~ improvisation ~

~ anything from anywhere

~ Charlie Parker's pathway ~

~ a scale / arpeggio / chord evolution ~

~ in the blues ~

~ by the numbers ~

~ soloing over one chord ~

'any musical element from any pitch'

'... the whole theoretical tamale from any one pitch becomes the theoretical basis for the evolving modern Americana guitarist ...'

.

Theory rule of thumb. 'Think from the root and you'll never get lost.'

In a nutshell. That in theory any one pitch (anything) can become a tone within (anywhere) any interval, scale, arpeggio or chord; from being its root pitch right on through each half step up to the #15 position. In this 'anything from anywhere' we are simply working out what one pitch can be theorywise through our entire combined Americana pitch resource. Simply an advancing perspective and one perhaps most suited to composers as a way to locate errant puzzle pieces for their works of art.

A start / into the waybac. Decades ago now I heard a horn player shedding their scales in the following order; major, then natural minor and then Mixolydian. Termed here a 'shedding cycle', running the scales. Example 1.

So from our chosen root pitch 'C' this shedding cycle covers the major and natural minor scale then to Mixolydian, which a sets up the common modulation by perfect fourth to our next key center 'F', where the process starts over again; major / minor / Mixolydian. Then off to 'Bb.' Cool ? Run this through all 12 keys? Absolutely. Anything from anywhere right? For these are just three essentials that we get in all 12 keys.

Quick review. So the basis of this last idea is this 'anything from anywhere' concept. In this thought process we want to theorize the ability to create any of our resources from any one pitch. Once in place we then tailor make our own exercises based on the challenges we create for ourselves most often determined by the styles of music we dig to play. While surely a jazz practice, really all players of all styles looking for a bit more 'through the changes' in their lines will probably dig this sort of theory puzzle.

So what follows is the basis of the musical above idea. We create set groups of pitchers from the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale and base them all off one root note. For more shedding cycles follow the link.

The results / evolution of scales. In evolving this theory for guitar, we can take full advantage of two built in 'guitar' theory features; one that the open low 'E' string gives us a bass note for support which we can sound and let ring out as an open string. We can be our own bass player in this approach.

 

Second, since we've well over an octave range per string (mostly) we get to play most melodies on one string; in this case the high 'E' string. This single string approach clarifies our connect with the pitches, their location and nuancing, it gets us comfortable moving up and down the fingerboard sounding pitches, scales and melodies all over a totally solid root bass note.

 

In following in the ancient traditions of melodies, all of these colors are run high to low, as descending lines with some rhythms creating melodies, like we think the ancient Greeks did with their modes? Yep. So eight, '8' in the following numerics, is the upper octave of our tonic pitch and starting point? Sure is. Examine the numbers and scale degrees in a descending 'E' major scale. Example 3.

scale degrees
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
major scale pitches
E
D#
C#
B
A
G#
F#
E

A reminder. In our musings and labeling of the theory and its components throughout the local universe, if something is not designated in any special way, it is thought (assumed) to be 'major', thinking diatonically generated from the major, i.e., has a major 3rd in its construct. This is not uncommon with chord symbols. So sound a low 'E' and find each group of pitches on the high 'E' thinking top to bottom. Example 3a.

E pentatonic major scale
8 6 5 3 2 1 core five pitches within an octave
E major scale / Ionian 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 a 'new' mode from Glareanus
E Dorian 8 b7 6 5 4 b3 2 1 ancient Greek mode
E Phrygian 8 b7 b6 5 4 b3 b2 1 ancient Greek mode
E Lydian 8 7 6 5 #4 3 2 1 ancient Greek mode
E Lydian b7 8 b7 6 5 #4 3 2 1 modern altered / mode of melodic minor
E Mixolydian 8 b7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ancient Greek mode
E Aeolian 8 b7 b6 5 4 b3 2 1 a 'new' mode from Glareanus
E Locrian 8 b7 b6 b5 4 b3 b2 1 ? ? ?
E whole tone scale 8 b7 b6 b5 3 2 1 all whole steps
E pentatonic minor scale 8 b7 5 4 b3 1 our five core pitches for minor
E blues 8 b7 5 b5 4 b3 1 minor pentatonic w/ tritone upgrade
E natural minor 8 b7 b6 5 4 b3 2 1 relative minor to G major
E harmonic minor 8 7 b6 5 4 b3 2 1 raised 7th
E Klezmer minor 8 b7 b6 5 4 3 b2 1 V mode of harmonic minor
E melodic minor 8 7 6 5 4 b3 2 1 raised 6th and 7th
E diminished 8 7 6 b6 b5 4 b3 2 1 whole tone / half tone
E altered dominant 8 b7 6 b5 4 b3 2 1 lower diminished upper whole tone
E chromatic scale 87b76b65b543b32b21 all half steps

Transpose to all 12 keys by changing pitch of low 'E' string or work off the 'A' and 'D' strings and retune as needed. Thinking thus let's change our root pitch to 'A.'

