone scale today I came up with a few patterns that involve raking across groups of three strings and moving up or down the neck. I hadn't thought of playing the scale this way before so I thought I'd share them with you here.