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January Music Blog

January Music Blog

Dean Cutinelli here from the Colorado School of Music. Remember we are just a call away to start your private music lessons. We offer guitar lessons, piano lessons, drum lessons, Violin lessons, Ukulele lessons, vocal lessons as well orchestral instruments.

Improving Concepts

Today I’ll be discussing some different improvising concepts related to the most common chord progression. That being the I IV V progression. (All major chords)

For this example we will us the key of G major. In the key of G major the one chord is G the four chord is C and the five chord is D. The progression of the chords for this example does not make much difference. Lets say our chord progression is V IV and I. V and IV chord can share a measure and the I chord gets its own measure in 4/4 time. I’m going to start with the first option for improving being the G major scale. The key of G has one sharp F#. Our G major scale is G,A,B,C,D,E,F#. Something to try with the G major scale is starting on the D note and then playing from there. This will give you a little bit different feel then starting on the note of G.

Our next sound to try is your G major pentatonic scale. Your G major pentatonic scale is G, A, B,D and E. This will give a really sweet major blues sound. Next up is our G minor pentatonic scale. This scale is comprised of G, Bb, C, D, and F. At first use of the G minor pentatonic scale it may sound and feel a bit uncomfortable. It does require some good phasing and finesse. This sound gives you that classic rock sound. I really like to teeter between the G major and G minor pentatonic scale. If you like how this feels and sounds try adding in the b5 from the G minor pentatonic scale into the mix. (Db = b5) A fun thing to try is doing a call and answer between the G major and minor pentatonic scale.

Ok now we are on to our fourth sound to try over our chord progression. Next is our D major pentatonic scale. (D,E,F#A,B) How you arrive at this sound is counting 5 up from the key that your chord progression is in. I recommend you clear your music palate per say before moving on the the D major pentatonic scale. What I mean by this is just play some random chords not from the same key to reset your ear. You could also put on some music and then return to your practice. We want to do this to reset your ear. If you don’t when you start play the D major pentatonic scale it won’t have the same magic to it and you’ll be pulled back to the G major pentatonic sound. Now for the last sound I’ll be discussing here. We are now going to play a D minor pentatonic scale.(D,F,G,A,C) This again will sound and feel a bit awkward at first. This is one of my favorite sounds to jam on! Again try teetering between the D major and D minor pentatonic scale. Enjoy and happy coloring!

Where to hear these sounds in action 

A lot of the greats use these different colors and sounds. Check out the likes of Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Mayer. 

The Details

Feel free to come in to the Colorado School of Music and take a lesson from me. If some of these improv concerts seem over your head, I would be happy to start from the being to get you and your playing to a point that you understand and feel comfortable using these different concepts. We offer guitar lessons, Ukulele lessons, piano lessons, drum lessons, violin lessons and vocal lessons as wells as orchestral instruments. 

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