Second grouping / arpeggios. With arpeggios our tasking gets a wee bit more complicated ya see. First, we'll change root pitches and work from 'A' at the fifth fret. Our lines will ascend; root 3 5 7 etc. Building from the root up we can hear the chord in the arpeggio's pitches. Thus, we do not worry about a pedal tone as we're outlining chords by single note line from the root pitch. And what level of the arpeggio do we ascend too? In starting out, perhaps past the triad to the 7th, this way we're defining chord type as well. Example 4.

A pentatonic major arpeggio
1 3 5 6 8
A C# E F# A
A major arpeggio / triad / maj 7th
1 3 5 7
A C# E G#
A dominant 7th and beyond
1 3 5 b7
A C# E G
A minor 7th and beyond
1 -3 5 7
A C E G
A minor 7 b5
1 -3 -5 b7
A C Eb G
A diminished 7th
1 -3 -5 bb7
A C Eb Gbb (F#)
A augmented triad 7th
1 3 +5 b7
A C# E# (F) G
D pentatonic major arpeggio
1 3 5 6 8
D F# A B D

Transpose to all 12 keys by moving root notes up and down the string. Here's some common shapes from our chosen root pitch 'D', now 5th fret / 5th string. Ex. 4a.

D pentatonic major arpeggio
1 3 5 6 8
D F# A B D
D major arpeggio / triad / maj 7th
1 3 5 7 9 11 13
D F# A C# E G# B
D dominant 7th and beyond
1 3 5 b7 9 #11 13
D F# A C E G# B
D minor 7th and beyond
1 -3 5 7
D F A C
D minor 7 b5
1 -3 -5 b7
D F Ab C
D diminished 7th
1 -3 -5 bb7
D F Ab Cb
D augmented triad 7th
1 3 +5 b7
D F# A# C D

Transpose to all 12 keys by moving root notes up and down the string. Here's some common shapes from our chosen root pitch 'G', now 5th fret / 4th string. Ex. 4b.

G pentatonic maj arpeggio
1 3 5 6 8
A C# E F# A
G major 7th
1 3 5 7
G B D F#
G major 7, 9 #11
1 3 5 7 9 #11
G B D F# A C#
G dominant 7, 9
1 3 5 b7 9
G B D F A
G minor 7, 9 , 11
1 b3 5 b7
G Bb D F A C
G minor 7 b5
1 b3 b5 b7
G Bb Db F
G diminished
1 b3 b5 bb7
G Bb Db Fb (E)
G diminished scale
1 2 b3 4 b5 b6 6 7 8
G A Bb C Db Eb E F# G

Added movable bonus from the 4th string. The diminished scale shape in measure 8 above is a true keeper for jazz leaning players who might eventually shed through the multiple resolving properties of V7b9 in localized areas. A milestone along on Coltrane's pathway to "Giant Steps", this diminished scale shape is near perfect butter. Four fingers / four frets and three pitches per string, the potential 'blaze blur' is built right in :)

The augmented scale shape is a bit abbreviated on the top, also has the same localized, multiple resolving quality potentials. Look to the middle of the shape for an easy augmented four pitch 'ladder' of sorts, to quickly scoot up and down the neck. As both of these colors are aurally bold on our palettes, it's nice to have solid pitch location shapes to visualize ideas from. And totally totally movable up and down the fretboard! Example 4c.

Those in the know do know how tricky it can be to know and keep track of the multiple upon multiple of key signature relationships with these two unique groups. Move the shape a half step either way and whoa ... four new keys of each major and minor for diminished, six for augmented, its a lot. But then these shapes cycle up by minor 3rd and major 3rd respectively to the same resolutions. Crazy yes I know, quite the puzzle ! Try arpeggiating a Two chord prior to launching with these colors, a diatonic Two to the chosen tonic One as you figure out the shedding, for the symmetry of pitch can create a confusion of synapses :) Thus, the 'set in stone' handy shapes lend themselves well to all sorts of creative sequencing and permutations for the modern guitarist, yet always maintain their structural integrity and resolving properties.

wiki ~ "Giant Steps"

Third grouping / chords. As with the arpeggios so goes the chords. Namely, how far into the upper structure do we extend our voicings? Again the song (s) we're learning and its style will give some guidance here.

