Guitar improvisation and soloing  -   Cleverjoe's Musician's Resource Centre

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Written by Pat Baxter

Guitar Soloing and Improvisation - Lesson One

To be able to improvise effectively you must be aware of, and familiar with, the music you're soloing over. Not to say you have to know the song inside-out, but you have to be able to identify the structure of the progression (what chords are being played) in order to to select what scales would compliment these chords. Then, to take it one step further, decide what notes in these scales on which to focus.

That's where the Major Scale comes in.

    You remember:
    Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do.
Everything in music can be traced back to the major scale. So it follows that we should give the major scale the attention it deserves.

Below is the first pattern of the major scale that I'd like to look at. Let's call this 'pattern 1'. Once you are comfortable playing up and down pattern 1, try playing it in sequences of four. Play up four scale tones, then down a third, then up four more, etc. (Root, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 3rd, 4th, etc.).



When you reach the top of the pattern, reverse your steps and descend the scale (play down four scale tones then up a third, etc.). Also try playing the pattern in diatonic thirds: Root, 3rd, 2nd, 4th, 3rd, 5th, etc.

While improvising, be aware that the chords you are soloing over are constructed from intervals of the major scale and it's modes.

We'll look at chord construction and the modes of the major scale in future columns. For now, focus on the structure of the major scale and realize what it is... the mother of all music.

[Lesson 1]   [Lesson 2]   [Lesson 3]   [Lesson 4]   [Lesson 5]   [Lesson 6]  


Pat Baxter is a recording artist and author of the guitar instruction book called "Rockin' The Modes".

Click here for guitar related books including music instruction, vintage gear, guitar tablature.

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