SYOS

Getting away from the diatonic

Linky Lee

Member
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182
Location
Salisbury, UK
I play in a funk band at the moment and we've put a few songs together now and I have a couple solo sections which I'd like to liven up a bit, moving away from the diatonic sound (by which I mean playing the respective major or minor chord over said chord) and implement some more interesting and colourful sounds.

When I try this though I feel Isolated from the rest of the band and that I stick out like a sore thumb and it's just not fitting the music.

Is there a trick to bringing in alternative note selections over standard major/minor chords or have I got to get the rhythm section to expand a bit?
Or is there a perceived 'limit' to how far you can remove yourself from the 'basic' harmony without seeming like your playing wrong notes? - I imagine the further you develop it, the better your note selections have to be to keep it 'in' the music whilst playing 'outside'.
 

dooce

Well-Known Member
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1,416
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Daventry
What particular numbers are you talking about here? Some lend themselves to improvisational weirdness better than others, but I don't have the music theory knowledge to understand, let alone explain, why!
 
OP
Linky Lee

Linky Lee

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182
Location
Salisbury, UK
They're our own tunes, but all use very standard chord progressions.

I'm thinking theme and variation is probably the way to go, especially with the funk riffs. There is a very good example on Pete's page I remember, I think of a Sonny Rollins solo. I'm going to go have a look at that again.

EDIT: It's Lee Allen I
 
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814jazzer

Member
Messages
55
Location
Pennsylvania
Though I'd advise more clearly if I had heard your music, a couple of things come to mind.

Minor Pentatonic scales are useful, particularly in "funk" or vamp tunes (in minor keys). You can experiment with different minor pentatonic scales within a single tonality.

For instance, if the tune is in D minor, you can try using your D Minor pent., A minor Pent., E min pent... even F min. pent for a moment of tension.
The idea is that by using diatonic or tonal melodies, your lines will be strong. But by moving your own center of gravity -- or tonal center, as the case may be -- it can create a good deal of melodic interest.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Location
Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom
Spend a few hours listening to Bennie Maupin's sax/bass clari/flute playing (and Herbie Hancock on synths) on Headhunters. Did me the world of good.
Of course if your bandmates aren't familiar with they might think you're mental...

cheers,

Nick
 

kiwi simon

New Member
Messages
26
Location
chch, nz
I play in a funk band at the moment and we've put a few songs together now and I have a couple solo sections which I'd like to liven up a bit, moving away from the diatonic sound (by which I mean playing the respective major or minor chord over said chord) and implement some more interesting and colourful sounds.

When I try this though I feel Isolated from the rest of the band and that I stick out like a sore thumb and it's just not fitting the music.

Is there a trick to bringing in alternative note selections over standard major/minor chords or have I got to get the rhythm section to expand a bit?
Or is there a perceived 'limit' to how far you can remove yourself from the 'basic' harmony without seeming like your playing wrong notes? - I imagine the further you develop it, the better your note selections have to be to keep it 'in' the music whilst playing 'outside'.
G'day Linky ... it's all bluff mate. The question is, how you put it across.
Don't let scale choices get in the way of the groove - like an earlier contributor said, blues scales, minor pentatonics (which are virtually the same thing)... these'll be useful sounds BUT its how you use rhythm that is more important and yer attitude! Check these:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h760OIZVwVo
Complicated scales? Nope. Stage 5 is as far as I'd go. Main thing: RHYTHM. Ending a phrase on the up of 1 adds kick too eh. There's a whole lesson there... ending on upbeat of 1. Gives the line kick.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUD1CBbUKcM
Check the intro - example of using wide open intervals - simple scales BUT the effect on sax is great. Lotsa blues here.

I mean - come on, what's Greg Thomas doing here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80ykDYUt37w
Repetition, groove ... doubt scales are botherin him.

My 5c worth.
Simon
 

kiwi simon

New Member
Messages
26
Location
chch, nz
Simon

Good stuff and very interesting. Less is so often more and I know I all too often try to complicate things!!
G'day Ian - hows things mate?

Yep this is the thing - it's very easy to hook into the whole chord/scale theory approach to playing music BUT it's only part of the story (and an intro chapter.) Sure knowing yer scales without thinking is very useful, in the same way being able to sound out the alphabet and pronounce syllables helps us to speak ... BUT for me what I've found is that groove and the rhythms used to place the notes are MORE IMPORTANT than getting that dimMaj7 scale right before the I chord.

I've been listening to alot of Mike Brecker recently - he was a master at sheets of sound - BUT it's his timing and grooves on esp his pop / session stuff that I'm really diggin at the moment. Check Brecker's playing on this version of 'Skunk Funk' ... a hectic number f'rsure, but there are elements you can get out of it that will help anyones soloing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg8adPaCgeY

1:53 simple start - question and answer type lines
2:05 check how he builds the tension - use of rhythm, repetition
2:37 basic lick (sounds like it could be from a vocal) ... then same thing up an octave
2:48 back to more punchy short rhythmic phrases
3:00 new descending phrase, then sideslipping
3:20 more q&a with the rhythm section joining in on upbeats to kick it along
3:33 big build up to ...
3:41 all the harmonic stuff Brecker was a master of
4:00 winding the whole thing down with a simple phrase
4:04 back to the head of the tune...

So just over 2 minutes ... I think plenty here that isn't scale-related that makes this solo work.

My 5c,
Simon
 
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visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,606
Location
Out in the Countryside of Nelson NZ
Good post Linkey and Simon.
Yeah I came across that first one, the funk lesson some time ago they make it seem easy & Brecker was both a theory nut and straight from the gut guy as well.
My advice and I'm no expert is to keep going and learning, it's a phase some need to go through and others don't. Your on the right track and ulimately your ears will give all the right aswers.
Simon your way ahead of most in your understanding of theory and preaching the simple gut feelings approach.
Just a tort or two.
Are you back in Chch NZ ?
I'm in Christchurch, Dorset till I get me sling off.
Cheers
Jimu.
 

kiwi simon

New Member
Messages
26
Location
chch, nz
G'day Jimu,

Sure am. You'll wanna still 'up the road there' for as long as u can mate - winter has hit with a crunch; flooding, cold, the whole nine ... bad luck bout the arm.

I think Brecker was kinda intense on all fronts really - pianist, drums, bit of a techno fan as well, with a fully outfitted home studio n heaps gadgets (drum machines etc) that he used to create all sorts of grooves. A real shame he passed away that young.

Simon
 

jayx124

Member
Messages
30
I think its a good idea to figure out (or you can ask) the player of the harmony (keyboard,guitar) which tensions he uses over different chord types if he uses these tensions I think you should follw him for example if he likes to use altered extensions to dominants then playing a 9th would not sound so good.

I like to use side stepping as a mechanism for creating tension, well basically you could play any tension line just be carful to resolve it
 
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