Quick review / color tones. Folk, country, bluegrass and rock players mostly rely on the triads and add a 7th on the Five chord (V7). On Four too if a bluesy numba. Since these are vocal styles, harmonies are triads. Perfect support while not confusing to the singers. Blues player's love of adding a 7th and even the 9th above, is well known and is usually encouraged. Jazz players are eventually looking towards understanding and utilizing all of the color tones, both diatonic and altered, through all 12 key centers. In these chords basic overtone series acoustic principles kick in providing yet another way to explore and expand our resource.

While jazz chords are potentially a dramatic expansion of the shedding, remembering that near every chord shape most cats use are fully movable chords on the guitar. Both in their root position and chord inversions. This gets us to 95% of this 'anything from anywhere' idea for chords. By its very physical nature, the guitar is a chromatic leaning instrument so for jazz and blues artists, the movable chord forms are a perfect match.

Does this 'perfect' have to do with the half step lead in motion? It does, for once a cat starts to get hip to the changes and feels the swing in the time, they start to approach their principle chords by half step from above or below, 'lead into' the next chord then the next etc. The half step motion in time is about the swing thing big time, getting the groove 'off the ground' a bit. And once up, the effortless glide of the swing begins :) Here's the half step motion in action. Example 5.

Learning of and mastering this one concept, the half step lead in, is well worth the price of admission to this work for the serious cat who wants to jam, even to find a band and get some performances, shows and gigs.

Learning the letter names of the pitches rock solid is probably the game changer for most reading here. From letters we can then move onto numbers, or not, as the theory discussions continue to evolve. Chords by numbers genericizes the whole tamale, for in any song in any key, a One chord is still a One chord yes ? So this anything from anywhere is probably not strong chord theory, but yet a cool perspective for those so inclined. Yet, combining the diatonic 3 and 3 and movable forms, and understanding how and why we have 12 relative major and minor keys, covers near all of composing the Americana musics excepting jazz.

When starting out, the open chords are often our first of these diatonic '3 and 3' chords. Mostly made of of triads and doublings, they're not so movable. There are some very handy movable triads though and there's chord inversions of the triads which open up new pathways with passing chords. Thus, many successful triad players use a capo to get their cherished shapes into other key centers, yet another magical aspect with our modern built 'anything from anywhere' guitars.

We might want to consider also open tunings in this now narrowing discussion thread. Sort of the opposite of the anything from anywhere topic. With open 'G' being a common denominator between the folk, bluegrass banjo sounds and the early blues slide players, we learn that originally there was none of this ATFAW potential. There's just one way to get a sound just right. Open tunings are modal, often one trick ponies that have just one special color within. Also to remember, that open 'G' is a rocker's delight and rhythm guitar essential, that can totally light up a room (arenas too) with just a couple of fairly easy barre chord shapes and the big noise.

So with the arpeggios so with chords. Following along our above format, examine the various chord colors from the root pitch 'A', so the 6th string / 5th fret. Example 5a.

A triad
1 3 5 8
A C# E
A 6 / pentatonic
1 3 5 6
A C# E F#
A major 7th and beyond
1 3 5 7
A C# E G#
A dominant 7th and beyond
1 3 5 b7
A C# E G
A minor 7th and beyond
1 -3 5 7
A C E G
A minor 7 b5
1 -3 -5 b7
A C Eb G
A diminished 7th
1 -3 -5 bb7
A C Eb Gbb (F#)
A augmented triad 7th
1 3 +5 b7
A C# E# (F) G

Bonus chord. Here's a couple of 'minor 9' chords built up from the sixth string. Both sure keepers :) The second voicing with the inner 9th, while a bit of a stretch, works fine as a tonic minor color and also does create a nice potential walk down to 8, 7, b7, 6 etc. Example 5b.

Now from the root pitch 'D', 5th string, 5th fret. Ex. 5c.

D 6 / 9 pentatonic
1 3 5 6 8
D F# A B E
D major / triad
1 3 5
D F# A
D major maj 7
1 3 5 7
D F# A C#
D 7
1 3 5 7
D F# A C
D 9
1 3 5 7
D F# A C E
D 7#9
1 3 5 7
D F# A C E#
D - / maj 7th
1 -3 5 7
D F A C# E
D -7
1 -3 5 7
D F A C
D -9
1 -3 5 7 9
D F A C E
D -7b5
1 -3 5 b7
D F Ab C
D diminished 7th
1 -3 5 7
D F Ab Cbb
D augmented triad
1 -3 -5 b7
D F# A#
G major triad
1 3 5 8
G B D G

Transpose to all 12 keys by finding the different root pitches on the 5th string. Now from the root pitch 'G', 4th string, 5th fret, same process. Example 5d.

G 6 pentatonic
1 3 5 6 8
G B D E
G major / triad
1 3 5
G B D
G major 7
1 3 5 7
G B D F#
G major maj 7 #11
1 3 5 7 9 #11
G B D F# C#
G 7
1 3 5 7
G B D F
G 9
1 3 5 7 9
G BD F A
G -7
1 -3 5 7
G Bb D F
G-7
1 -3 5 7
G Bb D F
G 7 sus 4
1 5 7 11
G D F C
G -7b5
1 -3 -5 b7
G Bb Db F
G diminished 7th
1 -3 -5 bb7
G Bb Db Fb
G 9+5
1 3 5+ b7 9
G B D# F A

Cool ?

The grand wazoo of ATFAW / by the numbers. Another way we can approach this idea is by looking at each of the scale degrees of a two octave chromatic scale and examine common chords and colors we will often find in that position. In Essentials here we call this 'by the numbers.' Here are the links.

Soloing over one chord. In today's Americana jazzy leaning styles, there's quite often a one chord vamp and groove that provides the basis of support for our improvisations. In this style, we can include our ideas of soloing over the changes and well as applying a reverse polarity where we use our various colors as outlined above over the one chord. The melodic treatments of sequence and permutation, the interval studies and use of rhythmic motives all can play a part in this improv process.

No end to it really and basically we're just jamming. If you dig this sort of playing, listen to the artists that you dig doing it and follow their ideas, grab some of their licks and shed them till you make them your own. Tis the way it's always been done. Once having something under your fingers to start with, be creative and over time you'll learn to build up a solo over any one chord, progression, form etc.

Cycles for shedding. In the first example up top we cycled select melodic groups into a sort of 'one after another' that, energized by their relationship to one another, created a sense of forward motion to the lines while getting some rote shedding done. The following suggestions are just that, suggestions to sift through the resources and find patterns that help to create the art in your heart.

1 2 3 5
cycled by 4th's / chromatically / -3rd ~ 4th a la "Giant Steps"
1 3 5 / major triads cycled by 4th's / a One Four Five blues / chromatically / whole steps
1 b3 5 / minor triads cycled by 4th's / a One Four Five blues / chromatically / whole steps
major scales cycled by 4th's in one localized position
1 b3 b5 b7 / -7b5 as vii resolving to diatonic relatives major and minor
diminished scale into its four major and four minor key centers
blues scale cycled by 4th's / from One Four and Five as a blues

In the blues. Another way to muse about this view of the resource is to poke around the 12 bar blues and find a spot where each of the 12 pitches can find a home. Pushing the envelope a bit as they say towards the jazz leaning artist and their more chromatic styled art, in the following brief charting we locate each of our 12 pitches of the chromatic scale within the 12 bar blues form. Thinking 'blues in C', just finding one or two spots to explore for each of our 12 pitches. Example 6.

letter pitch / #
common locations in the 12 bars ... and then some :)
C / root
our tonal center, the root pitch grounds all of the music so it can and often is everywhere push the pitch of this root note around and find a near endless variety of the blue hue
C#/Db / b2 ~ b9 is a #1 blue note, b5 of V7, root of passing diminished chord between One and Two and the major 3rd of Six. push the pitch of this root note around and find a near endless variety of the blue hue
D / 2 as the 5th of V7 its proximity to the tonic makes it a solid grinder for finding the blues hue, launch point for Two / Five

Joe Oliver shout chorus,

Two / Five / One

Eb / blue 3rd cycled by 4th's in one localized position  
1 b3 b5 b7 / -7b5 as vii resolving to diatonic relatives major and minor  
diminished scale into its four major and four minor key centers  
blues scale cycled by 4th's / from One Four and Five as a blues  

Review. The idea of anything from anywhere is probably more about helping us get our arms around the resource that anything else. The idea of knowing where things are so that if we ever need a particular component, we have a way in to the resource to begin our search.

There's another way into this 'anything' perspective within Essentials. It is the flip side of it as we look to identify common elements that happen at certain points on our numerical backbone. The One through to sharp Fifteen. Called 'by the numbers', instead of projecting all of the theory from one pitch, we look at each numerical position in relation to a tonic pitch and look for the various aspects of tonal gravity and aural predictability; two elements of musical style that we might better understand through the theory.

"Spending any mental energy looking back cannot help you move forward."

Bryce Carlson ( high school teacher, solo rowed across the Atlantic ocean )
Aebersold, Jamey and Slone, Ken. The Charlie Parker Omnibook, p. 143. New York: Atlantic Music Corp., 1978.